Cultural Appropriation Bingo

Sometimes all you need to do is cut and paste and let the words speak for themselves:

To anyone who ever asks why Racialicious is run solely by people of colour, or keeps such a death grip on the comments section, or runs content almost solely by people of colour – well, your answer is in the sample comments above, which in their own way are all saying: SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.  Even if they were written by well-intentioned people who did not intend to shut Jessica up, that is what they ultimately communicate.

We run Racialicious the way we do because we have to. This is how we survive and build community.  When no one will give you the space to speak your own truths on their site, make your own damn site.  While we intend to make space for respectful disagreements, we do not publish comments that require our writers to defend whether their experiences, feelings or opinions matter or exist.  Because people of colour have to deal with that kind of eroding scrutiny every single effing day.

Read the post in its entirety at Racialicious:

Debbie Reese, Neil Gaiman and flippancy

My good friend and respected colleague Dr. Debbie Reese posted a blog entry questioning beloved author Neil Gaiman’s comment from a 2008 interview:

The great thing about having an English cemetery is I could go back a very, very, very long way. And in America, you go back 250 years (in a cemetery), and then suddenly you’ve got a few dead Indians, and then you don’t have anybody at all, unless you decide to set it up in Maine or somewhere and sneak in some Vikings. (emphasis mine)

Gaiman responded to Debbie’s post:

I was replying to a specific question about European-style graveyards in the US and who you’d find in them and why I didn’t set THE GRAVEYARD BOOK in America, which was that they didn’t go back far enough, and they didn’t give me the dead people I wanted for the story to work. Obviously (or obviously to me) I wasn’t saying or implying that the country was uninhabited prior to the arrival of Europeans, or trying to somehow render invisible hundreds of millions of people who had inhabited this content for tens of thousands of years — especially after having very specifically written about them, and about that timespan in American Gods.

Read the original post at

Scroll down and read the comments as well. Needless to say, Gaiman fans tried to slam Debbie for being “emotional” and blowing things out of proportion, when what she was doing was raising questions about the oft flippant words that we sometimes misspeak about Native Americans, and the ways in which they (mis)shape our (mis)understandings of Native Americans.

Whether or not you’ve read the Newbery Award winning and totally awesome The Graveyard Book, the phrase “a few dead Indians” should give one pause. You may have heard the phrase “the only good Indian is a dead Indian,” which is immediately what I thought of when I read Gaiman’s comment, and it made me sick to my stomach. The phrase “the only good Indian…” is commonplace enough that that is what immediately comes to mind when I hear the words “dead” and “Indian” in the same sentence; that’s how we in this country have been socialized, which shows the power that words can have on one’s psyche. I can’t know what Gaiman meant because I’m not in his brain (although sometimes I’d like to be!), but his apology suggests that he didn’t mean offense. However, many of his fans accused Debbie of looking for fault, being emotional, etc. Wouldn’t you be emotional if there were so many pop culture references to your people being “dead” or “lazy” or invisible in the cultural landscape of the US? I get emotional when hearing/talking about Japanese colonialism, Japanese Internment, the Korean War, the LA Riots, the murder of Vincent Chin, and many other instances of social injustice, even when it isn’t part of my direct experience. For example, this situation makes me emotional. But being emotional (and I don’t think Debbie was irrationally emotional – she always thoughtfully crafts her blog entries) should not invalidate one’s argument, but accusers seem to use emotionalism as grounds for invalidation. Weak.

Because things got so crazy at her blog and on Twitter, Debbie followed up today with another post to clarify who said what and when. Read this new post at

Read these posts and the comments, and then take some time to reflect on our assumptions, flippancies, defensive behaviors, unproductive name-calling and accusations.

Boy, am I being bossy this week or what?

Library Materials for Children Reading List

You asked for this one too! These are the books I’m teaching in Fall 2010 in my Library Materials for Children’s course. So far, Dr. Perry Nodelman, Dr. Debbie Reese, and Dr. Thomas Crisp have agreed to give guest lectures. I welcome your feedback.

Course Overview

Selection, evaluation and use of media for children in elementary schools and public libraries. Materials in curricular areas are studied along with an examination of the relationships of materials to developmental characteristics and individual differences of the child, to curriculum and recreation, to the exceptional child and to a multicultural society. 3 credits.

We will engage in a variety of teaching/learning methods to cover the course material, including but not limited to: lecture, small/large group discussions, independent and group projects, written and oral presentations.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • To understand of the history of children’s literature;
  • To be familiar with a range of authors, works, genres and media;
  • To discuss, evaluate and promote children’s literature/resources;
  • To learn strategies for connecting young people with literature;
  • To identify and discuss literary and societal trends and issues (war, refugee, migration, class, gender, etc) affecting materials and work with youth in libraries and schools.

Reading List

Required Textbook: Nodelman, Perry, and Mavis Reimer. 2003. The Pleasures of Children’s Literature. 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

  1. Banerjee, Anjali.  Maya Running.  Laurel Leaf Books, ISBN 978-0553494242.
  2. Cleary, Beverly.  Ramona and Her Father. HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0380709168. 
  3. Clements, Andrew.  The Landry News. Atheneum, ISBN 978-0689828683.
  4. Curtis, Christopher Paul.  The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963. Yearling, ISBN 978-0440414124.
  5. Dahl, Roald.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Puffin, ISBN 978-0142410318.
  6. Dia, Cha.  Dia’s Story Cloth. Lee & Low Books, ISBN 978-1880000632.
  7. Engle, Margarita.  The Surrender Tree. Square Fish, ISBN 978-0312608712.
  8. Epstein, Brad M.  University Of Illinois 101: My First Text-Board-Book. Michaelson Entertainment, 2004.  ISBN 978-1932530179.
  9. Erdrich, Louise.  The Birchbark House. Hyperion Books, 2002.  ISBN 978-0786814541.
  10. Freedman, Russell.  Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Holiday House, ISBN 978-0823421954.
  11. Gaiman, Neil.  The Graveyard Book. HarperCollins, 2008.  ISBN 978-0060530921. 
  12. Gonzalez, Lucia.  The Storyteller’s Candle. Children’s Book Press, ISBN 978-0892392223.
  13. Harris, Robie.  It’s Perfectly Normal: A Book About Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health. Candlewick, ISBN 978-0763644840.  
  14. Herron, Carolivia.  Nappy Hair. Dragonfly Books, ISBN 978-0679894452.
  15. Hoffman, Mary.  Amazing Grace. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, ISBN 978-1845077495.
  16. L’Engle, Madeline.  A Wrinkle in Time. Square Fish Books,  ISBN 978-0312367541.
  17. Look, Lenore.  Alvin Ho:  Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things. Yearling, ISBN 978-0375849305.
  18. Lowry, Lois.  Number the Stars. Yearling, ISBN 978-0440403272.
  19. Mochizuki, Ken.  Baseball Saved Us. Lee & Low Books, ISBN 978-1880000199.
  20. Montgomery. L.M.  Anne of Green Gables. Modern Library, ISBN 978-0812979039.
  21. Newman, Leslea.  Heather Has Two Mommies. Alyson Books, ISBN 978-1593501365.
  22. Richardson, Justin.  And Tango Makes Three. Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0689878459.
  23. Rowling, J.K.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic, ISBN 978-0590353427.
  24. Sachar, Louis.  Holes. Yearling, 2009.  ISBN 978-0440414803.
  25. Say, Allen.  Grandfather’s Journey. Sandpiper, ISBN 978-0547076805.
  26. Scieszka, Jon and Lane Smith.  The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Viking, ISBN 978-0670844876. 
  27. Shin, Sun Yung.  Cooper’s Lesson. Children’s Book Press, ISBN 978-0892391936.
  28. Sendak, Maurice.  Where the Wild Things Are. HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0064431781.
  29. Dr. Seuss.  The Cat in the Hat. Random House, ISBN 978-0717260591.
  30. Dr. Seuss.  Green Eggs and Ham. Random House, 978-0583324205.
  31. Dr. Seuss.  Horton Hear a Who. Random House, 978-0394800783.
  32. Silverstein, Shel.  Where the Sidewalk Ends. HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0060572341. 
  33. Smith, Cynthia Leitich.  Jingle Dancer. HaperCollins, ISBN 978-0688162412.
  34. Sterling, Shirley.  My Name is Seepeetza. Groundwood Books, ISBN 978-0888991652. 
  35. Stead, Rebecca.  When You Reach Me. Wendy Lamb Books, ISBN 978-0385737425.
  36. Uchida, Yoshiko.  Journey to Topaz. Heyday Books, ISBN 978-1890771911.
  37. Viorst, Judith.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Atheneum, ISBN 978-0689711732.
  38. White, E.B.  Charlotte’s Web. HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0064410939.
  39. Wilder, Laura Ingalls.  Little House on the Prairie. HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0064400022.  
  40. Willems, Mo.  Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Hyperion, ISBN 978-0786819881.
  41. Willems, Mo.  There Is a Bird on Your Head (An Elephant and Piggie Book).  Hyperion, ISBN 978-1423106869.
  42. Williams, Karen Lynn and Khadra Mohammed.  My Name is Sangoel. Eerdmans Books, ISBN 978-0802853073.
  43. Young, Ed. Lon Po Po:  A Red-Riding Hood Story from China. Putnam, ISBN 978-0698113824.

    Social Justice in Children’s & YA Literature Reading List

    You asked for it! These are the books I’m teaching summer 2010 in my Social Justice in Children’s & YA Literature course. I welcome your feedback.

    Course Overview

    Students in this course will learn how to select, read, evaluate and analyze depictions and aspects of social justice and injustice in children’s and young adult literature. Through various genres of literature intended for both the child and adolescent reader, students will develop an informed awareness of the complex perspectives, uses and boundaries of literature and will learn to recognize and analyze how adolescent and children’s literature depict stories related to social justice, tolerance, equality and social change.

    We will engage in a variety of teaching/learning methods to cover the course material, including but not limited to: lecture, small/large group discussions, independent and group projects, written and oral presentations.

    Course Objectives

    • To gain an understanding of the history of social justice-related children’s literature;
    • To become familiar with a range of authors, works, genres and media depicting social justice issues for youth;
    • To gain experience in discussing, evaluating and promoting children’s literature/resources that depict social justice issues;
    • To learn strategies for connecting young people with social justice literature;
    • To identify and discuss literary and societal trends and social justice issues (war, refugee, migration, class, gender, etc) represented in materials for youth.

    By successfully finishing this course, students will be able to select, evaluate, and recommend a variety of materials depicting social justice issues for young audiences.

    Reading List

    1. Alarcon, Francisco X.  Animal Poems of the Iguazu.  Children’s Book Press, 2008.  ISBN 978-0892392254
    2. Anderson, M.T.  The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I:  The Pox Party.  Candlewick Press, 2006.  ISBN 978-0-7636-3679-1
    3. Barakat, Ibtisam.  Tasting the Sky:  A Palestinian Childhood.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.  ISBN 978-0374357337
    4. Bausum, Ann.  Denied, Detained, Deported:  Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration.  National Geographic Books, 2009.  ISBN 978-1426303326
    5. Bausum, Ann.  With Courage and Cloth:  Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote.  National Geographic Children’s Books, 2004.  ISBN 978-0792276470
    6. Brannen, Sarah S.  Uncle Bobby’s Wedding.  Putnam, 2008.  ISBN 978-0399247125
    7. Boyne, John.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  David Flicking Books, 2007.  ISBN 978-0385751537
    8. Bruchac, Joseph. Sacajawea.  Graphia, 2008.  ISBN 978-0152064556
    9. Burg, Ann E.  All the Broken Pieces.  Scholastic, 2009.  ISBN 978-0545080927
    10. Cali, Davide and Serge Bloch.  The Enemy.  Schwartz and Wade, 2009.  ISBN 978-0375845000
    11. Carlson, Nancy Savage.  The Family Under the Bridge.  HarperCollins, 1989.  ISBN 978-0064402507
    12. Choldenko, Gennifer.  Al Capone Does My Shirts.  Puffin, 2006.  ISBN 978-0142403709
    13. Cottin, Marena.  The Black Book of Colors.  Groundwood Books, 2008.  ISBN 978-0888998736
    14. Curtis, Christopher Paul.  Elijah of Buxton.  Scholastic, 2009.  ISBN 78-0439023450
    15. Engle, Margarita.  The Surrender Tree.  Square Fish, 2010.  ISBN 978-0312608712
    16. Gonzalez, Lucia.  The Storyteller’s Candle.  Children’s Book Press, 2008.  ISBN 978-0892392223
    17. Haskins, Jim.  Delivering Justice:  W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights.  Candlewick Press, 2008.  ISBN 978-0763638801
    18. Hoose, Phillip.  Claudette Colvin:  Twice Toward Justice.  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009.  ISBN 978-0374313227
    19. Lester, Julius.  Let’s Talk About Race.  Amistad, 2008.  ISBN 978-0064462266
    20. Lester, Julius.  Sam and the Tigers.  Puffin, 2000.  ISBN 978-0140562880
    21. Lloyd, Saci.  The Carbon Diaries 2015.  Holiday House, 2009.  ISBN 978-0823421909
    22. Lord, Michelle.  A Song for Cambodia.  Lee & Low Books, 2008.  ISBN 978-1600601392
    23. Lowry, Lois.  The Giver.  Delacorte Books, 2006.  ISBN 978-0385732550
    24. Lyon, George Ella. You and Me and Home Sweet Home.  Athenuem/ Richard Jackson Books, 2009.  ISBN 978-0689875892
    25. Mahy, Margaret.  The Seven Chinese Brothers.  Scholastic, 1992.  ISBN 978-0590420570
    26. Messinger, Carla.  When the Shadbush Blooms.  Tricycle Press, 2007.  ISBN 978-1582461922
    27. Mochizuko, Ken.  Baseball Saved Us.  Lee & Low Books, 1995.  ISBN 978-1880000199
    28. Myers, Walter Dean.  Autobiography of My Dead Brother.  Amistad, 2006.  ISBN 978-0060582937
    29. Nivola, Claire A.  Planting the Trees of Kenya:  The Story of Wangari Maathai.  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.  ISBN 978-0374399184
    30. O’Brien, Anne Sibley.  After Gandhi:  One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance.  Charlesbridge Publishing, 2009.  ISBN 978-1580891295
    31. Park, Linda Sue.  When My Name was Keoko.  Yearling, 2004.  ISBN 978-0440419440
    32. Perkins, Mitali.  Rickshaw Girl.  Charlesbridge Publishing, 2008.  ISBN 978-1580893091
    33. Pinkey, Andrea Davis.  Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride.  Hyperion, 2009.  ISBN 978-0786807673
    34. Ryan, Pam Munoz.  Esperanza Rising.  Scholastic, 2002.  ISBN 978-0439120425
    35. Sanchez, Alex.  Rainbow Boys.  Simon Pulse, 2003.  ISBN 978-0689857706
    36. Shea, Pegi Deitz.  Tangled Threads:  A Hmong Girl’s Story.  Clarion, 2003.  ISBN 978-0618247486
    37. Tingle, Tim.  Crossing Bok Chitto.  Cinco Puntos Press, 2008.  ISBN 978-19336932
    38. Tohe, Laura.  No Parole Today.  West End Press, 1999.  ISBN 978-0931122934
    39. Weatherford, Carole Boston.  Moses:  When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom.  Hyperion, 2006.  ISBN 978-0786851751
    40. Woodson, Jacqueline.  From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun.  Scholastic, 1995.  ISBN 7807300599
    41. Wright, Bil.  When the Black Girl Sings.  Simon Pulse, 2009.  ISBN 978-1416940036
    42. Yep, Laurence.  The Traitor (1885):  Golden Mountain Chronicles.  HarperCollins, 2004.  ISBN 978-0060008314
    43. Yoo, Paula.  Shining Star:  The Anna May Wong Story.  Lee & Low Books, 2009.  ISBN 978-1600602597

    Adoption Institute urges ‘thoughtful, expeditious’ resumption of Russia adoptions

    From the press release:

    NEW YORK, April 19, 2010 – The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute today urged officials in Washington and Moscow to move “thoughtfully but expeditiously” to avoid a cessation of Russian adoptions to the U.S., pointing out that “the victims of a lengthy process will be the children who remain institutionalized.”

    Executive Director Adam Pertman stressed that the Institute strongly believes the case of the boy “returned” by his adoptive mother should be thoroughly investigated – as should any other incidents of adoptees being harmed or receiving questionable treatment by their parents. Changes in policies and practices should be implemented as swiftly as possible to remedy any specific problems that are identified, he added.

    “Even one child suffering physical or psychological harm is one too many,” said Pertman. “But there is no evidence of widespread abuses of this sort, and we know that living in orphanages is generally detrimental in itself, so this process should be done thoughtfully but expeditiously, so that these children can move into permanent, loving families – within Russia if possible, or internationally if not – because the victims of a lengthy process will be the children who remain institutionalized.”


    Ummm… thoughts?

    Words of Wisdom from Dr. John Raible

    It’s been a crazy month for transracial adoption with everything in the news about Artyom’s situation, but I just had to post about two blog entries written by respected adoptee, adoptive parent and professor John Raible:

    I got into this crazy mess called adoption because I am fundamentally grateful that I was adopted and got a second chance in life, even though I wish I never had to be relinquished or adopted in the first place. Contradictory statements? Of course: that’s the paradox of adoption. It is both a blessing and a curse.


    In my view, before we can move forward in rethinking and revitalizing transracial and transnational adoption practice, a significant realignment must take place in the relationship between adult adoptees and adoptive parents…  APs must start accepting the fact that we are no longer children, and that we think for ourselves and have our own unique experiences of adoption that may differ significantly from the way they prefer to view it. Furthermore, although we are still and always will be adoptees, many of us are also parents, scholars, authors, film makers, performance artists, social workers, therapists, etc., with unique contributions and insights to bring to the conversation.


    Please, if you read anything today, read these two posts – and the rest of Dr. Raible’s blog. And then go read Harlow’s Monkey. And then go read The Language of Blood. And then go read Outsiders Within: Writings on Transracial Adoption. And then go read Tobias Hubinette’s work.  And keep reading and watching and listening to the voices of adopted persons.

    “Adopt a North Korean”

    Got this from Jane Jeong Trenka’s “Adopt a North Korean” blog entry:

    An American human rights group is pushing forward with the adoption of three stateless North Korean orphan refugees who are in China. The orphans arrived safely in a third country and received support. It will be the first case of Americans in the U.S. adopting stateless North Korean orphans… Senator Sam Brownback proposed a bill on March 23 to speed up the adoptions of North Korean stateless refugee orphans in the future and said that prospects are high that there will be growing interest in adopting them.

    First, if their parents are still alive (living in North Korea) they are not “orphans.” Stateless, yes. Refugee, yes. Orphan, no.

    Second, as the article says, I’m afraid we’re going to see a mad rush to adopt these children, as we saw in Haiti and in other poverty-stricken, devastated places. Will people feel they are doing a “greater good” by adopting from North Korea versus adopting “real” orphans (children without living parents) here in the United States? According to research conducted by Trenka, there are more children living in non-family care here in the United States than in many other countries (such as the Republic of Korea, which has about 1/5 the number of children living in non-family care compared with the numbers in the United States, yet has sent the largest number of children to the United States over the longest period of time – almost 60 years), yet the demand for children adopted internationally is pretty high. No doubt children without parents need safe and loving homes. How do we figure out who and where to help first?

    That said, third, there’s also the ideological issue: the North Korean president is a little crazy, but is that reason enough to break up families?

    I don’t know the answers to some of these questions; I’m just throwing them out there…