myrtleperiwinkle

america-wakiewakie:

Our eyes tell us that people look different. No one has trouble distinguishing a Czech from a Chinese. But what do those differences mean? Are they biological? Has race always been with us? How does race affect people today?

There’s less - and more - to race than meets the eye:

1. Race is a modern idea. Ancient societies, like the Greeks, did not divide people according to physical distinctions, but according to religion, status, class, even language. The English language didn’t even have the word ‘race’ until it turns up in 1508 in a poem by William Dunbar referring to a line of kings.

2. Race has no genetic basis. Not one characteristic, trait or even gene distinguishes all the members of one so-called race from all the members of another so-called race.

3. Human subspecies don’t exist. Unlike many animals, modern humans simply haven’t been around long enough or isolated enough to evolve into separate subspecies or races. Despite surface appearances, we are one of the most similar of all species.

4. Skin color really is only skin deep. Most traits are inherited independently from one another. The genes influencing skin color have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or forms of intelligence. Knowing someone’s skin color doesn’t necessarily tell you anything else about him or her.

5. Most variation is within, not between, “races.” Of the small amount of total human variation, 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians, Kurds, Koreans or Cherokees. About 94% can be found within any continent. That means two random Koreans may be as genetically different as a Korean and an Italian.

6. Slavery predates race. Throughout much of human history, societies have enslaved others, often as a result of conquest or war, even debt, but not because of physical characteristics or a belief in natural inferiority. Due to a unique set of historical circumstances, ours was the first slave system where all the slaves shared similar physical characteristics.

7. Race and freedom evolved together. The U.S. was founded on the radical new principle that “All men are created equal.” But our early economy was based largely on slavery. How could this anomaly be rationalized? The new idea of race helped explain why some people could be denied the rights and freedoms that others took for granted.

8. Race justified social inequalities as natural. As the race idea evolved, white superiority became “common sense” in America. It justified not only slavery but also the extermination of Indians, exclusion of Asian immigrants, and the taking of Mexican lands by a nation that professed a belief in democracy. Racial practices were institutionalized within American government, laws, and society.

9. Race isn’t biological, but racism is still real. Race is a powerful social idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. Our government and social institutions have created advantages that disproportionately channel wealth, power, and resources to white people. This affects everyone, whether we are aware of it or not.

10. Colorblindness will not end racism. Pretending race doesn’t exist is not the same as creating equality. Race is more than stereotypes and individual prejudice. To combat racism, we need to identify and remedy social policies and institutional practices that advantage some groups at the expense of others.

RACE - The Power of an Illusion was produced by California Newsreel in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Major funding provided by the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Diversity Fund.

penamerican
But there is the other form of exile: the one that a writer feels, without leaving his/ her country. This form, I had said, in an earlier response to the question of exile, can be corrosive. It saps the soul; it is nightmarish. For while you are in your own country, there is sometimes the feeling of powerless; being shut off from the larger world, because, in some cases, in our world, poetry becomes a luxury, when quite a sizeable portion of the public cannot read.

Syl Cheney-Coker, Sierra Leonean poet and novelist

Coker, Syl Cheney | Southbank Centre

(via penamerican)

If an author is in a position of power and influence do they have an obligation to do or say something about diversity in the industry? What do you think?

You don’t look like an Indian.

Ever heard anyone say that? It’s a safe bet that you have if you’re a contemporary Native American. Or, as my friends in Canada put it, a member of a First Nation.

And those were the exact words that I heard this past Saturday. Standing in front of a group of fifty sixth and seventh graders at Henry Hudson Middle School (And no, I shall not go into a rant about its namesake right now) in the Bronx.

I’d just finished doing my presentation to that very polite audience. Great kids. The very fact that they were here spending a sunny Saturday morning in school spoke volumes about their motivation. I’d been introduced as an American Indian author.

And as I told a story and then talked a little about my two YA novels—Wolf Mark (Lee & Low, 2011) and Killer of Enemies (Lee & Low/Tu, 2013)—which had just been given to each of those young men and women, they’d listened attentively.

“So,” I said, “any questions?”

And that was when, in the second row, the young woman wearing a scarf had raised her hand and made that comment. “You don’t look like an Indian.” [read more]

Indegenuity: What Space Cats, Hoverboards, and a Mission to Mars Tell Us about the Indigenous Present and Future—a talk by Danika Medak-Saltzman
If you’re in the area (Berkeley, CA), be sure to catch this promising lecture tomorrow night, April 16, from 5-6 pm. 
More from the flyer:
Until recently, Native American artists, writers & filmmakers have rarely employed futuristic or science fiction genres. This new movement towards Native sci-fi narratives has led to speculation about why this might be happening now. By examining three recent film shorts/works in progress, Melissa Henry’s Black Cat in Space, Sydney Freeland’s Hoverboard, and Nanobah Becker’s The Sixth World, Medak-Saltzman engages with theidea of “Indigenous futurisms.” She also asks what it means that Native peoples are writing back in a genre that most often tells stories about conflict with, or colonization and conquest of other peoples’ worlds. By considering what possibilities for our collective futures are being opening up in the process, Medak-Saltzman considers these reframings as assertions of not only our continued existence as Native peoples (in spite of mainstream scifi narratives that mandate otherwise), but also as powerful acts of envisioning Native epistemologies and self-determination into the future.
Danika Medak-Saltzman (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) is Assistant Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her manuscript Specters of Colonialism: Native Peoples, Visual Culture, and Nation-building projects in the U.S. and Japan (1860-1904) is forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press. She is a two time Ford Fellowship recipient (Pre-doc, Dissertation year) and Katrin H. Lamon Fellow in Residence, School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM.

Indegenuity: What Space Cats, Hoverboards, and a Mission to Mars Tell Us about the Indigenous Present and Future—a talk by Danika Medak-Saltzman

If you’re in the area (Berkeley, CA), be sure to catch this promising lecture tomorrow night, April 16, from 5-6 pm.

More from the flyer:

Until recently, Native American artists, writers & filmmakers have rarely employed futuristic or science fiction genres. This new movement towards Native sci-fi narratives has led to speculation about why this might be happening now. By examining three recent film shorts/works in progress, Melissa Henry’s Black Cat in Space, Sydney Freeland’s Hoverboard, and Nanobah Becker’s The Sixth World, Medak-Saltzman engages with the
idea of “Indigenous futurisms.” She also asks what it means that Native peoples are writing back in a genre that most often tells stories about conflict with, or colonization and conquest of other peoples’ worlds. By considering what possibilities for our collective futures are being opening up in the process, Medak-Saltzman considers these reframings as assertions of not only our continued existence as Native peoples (in spite of mainstream scifi narratives that mandate otherwise), but also as powerful acts of envisioning Native epistemologies and self-determination into the future.


Danika Medak-Saltzman (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) is Assistant
Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her manuscript Specters of Colonialism: Native Peoples, Visual Culture, and Nation-building projects in the U.S. and Japan (1860-1904) is forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press. She is a two time Ford Fellowship recipient (Pre-doc, Dissertation year) and Katrin H. Lamon Fellow in Residence, School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM.

yaflash

Want More Diversity in Your YA? Here’s How You Can Help

diversityinya:

Within the last few weeks, the  New York TimesEntertainment Weekly, and CNN have all published articles examining the lack of diversity in children’s and young adult literature — and next month, School Library Journal plans to publish an entire issue devoted to diversity. While all this mainstream interest in diversity is to be applauded for bringing more people into the ongoing conversation about diversity, they still largely fail to tackle the problem of how we can change the status quo.

We at Diversity in YA obviously don’t have all the answers, and we aren’t the first people to talk about these issues. This conversation has been going on for decades. What we do have are ideas for how you can change the status quo right now. If you’re an ordinary reader, you don’t have to wait to show your support for books that show the world as it is. Here are five ways you can help make positive change right now:

1. Look for diversity. 

Make a conscious effort to seek out books to read that feature characters of color, LGBT characters, and/or disabled characters. They may not be front-and-center at your local Barnes & Noble; you may have to look around a bit or go online to find them.

2. Support diversity.

Support the diverse books that are published today by buying them, by checking them out at your library, or by requesting that your library buy them.

3. Recommend diversity.

If you use Goodreads, Facebook, social media, or have a blog, talk up the books you love that happen to have diverse characters. Tell your friends! Word of mouth is still key in bringing awareness to books. And remember: You don’t need to recommend them solely for their diversity — they’re great books to enjoy, plain and simple.

4. Talk up diversity.

When discussions around diversity in literature occur online, join in the conversation if you can to express that you do want more diverse books to read and that the issue is important to you.

5. Don’t give up.

There will always be people who dismiss “diversity” as meaningless. They are the reason we must keep fighting for representation. We’re all in this together.

* * *

Want a list of diverse YA books you can get started reading right now? Here are a dozen YA books of all kinds (contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery — something for everyone!) that happen to have characters of color, LGBT characters, and/or disabled characters.

Want even more book lists? Here’s a link to all of our book lists.