There’s a line Brittney Dias wrote that’s been serving as inspiration for herself and the children she writes for: “No matter the time, no matter the day, Ava and Mae find a way.”
Ava and Mae are two Black girls and protagonists of a children’s book series written by Dias. Their message of perseverance also speaks to the work Dias is committed to, which is to increase diverse representation of main characters in children’s media. While ethnic and racial representation in children’s books has improved in the past two decades, change has been slow: only 13% of children’s books feature a Black character and only 30% feature racially diverse characters or subjects, according to the Associated Press.
The issue of representation is both a public health issue and an entrepreneurial challenge. That’s why, after graduating from the University of Washington School of Public Health in 2021, Dias launched the company, Looking Lens. The business creates stories to inspire Black and brown children to reach their full potential, specifically through centering protagonists who are people of color in media, like children’s books. The business has published two books written by Dias and is inspiring children across the country.
“Representation, or the lack of representation, has so much to do with white supremacy. A lot of people who have had power taken away from them don't get to take control of their narrative,” Dias said. “That’s what I love about recent media. There’s just so many media outlets where people of all sorts of identities are reclaiming their narratives.”
Along the way, Dias has found an important connection between public health and entrepreneurship: listening to a community’s needs to serve and solve problems.