My Horn Book essay comes out in March; this is one of the (very few) lines that wound up getting cut:
My favorite line from The Sound of Music: ‘When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.’ Canada, for me, was a windowless room.
But then I moved to NYC, and suddenly I was in a house filled with endless doors and windows—some opened for me, some did not. But I always felt I had options, that I could make something happen. Yesterday, right before my USA Today interview, I got an email letting me know I was not a good fit for the academic job I interviewed for in Philly last month. I knew that, and expected a rejection letter, but still frowned a bit. Then, almost at the same time, I got an email from Paterson College asking me to spend a day with students in NJ (Bird won the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers last year). A few minutes later, a friend on Facebook emailed me and asked if I’d like to present to *400* kids at the upcoming National Black Writers Conference at nearby Medgar Evers College. And then I did my interview, which was intense…but I tried to be honest and forthright, and was impressed that the interviewer already knew about the whitewashing scandal. The interview should be out on Thursday, but I’ll keep you posted. The day ended with this lovely email from a former student:
Dear Dr. Elliott,
As I’m going into my last semester at Mount Holyoke all I can think about is how much I learned from every class I took with you. Coming back after my semester in Mexico I was so disappointed to see that, after you left, there was only one class offered under African American studies. When I watch television, read the paper, take a class I am conscious of issues of race, violence, gender discrimination that I have always felt I was aware of but it is in a different way after having experienced class with you. You are missed by many at Mount Holyoke and I wanted to thank you for what you taught me and what will stay with me throughout my journey. I am determined to do work that has a positive effect on women of color and challenges the status quo and the images and treatment of women of color in pop culture. I am confident when speaking about injustice and I owe a lot of that to what I learned from you. So, thank you, and I hope you are well.