Whimsy Recommends Black History Reads: Day 12!Read More
This is my second year (officially) recommending books for Black History Month. Last year, I felt excited when the Grand Rapids Chapter of #BlackLivesMatter asked me for my list of reads. I also had a work colleague inquire about my list of books. From my youth, my parents instilled in me a sense of pride by celebrating Black History Month (that is not to say that I only wait until February, we read African-American books throughout the year), and I figured I could give back by attempting to recommend a small culmination of what I read focusing on my favorite African-American reads in celebration of this month. I avidly read and seek out books that reflect, uplift, or provide context to my heritage.
More information on this poem can be found here.
I self-identify as black and while the teens (that I work with) still ask me, “Are you sure you’re just black...? I can grin and say, "Why, YES. I’m sure." Or use sarcasm and respond with something like, "No. Please educate me on how to be the epitome of black."
I know my family has been intermixed and my features can be identified as a lot of things, but to me---I’m black. My parents grew up fearing that if we were fluent in another language we would not want to be black anymore. We would want to “pass.” [personal interjection: PARENTS THINK OF HOW MARKETABLE I COULD’VE BEEN!!! Also, FYI, their thoughts have evolved since that time, too].
My journey with adolescence and race was a struggle (THANK YOU technology! It's a struggle that I know now was familiar to many). Eighth grade was my worst year with not fitting in and figuring out what my blackness looked like and how I would present that to the world. I would say it was an important year in finding comfort in my own skin. Some knowledge I’ve gained is knowing that I'll always be asked by both white and black people, "Is that your real hair?" Figuring out that the way I talk is: "It's quite alright", and I wasn't being inauthentic. I realized that I can like whatever I want to like, and that this does not mean that I would want to identify as "anything but black.”
What I'm saying is that if I had not have read, I'm pretty sure I'd be dealing with some serious mental health issues. Because my K-12 American history was so racist---the THREE BLACK WOMEN we learned about: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, & Rosa Parks. There were "so many more black men" that were showcased in history: Nat Turner [who was portrayed as EVIL], George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. One of those people isn’t even black. My mom made sure to instill me with a strong female pride and made sure any report I did in school was about a black woman. Reports I remember doing: Elizabeth Keckley, Madame C.J. Walker, Hattie McDaniel, Dorothy Dandridge, Phillis Wheatley, Bessie Coleman, Marian Anderson, Maya Angelou, Ella Baker, and that was just the TIP of the iceberg.
Don’t even get me started on world history. I remember finding Shaka Zulu in my parent's basement asking my dad if I could read it and thinking, "We never learned that in school." I later learned that it was a totally biased view and was encouraged to read Terrific Majesty: The Powers of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Intervention. It's on my list to read. My biggest worry in high school was getting through school without constantly getting kicked out of history class especially when kids mocked the African natives featured in the history book and said the only accomplishments Africans achieved were being "civilized" by colonization.
My point is that so much rich history gets "left out" growing up as a child and it's the responsibility of minority parents (and of college courses) to instill in their children a different education. Growing up, Black History month was used as an opportunity to strengthen ties to historical roots and showcase where we come from. Over this month, I will continue this tradition by recommending titles to show where we’re going as well.
How do I decide what books I recommend? I have a loosely-based criteria. You’ll notice throughout the month I highlight:
Varying Publication Dates.
All the books recommended over the course of this month, I have read. I will not be posting anything that I have not read or did not thoroughly enjoy. I try to read out of my comfort zone as much as possible. In doing so, I read for a variety of ages and my list ranges from graphic novels to nonfiction. I know I’ll never read everything, but I try to read a balance of recent material and older publications. African-American themed books encompass a wide and diverse representation of cultures (i.e. Afro-Caribbean). Not all my books are historical or pinpoint specific historical topics. Authors of color who are publishing books in a variety of genres (i.e. speculative fiction) which lacks African-American representations are part of change and that, to me, is part of celebrating history.
Let me know (during the month of February) if you’ve read and enjoyed any titles mentioned, or if any of them pique your interest. Tweet at me: @whimsylibrarian
Ahhhh! I was able to have my second book club. My group is getting the hang of things. We've even planned our book selection and dates in advance for next book club. Let's review:
Our Book Selection:
We did not do a specific menu this time, but we will be doing one next time. We had a great time of fun and fellowship (WITH A NEW COUPLE) YAY! We had an intense discussion about race, cultural intelligence and we were excited that this will become a movie. I hope that our book club can go out to see it together.
Creative Friendship: Writing
I want to do some creative things for friends this year! #adulting. My parents use to say that you know you're an adult when everything that comes through the mail are bills or junk. I think there's something wonderful about arriving home after a long work day to see something special waiting for you. I have a few ideas and the main one is to start writing those old-fashion letters to friends. I really treasure my friendships and I want to express that to friends in this coming year. I also just love the idea of sending fun items to friends.
I made a three year professional development plan that I've been slowly working through. My main blog page will show my professional goals. For my personal life goals: budgeting and fitness. The husband and I will be doing the 22-Day Revolution to initially purge in this new year. We want to then maintain a healthy eating style after the initial “getting in the habit” of eating right. We will be increasing our exercise---and I hope to have lost some serious lbs by spring. We are also getting serious about saving our monies for all the rainy day funds. My future rainy day fund is to continuously travel.
I want to take a few trips this year. As much as other people are trying to align the universe for my future children, I am not there yet. I can’t take a baby on a plane to experience the world and I would like to do some last selfish things for me and the husband before our children scream on the plane for 2+ hours while I apologize profusely.
Practicing. I want to get back my piano chops. They haven’t necessarily gone away for good, but there have been some major setbacks when I went from practicing six-eight hours to a few minutes once in awhile, makes for a somewhat rusty pianist. I have some repertoire I still haven't learned and would like to get back into my musical journey.
Oh man! I am excited about doing some major reading this year. I am speaking at a conference in early April so I’m currently plowing through some 2015 reads and into early 2016 reads. My goal before the conference is to knock out 150 MG/YA books and about 28 more reads for African-American history month. From there, I’ll be taking a break during the summer to hopefully catch up on fanfiction and comics----and to readjust my goals for the last half of the year but that’s a start.
I feel great about my goals this year. Cheers and best wishes to everyone in figuring out their new year's resolutions. Feel free to tell me ALL about your 2016 goals on Twitter @whimsylibrarian.
J.K. Rowling confirmed it in a Tweet yesterday that Hermione is black.
Hermione is black.
Let that resonate.
I started reading Harry Potter at age eleven, and every other year, when his books were published — I was the same age. I grew up alongside Harry and friends. From her very first appearance, Hermione was my favorite character. I remember thinking: HARRY! You better become best friends with her; She’s so smart!
Hermione is black.
I remember my brother and his friends teasing me about being Hermione. My brother would say, “My sister is always reading, always on the honor roll, and she talks real proper.” I won’t lie, I was a-know-it-all, a black girl with long bushy hair, just like Hermione.
Hermione is black.
I always acted like I hated that nickname. I took pride in doing well in school and ultimately achieving my goals because I knew this fictional character could hold her own, she achieved what she set out to do, too. I remember thinking that if she wows the “boys” in a 4th year dance, well, wait until I dress up! They won’t know what to do.
Hermione is black.
Hermione was everything I wanted to be. She was passionate and fierce, smart and quick-witted, and she wasn’t worried about societal labels of beauty.
Hermione is black.
When I was a teen, I gobbled up EVERY Hermione pairing written by authors still alive and some who recently passed. I drew my own conclusions of who she paired best with in the Harry Potter fandom. I couldn’t find myself in romances on the shelf, but I could find authors who wrote as if Hermione could be any skin color you wished. Hermione was this intelligent woman who could easily dabble in the Dark Arts or became the next Minister of Magic. The magical world was hers for the taking —
Hermione is black.
When Hermione became a film character, I didn’t mind. It was expected at this point that my race was (as rule) to be a background character. It did not matter so much because in literature, Hermione could be described as me. I remember when I first saw art of a Black Hermione. I smiled wide because there she was in all her brilliant glory —
Hermione is black.
I was a fan of Harry Potter, but never a brazen one. I could only commit to the published works and fanfiction. I saw the first six movies through (Christmas gifts) and the library and only went to support the last few movie in theater. I figured I would purchase the books when I’m older. I did not own any Harry Potter fan memorabilia until this year. I couldn’t bring myself to commit. I wasn’t really sure if —
Hermione is black?
For costume parties, I would always go as the black Lavender Brown. That was how I introduced myself. People would laugh and only the “hardcore” fans would say, “Ahhhh” in that understanding tone. They knew the Kathleen Cauley and Jennifer Smith were replaced as Lavender Brown. They went from background roles to actually speaking. If a background character is easily replaceable — -are you sure
Hermione is black?
I would always ask myself growing up — is there a place for me fantasy? Are there any fiercely independent, smart, opinionated women that look like me? Do I have to create my own fantasy to be included? Yet, the infamous Rowling just confirmed that
Hermione is black.
She is cunning, fierce, and more importantly, black! Everything I always aspired to be. I just purchased a Harry Potter coloring book because I wanted to color Hermione as black. I wanted her skin to be the same color as mine. I wanted to profess my love that
Hermione is black.
I sometimes have passing thoughts for many childhood friends who use to be readers (and maybe still are) who I lost early to the “streets.” I wonder if their path might have been different had they been able to see themselves reflected in mainstream literature and pop culture more often. I was mercilessly teased for “acting white” growing up. I wonder if it is because it’s taken this long for some people to realize that
Hermione is black.
My mouth dropped open in surprised when support was shown for the casting by the author herself. The joy was indescribable. I wanted someone to immediately write a poem entitled, It has just been confirmed:
Hermione is black!
Ultimately, I am excited now to share Harry Potter with my future children in hopes to express that if anything — if they want to be a-know-it all, if they are fierce, passionate, and cunning —they don’t have to imagine themselves as Hermione. That they can be Hermione.
Hermione is Black!
This was due from outcries, which emerged over actress, Noma Dumezweni, casted as Hermione being in a Harry Potter play.
Also to address the "white" face that someone pointed out----
Could easily be taken as someone's face losing color. You may be aghast or astonished and your face may take on a slightly ashen, pale hue---
that drains the color of your face. Maybe I'm just stretching for a defense for that one line. I felt pointing out that line was similar to people asking the question, "Do black people blush?"
YES WE BLUSH! YOU JUST CAN'T SEE IT FOOL! My cheeks are always heat up in embarrassment. I dismiss it all. I just couldn't help and sit down and pen my reaction to this exciting news.
This is my natural habitat. JUST KIDDING. Seriously, it looks like I' promoting the stereotype (that librarians do nothing but read all day), but I'm not. I can assure you that I do not get ANY time to sit and read much less do it ALL day. I dedicate my downtime outside of work to reading. The point of this whole post is that I am now an official reviewer for School Library Journal! Whooo-hooooo!
My bestie Jenna has been telling me to read this comic for months. I want to say for the record that I was non-compliant towards her request (at first). Would that get me sent to Bitch Planet? BAHAHAHA! Anyway, I also want to state again for this imaginary record that I would probably try to cooperate by being complaint, but would quickly make someone mad or give up and get sent to Bitch Planet. The world building is completely compelling! It mirrors our own patriarchal society today (the good and the bad). It has everything you would want from diversity of ethnicity to body sizes. The care and quality that has gone into constructing this world and cast of characters as they battle with being societal outcasts is fascinating. If you are a non-complaint woman, you are damned to being labeled a bitch. All the rules and regulations that could make you 'non-complaint' is AMAZING! I look forward to the continuing (albeit TERRIBLY SAD) adventures as these girls try to navigate this scary world.
Man! Kristin's struggle was engrossing. I couldn't put the book down! My heart went out to Kristin and her father as their world collapses when they find out she's intersex. I loved her father's character. There are some FANTASTIC fathers out there and I'm glad that one was portrayed within this book. The fact that the informational part did not "feel" informational is an attestment to what a great writer Gregorio is for young adults. She addresses many stigmas surrounding being intersex. For example, How do you deal with being intersex in society? What does that say to your identity---especially in how you were raised? While some of the plot points were not at all realistic, the compelling narration and overall engaging characters makes this book a delightful read. The compassion Gregorio took to explore this medical condition was heartfelt and bittersweet. Readers will not be disappointed in spending time reading this work of art. It has a balance of poignant and heart warming moments sprinkled with genuineness.
I felt this would be a great start to anyone interested in pursuing interracial romances. I had a fun time reflecting on my own dating life and the conversation among family and friends for/against racial-mixing. What I love about the presentation of this novel is the added layer of illustrations. This is a slice-of-life book that quietly paces along as Walter figures out if he can handle being with Naomi while he struggles with drama surrounding family and friends. I am loving these hybrid novels that incorporate slice-of-life visuals. This added layer of art just further immerses yourself into the city/street/block/school where these characters all exist and struggle with their racial views and acceptance of each other.
THE ART! THE ART! THE ART! Also, the fact that this is a crazy CR-A-AZ-ZZY world created by an writer who mixes in DIVERSE SKIN TONES. SAY WHATTT?! I'm not even sure what is happening (plot wise)--okay, I know what's happening plot wise, but I do not want to spoil it for anyone----BUT there are talking cats, witches, magical persecuted people---and an ANGRY WOMAN. I'm so excited to keep current with this new graphic novel. It's sure to be a treat!
I cannot believe November is here already! Last spring, I received a honorarium from the State of Michigan Libraries to speak at a conference on the work that I have been doing with the MeL (Michigan electronic Library). I've been working on my presentation for awhile and am excited for this public speaking opportunity. I will be staying for the full conference and am excited to see what knowledge I will be bringing back.
I have embedded my presentation onto this page. It is made through Prezi, which comes with viewing restrictions. I do think you have to be logged in to view it and I'm not sure if it will view on a mobile device without downloading the Prezi app.
I had a fantastic time presenting at this conference. I was really nervous and forgot to take pictures! I do have pictures of having a fun time:
I also received great feedback on my presentation:
I feel every speaking opportunity helps me polish my craft of communicating ideas and strategies to meet needs in the library world. I received a great inspiration email that made me feel really good about having resources that will provide support to school librarians in Michigan.
I received my honor code certificate. I successfully completed the following class:
This class was fantastic. I think I'm going to take their other leadership classes. This course allows you to strive towards a work-life balance. We read articles, watched videos, and more importantly, completed a work life plan that could help us plot out realistic goals and strive towards meeting them. I've started incorporating some into my own daily life. Here's how this class helped me in my personal and professional life.
What Does Success Look Like to You?
Identifying Barriers & Habits from Maximizing Your Own Work Life Success
Creating an action plan to change those barriers & bad habits
This helped facilliate Meaningful conversations with partner