recap: ALSC President’s Panel

I think I’ve been home for three days now and I’m still not recovered from ALA. I’m mulling reflections of the event but, I have to post this recap of the ALSC President’s Panel. For some reason, ALA didn’t record the event. I’ve seen bootleg copies on Twitter  but I’ll be a bit more ethical about sharing information from the session and share little composition from the notes I gleaned as Margarita Engles, Dr. Debbie Reese, Jason Reynolds and Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas spoke.

Who tells the story?

We hear a young black author admit his terror at the thought of losing his livelihood, aand he names this terror a product of the PTSD of white privilege. Yet, white authors continue to dot black and brown bodies into their books as if she who sprinkles the most wins. We’re talking about real people here. Black and brown people, Native people and people of color are all real people.

How do we consider all children?

What even is America? The United States? Native people were not the first Americans. They were the first nations on this land before it was America and before it was the United States. And, ‘america’ is the land mass that stretches from the North Pole to Teirra de Fuego.

Ignorance is a wall.

Does reading Laura Ingalls Wilder help you remember what it was like back and remember the good ol’ days? But, to remember how it was for whom? Whiteness keeps you calling it American and from knowing your United States is not mine.

Whiteness says ‘not you’.

Historically, our children are taught not to be themselves because in doing so, they’re not seen as human. They’re taught to conform to whiteness, to give up their stories and to reframe them in someone else’s voice. PTSD is real.

Whiteness is a wall.

We are humans. not beasts. not a category. not monkeys or apes. neither numbers nor statistics.

“People talk about Debbie Reese like she’s some troll under the bridge. I met Debbie Reese yesterday and she’s the nicest person I’ve ever met!” proclaimed Jason Reynolds.

We are stories.

Listening to stories, the act of hearing people, is a source of compassion.

Compassion + intimacy + humility + gratitude + decolonization = reading

Stories are political. They are power. We are all influenced by stories and they certainly influence our young people’s ability to create their own place in the world.

Who tells the story?

Our children are stories and we need bridges and springboards to connect to those stories. Diversely sprinkling black and brown skin, accented names and ethnic foods that are detached from bodies into stories is not building bridges. Decolonization opens the path, builds bridges and removes little houses.

What if we had a world where all stories, where all children matter?

We need to reframe the perspective from ‘they’ don’t read to ‘they’ don’t have books to read. It matters for reading achievement; it matters that ‘they’ be able to see themselves so they want to read. These young people don’t need to be saved, they simply need to be seen. Because the trauma and the stress are real.

Children are stories.

Read more about the panel here.