Just discovered a cute pack of 9 board books, the Baby Days Collection, published in 2007 by Little Scholastic, full of adorable baby faces of all colors.
But I was flabbergasted by the inner photos in Baby Bathes. Take a look:
Is it really possible that no editor ever noticed the progression of babies by skin color, and the subliminal message it conveys: a black baby = "time for a bath," a white baby = "clean baby?" (Stunning that the middle photos intensify the effect, with the baby's skin lighter in the 3rd spread.) Has no one at the publisher ever heard of incidents of very young children mistaking dark skin for dirty skin?
It's perfectly clear that no one meant to convey this message. In fact, it's obvious from the collection's design that the opposite was intended, that the set was meant to be warmly inclusive, to celebrate all kinds of babies.
But it's a clear example of the dominance of the white lens in the children's book industry. I find it hard to believe that an editor of color - or a white editor who was well-versed in the significance of racial images - would not have noticed this. There's intention, and there's impact.
We can't see what we're taught to not see.