Welcome to the second installment of our Sound Off Saturday Series!
We are pleased to introduce you to
Laura Obuobi of Matters of Representation:
MoR: Hello! My name is Laura Obuobi. I was born and raised in Ghana, but have been living in the United States for several years now. I am currently a Preschool Teacher in New York City, and have been teaching for the past 8 years.
MoR: Reading and books is something that has always held a soft spot in my heart. I love a good story. I was an avid reader as a child, and even though adulting and work responsibilities make it difficult at times, I am trying to read as avidly as I did when I was a child. I have a long and ever growing TBR list! Over the years, and soon after I started teaching preschoolers, I became really interested in children’s books, and soon I started looking out for multicultural books. About a year ago, on October 12th, 2017, I started Matters Of Representation to address this yearning to collect and curate multicultural children’s books. A few months into that, I decided to focus my search only on books featuring girls and women of color – picture books, middle grade, and Young Adults books, written by authors of color. I am also deeply interested in Black History, and issues related to the Black Diaspora; I am constantly hungry for information pertaining to the history of my people, and the connections we hold with one another. I care about the way African children are represented in children’s books as well, and keep my eyes on the look out for African centered picture books that stay away from the stereotypical safari, charity, and poverty vibes that we often see depicted in books about Africa. The generalizations and lack of specificity that is often made in these books bothers me, and I hope to find and accumulate a collection of books that feature African children and people in a way that is true of the diversity represented on the continent.
I really care about how women and girls are featured not just in books but in the media, and even in the toy industry. If you visit my page, you will see the occasional doll posted. Dolls channel another way to tell stories about ourselves, and it is important for children to be able to see themselves represented in dolls. Dolls of color are underrepresented, and there are not many to choose from. The few black dolls that are available for children often do not accurately depict the varying shades of brown skin and importantly, hair texture that is representative of the Black community. So, when I come across a doll company that is doing this work, I share their work with my followers. I really feel that girls and women of color do not have enough nuanced, positive representations of themselves in the media and especially books. My goal with Matters Of Representation is for it to become a resource that houses a vast collection and array of books and other information that empowers and inspires other girls of color. I have also recently started writing, and hope to get published one day soon! And I hope that one day I will open my own publishing company! These are the things that consume my thoughts outside of my 9 to 5!
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
MoR: I am constantly thinking about how I can continue to improve, grow, and evolve on the work I am doing with regards to Matters Of Representation. Creating a website to complement the Instagram page has been on my mind for a while, and I hope to get that squared away in a few months.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
MoR: Follow my page, share my posts, recommend books, articles, or resources that support the empowering of young girls of color.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?
MoR: I didn’t have to think too hard or long about this one – Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi. I could not put it down. I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
MoR: Discovering more authors/illustrators of color, and reading more books!