Category Archives: Read the World
I have a stack of books sitting on my desk.
Okay, who am I kidding pretty much everywhere I go I have a stack of books within arm’s reach—even in the kitchen (of course the kitchen’s book stack is cookbooks). But the stack of books sitting on my desk right now is a little more important to me than the other stacks of books in my house. These books, with the exception of Prairie Fires and The Great Halifax Explosion are all books I’ve read before—most numerous times—and were formative in some way. The top two books are lovely leather bound Word Cloud editions of Anna Karenina and The Wizard of Oz (full disclosure, I have only read Anna Karenina one time, but it really sealed my love of Tolstoy’s writing). The next two books are anniversary editions: Little House on the Prairie (75th Anniversary Edition) and Harriet the Spy (50th Anniversary Edition).
As I’ve watched the events in Charlottesville unfold, I’ve been struggling to process it. I first read about what was happening yesterday morning via Pantsuit Nation. A law student at UVA recounted her experience arriving on campus Friday (8/11/17) evening to a procession of white men carrying torches and chanting, “You will not replace us” and “White lives matter.” The student, identified as Elizabeth Ann, felt that she and her friend needed to document what was happening. They kept their distance and videoed the procession. The video is chilling to watch. She then recounts that there were about 10 students holding signs reading “UVA Students Against White Supremecy.” The white terrorists surrounded the students and then began to attack them. Elizabeth Ann goes on to talk about how frightened she was and despite her fear, she planned to protest the rally on Saturday. She states, “These nazi groups are emboldened when met with little opposition. We need as many protestors here tomorrow as possible; there is strength in numbers, as well as safety. I’m scared, of course I am, but I will be there tomorrow because I have a duty to be. As a white person, I know it is easier for me to occupy this space safely than persons of color. I’m going to show up for all of the people who cannot.”
“But people forgive each other. It’s like a dance.”
“I wish I knew how to do that dance,” Adri said.
“Oh,” Lily shook her head. “I don’t think it’s that you can’t do it. I think you’re thinking the whole thing is a lose-lose. Like, what if someone actually likes you? That causes all sorts of problems. Then each time you see them, you have to try and keep them. And then even if you manage that, you lose. You end up losing. Even if you go through all the work of accepting someone and occasionally looking like a fool in front of them and then figuring out if they can accept you and you can forgive each other for everything you screw up, you lose them eventually.”
I worked with a math teacher who would often say when things weren’t going to be easy or fun, “Well, it won’t be boring.” The past two years have been far from boring. Since 2015, the US political scene has, at times, resembled a three-ring circus, at other times a boys’ club, and at other times a oligarchy. Local politics have become a microcosm of the national and international stage. I have turned to reading to escape. And then some of my favorite books have begun to appear eerily prescient, so I’ve turned back to politics to try to escape. I’ve watched Hilary Clinton be referred to as a nasty woman. I’ve listened to Mitch McConnell explain why Elizabeth Warren was silenced at Jeff Sessions nomination hearing. I’ve watched Kamala Harris get “scolded” for not being courteous enough to a witness. And when I needed an escape from politics and reading wasn’t cutting it, I found solace in my literacy training. My degree and research has caused me to look at words and actions and examine how these things shape identity and help build agency.
Leadership [lee-der-ship] – n—the act or ability to lead, guide, or direct a group
I recently finished An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. The novel, at least for me, was a page-turner. I found myself engaged in the protagonists, Laia and Elias. Tahir crafts rich, full, round characters. Their development makes sense. Their choices, while difficult, make sense because of the people they are becoming. I found myself rooting for them and cringing when I thought they were making a bad decision. While not always likeable, they are believable.