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Oh, let’s just get the ugly news out of the way first.

It was comments by Lionel Shriver (The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047; Harper) that led Yassmin Abdel Magied to walk out of Shriver’s speech at the Brisbane Writers Conference. Shriver, like Rosoff and so many writers feel that the latest calls for diversity is a directive on what they can or should write. Megied, much more eloquently than I expresses the fallacies of Shriver’s whitely entitled perspective. I can just see that 8 year old telling his 3 year old sibling “you can’t tell me what to do.” Or that underhanded, technology superior being in a sci fi thriller telling the little earthling the same: “You can’t tell me what to do.”

But, we do tell you that when it’s about us, we want it right. We stand up to the giant, the bully, the entitled one and make our statements. Don’t rely upon the stereotypes you’ve know all your life. The problem is, when they’re the stereotypes you’ve known all your life, and you continue to work around people from the same socio-economic group as you, they’re your neighbors and in your yoga class and in your writing groups then you have no way of know what real LGBT or real African American or real disabled people are like.

And then, you want to endow upon yourself the uber privilege of being and artist and the world is supposed to be your canvas.

 Maybe, only, possibly if we could just get more books published in #ownvoices. I have to admit it does sound like we need Book Police in saying need more editors from marginalized groups to make sure authors are getting it right when they write about marginalized people but, yes we do need that. We need it early in the process because this nonsense of calling out books after they’re published needs to stop. We’re talking about people’s careers and livelihoods here. And, we’re talking about books that portray characters and events that send numerous subliminal messages to young readers about what society thinks of them. Marginalized people want the privilege of being visible, being whole and being human. We want to be able to drop the ‘marginalized’ moniker.

Today I’m walking the walk; starting a book club on my campus, Believers in Black Girl Magic. We’re selecting our first book this evening and I’ll be sure to report back what they select. The books on the list for them to select from are Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson; Everfair by Nisi Shawl; Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie; Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris-Perry; Hidden Figures by Margo Lee Shetterly and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I’m excited to get these young minds reading books with invigorating messages for young black and brown women. I hope to eventually read Juliet Takes a Breath with them. What a powerful book!!

The news is getting better!

I’ve been filling my FB pages with news of Colin Kaepernick. I love that story of the power of one! The press wanted to convince us that this young man was going to turn every NFL game in which he played into a near riot as he bordered on committing an almost unpatriotic activity when in reality, he was building a huge following and fan base. His jersey sales skyrocketed from #22 to #1 among other NFL jerseys. Not only have players on his and other NFL teams join him, but so have women’s soccer players and high school football teams. And, they did it not to echo Kaepernick, but to protest the senseless murder of young African Americans by the people paid to protect them, the police. #BlackLivesMatter.

We’re entering book award season. The short list for the Man Booker Award is out as is the long list for the National Book Award for young people’s literature. Can we stop the clock so that I can read them ALL??

Kwame Alexander Booked

Kate DiCamillo Raymie Nightingale

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell (illustrator) March: Book Three

Grace Lin When the Sea Turned to Silver

Anna-Marie McLemore When the Moon Was Ours

Meg Medina Burn Baby Burn

Sara Pennypacker & Jon Klassen (illustrator) Pax

Jason Reynolds Ghost

Caren Stelson Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story

Nicola Yoon The Sun Is Also a Star

WOW!!!! Congratulations to these authors and publishers.

I haven’t even seen GHOST or THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR. Not yet…

Let’s get psyched for Latinx Heritage month that runs from 15 September – 15 October. Let’s do that by looking at the fabulous list of winners of the 2015 International Latinx Book Awards. I love that this award celebrates the vast contributions of Latinx writers throughout children’s literature by presenting awards in 23 categories. I would like to specifically recognize the Young Adult winners. You can find a complete list here.

Best Young Adult Latino Focused Book
Francisco Newton The Trails of Tizoc: An Aztec Boy in a World of Trouble
Maria Nieto The Water of Life Remains in the Head

Best Young Adult Fiction Book – English
Meg Medina Burn Baby Burn
Estela Bernal Can You See Me Now?
Daniel José Older Shadowshaper
Anna-Marie McLemore The Weight of Feathers

Best Young Adult Fiction Book – Spanish or Bilingual
Editorial Bambu Laberinto, Víctor Panicello
Gael Solano No sin Besarte
Armando Rendón Noldo Saves the Day

Best Young Adult Nonfiction Book
Sonia Manzano Becoming Maria
Margarita Engle Enchanted Air, Two Cultures, Two Wings, A Memoir

Best Educational Young Adult Book
Roxanne Ocampo Nailed It! Quetzal Mama’s Toolkit for Extraordinary College Essays

CONGRATULATIONS!! And, thanks ever so much for adding to my overly abundant reading list.

It’s really nice to see books honored that are written in own voices. It’s wonderful when Latinxs recognize the literary contributions from within their own community and it’s exhilarating when a prestigious award such is the National Book Award recognizes the outstanding talent that exists in marginalized authors. I’m so giddy for Meg Medina right now! What a year for her! And, for Nicola Yoon who’s first book is currently in production to become a major movie release. And, Jason and Kwame and… really, for any marginalized author who was able to publish this year. We have to be as excited for these established and duly honored writers as for these 2016 debut artists. All of these artists are worried about their next contract, hustling to sell the last one and crunched to find time to write. Let’s make it easy for them: follow them on social media (that’s super important in publishing today), post about their books when you read them and… keep reading them! Keep honoring #ownvoices by reading #ownvoices.

 

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