First, and frankly, I find the position “because we don’t have X readers in my library, we don’t need X books” to be racist. This position implies that we as selectors view diverse books as inherently less-than. If we argue that only black youth will want to read about black youth, we are really saying that the experiences of black youth have no relevance or meaning to youth of any other race. We are saying that the experiences of the youth in the books we do buy have broader relevance and resonance. That is the very definition of otherizing and making a particular perspective, experience, or group less-than.

The position that “because we don’t have X readers in my library, we don’t need X books” also denotes a fundamental lack of respect for the children we are supposed to be serving. It suggests that we think our young readers cannot handle, relate to, or be expected to understand an experience that does not mirror their own. Not collecting—and collecting but not promoting—titles with diverse protagonists projects the selector’s own bias onto the reader instead of letting readers freely encounter stories and information.

Why Selection Is Terrifying (When It Isn't Natural)

So yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I was thinking about how I have good survival genes, because my ancestors have repeatedly survived hell (I’m Jewish). And I realized something. War is a kind of unnatural Selection. Survival of the fittest, in a way. In war you have three kinds of people who survive:

1. The people who are best at surviving 

2. The people who are best at hiding

But most of all you have

3. The people who are best at killing.

That scares me a lot. Because those are the people who are going to reproduce and spread their genes. 

So it’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the cruelest.