Sherri L. Smith's Blog

December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019!

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Published on December 31, 2018 19:00 • 6 views

August 15, 2018

Hanging with Tuskegee Airmen!

 


Imagine writing a history book, and then spending the weekend with living history!  That’s what I did with the Tuskegee Airmen!


My new book came out last week.  Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? is part of the amazing series from Who HQ.  These little books pack a wallop and a ton of information on important people, places and events throughout history and today.  If you have someone in your life under the age of 20, they probably know these books.  It was a real thrill to be able to add to the collection!


But an even bigger thrill was hanging out with some of the Airmen themselves.  I was a guest at the 2018 Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. Convention in Las Vegas, NV.  But the guests of honor were six Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen (DOTA) themselves!  Airmen were not just pilots, but all of the support staff and ground crew that helped put and keep them in the air.  We were lucky to have so many of the originals at the event.


Southwest Airlines was one of the sponsors for Youth Day.  The group of kids and adults you see standing behind the Airmen spend Friday at a local airbase learning about aviation and Saturday learning the history of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Southwest offers a program called “Continuing the Legacy in Aviation” that brings students from 6th grade to college age to a hand-on aviation experience in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX.  The deadline is August 17th to apply this year!


Front row, left to right: Major Nancy Leftenant-Colon (Retired) – the first black woman Army nurse; 2nd Lt. Franklin J. Macon ; Dr. Eugene Richardson; Jerry T. Hodges (477th Bomber Squadron); Lt. Col. Enoch Woodhouse, Esq. (Retired, JAG); Callie O. Gentry – Stenographer for Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., 332nd HQ Lockbourne


Major Nancy Leftenant-Colon was the first black woman to be a nurse in the U.S. Army.  She’s a delightful woman, but was once feared by pilots because she had the ability to ground them!


Nancy Leftenant-Colon (DOTA – Nurse) and Sherri L Smith


Sherri L. Smith and Callie O Gentry – DOTA Stenographer


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Callie O. Gentry served as a stenographer form Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.,  the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen, shared fantastic stories about her time serving in the military before and after the war.


2nd Lt. Franklin Macon and Dr. Eugene Richards


Franklin Macon is a fellow author.  His book, I Wanted to Be a Pilot:  the Making of a Tuskegee Airman comes out this November.  An extra surprise was meeting Eugene Richards, an original Airman who had read my book Flygirl and liked it!  What a treat to talk to him!


I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the children of the Airmen, including this fantastic trio, the daughters of George “Spanky” Roberts, who was in the first class of Tuskegee Airmen.


Leigh Roberts, Sherri, Lanelle and Maggie Roberts


The Roberts sisters were there representing the Tuskegee Airmen Heritage Chapter of Greater Sacramento.  Legacy and heritage chapters across the country promote STEM and STEAM education in our schools, and even offer scholarships.


Chauncey Spencer II was also in attendance.  His father was one of two African American pilots who flew from Chicago to Washington, DC to promote blacks in aviation.  (Then senator Harry S. Truman was the only person who would meet with them.  If you want to know how it went, read the book!) Chauncey is a huge advocate of STEAM education.  Check out the work he’s doing with kids at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton, California!


Peggy Shivers and Sherri


I also had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Peggy Shivers, whose husband Clarence was a Tuskegee Airman.  Peggy has kept Clarence’s legacy as both a pilot and an artist alive at through the Shivers Fund, which provides educational and enrichment opportunities through her local library district in Colorado.


On Saturday morning, I gave a talk to the kids in attendance.  In addition to discussing the book, and my other aviation book, Flygirl, we dreamed big on travel, curiosity, and where we’d love to go in the world.  It was a fun morning, a wonderful weekend, and a great, welcoming crowd.


Special thanks to Marv Abrams, one of the organizers, who made a place for me at the event.  And thank you to all of the support and enthusiasm that greeted this book!  As launches go, this was one for the history books!

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Published on August 15, 2018 16:40 • 13 views

December 31, 2017

November 30, 2017

Book Club for the New Administration – December 2017

It’s December.  DECEMBER!  Which means three things:  1) Time flies; 2) I am waaaay behind on my holiday shopping and baking, and 3) this is the final month of the Book Club for the New Administration!  There is purportedly an old Chinese blessing I used to hear as a kid, and later learned it’s meant to be a curse: “May you live in interesting times.”  Well, it’s been an interesting year, to be sure.  Just look at the variety of titles we’ve tackled in this reading list!



January – The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
February – The Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
March – The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco
April – Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
May – Conflict is Not Abuse by Sarah Schulman
June – The Butter Battle Book  and The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
July – The United States Constitution by We the People
August – Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seusse
September – A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit
October – Darcy and  Gran Don’t Like Babies by Jane Cutler and Susannah Ryan
November – Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

What did you think of that last one?



To my mind, Moxie could very well be the new anthem for young women everywhere.  The horrid realities behind the #MeToo movement clearly show a need for our young people to be taught both early and unequivocally where the lines are drawn between appropriate and inappropriate behavior.  When we learn to accept escalating transgressions, that line starts to move to places it should never go.  This is not just a feminist issue.  It’s a humanist issue.  We all deserve respect.  I hope you’ll consider working the conversation into your family holiday time this season.  Let’s start the new year on better, more informed footing.


So, it’s been a rollercoaster.  Who knew Dr. Seuss would figure so heavily into this book club?  I suppose there’s a reason why simple messages are strongest.  With short attention spans and so much being thrown our way, getting to the point is important.  Any extra words between the audience and the message are opportunities to go astray.  With that in mind, let’s get to it.


The Book Club for the New Administration Selection for December is:



Synopsis:  A Christmas Carol is one of Charles Dickens’ most loved books – a true classic and a Christmas time must-read. Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean, miserable, bitter old man with no friends. One cold Christmas Eve, three ghosts take him on a scary journey to show him the error of his nasty ways. By visiting his past, present and future, Scrooge learns to love Christmas and the people all around him. 


I know, it seems like an obvious holiday read, but it’s also a political one.  The story of a mean old rich man with no friends who wants to ruin everyone else’s joy… interpret it as you will, but this is a story of the haves and have nots, about kindness versus cruelty, of poverty and wealth.  It’s the story of our nation right now, and a story of redemption.  How do we want to see the world come Christmas morning?  Who do we want to be– forces of good, or ill?  Damned, or able to count our blessings as surely as Marley counts the links in his self-made chains.  Besides, it’s a fantastic read.  Share it with your family, regardless of your faith or holiday traditions.  I promise you’ll find something worthwhile to enjoy.


Don’t forget to shop local at your favorite indie bookstore!  (Why not gift some or all of the above titles to your loved ones this year?)


Thanks for taking this crazy ride with me.  As always, you can post your responses to me on Twitter #BookClub4NewAdmin.  I’m not sure if we’ll continue into the new year (it’s been kind of exhausting!), but the goal has been accomplished.  And the great thing about books is, you can read them again and again!


Happy Holidays!

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Published on November 30, 2017 17:29 • 6 views

November 2, 2017

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:



Synopsis:  


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!


Until then!

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Published on November 02, 2017 13:16 • 10 views

October 1, 2017

Book Club for the New Administration – October 2017

Happy October, everyone!  Or, as I like to say, “Holy crap, it’s October!”  Despite the fact it happens the same time each year, I really didn’t see this one coming.  So, you’re thinking, she’s not ready with another book, is she?  Oh, dear reader, it’s funnier than that.  She didn’t read the last one!



Ugh.  It’s not really funny at all.  Do you remember last month when I said we should show Texas some post-Harvey love and order our books from a store in Texas?  I did just that, a month ago today.  Well, turns out Harvey is not a fan of books.  Despite the fact that the amazing Brazos Books had their doors open within a few days of the storm, they have not been getting their shipments of new books in all that swiftly.  I can only imagine regional warehouses were inundated by the flood, trucks were rerouted, computers fouled up.  The long and the short of it is, my copy of Rebecca Solnit’s timely book is in the wind (or the mail, depending on who you ask).  After following up with the bookstore, I decided to stick it out and wait for it.  So, I will have more to say on it hopefully next month.


Did any of you get a hold of the book?  What did you think?  In light of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (along with the rest of the Caribbean), and the headlines about our government’s slow response, I wonder how the citizens are responding to each other and fending for themselves.  This lack of response/slow response is equal parts understandable and unnecessary:


If these had been earthquakes instead of storms, we wouldn’t have seen them coming.  In the case of Mexico, those two massive earthquakes could only be planned for in the long term with supporting infrastructure, and on an immediate smaller scale like earthquake preparedness kits.  An early warning system exists, but not widely in use in the US as of yet.  (And early means minutes, not hours or days.)


The very nature of a hurricane means we can literally position a response outside of the reach of the storm, and come in as it passes.  Would that be expensive?  Probably.  Still dangerous?  Likely.  What each of us would hope and pray our government was prepared to do if our lives were in the balance?  Absolutely.


My mother sheltered in place during Katrina.  On the news, the word went out that helpers were going door to door to assist evacuations.  No one came.  If we had not found our own way to help, she would have been on her own.  As the news comes in, I think of this daily.  So many deaths happen in the wake of a disaster, and recover takes decades, not a weekly newscycle.  Or, in the case of this current climate where a newscycle lasts about four hours before the next big story, recovery will take a relative lifetime.


If you are able to help, here is a link to Charity Navigator, a charitable organization that has a rather startlingly long list of disasters and charities poised to help them with your donations.  (The above link is for Hurricane Harvey, but you can find a list of other causes on the left sidebar, or by doing a search.)  Business Insider also lists local charities for the latest hurricanes.


I’d love to hear from you on A Paradise Built in Hell.  I don’t even mind spoilers!  Just tweet me using #BookClub4NewAdmin and we’ll discuss!


So, on to OCTOBER!!!!


The Book Club for the New Administration selection for October is:





Synopsis:  Right-wing groups like the Proud Boys say they have no tolerance for racism or white supremacist groups. Their leader Gavin McInnes disavowed the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. But the Proud Boys believe “the West is the best,” which, one of them points out, is not such a big jump from “whites are best.” And one of the Proud Boys organized the Charlottesville rally. (The group now claims he was a spy.) What should we make of groups like this?


So, it’s not a book, it’s a podcast from This American Life  that aired on September 22nd.  (Direct link here.  Transcript here.)  But bear with me.  There is a book component, too.  Toward the end of Act Two, Producer Robyn Semien has interviews a man named Jason Kessler– the organizer of the Charlottesville alt-right rally in August that cost the life of counter-protester Heather Heyer.  When asked to explain how he got involved in the white rights movement, Kessler’s response is illuminating, to me at any rate.  He feels America was traditionally a white country and it is being taken away from white men.  He specifically cites a job he wanted that was given to a woman instead, with different qualification.




Now, entitlement seems to be a common mindset in our culture.  Certainly we are entitled to our own opinions, and also to human rights.  But what struck me about the above interview was how much it sounds like a child in fear of the new baby, and how their place in the family structure will change– possibly suffer– because of the new addition.  It put Kessler’s argument in a new light for me because this is a situation almost everyone is familiar with, and it’s played out in so many families that there are solutions that have been tested time and again.


And so, the book component of October’s selection is :




Synopsis:  Darcy and Gran are not happy about the idea of a new baby coming, but they change their minds after the birth.

Unfortunately, Cutler’s book is out of print and might be hard to find.  So I’m not naming a store to buy it.  Instead, contact your local used bookstore (they need our love, too!) or track it down on the internet.  Abebooks.com and Alibris.com are good resources for hard-to-find titles.  Whether you read Cutler’s book or any other book about the fears of a child over a new family member, try to look at it from a sociopolitical point of view.  What can these dynamics teach us about the adult world?  How can we learn to speak to each other in a way that is kind and willing to listen as well as be heard?

Until next month!

 

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Published on October 01, 2017 20:19 • 29 views

September 1, 2017

Book Club for the New Administration – September 2017


 


 


 


 


 


Folks… folks.  It’s been a hard month for humanity here in the US.  First the man-made disaster that was Charlottesville, and now the natural disaster of Hurricane Harvey and his aftermath.  I confess I was at a loss for a book to address Charlottesville.  Many came to mind but no single book on it’s own felt like it could do the job.  I had intended to take to Twitter and ask everyone to consider a book response.  But before I could, the storm came.  And if you know me, or the story behind my book Orleans, you might be able to guess where my mind has been lately.


August was all about Horton and making sure we speak up, that our voices are heard:



Horton Hears a Who!  would have been a good Charlottesville response in that demands we all respond.  And so many people have.  And I hope they continue to do so.  I try to respond every day with my actions, with my words, with my writing.  But don’t we all feel tiny and insufficient sometimes?  I certainly do.  (But I’m trying, Horton, I’m trying to be heard.)


And then 50″ of rain fell on Texas– apparently, nothing knocks Nazis out of the news cycle like Mother Nature.  And the thousands upon thousands of people in need, displaced and harmed by this disaster also deserve a response.  So I hope you will give where you can.  The Red Cross is a good place to start.  Here’s a list of other ways you can help.  And remember this is a long term ordeal, so whether you can give now or later, or have to wait for your holiday bonus (should you be so lucky!), the people of Texas and Louisiana (they’re taking on water, too!) will still be in need.


If you’ve been watching the news (obsessively, like I have), you’ve heard the stories of heroism that fortunately always seem to crop up in the face of disaster.  This made me think of a book I first learned about at the California Book Awards back in 2009.  It was the nonfiction winner that year, and I think it’s a great choice for this month’s read.


The Book Club for the New Administration Selection for September is:


Synopsis:  The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy. That joy reveals an ordinarily unmet yearning for community, purposefulness, and meaningful work that disaster often provides. A Paradise Built in Hell is an investigation of the moments of altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity that arise amid disaster’s grief and disruption and considers their implications for everyday life. It points to a new vision of what society could become-one that is less authoritarian and fearful, more collaborative and local.


This month, let’s throw some love toward Texas.  Consider buying your copy from Brazos Bookstore— a Houston bookstore that turned the lights back on and opened it’s doors as soon as the storm blew over.  It might take them a few days to get copies in hand, but what’s a few days’ wait in the scheme of things?


Let’s gain some hope this month, some inspiration in the face of all we must rebuild– homes, families, cities, this nation.  Be good to each other, folks.  And be good to yourself, too.  Remember, if you have suggestions for the coming months, please send them my way.  Email me via this site, or tweet me @Sherri_L_Smith #bookclub4newadmin.


 

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Published on September 01, 2017 00:48 • 19 views

July 31, 2017

Book Club for the New Administration – August 2017

The Constitution

The Constitution


So, this past month we were reading The Constitution of the United States of America.  Did you discover anything surprising?  Or did you just watch the School House Rock video over and over and sing the Preamble in your sleep?  Both are okay.  That catchy little tune is an easy-to-carry reminder what America’s principles are supposed to be.


Which leads me to this:  I heard a description on the radio the other day about our current and last president as being “transactional” versus “ideological.”  In business-speak, leaders are described as “transactional” or “transformational.”  According to this article on Boundless.org:


Transactional leaders are concerned about the status quo, while transformational leaders are more change-oriented.


Comparing Leadership Types

Transactional and transformational leadership exhibit five key differences:



Transactional leadership reacts to problems as they arise, whereas transformational leadership is more likely to address issues before they become problematic.
Transactional leaders work within existing an organizational culture, while transformational leaders emphasize new ideas and thereby “transform” organizational culture.
Transactional leaders reward and punish in traditional ways according to organizational standards; transformational leaders attempt to achieve positive results from employees by keeping them invested in projects, leading to an internal, high-order reward system.
Transactional leaders appeal to the self-interest of employees who seek out rewards for themselves, in contrast to transformational leaders, who appeal to group interests and notions of organizational success.
Transactional leadership is more akin to the common notions of management, whereas transformational leadership adheres more closely to what is colloquially referred to as leadership.

I love that last line “what is colloquially referred to as leadership.”  This is simply an informative article, but you can practically hear the air quotes around “leadership”  If “leadership” is reduced to a colloquialism, what does that mean for the world?  Still, based on this definition, I think the new administration is neither fish nor fowl.  It seems transactional in nature, but also wants to buck the existing culture.  Again, where does that leave us?


Okay, that’s enough political musing for today.  August is upon us, which means back to school, back to work if you’ve taken a vacation, and a lot of commercials about fall clothing even though it’s 100 degrees outside.  What to read in such a climate, when the dog days of summer have us slogging along, and the overwhelming news cycle has made even most active of activists want to lay down their signs and take a nap?


We’re going simple again, folks.  And for good reason.


The Book Club for the New Administration Selection for August is:


HortonHearsAWhoBookCover


Synopsis:  Horton is back.  After his first appearance in Horton Hatches the Egg, everyone’s favorite elephant returns in this timeless, moving, and comical classic in which we discover that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” Thanks to the irrepressible rhymes and eye-catching illustrations, young readers will learn kindness and perseverance (as well as the importance of a good “Yopp”) from the very determined–and very endearing–Horton the elephant.


Let’s hit close to home.  If you don’t own it already, why not order your copy Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.?  Years ago this store merged with my favorite childhood bookstore, the Cheshire Cat which had a separate, tiny door for kids.  It was Narnia to me as a grade school kid.  Let’s show them some love.  And, if you have the book already, please consider buying a new copy to donate to a local library or children’s charity.


So, why another picture book?  Because we can all read them easily.  I want you to go enjoy the rest of your summer, and still have something to think about.  Why this book?  Because it’s for the administration and for the citizen.  It emphasizes the importance of listening to the little people, and it tells us each that we have a voice, that we all matter.   The President could learn a thing or two by listening.  Heck, the entire government could learn by listening.  And we need to keep speaking up.  Even if you are too tired to shout, if we speak up all together, we can still be heard.


Thanks for making it to August, folks!  If you have suggestions for the coming months, please send them my way.  Email me via this site, or tweet me @Sherri_L_Smith #bookclub4newadmin.


 


 

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Published on July 31, 2017 18:00 • 26 views

July 30, 2017

Book Club for the New Administration – July 2017

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My apologies for the very late post!  As you might know, I teach in two low residency MFA programs.  Add on Comic Con, and July is a very busy month!  That’s what’s delayed the discussion on June’s Book Club Selections:


The_Lorax The_Butter_Battle_Book_cover


At the time the books were suggested, President Trump had just backed the country out of the Paris Accords, North Korea’s missile testing had given rise to saber rattling on all sides, and it seemed like a message of environmental responsibility and peace were in order.


Well, since then, many individual states have risen up in unity with the Paris Climate Accords and efforts to minimize the damage we humans are doing to the environment.  North Korea has plowed ahead with it’s missile program– with the alarming result that they will have California-capable missiles in their arsenal sooner than originally estimated.  The administration has been boiling over with controversy after and controversy– including whether or not a sitting president can pardon himself.  (The jury is still out on that one.  It seems the answer is a qualified “no?”)


Quite simply, this book club can’t keep up.  So it’s time to turn back to basics.  Basics that might answer the above question (and the one about states’ rights to collude with foreign nations on such things as the Paris Accord).  It might also remind us a bit of who we are supposed to be as a country.


The Book Club for a New Administration Selection for July is:


The Constitution

The Constitution


That’s right.  The Constitution of the United States of America.  Listen, this is a huge document with lots of articles and amendments.  Want to check the sections that relate to the above issues?  Head over to Article II, Section 2 for presidential pardons and Article I, Section 10 for the rights of states to enter agreements with foreign nations.  For a reminder of what America stands for, I point you to the Preamble:




I hope you have had a good July.  That you celebrated your Independence, surrounded yourself with friends and family and some down time.  The future keeps on arriving.  Rest up and be ready to meet what comes next.


 


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Published on July 30, 2017 13:36 • 18 views

June 1, 2017

Book Club for the New Administration – June 2017

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08 Covers.indd


The Book Club selection for May was Sarah Schulman’s Conflict is Not Abuse:  Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair.  When I first heard about this book, the title alone was a show-stopper.  We live in a world of Conflict and Abuse.  It’s evident in the headlines, in social media.  Heck, even in traffic in our cities and towns every day.  There is also a lot of shouting going on.  Have you noticed?  Even in the world of texting, where CAPS ARE CONSIDERED loud and rude, there is still a lot of drowning out and shutting down going on.


Voice an opinion.  Get shouted down.  As a question, get shouted down.  Post a picture.  Get shouted down.


There is a lot of unresolved anger in the world.  That’s the only way I can account for so much shouting.  What Schulman proposes here is a recognition of that shouting, and a way of sifting through the emotions that accompany it in order to divine what is Conflict versus what is actual Harm.


Humans seem to love conflict.  We like sports– conflict.  We like action movies and dramas– conflict.  Soap operas and reality TV shows– conflict.  I’m a writer and I’ll be the first to say a story needs conflict.  (That’s a Western conceit, apparently.  But even in Eastern writing it seems to me that conflict presents, just in a different form.) Yet, when it comes to conflict in our personal lives… well, unless you the type who likes to argue for the sake of arguing, most people don’t want it.


We want Peace.  And we want it NOW!  Without having to work through it or towards it.  But that’s realistic, so how do we get there?


First?  I propose we stop shouting.  And tweeting.  And texting.  And reacting without consideration.  Then maybe there could be some room for actual consideration and communication.


What did you think of Schulman’s book?  I can’t say I agreed 100% with everything.  But I don’t have to.  But what a thoughtful read.  I chewed on this line for hours:


The title of this book, Conflict Is Not Abuse, recommends a mutual accountability in a culture of underreaction to abuse and overreaction to conflict.


Underreaction and overreaction.  I read this and thought, “Yes!  That’s what’s going on here!”  The desire to shout down and shun means never having to have the necessary conversation.  I see this in my personal life, my profession, and on a national and global scale.  At the same time, when real harm is being inflicted, we often look away, or are told to “let it go” or “deal with it.”


It’s time to recalibrate.


So, Mr. President, if I may suggest it:  Everyone should read this book.  Heck, even just reading the introduction is a great start.  And read it not to necessarily agree with every word, but to discuss, it as I hope this book club will.  And hopefully, to take away some tools for reaching a better understanding that is so sorely needed in this world.


*Sigh*


And so, we come to June.  (Already? Only?!)  It’s been a hard five months leading up to this point.  What say we take it easy on ourselves this month, and lighten up the reading a bit? (If not the actual message.)  In fact, I’m going to double the titles and reduce the page count, because both of these seem relevant right now.


The Book Club for the New Administration Selections for June are:



The_Lorax The_Butter_Battle_Book_cover



The Lorax  Synopsis: Long before “going green” was mainstream, Dr. Seuss’s Lorax spoke for the trees and warned of the dangers of disrespecting the environment. In this cautionary rhyming tale (printed on recycled paper) we learn of the Once-ler, who came across a valley of Truffula Trees and Brown Bar-ba-loots, and how his harvesting of the tufted trees changed the landscape forever. With the release of the blockbuster film version, the Lorax and his classic tale have educated a new generation of young readers not only about the importance of seeing the beauty in the world around us, but also about our responsibility to protect it


The Butter Battle Book Synopsis:  The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss’s classic cautionary tale, introduces readers to the important lesson of respecting differences. The Yooks and Zooks share a love of buttered bread, but animosity brews between the two groups because they prefer to enjoy the tasty treat differently. The timeless and topical rhyming text is an ideal way to teach young children about the issues of tolerance and respect. Whether in the home or in the classroom, The Butter Battle Book is a must-have for readers of all ages.


Yes, folks, June will be a Seussical good time, because tough messages should, whenever possible, be delivered in fantastic rhyming picture books.  And, if you’re looking for an independent bookstore to support, why not choose Warwicks in La Jolla, California.  La Jolla was Dr. Seuss’s adopted home town.  He lived there after WWII until his death in 1991.  What’s more, Warwicks claims to be the country’s oldest family-owned and operated bookstore!  That’s pretty amazing.  


That’s all for now.  Don’t forget to post your comments on Twitter, #BookClub4NewAdmin.  I’ll be checking in throughout the week!

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Published on June 01, 2017 00:04 • 51 views