Not my paper of choice, but Martin Chilton, Culture Editor for the Telegraph Online, writes some good pieces and his coverage yesterday of Malorie Blackman’s appointment as Children’s Laureate was a good example.
When we spoke at the Telegraph Hay Festival last week, she joked that she remembers when the cry “there’s a black person on the telly” would have had her family running down the stairs to check out this rare phenomenon. “There were so few black role models on TV. That’s why I loathe Gone With The Wind. In the 1970s TV shows black people were often just slaves or criminals.”
One exception was Nichelle Nichol, who played Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in Star Trek. Blackman relates, with great respect, the story of how Nichol was treated badly and wanted to leave the series but was persuaded to stay so she could continue presenting a strong image of a black officer. The man who persuaded her was Martin Luther King. Blackman, incidentally, has remained a Star Trek fanatic (she has a replica uniform and raves about Benedict Cumberbatch in the new film).
As well as being extremely well-read – 15,000 books are crammed throughout her home – she has a popular touch and exudes a natural empathy with children and teenagers. This sense of knowing how difficult life can be for teenagers is also what makes her such an interesting choice for Laureate.
She has no time for the “demonisation” of young people and describes the lack of youth facilities and poor employment prospects for many teenagers as “scandalous”. Blackman will not be a quiet Laureate.