It's Banned Book Week, although I hope everyone really celebrates that we are free to read whatever we wish anytime we wish. I just finished Revolution by Deborah Wiles, a time when more than books were taken away from many in our country. And in the past month, we watched as terrible things occurred in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, years after the Civil Rights era. Also, the news today is that even more refugees from Syria are pouring in to Turkey, their villages burned by this group named ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It is also the Egyptian Goddess of Fertility. How do I know, because a student of mine spent a year studying the gods created by other cultures, and while I couldn't quite remember all of it, I did remember ISIS was a god from some country. I'm glad it has another meaning.
In addition to these bits of information, I also just read Meg Medina's Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass, undoubtably a book that will be challenged, if not banned in some schools. It's about bullies, and speaking out. And I read Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and illustrated by Floyd Cooper about the terrible times of travel for African-Americans after World War II. Jim Crow laws had been passed that were supported by the state governments, which meant that many businesses could still choose to serve only white people. The Green Book was filled with those who did welcome African-Americans.
Collect it all together, and we have a people who are afraid, afraid of what will happen if they speak out. In the Yaqui Delgado book, the main character Piddy (short for Piedad) said over and over, to the few students who knew about the bullying, don't tell, don't tell, and begged her most trusted confidante not to tell her mother. A good student, she chose to lie, cut school and cheat instead of telling.
I am puzzled and wish there was a perfect--and peaceful--solution. What makes the person, young or old, step up, and others to hide? The word answer is fear, but some who fear still take action. And I thought about my slicing post today, and wanted to ask what do you do to teach others, whether students or those in your community to speak up when they see a wrong, or when they are wronged?
I also want to share that while writing, a little voice kept saying, are you sure you want to write this? What if it sounds too preachy? What if some do turn away and don't want to confront, and I offend? I am outspoken in the face of inequities, but there are times when I wonder if it seems as if I'm telling people how to act, what to believe. Is that okay?
Happy to hear your responses!