Expert Destruction

I’m in disbelief . The tension between Jamal and Dr . Patel is rising . Their cultures are relentlessly clashing right in front of my eyes , like a sword fight between wealthy India and West Philadelphia . My honest impression of Jamal is that he’s bright , sane and doesn’t need medication . If anyone sounds crazy , his mother does . Some part of me will not allow me to remain silent . Jamal’s young and smart , he has a future . He doesn’t need big – gun medications , and I’m overwhelmed with an urge to save him .

“ Dr . Patel , ” I respectfully say . “ When Jamal says he spits in the mirror , it means he’s rapping . He’s a rapper and that’s how he practices . ”

Dr . Patel stares at me blankly . Nothing registers . I’m a stupid , white girl. “But he hears voices . Why else would he talk to himself ? ” Dr . Patel asks.

“No , he spits . He raps . He’s not hearing voices . He’s practicing to be a musician,” I explain. The conversation continues in this relentlessly circular fashion . Nothing is sinking in . I give up and excuse myself to the bathroom. Let the “expert” seal the young man’s fate .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Exhausting Existence

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Being two different people is so exhausting. I’ve taught myself to speak with two different voices and only say certain things around certain people. I’ve mastered it. As much as I say I don’t have to choose which Starr I am with Chris, maybe without realizing it, I have to an extent. Part of me feels like I can’t exist around people like him.

 

 

Chris and Maya walk through the gate, and my stomach gets all jittery. I should be used to my two worlds colliding, but I never know which Starr I should be. I can use some slang, but not too much slang, some attitude, but not too much attitude, so I’m not a “sassy black girl.” I have to watch what I say and how I say it, but I can’t sound “white.” Shit is exhausting.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 

International Sorry Day: Grandpa Learns his Native Tongue

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Paul tells me he’s learning the Tlingit language so he can believe the stories of his people, not just know the plots. When he was young, missionaries and the government prohibited Alaskan Natives from speaking their language and living traditionally. They often took Tlingit children from their homes and families, placing them in boarding schools as far away as Washington and Oregon. Now Paul is a grandfather and is committed to relearning a way of living that he says is not lost but rather hiding, just below the skin. He is proud of Duane and watches for a moment as his son helps his wife. “When I sing the old songs,” Paul says, “it’s like my chest is opened up and my heart is showing.” Paul’s words are poetry. I know because there is nothing I can say afterward. I just watch him resume his carving and try not to look too closely at the eye sockets of those dried fish.

If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende

Today is National Sorry Day in Australia – it seeks to repair events that also occured here in the United States

Bullying Is A Community Effort

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To complicate matters, I realized that the girls’ parents were just as gossipy and juvenile as their daughters. At my daughter’s soccer game one afternoon, I heard several mothers talking about some of the players. They remarked on how fat some of the girls on the team were and how they should be at fat camp, not on the varsity soccer team. As they went on, I got angrier and angrier. They were chatting away about someone’s child. I left at halftime because I was disgusted with their behavior. Even if I wasn’t teaching my daughter this type of behavior, it was everywhere. Her peers were bullies, their parents were bullies, and it only made sense that Emily would learn to act that way too, in order to fit in. It seemed we were living in an environment where we couldn’t escape it.

Bullies ruined my childhood. Then I realized my daughter is one., Vox.com, by Kate Young on March 3, 2016

Definition and Purpose of Marriage

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The following quotes all occur within a few pages (or paragraphs) of each other.

Quote 1:

The territorial, state, and federal governments of the United States were built upon a particular vision of civic responsibility—that men, as heads of households, entered civic life on behalf of their dependents: wives, children, servants, and slaves. The political system of the United States was predicated upon this vision, overwhelmingly reserving suffrage, jury service, elected office, membership before the bar, and judicial appointments to white male heads of household and limiting the legal rights of all others by their degree of separation from that ideal.

Quote 2:

These ideas clashed forcibly with the conceptions of kinship and social order that existed among the Upper Midwest’s long-established Dakota, Ojibwe, and mixed-heritage communities.

Quote 3:

Marriages of all kinds, and the households that marriages created, were inextricably bound up with questions of nation and identity for the Dakota, the Ojibwe, mixed-heritage individuals, and Americans alike.

Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country by Catherine J. Denial

Article about this book: There’s never been ‘traditional marriage’ in Minnesota, says author Catherine Denial, Minn Post, Amy Goetzman | 09/27/13

Laughing Until It Hurts

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I wipe my face with my sleeve, laughing so hard my stomach hurts. If my entire life is like this, loud laughter and bold action and the kind of exhaustion you feel after a hard but satisfying day, I will be content.

Divergent (Divergent Series) by Veronica Roth

Johnny Is Hungry

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I am not a teacher or an expert in Native American culture (or language or history or…), but when I read this book it occurred to me that this might be a particularly useful story for Native American Heritage Month. The reason is that the story is about an Ojibwe boy who arrives at a community event feeling very hungry. Ojibwe traditions require allowing the elders to eat first, so Johnny (who loves to eat), must learn to sit patiently and wait his turn.

It’s a very simple story about a cultural tradition that kids can readily understand. It’s also the kind of thing that exists in many cultures, in one form or another, so it’s an easy thing to talk about.

Again, I’m not an expert, and I most certainly could be wrong about all of this, but those are my thoughts. Take them for what you will.

Quote:

“He looked at all the people still waiting to eat and started to count them. “One, two, three…” Grandma tapped Johnny’s knee. “It’s Time to eat.””

Hungry Johnny, written by Cheryl Minnema and illustrated by Wesley Ballinger

Business Culture and Fear

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“Be upbeat and cultivate a culture of fun. People can’t be productive and creative in an office environment ruled by fear.”

The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It into a Global Brand by Pamela Skaist-Levy, Gela Nash-Taylor, Booth Moore

From the first chapter:

We just wanted to create something people loved and a work environment that made us happy. That’s our version of the American Dream. That’s the glitter plan.

Proper Objectives

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The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible.”

The Soul of Man Under Socialism by Oscar Wilde (Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wild)

Shared Fantasies

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“Where a long lineage of tribal organization is far more powerful than any form of government, where language is poetry and few can read or write but it is common for an illiterate person to have memorized the work of Pashto and Persian poets and to speak more than one language, parameters for established truths and knowledge are manifested in other ways than those outsiders easily recognize. In Carol’s words, in a nation of poets and storytellers, “what matters here are the shared fantasies.””

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg