Book Club for the New Administration – November 2017
Race Relations, Sexual Harassment, and Kids Books– oh my!
Happy belated Halloween, everyone! This month– this entire season— seems to enjoy sneaking up on me, so again, apologies for the late post. As the month progresses, I find myself trying to divine what The Topic of Conversation is in our society– what is going on that could use some attention by the current Administration. The trouble is, the news cycle shifts so quickly, by the time 30 days have passed, twenty different worthy topics have come and gone. Then it’s bit of a roulette wheel to find a book that addresses at least one of them in an interesting way.
Last month, it was about race relations. We read Darcy and Gran Don’t Like Babies by Jane Cutler, Illustrated by Susannah Ryan.
This selection was inspired by an NPR Interview, which was also part of of October’s selection. Toward the end of the interview, white rights supporter Jason Kessler makes the leap from losing out on a job to a white woman with different qualification to the claim that white men are victims of “genocide by replacement” in the United States, which he terms “a white country.” At the time, I was struck by how much it sounded like an older kid not liking the way his family is growing and changing. Unlike resolving Racism in capital letters, making room for new babies seemed like a subject that was dealt with all over the world in a hundred ways. Could it yield a solution to bigger issues than?
Well, having read Darcy and Gran, I think it might. In this charming book, Darcy is unhappy about the newcomer in her family but everyone says she should love the baby. Everyone, except Gran, who agrees babies are trouble. Gran goes on to spend time with Darcy, point out the good things in her life, and show how the baby isn’t always in the way. Essentially, Gran points out Darcy’s privilege and her gifts, and goes on to suggest that one day the baby will also have these privileges, and gifts to share. And that there might be room for everyone at the table. It might be good to have a sibling after all.
So, who wants to play Gran in this world conversation? When the established dominant culture sees a newcomer, who can say to them, “I see why you are upset, but look at the advantages? Imagine who we can all become together?” It used to be the Statue of Liberty who said it first and foremost. And the Government has played it’s role– usually at the behest of a lot hard working activists. But the Darcy and Gran model means activists can’t just be newcomers. It takes the establishment to change the establishment. And so I chose this book for the New Administration to read.
What do the rest of you think? Can this shifted perspective help encourage empathy and peaceable solutions? Please post your comments on Twitter #BookClub4NewAdmin!
Which brings us to November’s conversation. In light of the Harvey Weinstein inspired #metoo movement to expose sexual harassment and sexual assault:
The Book Club for the New Administration Selection for November is:
MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with an administration at her high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!
This book is girl-focused, but I think we can agree that sexual harassment and harm can be inflicted on anyone. Regardless of how you identify, I hope you’ll find something inspiring in this book. I look forward to talking about it next month!
This month, please order your book from the local independent bookstore of your choice. The holiday shopping season is upon us– they’ll be thrilled to see you! (Find your local indie bookstore here.)
And remember, the best holiday gifts are: something you need, something to read, and something you’d never buy yourself!