Weekend Reading

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First in our reading list is, appropriately, a summer reading list, via Public Books. It’s curated by their section editors, and covers topics from Global Black History to Literary Fiction to Comics. Our library lists just expanded from reasonable to out-of-control…here are a few we’re really excited about:

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson (Roaring Brook). This warm, witty, and inclusive picture book filters first-day-of-school jitters through the perspective of the school itself, giving young readers a new outlook on a familiar place…

In Gratitude by Jenny Diski (Bloomsbury). Part of it is mourning: those of us who read everything Diski wrote read this memoir-of-dying as a goodbye to an essential habit. Part of it is the pleasure Diski always gave: seemingly familiar stories told by dispensing with any of the usual reference points, like some sort of trick of the light making you step gingerly into a room you thought you knew…

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters (Mulholland). In the spirit of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, this account of slavery still ongoing in 2016 America asks readers to notice how much (or how little) has actually changed in our own world of racial profiling and third-world factory production…

Public Library: And Other Stories by Ali Smith (Anchor). Smith’s latest collection looks uncannily like the bookshelf of a library: you don’t know what you’ll find next to what, but you do trust that some logic governs the juxtapositions.  The lyrical statistics and laconic anecdotes that caulk together Smith’s stories add up to a story of their own, about the neoliberal British state replacing librarians by volunteers and selling off reading rooms to private fitness clubs.  The collection ends with Smith’s partner going through her dead mother’s purse to dispose of credit cards, reward cards, driver’s license: “The one thing I couldn’t bring myself to throw away was her library card.”

Next week’s interview is with an Episcopal priest working in interfaith education out of Chicago. If you’d like to get a quick preview of what we’ll be discussing, check out this quick read from Daily Kos about the contemporary Sanctuary Movement:

A month after popular vote loser Donald Trump’s election, some 450 houses of worship nationwide pledged to become sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, with one church in the Los Angeles area calling for “holy resistance” to his mass deportation force. And houses of worship have heeded the call, with the number of congregations vowing to protect immigrants from ICE doubling to 800, according to a new report from 60 Minutes. Undocumented parents like Jeanette Vizguerra—recently named one of Time’s 100 most influential people—have fled to churches for safety and as a last recourse.

And in honor of our first Small Stones Interview, we want to finish up by highlighting LaQuisha Beckum’s non-profit, Generation Reformation, and some of its programs. Check them out, and get in touch with the organization if you are local, have question, or even have services to offer! They are particularly looking for funding to complete the Generation Reformation organization site, which you can find here. The Facebook page is here. One of their projects is an after-school program that you can check out here.

Weekend Reading: The Aspirational List

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So your weekend reading editor is currently doing battle with a nasty cold–not hers, but the rest of her family’s. What we are presenting, therefore, is a list not of things we’ve read, but of things that we would love to read, just as soon as the taking temperatures/getting orange juice/running out for popsicles eases up a bit.

If you haven’t yet encountered Brain Pickings, we will assume you haven’t been hanging out on the internet much. Go on over and check out her recent post on Ursula K. LeGuin’s thoughts on aging and beauty.

Beauty always has rules. It’s a game. I resent the beauty game when I see it controlled by people who grab fortunes from it and don’t care who they hurt. I hate it when I see it making people so self-dissatisfied that they starve and deform and poison themselves. Most of the time I just play the game myself in a very small way, buying a new lipstick, feeling happy about a pretty new silk shirt.

Essence covers a story that’s getting attention long-past due: missing black women and girls in Washington, D.C.

According to the latest FBI data, as of February 2017, there are a total of 13,591 active missing person records for African American women stored in its National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Of that total, 8,042 were of the ages of 18 and under; 1,419 were between the ages of 19 to 21.

The numbers trouble Natalie Wilson, 47, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., (BAM FI), a nonprofit she launched with her sister-in-law, Derrica Wilson, 38, back in 2008.

“Black women and girls are going missing and it’s not just in Washington D.C. It’s happening in Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta and other urban areas around the country,” she said.

We missed this one when it was first published–if you did, too, make up for lost time and take a look. Over at Black Perspectives, there’s a great interview with Erica Armstrong Dunbar about her new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Happy reading, and here’s to a quick end to cold and flu season!

 

Weekend Reading: So You Want to Raise an Activist…

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As we often say about running this blog, you can’t do it alone. The same holds true for raising a socially-conscious, motivated kid. Here’s some help for those of you engaged in that endeavor.

The Washington Post has a lovely list of children’s books in their On Parenting blog focused on activism:

As protests and marches continue to sweep the country, parents can use books to help them broach complex topics with their kids. Many kids recently attended protests for the first time and these budding activists often have tough questions.

Here is a list of books that can introduce even the youngest children to the idea of rebellion in an age-appropriate and inspiring way. Give the princesses and pirates a rest and try these inspiring reads — just don’t be surprised if bedtime negotiations rise to a new level. Every activist has to start somewhere!

Want more? Check out Teaching for Change’s online store. There are some incredible bargains to be had, and if you need to order 500 copies or more, some titles are free, save for shipping.

And if you need a reminder about the power of reading when it comes to sparking social change, take a look at these testimonials from the Zinn Education Project. Back in March, when there was a proposed ban on books by Howard Zinn in Arkansas schools, people coordinated to send those very books to teachers and libraries in protest. The response was incredible, and some of the stories about why people donated are here.

 

 

 

Holiday Weekend Reading: President’s Day

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There is, as always, a lot out there worth reading. Here are several things we’ve come across lately.

“Why Teaching Civics in America’s Classrooms Must Be A Trump-Era Priority,” from Mother Jones. Kristina Rizga breaks down some of the reasons behind the vanishing of civics in the United States, signs of a possible resurgence, and why it matters.

The good news is that help may be on the way: The ideology of how to teach American history and civics might vary, says Ted McConnell, executive director of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, but there is strong bipartisan support for expanding social studies. If recent research is any indication, that support couldn’t come a moment sooner. When, in 2011, the World Values Survey asked US citizens in their late teens and early 20s whether democracy was a good way to run a country, about a quarter said it was “bad” or “very bad,” an increase of one-third since the late 1990s. Among citizens of all ages, 1 in 6 now say it would be fine for the “army to rule,” up from 1 in 16 in 1995. In a different national survey, about two-thirds of Americans could not name all three branches of the federal government or which party controlled the House of Representatives. In a third study, almost half of the respondents said the government should be permitted to prohibit a peaceful march.

Educator, author, and civil rights activist Jonathan Kozol has spent the past five decades writing about public schools. “Civic education should be empowering young people to ask discerning questions, and to feel that it’s okay to challenge the evils and injustices they perceive,” he said. But “civic engagement is being beaten out of kids by this tremendous emphasis on authoritarian instruction, and part of it is [the emphasis on] one right answer on the test. We need to empower young people to understand that the most important questions we face in life have limitless numbers of answers and that some of those answers will be distressing to the status quo.”

“20 Black Women You Should Be Following Right Now,” from Bitch Media, a list by Deeshaw Philyaw. If you’re on Twitter and you’re not following these women, remedy that. It makes the Twitter eggs worth putting up with.

In her book I’m Every Woman: Remixed Tales of Marriage, Motherhood and Work, Lonnae O’Neal wrote, “It’s not that I think black women have all the answers — only that we have struggled with the questions longer.” These words are as prescient and applicable to our present situation under the Despot-in-Chief as they are to the work-family life (im)balance O’Neal was writing about over a decade ago.

Since our foremothers were forced onto these shores, we’ve struggled with questions about freedom and survival, justice and equity, truth and lies. Long before we took to the streets and corporate boardrooms and courtrooms and classrooms and concert stages, the struggle lived in our bodies and in our children’s bodies, on auction blocks and in cold shanties.

No, we don’t have all the answers. But we’ve been living and loving and creating and fighting and figuring out how to make a way out of no way longer than anybody.

So listen up.

“Decolonization is not a Metaphor,” from the journal Decolonization, Indigeinity, Education & Society, by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. An analysis of a term that is used more frequently than it’s understood. Abstract at the link; full PDF available for free.

Our goal in this article is to remind readers what is unsettling about decolonization. Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools. The easy adoption of decolonizing discourse by educational advocacy and scholarship, evidenced by the increasing number of calls to “decolonize our schools,” or use “decolonizing methods,” or, “decolonize student thinking”, turns decolonization into a metaphor. As important as their goals may be, social justice, critical methodologies, or approaches that decenter settler perspectives have objectives that may be incommensurable with decolonization. Because settler colonialism is built upon an entangled triad structure of settler-native-slave, the decolonial desires of white, non-white, immigrant, postcolonial, and oppressed people, can similarly be entangled in resettlement, reoccupation, and reinhabitation that actually further settler colonialism.

“Family Values: Mapping the Spread of Anti-Gay Ideology,” in Harpers. We read just about anything by Masha Gessen, especially post-election. If you don’t know her work, this exploration of the links between US religious conservatism and strains of the same in Eastern Europe and Russia. Gessen has left Russia for the US twice–most recently, due to fear of losing her children due to being gay–and so the subject is personal.

At the time, I think of myself as a journalist interviewing a marginalized political activist for a mainstream American magazine. I think I have the power. But in a few weeks, Brown will become president of the World Congress of Families, and in November he will both rejoice in the election of Donald Trump and begin hounding him on Twitter, demanding that he take a stand against same-sex marriage. In May 2016, the Russians are leading an international charge, with Komov at the U.N. Soon, we will witness how easily the balance of power can shift. The American president-elect’s pick for U.N. ambassador will be among his first announcements; it will be the governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, who has no international experience but does have a track record of opposing both L.G.B.T. and reproductive rights. If she takes office, years of painstaking progress on L.G.B.T. rights at the U.N. will be reversed, with Russia needing to play but a small part.

But in May 2016 it is a theoretical, even condescending, question I ask Brown at the conclusion of our backstage interview: “Do you see a way for you and me to live in the same society?…If we can negotiate,” I ask, “is there a way that my family and yours can live in peace in the same society?”

“I don’t know.” Brown smiles — I think it’s a smile of awkwardness — and presses his hand to his knee, which has been shaking for the past ten minutes. “No.”

“The Forgotten Work of Jessie Redmon Fauset,” by Morgan Jerkins in The New Yorker. We (well, one-half of our editing team, at any rate) is fascinated with inter-war lit, and this article added several titles to our to-be-read pile. Fundamental to the Harlem Renaissance, but mostly unknown, Jerkins begins to remedy this.

“The Harlem Renaissance as we know it would not have been possible without her participation,” Cheryl A. Wall, the author of “Women of the Harlem Renaissance,” told me recently. “I think we lose a bit of our literary history if we do not acknowledge the contributions of Jessie Fauset.” So why has her own work been forgotten?

A simple answer to that question is that she was a woman. In his 1981 book, “When Harlem Was in Vogue,” the scholar David Levering Lewis writes of Fauset, “There is no telling what she would have done had she been a man, given her first-rate mind and formidable efficiency at any task.” And from the beginning the women of the Harlem Renaissance were slighted in celebrations of the movement. In 1925, when Locke published “The New Negro,” his landmark anthology of fiction, poetry, and essays, which aimed “to register the transformations of the inner and outer life of the Negro in America that have so significantly taken place in the last few years,” only eight of the thirty-six contributors were women.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Have a Swedish mud cake recipe. We can attest, having tried the real thing, that it’s worth your time parsing out some of the measuring oddities. No better way to end a long weekend.

Weekend Reading: 2/12

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We’ve been reading a lot this week, and we still feel like we’re playing catch up. Here are a few things that may be interesting–or useful–to educators.

While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the stay on the administration’s travel ban, you are probably already aware that ICE conducted a series of raids this week around the country.

Here’s some background information, from The Washington Post:

Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.

Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

If you are in the classroom, it’s likely that this is impacting your students, their family members, and their broader community. To that end, here are some resources that you can hand out NOW that may help at least clarify the situation.

Next, not a long read, but an important tool: from United We Dream, Know Your Rights downloadable cards that explain our rights clearly and succinctly are now available in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and English. ALL people in the United States have these rights, regardless of their immigration status. These cards are designed to be used as a guide when interacting with immigration authorities. Below is the English version.

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From The New Yorker, “Teaching Southern and Black History Under Trump,” a look at some of the challenges professors in the South, in largely red states, are facing as they attempt to teach history in the current political climate.

“I don’t know that Trump has historical awareness at all,” Fitzhugh Brundage, the chair of the history department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told me. “He doesn’t display any historical consciousness or depth.” U.N.C.-Chapel Hill is a relatively liberal Southern institution; Brundage described the atmosphere on campus after Trump’s victory as “funereal.” And he said that many of the historians he knows feel their work has become even more critical: “I’ve had any number of colleagues say they feel recommitted and energized to do what they do, because of its very importance now.”

From Think Progress, a short read on how the Department of Justice may be backing off of protections for transgender kids:

As ThinkProgress reported last August, the Obama administration’s guidance “stated that Title IX’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of ‘sex’ protect transgender students in accordance with their gender identity, such that they must be allowed to use the bathrooms and play on sports teams that match their gender.” But the brief filed Friday signals that the Trump administration no longer wants to implement that guidance.

And, while not education-related, here’s an explainer from Vox about why General Flynn may continue to be at the center of one of the more urgent scandals plaguing the administration. We’ll see if anything comes of this one.

Late Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that Flynn had called Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29, the same day that Obama had slapped new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its hack of the US election. The conversation covered the sanctions, and, according to two officials, suggested that the Trump administration would be rolling back the sanctions in the future.

That would mean Flynn had been actively trying to undermine Obama administration policy while not yet in office — a big, questionably legal no-no. Indeed, the FBI is currently investigating the content of the Flynn calls.

And finally, welcome to new readers! Our community continues to grow, and we look forward to providing more original educational material as we move forward–while still highlighting the best of what we find on the web.

Have something you’d like to see? Have something you’d like to share? Get in touch this way, or get in touch this way. Or just leave a comment. Hope to hear from you soon!