…is a powerful question.
Marley Dias knows this. She’s 12 years old.
Early last year, Marley was a elementary schooler reading a lot of books. But she started to notice that all the books they were reading in her classes were either about white boys or dogs (or white boys and their dogs). Marley, a black girl, became frustrated that none of the books she loved had main characters that looked like her.
Eventually Marley came home from school and told her mom about her frustrations. And that’s when her mom asked her that powerful question: “Well, what are you going to do about it?”
Soon after that Marley did something about it. She set a goal to collect 1,000 books about black girls. She created the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign in January 2016 to market her efforts.
To date Marley has collected over 8,000 books. She’s also writing her own book (if you’re wondering, it’s a nonfiction book about how she created the campaign). And while that’s certainly impressive, I was more intrigued by what her mom said to her when Marley came home from school complaining that none of the books at her school had black girls in them.
She asked, “Well, what are you gonna do about it?” It’s a much better question than some of the other questions we ask ourselves (and others). Marley’s mom didn’t say, “I’m sorry to hear that, dear.” By asking a question that required both reflection and action, Marley’s mom guided her daughter into a direction that actually improved a situation.
I could go on about the importance of asking good questions (especially to ourselves), but the bottom line here is that the question “What are you gonna do about it?” prompts both reflection and action. A good question requires both. Some of the questions we ask ourselves only lead to reflection – “Why is this happening to me?” Others lead us into action without proper reflection – “How can I get out of this situation?” Yet other times we fail to ask a question at all – “That’s just the way it is.”
So the next time you don’t like the circumstances you find yourself in, take a lesson from Marley’s mom. Ask yourself, “Well, what are you gonna do about it?”
By the way, you find a list of books recommended by Marley here.
Also published on Medium.