Maybe I’ve had CNN in the background too long this weekend. Maybe bombs around the world are waking me up. Or, maybe it’s the power of the words I’ve been reading. But, this call to change I’ve been feeling is getting deeper and my resistance is lessening.
I’ve been looking at PhD programs, funded research projects and new jobs all of which are pretty intense sorts of change on their own. It’s that call to keep learning that is propelling me further. But, I’ve had 12 years of a Catholic education and the call to do more and be more is very much ingrained in me. The call to serve even leaves me considering digging in, staying put and actually getting involved in this city I hate so much.
And I have to admit to a deepening fear that comes from a growing awareness of mortality. Not my own; get cancer, lose grandchildren and death is really no big deal. Rather, the mortality of all that surrounds me. ISIS frightens me in a sense because of what they do but in a bigger sense because of the world’s response to them. We don’t attempt to understand who ‘they’ are, it’s just easier to be fearful of any, I want to say any Arab (because it’s easy to think all Arabs are Muslim) but I have to believe that brown people from Southeast Asian are getting lumped into this too. It frightens me that we (I cannot deny my part in letting this happen) so easily lose our humanity and deny support to innocent civilians. It scares me that those in power conceal truths from us while bombing with one hand and buying oil and supporting regimes with the other. It scares me that the only options to this are Donald Trump or Ben Carson. While this sounds like political rambling, I believe life as we know it may be changing. And, I pick up another book to read for the Walter Awards, engage in another conversation about the lack of diversity in books and wonder why.
Certainly, this is an important fight, but there’s so much more.
I honestly believe that publishers are unintentional in their racism, that they’re simply doing business as usual. I’m not excusing these institutions of racism but hoping I can get you to realize that racism is bigger that these institutions. Consider that if 60% of all books published featured characters of color our work would not be done. Teachers and academics, bookstores, parents… all need to give up exclusionary practices that directly impacts what young people read. And this is where I have to mention the stuff I’ve been bumping into across the Internet. Sure, there’s the stuff I bump into in everyday life, the opportunities denied, the woman in Walmart who looks the other way rather than offering me a cart, the students who look through me when I teach a class, the colleagues who swear they cannot understand what I’m saying or who question every detail of what I say. But this stuff on the Internet is the American equivalent of ISIS. It’s those who want to annihilate Native American, Jews, Muslims and all people of color. I find their material when I’m doing a random search for something. They’ve linked to my blog and I’m sure they’ve linked to others in kidlit. They would want to destroy me and life as I and my family and friends know it simply because of the color of our skin.
I fight for books. I fight what to me is a benign fight because it’s such a small part of what I am up against. My pronoun has change because, even though I’ve connected to so many who are in this fight, the hate is personal and the fight seems that way, too. Here on this blog, I have a voice, I can tell my narrative and having a voice is what keeps people alive. Are the books more important, more urgent that I realize? No, there have been no threats or direct contact but I have seen these things and know this hate exists.
Yesterday, I looked through 62 photos from the ALAN breakfast and saw one brown face. One. Did the photographer not realize how white the photos were, or did the organizers once again fail to take steps to achieve diversity? But, I saw that after reading a pdf about how to infiltrate police departments written by white racists. Benign everyday acts of racism feed into this war of hate. I recently Tweeted something like ‘Bombs in France, Lebanon and Syria. Trump. Carson. Christmas commercials on TV. Bring on Santa’. The ugliness is absurd if you let yourself be considered a pawn. I often say that to effect change, one must define their corner of the world because you can’t change it all.
Ending this is hard! Usually, I post when I’ve made a decision or have had a revelation, but this time I’m thinking out loud.