1. I’ve seen more than one member of my family every day this week.
2. While being driven to the train station by my mother (who lives in outer suburbia) we saw a FOX calmly trotting across the street.
3. I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun.
4. I’m wearing a borrowed sweater and pants over my nightgown just to keep warm.
5. I paid $20 for a small, slender paperback book (After Canaan by Wayde Compton).
This is Day 3 of my spring trip to Toronto, and so far things are going pretty well. I had a great time in Ajax yesterday–the city east of Toronto where I was born almost 40 years ago. I got a warm welcome at both schools, and the students seemed engaged and interested in my journey from immigrant to author. I always start my presentations with a little Q&A: I show them the shiny stickers on the cover of BIRD and explain the significance of each one. Yesterday when I asked, “Who was Coretta Scott King?” not one student raised her/his hand. Not one. I mentioned Frederick Douglass and then realized they likely don’t know who he is, either. New York City Draft Riots? The Civil War? Not something Canadian students learn about in school. So if I come back again, I’ll have to tweak my presentation. The kids up here seem very young; maybe NYC kids mature more quickly. Still, I could tell it meant something to these diverse kids to have a black woman author visiting their school. It doesn’t happen too often, I don’t think. After talking about the awards BIRD has won, I ask kids to guess how many books are published annually. In the US, it’s 5000. In Canada, it’s 500 (I laughed out loud when one kid raised his hand and said, “Two!”). And last year, black authors wrote less than 1% of the books published for kids in Canada. Grim. Do I think that’s going to change? Yes, but slowly. Very slowly. If, as Douglass argued, “Power concedes nothing without a demand,” then folks up here have GOT to start making demands. And that’s not really “the Canadian way.”
I think it’s supposed to rain the rest of the week. It makes the birds happy, if no one else.