“I am the wrong/sex the wrong age the wrong skin”

“the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this”
— from “Poem about My Rights” by June Jordan (1936-2002); originally published in Passion (1980)
The whole blazing, amazing poem can be found on the (fabulous) Poetry Foundation website: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178526

“Happiness is not a potato”

“No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise.”

— Charlotte Bronte, Villette, 1853, chapter 22

On Race and YA Lit: A Reading List

Here is a list of good sources about race in YA literature; most came out in 2012.

Commentary by best-selling writer Anderson about the lack of racial diversity in NPR’s 2012-best-of-YA list:
Anderson, Laurie Halse. “Happy & Sad about the NPR Top 100 YA List.” LaurieHalseAnderson.com. 12 Aug. 2012. http://madwomanintheforest.com/happy-sad-about-the-npr-top-100-ya-list/

Want to see some YA covers with some color? Look here:
Bajpai, Nandini. “100+ YA Book Covers of Color!” Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/nandinibajpai/one-hundred-ya-book-covers-of-color/

Despite the explosion of YA lit, Jen Doll argues we have a long way to go to diversify representations of race. She asks, “What does it mean when kids don’t see themselves on, or in, the books intended for them?”

Doll, Jen. “The Ongoing Problem of Race in Y.A.” The Atlantic Wire. 26 Apr. 2012. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2012/04/ongoing-problem-race-y/51574/

The group responsible for the YA anthology Diverse Dystopias provides us with more reading material featuring characters of color in dystopian settings:
Hannah. “Diverse Dystopias: A Book List.” The Open Book. Lee&Low.com. 30 Aug. 2012. http://blog.leeandlow.com/2012/08/30/diverse-dystopias-a-book-list/

Holmes looks at reactions and analyses related to some viewers’ responses to the character of Rue in the Hunger Games movie:
Holmes, Anna. “White Until Proven Black: Imagining Race in Hunger Games.” NewYorker.com. 30 Mar. 2012. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/03/hunger-games-and-trayvon-martin.html

Like Anderson, Shaker Laurie responds to the lack of racial diversity in the NPR best-of list: “Such an exclusive list isn’t just problematic for teens of color; when white teens are told that the “good” books are all about white people, it normalizes the white experience and bolsters white privilege.”
Laurie, Shaker. “On NPR’s Very White Best Young Adult Book List.” 9 August 2012. http://www.shakesville.com/2012/08/on-nprs-very-white-best-young-adult.html

A reaction to Jenn Doll’s Atlantic Wire article, addressed to YA writers:
Ockler, Sarah. “Race in YA Lit: Wake Up & Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin, White Authors!” sarahockler.com. 30 Apr. 2012. http://sarahockler.com/2012/04/30/race-in-ya-lit-wake-up-smell-the-coffee-colored-skin-white-authors/

As mentioned in the Anderson article, a great website for finding YA books with characters of color:
Reading in Color. http://blackteensread2.blogspot.com/p/booklists.html

African American writer Jacqueline Woodson gives us a great list of good reads with characters of color:
Woodson, Jacqueline. “Good Minds Suggest — Jacqueline Woodson’s Favorite Books about Real Teen Problems. GoodReads.com. Feb. 2012. http://www.goodreads.com/interviews/show/649.Jacqueline_Woodson?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=editorial&utm_campaign=goodminds

Finally, check out http://www.diversityinya.com and/or http://diversityinya.tumblr.com. Created by YA writers Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo, they’ve been “puttin’ a little diversity in YA since 2011.”

A Quick List of My Publications

“When I Was There,” Specter Magazine, August 2012


“Braiding Barbara’s Hair,” Adoptive Families Magazine, December 2007


“Young Women: Grab the Power. Vote,” with Carli Alvarado, Illinois Times, 25 October 2012


“The Power of 37 Words,” Illinois Times, 2 August 2012


“More Tools Still Needed to Fight Wage Inequality,” Peoria Journal Star, 11 April 2011