Many thanks to everyone who attended our panel at NCTE yesterday! I thought I’d make things easy by listing some of the blog posts that people asked about:
You can also download Gbemi’s handouts on reading & writing faith, spirituality, and social action with children and teens by visiting her website; the downloads are listed under the heading “News.”
Thanks also to Lyn Miller-Lachmann for organizing such a great panel, and for bringing us together in Orlando. I’m not sure I’d ever try to do NCTE in ONE DAY ever again, but train-plane-and cabbing it with Neesha Meminger and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich made the long trip worthwhile. We also got to meet Debby Dahl Edwardson—did you know that her daughter is the model for the beautiful cover of Blessing’s Bead? Debby rightly pointed out that multiculturalism isn’t always visible, but it’s still THERE and ought to be reflected in the books we provide for our youth.
I had a migraine on the plane ride to and from New Orleans—worst travel scenario ever. But yesterday’s trip was just fine and when we got back to JFK, Gbemi and I decided to take the subway back to Brooklyn. As we stood shivering on the train platform, I told Gbemi about my last trip to Toronto this past spring; I returned to NYC feeling disgruntled, and when I got to the platform I heard a bird singing and turned to find a red-winged blackbird just a couple of feet away. And then I sighed and thought to myself, “It’s ok. I’m home now.” Last night there weren’t any birds singing on the platform, but I still had a heart-sigh moment. On the train, an older man was asking for change to help pay for his mental health medication; moments later, he got off the train at our station and started singing at the top of his lungs. Gbemi and I moved down the platform and came face to face with a giant rat! It jumped, I shrieked, and then it ran off in the opposite direction. A young woman farther down the platform jumped up onto the wooden bench and stayed there until the train arrived. Seeing the wooden bench, I asked Gbemi if she’d heard about the discovery of bedbugs in a Brooklyn train station; the reporter’s advice? Don’t sit on benches in the subway. The train arrived; I took it one stop, said goodbye to Gbemi, and then transferred to the shuttle. To reach the shuttle, you have to climb about a zillion stairs to first reach the street level, then the bridge level, then the upper level of the station. So I’m huffing my way upstairs and just as I reach the street level, I hear heaving bass and these familiar words:
Until the philosophy which holds one race superior
And abandoned –
Everywhere is war…
And I sang along, smiling while huffing because I quoted this verse in Judah’s Tale—most people know the Bob Marley song, but he’s actually quoting H.I.M. Haile Selassie I’s address to the United Nations. I finally reached the upper level and while waiting for the train to arrive, tried to ignore the brother beside me who was doing his best imitation of every Stylistics song ever written. And you know, I love the Stylistics but not everyone can hit those high notes…the train arrived, I chose a seat far away from Mr. Falsetto, but he stopped singing to greet another brother who proceeded to explain to his captive audience that his voice gave out on him over the weekend yet he was going to perform for us now. And as he sang the first few notes I thought, “Oh no—don’t do Stevie! Don’t do it—especially if your voice isn’t strong…” But he made his way through a modified version of “My Cherie Amour,” replacing the original lyrics so that the song was a tribute to Brooklyn…he couldn’t quite hit the high notes, but I gave him credit for effort and originality…as I walked home, I smiled and thought: this is the craziness that is Brooklyn. Home sweet home…