‘Washington Heights Manifesto’ Urges DOE to Diversify School Books

Novelist Avelino Stanley (l.) accompanied by authors Kianny Antigua and Alexis Gómez Rosa, during the XI Dominican Book Fair in New York. (Photo via El Diario)

A coalition of Dominican writers, artists and educators signed the “Washington Heights manifesto” urging the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to include more school texts written by, and about, the city’s ethnic minorities. The manifesto, which circulated during the XI Dominican Book Fair in New York Oct. 12-14 in Washington Heights’ George Washington Educational Campus, also asked for the designation of educators of color at the highest levels of the DOE, David Ramirez reports in El Diario/La Prensa.

Writer Julio César Malone, one of the leaders of the initiative, (…) cited a recent study by the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice stating that [the vast majority] of books in public schools are written by white authors, while only 15 percent of New York students are white. More than 80 percent are either Latino (41 percent), African American (26 percent) or Asian (16 percent), but only 10 percent of the books reflect them.

“New York’s ethnic minorities are the student majority,” said Malone. (…) “To provide our students with equal educational opportunities will guarantee a fairer society and a real participative democracy,” says the manifesto.

The group coordinators leading the signatures are writers and journalists Julio César Malone and José Acosta, children’s authors Dinorah Coronado and Elizabeth Balaguer, and historians Ramón Espínola and José Novas.

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