Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Name Isn't Susan: Confession Tuesday

It's Tuesday. My first confession is that today's post is self-serving: while I was asked to share this, I wasn't going to but then I caved because I failed to finish the article I was writing for today. My second confession, I've been formally revealed. If you remember, I wrote in another confession, my name is not Susan. Susan is a pseudonym and I'm quite fond of using them. In the article you can see my mug and my real name. More importantly, my hope is that this excerpt will motivate readers to think more consciously about what they read and what we promote as bloggers, educators and mentors. I encourage you to read the entire series, "Writers Against Racism" hosted by Amy Bowllan at School Library Journal:

My first goal was to purge the library and to create a space that said: you matter, your stories matter, in this space you can find your voice. I pretty much gutted the library. I brought in not only African American literature, but literature from around the globe because I know our children need to know there is a world beyond their boundaries. They need to know that other children who may at first seem different, have the same goals and dreams. They deserve to connect with the world.

Our community serves girls so our library is girl-focused. Today our collection is roughly 80% works written by women of color about people of color. You may think that is exceptionally high but outside of our walls, our girls live a practically invisible existence. They get the spotlight only when someone wants to do an exposé on the unfortunate and oppressed, but our girls rarely see themselves in the media and arts as beautiful, bright, artistic, and living empowered lives. The Nicholson library celebrates who they are.

Children need to see positive images of themselves and alternate views of what their lives can be. They need to know how they are connected to others. Today our library provides that connection. If you want to address issues of racism, you must address the issue of racial and cultural celebration. We do that at Color Online (the program I brought to the agency) and in our library, the unexpected gift I inherited.


zettaelliott said...

about TIME you linked to your own spotlight?!?! I was wondering if you needed a nudge...so modest, Susan... ;-)

mayra lazara dole said...

YOU are a gift to those girls, Susan, LaTonya and whatever other names you might have. i wish there were millions out there like you. i'd like all authors of color to celebrate YOU!

Color Online said...

Zetta, I had a link on the sidebar. I don't think a neon sign is appropriate.

Mayra, you make me blush and I thank you for it.

Eva said...

I read that article when you linked to it in a comment on my blog the other day, and then forgot to comment! But I totally second Mayra. :D And I couldn't believe that some people at college had never met a black person!!! As a military brat, some of my parents' best friends were always black, and my mom was often close with many Asian women, who were also SAHMs.

Coming from a non-POC perspective, I wish our library had had more POC authors so that I could have had a broader fiction intake when I was younger. But I'll just have to make up for it now! ;)

Jessie Carty said...

i've had a hard time finding ways to volunteer in my community (lack of response from the people who say they need volunteers) so i'd love to hear sometime how you started finding a way to give back :)


Color Online said...
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Color Online said...

Sadly, you're not the first person to tell me about agencies not following up. The reality is the volunteer coordinator is usually wearing multiple hats, and the department heads she's trying to work with who say they want help can't or won't sit still long enough to connect with either the coordinator or the volunteer. It is a mess.

I was fortunte. Call it karma. The coordinator and director I wanted to work with were both organized people who were interested in what I wanted to do. No aligned stars when I asked for volunteers to help me. Won't go into details since I want to remain with my girls but it has been frustrating.

I hope you will continue to seek out a good match. Every agency desperately needs help. If you're a self-starter and don't require supervision be sure to make that clear to the agency. They love help especially when the volunteer doesn't demand too much in return.

Jessie Carty said...

i am going to keep looking for opportunities. or perhaps start something of my own :)

January said...

I can tell in every post what a labor of love this is for you. We need more advocates to champion reading and literature, in person and online.

You really do make a difference.