- Home Is a Complicated Place – YA author Renée Watson talks about growing up in Oregon as a black girl and watching gentrification change her community.
For Maya Younger, the main character in This Side of Home, home is complicated because everything she’s known is changing. Abandoned storefronts are being renovated, houses are getting facelifts and new faces — white faces — are showing up more and more in her community. Maya isn’t so sure these changes are for the best, but her twin, Nikki, is all for the urban renewal that’s taking place.
I see myself in both twins. I started noticing changes in my neighborhood my junior year in high school. Gentrification was not a word I knew at fifteen but I knew the feeling of not belonging. There was something about the changes that made it seem like they weren’t for the people who already lived there but for the people who were coming. Yet, even with that feeling, I still wanted to go out and enjoy these new places. So for me, I have both of their perspectives — I want the change, appreciate it even, but I question the push out that often comes with it.
- Selection is Privilege – A librarian calls on other librarians to actively confront their privilege as they decide which books to add to their library’s collection
When it comes down to it, a major aspect of this topic is selection/collection development, and the fact that selection is a privilege. If you select materials for your readers, you are privileged to get to influence not only what children read, but what they have access to in the first place. And when I read arguments against including diverse titles, or questions about why we have to talk about this topic, it puts into sharp focus for me the fact that we have to recognize our privilege as selectors, and, more than likely, as white selectors for diverse readers.
If you find yourself thinking “I don’t need this title because we don’t really have many X readers here,” your privilege is showing. You have probably never had to open more than one or two books in a row in order to find a character who looks/speaks/lives like you do. That is privilege. And whether we intend it to or not, our privilege influences our thinking and our decisions. This is a problem because our decisions affect the capabilities of young readers to find books in which they can find themselves and in which they can meet new people.
- The AfterEllen Bisexuality Roundtable (Part 1): Real Talk About Stereotypes and Misconceptions – This is a heartbreaking but necessary look at how biphobia is real and it is hurtful.
At AfterEllen, our amazing writing staff comes from various professional backgrounds, upbringings, ethnicities and sexual identities. Some of us identify as lesbian, while others are proudly bisexual and queer. Each and everyone one of our writers puts their heart and soul into the articles you read, which is one of the reasons we wanted to have a frank, candid talk about bisexuality. What we’ve noticed is that on pieces that feature bisexual women, or bi characters, the comments section becomes quite heated. Add to that the data from a recent study that shows that bisexual women are more likely to “experience poor mental health and mental distress than lesbians,” suffer from eating disorders, self harm and depression. The stigma that the bisexual women in our community face is real, and cannot, and should not be ignored. We asked our bisexual identified writers Anna Pulley, Eboni Rafus, Ali Davis, Chelsea Steiner and Miranda Meyer to talk about their experiences as bisexual women, and the stigmas they face. The discussion was led by lesbian identified Staff Editor Dana Piccoli.
- A Job at McDonald’s Now Includes Singing and Dancing on Demand – I think anyone who’s had to put in the effort to fake an emotion for customers saw this “pay with lovin'” promo and visibly flinched. This is brutal on workers and shit customer service to boot. High-concept marketing is nightmarish.
TV spectators of last night’s Super Bowl were treated to many slick, high-concept ads, but one probably stuck out to the millions of McDonald’s employees who were watching: the company’s spot trumpeting its new “pay with lovin’” campaign. The company is rolling out a new way to bribe customer loyalty amid declining sales by randomly picking some who will get their food and drink for free. Instead of money, they have to pay with “lovin.’”
According to the Super Bowl ad, this can range from being told by the cashier to call your mother and tell her you love her (no word on what happens if you don’t have a mother) to being commanded to dance to giving the cashier a fist bump. Leaving aside what customers may think of being asked to perform these tasks in return for their food, little attention is given to the other side of the register: the workers themselves.
- I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles – Autistic voices have been missing from the vaccine “debate”, and this post does a powerful job of showing why that’s a problem.
The autistic brain is not particularly good at understanding irony, and yet most people I’ve met on the autism spectrum have, over time, developed a pretty strong grasp of the concept. Many of us have even managed to teach ourselves how to wield it. I’ve begun to suspect that this is due to our constant hands-on experience.
Having an autism spectrum disorder in an ableist world means that you’re constantly exposed to cruel irony. Most frequently, this comes in the form of neurotypical (i.e. non-autistic) people who tell you, incorrectly, that you can’t or don’t feel empathy like them, and then stubbornly refuse to care about your feelings when they claim that you’re lost, that you’re a burden, and that your life is a constant source of misery for you and everyone who loves you. There’s also my current favorite: parents who are willing to put the lives of countless human beings at risk because they’re so afraid that the mercury fairy will gives their kids a tragic case of autism if they vaccinate. Gotta protect the kids from not being able to feel empathy — who cares whether other children live or die?
- A Message to Sam Fels and the Committed Indian: It’s not okay – A Chicago Blackhawks fan site called The Committed Indian recently asked readers if they should change their name and/or logo (here’s their awful logo) A hockey blogger who is herself a Native weighs in on the issue.
The issue is not whether you call Native peoples “Native American” or “Indigenous People” or “First Nations” or “Indians.” It’s not really the use of Native languages or words, like Illini or even, to an extent, BlackHawks which is not a Native word but an English word about Natives.
The issue is putting on and taking off Native identities for play and doing so in a way that erases Native presences. Whatever you call Natives, you don’t get to pretend to be one just for fun and you certainly don’t get to do it by co-opting the bits and pieces of Native culture from all over the continent, stripping then of their cultural context, and cobbling them together into a mish-mash of symbols of “native-ish” nonsense.
The issue is turning real human beings into costumes. It’s believing that no Natives read your blog, so it’s okay if you play like you are them hahaha. It’s okay if you belittle them. It’s okay if you say who cares what they want, think, believe, experience?