Some interesting essays round the blogosphere this week touching on all kinds of diversity—race and more!
Cynic’s blogging for Ta-Nehisi Coates, and he has a really interesting look at the progression of ethnic groups through his neighborhood: first the Irish, then the Jews, now the African Americans. Each group starts as outsiders, whom the insiders swear never to accept, so they create their own institutions and maintain their culture but eventually assimilate, spread out and leave the enclave available for the next group of outsiders—and with the vibrant African American community there now, he wonders, what comes next for them?
Well, it’s HOT, and it seems like the urge to stay out of the heat has led to lots of thoughtful conversations around the web this week.
We begin with a new take on To Kill a Mockingbird, the classic by Harper Lee that celebrated its 50th Anniversary just this week. While it’s been taught for years as the quintessential anti-racism novel, Stuff White People Do has a fascinating argument for why the book can also be read as racist. Among the arguments: “The novel reduces black people to passive, humble victims, thereby ignoring the realities of black agency and resistance.” Even if you’ve got a deep love for To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s worth thinking about who it was written for, how it can be read differently by different readers, and how it fits into the larger picture of a literature curriculum heavily dominated by white authors.
We’re all about diversity here at Lee & Low, and we know that diversity means more than just race. It’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, and we’re wondering what our readers would think about picture books portraying the growing number of families led by same-sex parents—would you buy or review picture books featuring same-sex parents, whether for your library, classroom, kids, or personal collection?
Before we launch into this week’s roundup of race and diversity links, I’d like to make a plea: help your local library. Many around the country are facing massive budget cuts, so let your elected officials know that your library is important. New Yorkers, NYPL has a handy form to help you contact your City Council member and the mayor, in the hopes of preventing massive service cuts, including closing ten branches and limiting the library to four open days per week.
Now, to diversity!
White people adopting children of color is discussed relatively often, but Charles Mudede looks at the other side: what it says when a black person adopts a white child.
This week we’re starting close to home: from the New York Times, an article on the lack of diversity at top New York City Schools—and a reminder that a lack of diversity doesn’t mean that everyone is white.
A long but very interesting paper looks at the role parents’ English ability plays in the juvenile justice system.
We’ll start things out with the bad news: a justice of the peace in Louisiana refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. His justification? That any children the couple had might suffer discrimination. A quick history review: it was 1967 when the U.S. Supreme court ruled in the case Loving v. Virginia that race-based legal restrictions on marriage are unconstitutional. In other marriage-relate news, same-sex couples can still only get married in six states.
Riding on the subway over the past few weeks, I kept coming across ads for ABC’s new “Comedy Wednesday” sitcom lineup: Hank, The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougartown. Now, aside from my personal feelings about some of these shows (Courtney Cox, what happened to you?) what struck me was how white–and I mean WHITE–the lineup looked, at least from the ads.
The lack of diversity in network programming isn’t anything new, but this fall it really bothered me, especially after reading this great article over at Movieline called “Who Is Killing the African American Sitcom?” Why is a comedy labeled as an “African American sitcom” as soon as it includes more than one black person in the cast? And why don’t sitcoms about people of color make the lineups of major networks anymore?