Author Evelyn Coleman has written numerous books for children. Her book, To be a Drum, can be found on http://www.storylineonline.net/ and is read by Actor James Earl Jones. White Socks Only, a wonderfully written book is also found on http://www.storylineonline.net White Socks is a story that deals with discrimination. Ms. Coleman was kind enough to respond to written interview questions:
1. What inspired you to write White Socks Only? Is this in part something that happened to you or someone in your family?
It took me years to write this story …. I decided to write it after a student asked me if I had been a slave…I realized then that “time” was a complex idea for children and I wanted them to understand that the Civil Rights movement had happened in my lifetime not hundreds of years before. I had this idea running in my head for a long time regarding institutional racism and also witnessing children discriminating based on not just color of skin, but the way someone looked, or the type clothes they wore or even hairstyles or economic situations. Putting these ideas together with my own first experience of reading a Whites Only Sign where I thought it meant I should have on all white clothing the story finally came together in my mind.
2. What is the lesson you want children to learn from reading the story?
That it is not a good idea to discriminate against another human being for any reason. And that racism was and still is a hurtful experience that requires fighting against it by speaking up when you see it. Most of all I want children to understand that you should always speak up to defend the rights of others.
3. What do you want teachers to learn from the story?
That subliminal discrimination or racism is not acceptable no matter who is involved. Hopefully teachers will pay more attention to their own prejudices after reading White Socks Only.
4. What other books for children have you written?
To Be a Drum, Albert Whitman Books; Cecile’s Cameo Necklace, American Girl’s latest historical doll; Shadows on Society Hill, American Girl’s doll Addy’s first mystery; Circle of Fire and Mystery of the Dark Tower, American Girl History Mysteries; Born in Sin, Atheneum; The Riches of Oseola McCarty, Albert Whitman Books; Freedom Train, Simon & Schuster
5. Do you have any advice for young readers?
Yes, read as much as possible, pay attention to your own feelings and learn how to relay them to others either verbally or on paper, observe your surroundings, learn to conjugate verbs and understand what you feel passionate about and why.
Respectfully submitted by Idali Feliciano