"When you give people at the margins the opportunity and platform to tell their own stories, what is reflected will look like intentional pushback against mainstream narratives. Our stories only seem revolutionary because they so often go untold."
"In the epigraph to Drown, Junot Diaz uses a quote from a Cuban poet, Gustavo Pérez Firmat—“The fact that I am writing to you in English already falsifies what I wanted to tell you.” This is the dilemma of the immigrant writer. If I’d lived in Haiti my whole life, I’d be writing these things in Creole. But these stories I am writing now are coming through me as a person who, though I travel to Haiti often, has lived in the U.S. for more than three decades now.
Often when you’re an immigrant writing in English, people think it’s primarily a commercial choice. But for many of us, it’s a choice that rises out of the circumstances of our lives. These are the tools I have at my disposal, based on my experiences. It’s a constant debate, not just in my community but in other communities as well. Where do you belong? You’re kind of one of us, but you now write in a different language. You’re told you don’t belong to American literature or you’re told you don’t belong to Haitian literature. Maybe there’s a place on the hyphen, as Julia Alvarez so brilliantly wrote in one of her essays. That middle generation, the people whose parents brought them to other countries as small children, or even people who were born to immigrant parents, maybe they can have their own literature too."
"That was the same year my closest childhood friend suddenly cut me off. We had been inseparable, but at the start of that school year, he made fun of me and seemed to use this attack to springboard into popularity. I spent many nights during those first few weeks of school crying myself to sleep, not understanding why we weren’t friends anymore. It is a wound that still hurts—as I type this, I find my face heating up and my breaths deepening. I still don’t understand completely, but I can point to the fear that this was due to the color of my skin, more than anything, as an indication that it indeed was. I understood even when I didn’t understand, as children can."
"The reason to increase the number of Black teachers is not just so that Black children will have role models. We need more Black teachers so that ALL children will have role models and a sense that intelligence and authority extends beyond one race or culture. It is the same reason we need more Latin@ and Asian-descent teachers. Our teachers SHOULD look like our students. Our teachers SHOULD be culturally competent and fluent in the languages the students bring to the classroom. Black teachers should be a part of the ongoing conversation about schooling and education reform. Black teachers should once again be the bedrock of the Black middle class. But they are missing!
Where do you think the Black teachers are?"
"Most workers in the adoption world are decent people, but many have one-sided perspectives, which necessarily focus on the longings and wishes of adoptive parents, who are their paying clients. And some are blindsided by the widespread and false ideology that adoption is about saving children from horrible situations. A few are just in it for the money. Whatever the case, the adoption industry, as the business it is now, cannot continue. A certain rate of adoptions of children for a certain price is needed to make for the bottom line, even for the most sincere non-profit organization or individual. That is an ethical matter one can’t just bypass anymore."
"In the daylong seminar, Kuban describes how traumatized children often find it difficult to control their behavior and rapidly shift from one mood to the next. They might drift into a dissociative state while reliving a horrifying memory or lose focus while anticipating the next violation of their safety. To a well-meaning teacher or clinician, this distracted and sometimes disruptive behavior can look a lot like ADHD."
Sure #WeNeedDiverseBooks but don’t forget #WeNeedMoreWalterDeanMyerses too →
"Like everyone I was shocked and saddened by the announcement that author Walter Dean Myers had recently passed away. The first National Ambassador of Children’s Literature to leave us, there is little to say about his life that hasn’t been said by others far more eloquently than I in the last 24 hours. However, I think it’s important to take into account the context in which the man lived. Because we haven’t just lost a great author. We’ve lost a man that filled a very great need in our children’s literary landscape."