This summer, my blog turned 14 years old. I think that’s very old for something that’s tech based. When I first began blogging in 2006, Facebook was 2 years old. Twitter, and the he Nintendo Wii came about that year and Amazon began its cloud based service. Schools were just starting their 1:1 laptop initiatives. “Google” became a recognized verb in the Oxford English and Merriam-Webster dictionaries.
I know when I began my blog, I knew way fewer people in the field of children’s literature than I do now. I was a nascent high school librarian in a predominantly Black high school setting out to learn a new technology. But, I quickly began to realize the lack of representation of children of color. And, prevalence of stereotypes, biases and microaggressions in children’s books and this became the platform for my work. And, it grew. I didn’t know that this blog would become such an important part of my work. I think this is a good example of how the things we do that seem so insignificant aren’t always such. We never know who is watching is or what we’re really setting in motion.
My blog continues and I want to say it does so even as blogs have taken on a rather tarnished reputation, but I think they’ve always been by some as a questionable form of journalism. As an academic librarian, I’ve come to see blogs as important tools for public intellectuals because they can be ways to engage with communities and create change. They move scholarship out of the ivory tower as research becomes more public facing. In some more progressive universities, public scholarship has been an acceptable professional practice alongside teaching, research and service and this has been done primarily because of the huge amount of labor that black and brown women devote to their communities. Black and brown women redefined scholarship for years in a way that was not recognized by the white dominated institutions in which they work. My work has always leaned toward being practical and purposeful, as well as existing as a slight shift to the left from what is conventional so, I prefer this type of public work.
But, back to the my blog. I’ve innovated a few things over the years. I’ve changed they layout several times. I had memes back when memes where regularly scheduled blog posts: Male Monday, SundayMorningReads and #CollectiveResistance. I used to have a series called “Cookie Traditions” and people like Karen Simpson would share holiday books, music and cookie recipes. I’ve had so many series! I’ve even done a couple of video posts and service projects. I’ve gone hard on anthropomorphic monkeys and the ways marginalized people are represented in images, championed books for gay Black boys and continually celebrated Indigenous authors and authors of color and their work.
I really think it’s time to innovate. 16 years? Time for a change! Between the coronavirus, racial reckonings and the downward shift in our economy, our world is being redefined. There really should be no business as usual, not even with this blog. So, I’m pondering my focus and what I’m doing to instigate even more change. Too many generations have been cheated out of the full benefits of literacy, the privilege of citizenship and the full, joyful expression being seen as human. Of breathing easy.
I know I’ve been considering moving to Patreon and that may be one change to my method of delivery.
What do I hope to achieve with these changes? I’d hope to
- be more relevant
- engage with followers in critical conversations about representation in young adult literature
- develop a more consistent schedule of reviews and interviews
- consistently deliver content in an innovative and informative format
Maybe I’ll be doing less to do more; fewer posts with more content. I don’t know! I do know it’s difficult to balance work between fighting the ever presence of racism, misogyny, bigotry and imperialism while at the same time lifting voices but, there’s not a lot of public work being done in children’s literature, particularly for African Americans. How do I define my corner?
What I do know is I’m thinking about change here on this blog and in the meantime, I have two deadlines this week and classes are about to begin on campus.
Be well and do good!