Sunday, August 2, 2015

‘Racebending’ challenges literature’s ‘default’ race

Artist's depiction of 'Harry Potter' character Hermione Granger with brown skin, brown eyes and hair in black ringlets
Hermione Granger, via dellbelle39.tumblr.com
How do you envision the characters in a book when no description is explicitly given? Do you “by default” attribute white race? Who you are and how you answer reveals whether or not your identity is “mirrored” by the literature you read. At Huffington Post, Zeba Blay highlights “racebending” — where fan artists portray Harry Potter characters as black and other non-white ethnicities.

(Social sharing credit to We Need Diverse Books)

Related posts, showcasing more revolutionary art:
Authors’ books get ‘Coverflip’ treatment
Cosplay ≠ Consent
Hawkeye Initiative: Male superhero duplicates women’s awkward poses

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Teen self-help with self-checkout for privacy

Sign in black lettering against a white background that reads, Teens - Help Yourself. Look for these numbers on the shelves. For more privacy, use the self-checkout machines. Abuse/incest: 362.76 and 362.78. Abusive relationships: 362.8292 and 362.88. Acne/skin care: 616.53 and 646.726. AIDS/HIV: 616.9792. Alcohol: 362.292. Anorexia: 616.8526. Birth control: 363.9609 and 613.94. Body changes/puberty: 612.661. Body image: 306.4613 and 616.852. Date rape: 362.883. Depression: 616.852, 616.8527, 616.85844. Divorce: 306.89. Drugs: 362.292 and 362.2918. Health/hygiene: 613.04243 and 613.7043. LGBTQ: 306.766 and 613.951. Pregnancy: 306.856, 306.8743, 618.2024. Relationships and dating: 305.235, 306.70835, 646.77. Self-esteem: 305.235. Sex: 613.951. STDs: 616.951. Suicide: 362.2, 362.28, 362.283.
Credit: aphroditzy on Tumblr
With this awesome sign created by library supervisor Justin Azevedo, the Sacramento Public Library points teens in the direction of sensitive information that they may be too embarrassed or afraid to ask an adult to help them locate. The sign reminds teens about self-checkout to help protect their privacy.

As Azevedo told Buzzfeed News, “I would notice how popular teen books on these topics were, but how rare actual questions about them from teen library patrons were. Most of the topics would be embarrassing to ask about, but some of them could threaten their privacy or even safety if asked in front of people or discovered by parents in a search engine history.”

Because the Dewey numbering system is a subject classification, many of these topics will likely have their counterparts in the same order in our Jackson County libraries — and our teens, too, can access them in privacy through self-checkout machines. (The photo was first posted by Tumblr user aphroditzy and Buzzfeed News elected to share a reblog by user kassysgalaxyyy).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UUA Common Read: Children’s book pairing

A few months ago I suggested, concerning the UUA’s “Common Read,” that the adult non-fiction book that is selected each year be paired with books for children and youth that compliment its theme.

Today the UUA announced that this year’s Common Read is Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, 2014).

With Just Mercy’s emphasis on people trapped by the criminal justice system — specifically poor people, people of color and children — a possible pairing that came to my mind for this year’s Common Read was Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty (Little, Brown and Company, Hatchette Book Group).

This picture book depicts a boy whose absent father advises him through letters about how to be a man. Incarceration is not identified in the story as the reason for the father’s absence, but is addressed in an afterword. The illustrator, Bryan Collier, received the American Library Association’s 2014 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

‘Just Mercy,’ UUA Common Read

Book cover, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
The Unitarian Universalist Association announced today that this year’s “Common Read” is Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

Since the program’s inception, I’ve closely followed each year’s Common Read selection.

I have long appreciated the shared experience of reading a book in common, and the UUA Common Read was an important addition to the UU lending library where I volunteered as librarian. Promoting the Common Read continues to be in-character as Religious Explorations administrative coordinator and web editor for a UU congregation.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Editors’ filters reshape authors’ worlds

At Huffington Post, Deborah Plummer examines the impact of an editor upon the radically different portrayal of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, compared to his depiction as “racist-rhetoric ranting, card-carrying member of the Klu Klux Klan” in Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.