a list that celebrates being afraid to write
CELEBRATE This Week No. 225
There are a lot of thoughts bubbling in me about windows and mirrors to other cultures and experiences. I’m kinda afraid to write about this, which means it is just the topic I should be writing about. I hope this little corner of the blogging world will continue to offer wide open arms and endless grace as I find my footing in this topic that is beginning to demand more and more of my brain space and writing attention.
I used to believe that there were universal storylines and it didn’t really matter who was telling the story or what color their skin is. Then I became Jordan’s momma and I quickly realized there are very few books that have characters that look like Jay. Sure, the storylines might be universal, but sometimes it’s hard to feel that truth is universal when none of the characters look like you.
At NCTE I was at a round table with Tracey Baptiste. The words she spoke have wrapped around my heart and soul. She encouraged educators to read books written by authors who have firsthand experiences and perspectives of their characters. This is what drew me to Stella Diaz has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez.
I love her — the character and the author.
She makes me want to read more books about cultures different than mine written from authors of different cultures than me.
We talk about “not to be racist” a lot. It’s a phrase that keeps entering our house.
“Talking about race doesn’t make someone racist,” I say.
“That’s not what people at school think,” Jay says.
Sam, Jay’s younger brother, agrees. “Yeah, I said, my brother is black and the kids told me I’m a racist.”
Jordan laughed. “You’re not racist.”
Sam said, “If you’re white like me and you say someone is black, they call you racist.”
“That’s true,” Jordan says. “So you have to say, ‘not to be racist,’ and then you can talk about black people.”
My heart cringes.
I have no right words, so I just say, “You don’t need to use the qualifier, ‘not to be racist,’ because you’re not racist.”
Jordan laughs and says, “Anyway, what’s important is I have this really funny story — and it’s not because I’m racist, but it’s just because I’m black and no one can see me in the dark which means I can totally freak them out. So what happened…”
I’m pretty sure I have a lot to learn from him.