Hi, remember me? I’m Edith, and this is my blog.
I’ve really not been blogging much here lately and have decided to hang out the ‘gone fishing’ sign for the next few weeks, but first I just have to blog about last weekend. “The Building Cultural Competency in Today’s Children’s Publishing Industry: A Working Symposium” was held at Highlights this weekend. I always enjoy my time there and was looking forward to presenting with such esteemed colleagues. I was so glad that all my first choices for the panel were willing and able to join us.
Most of you look at that panel and think I was intentionally that diverse. No, not really. If you add my go-tos for presenting (Marilisa Jimenez, Laura Jiménez and Debbie Reese) to two authors I’ve been trying to work with for ages (Paula Yoo and Renée Watson) you get a very diverse faculty. I get such a rich opportunity to learn! Y’all, be watching for Paula’s book on Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American man who was beaten to death in Detroit in 1982. I have so much to learn about people of Asian descent throughout US history.
And, while I want to say I have much to learn about Native American history, I really need to out about Cherokee, Pueblo, Iroquois and other sovereign nations. There were so many conversations, so much information! I think participants left eager to know more and wanting to do better and those of us on faculty wanted to figure out how to do just that: how to be better at meeting participants needs and giving them more. That’s what happens in a space where everyone is committed to a common purpose. And, that begins with Highlights because they are walking the walk.
As she does in her writing, Renée brought and shared so much of herself. She’s such a change maker, from her peaceful and informative demeanor to her commitment to Black girls. I am so glad people got to see what Jason Reynolds expressed by saying that “Debbie Reese isn’t a troll who lives under a bridge.” She’s one of the most deliberate and caring people I know. Marilisa made it more clear how unclear it really it to use umbrella terms for a diverse group of people, why Hispanic works for some, Latino/a for others and Latinx for some others. Othering is a bitch, isn’t it? And while we’re at it, why BIPOC, not IPOC?
I’d never come across work on bystanders before, but now I really understand the fervent activism of Laura Jiménez and others who aren’t working to be mere ‘allies’; rather, they’re showing up and doing the work that makes us all human.
This kind of work doesn’t prosper in space where it’s not nurtured; where the ground it’s built upon is poisoned. Highlights is a place of fresh air, wild flowers and all god’s creatures. It’s a place where humanity thrives. Hopefully, it will continue to be a place where people come together to learn and grown so that our children can outgrow and outlearn us.
I’m supposed to be using these next few days to get library work caught up and to prepare for Sibert meetings. I definitely will not be blogging. I may be back after ALA, but I’ll definitely be back in July when my sabbatical begins. During that time, I have serious research to do on the correlation between anthropomorphic monkeys and apes in pictures books and the dehumanizing impact they have on people of African descent. I am able to separate myself from most of the work I do but, this monkey work is the most triggering work I’ve ever done.
And, we give these books to our children.
Human is Human is Human.