She sent the donations to schools and social service organizations across the United States and Jamaica.
“I thought that was a very big problem,” she says of being assigned books that featured mainly white men and boys, “because kids don’t experience the same thing.” Kathleen Horning, the director of Cooperative Children’s Book Center, which documents the number of books by and about people of color, found in 2013 that of the 650 young adult fiction books it tracked that year about humans, only 36 featured people of color as the main character, about five percent of the total.
Two years later in 2015, the organization found eight percent of children’s books featured African Americans as main characters, less than one percent Native American, three percent Asian Pacific, and over 73 percent white characters.
Though much of her job requires being in the spotlight, she doesn’t like to draw attention to herself.
When she first noticed the lack of diverse books in her school, she kept mum and didn’t appeal to her teachers.
The publicist introduces Dias around to the camera crew, who has been toying with the placement of stacks of books against a stark white backdrop.
There’s a lot of chatter at once as the makeup artist and stylist size up Dias and lead her into the dressing room for privacy.
However, Dias’s new role has matured her beyond what many young teenagers experience. I think she’s more serious with the social responsibility.
It’s no longer about her and she’s carrying that weight more than I as her mother would have liked,” she says.
Dias is still hungry for the fish after it’s gone so the publicist slices off a piece of hers and puts it on Dias’s plate.
As she eats, Dias takes out her cellphone and starts scrolling through her Instagram page to show off her school friends, who she says are so diverse, they’re like the United Nations.
arley Dias, who is 12, arrives in New York’s Fashion District wheeling a suitcase filled with blazers, sneakers, and ten pairs of eyeglasses.