May is winding down, as is the I Read Asian Pacific Island American series. Through this series, I’ve met new friends, found new books and publishers to watch for and evolved my thinking. I had the opportunity to read from Mike Jung’s The Boys in the Back Row. Having not worked with younger children (except my own!) I’ve not done a lot of reading aloud. In this recent experience, I found speaking the words connected me with the text in ways reading it to myself didn’t.
I’d read the book previously but, forgotten about all the aggressions. On p.18 of the ARC, Kenny has decided to call Matthew Park by the name, “Wang”; calling this young Korean boy by a Chinese surname and furthering the insult by calling him a “Chink”. Reading that, I may as well have said the N-word. Did I pause while reading? I know my voice changed. I felt that slur. And, I felt it when Sean tried to whitewash the incident (p. 18) as keenly as I felt Eric become Matt’s BFF (p. 19-20) I didn’t have such a strong reaction while reading in my head! Giving voice to these characters puts the reader into the situations and brings a much deeper experience than reading silently to one’s self. No, it’s not the same as what young, Korean American Eric would experience, but there’s a visceral response. This is why accuracy matters. What if I were a less conscious reader engaging with text that perpetuated white supremacy? What if this name calling was left unchallenged and read by a young Asian American child?
I need that ability to connect to my feelings in my work. As I continue to learn what it means to be anti-racist and developed my understanding of decolonization, I need my connection to be emotional as well as intellectual. I live this work. I also live in a culture steeped in imperialism. I have to be so aware of who ‘we’ and ‘you’ are and how I place and prioritize ‘others’ and I need to be able to not only recognize but, truly accept instances of marginalization. I keep learning. Here are some of the places I have learned from or look forward to learning from.
“Ultimately, trying to help students catch up keeps our judgmental gaze on the student, a deficit lens, in fact. The problem with the impact of the pandemic is the same as before Covid-19 changed our world—inequity.
Pathologizing students further because of the pandemic once again allows the systemic inequities in our communities and schools to be ignored, to remain.” No Need to Catch Up: Teaching without a Deficit Lens
I’ll not be actively observing Pride Month on the blog in June, but YA Pride Blog will and they’re seeking contributions
Coming next month:
You know COVID lockdown has me reflecting, creating and connecting. I don’t want to come out if this the same person! YES! Magazine says to think in circles. I like the concept of ‘circular economies’ that moves us beyond being mere consumers.
More practical COVID insights came from Democracy in Color with Steve Phillips. Michigan is absolutely nothing like Indiana but, hearing this midwestern response gives me hope. There is no prescription to get us through this, and daggone it there’s very little leadership to get us through!! But, we will get through.
Believe it or not, I’ve been at this post for several hours. I realize I’ve meandering because I’ve had no particular goals here. I know it finally feeling like summer is on the horizon. My lettuce and spinach will soon be going to seed and I should soon be feasting on new crops. I should be prepping to attend ALA but, instead I’m lining up webinars and learning the best ways to connect with students and staff when my librarianship must be conducted online. I’m feeling restless, despite the numerous projects weighing me down. I’m looking forward to meeting friends in the garden tomorrow on a non-working Memorial Day Monday. Here’s to new memories!