When Politicians Become Bullies: Jacob’s New Dress

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North Carolina, where I currently live, has had it’s fair share of negative attention over the past year. Most prominently, in relation to the anti-LGBT legislation known as HB2, or “the bathroom bill”.

This week, the spotlight has returned to North Carolina, only this time, it’s in regards to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS) school district’s anti-bullying curriculum. My daughter is a student at CMS, a district that has 170 schools and approximately 147,000 students. Therefore, the controversy broiling between our state legislature, the NC Family Values Coalition, and our local school district has a direct impact on my family.

Since November, I have written about #ReadingasResistance, and how books can help guide a person to a new level of political and social activism. How books can be the inspiration that opens our eyes and our minds to new ideas; to people, places, and cultures that are different from us. This is nothing new; in fact, the history of banned books highlights the fear that so many people have when they are confronted with difference. With nonconformity.

Unfortunately, a wonderful children’s picture book, Jacob’s New Dress, by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, is one of the latest books to be removed from our local school’s curriculum, and therefore, is about to be added to the banned books list. Only this time, it is not a parent or school board that was troubled over a book’s inclusion in a curriculum. It is the state legislators, my lawmakers, that are leading the charge that calls for the removal of Jacob’s New Dress from CMS schools, in the name of “family values” (aka bigotry).

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Jacob’s New Dress is a story about a young boy who loves to play dress-up, and likes to wear dresses to school. The book addresses the unique challenges faced by gender nonconforming boys. Jacob’s parents support their son and his clothing choices, but they worry about him getting teased or bullied at school. The story can be an excellent start to a conversation about what is masculine and what is feminine, and the relationship between the clothes we wear and how we are viewed by society.

The book is included as part of the Welcoming Schools program, a project of the Human Rights Committee to help create safe and welcoming schools for ALL children and families. Jacob’s New Dress is included in the lesson plan, “Discussing Gender Stereotyping with Children’s Books”, with a goal of using literature to understand gender roles and recognize gender stereotyping. Discussion questions for CMS students, obtained by the Washington Post, include the following:

  • Why do you think Christopher is upset that Jacob wants to wear a dress? What does he do to hurt Jacob’s feelings during the story?
  • How did the teacher help him? How could other students have helped Jacob?
  • What should Jacob do if this happens again? (teach students to say STOP, move away, tell a trusted adult)

Risqué stuff, indeed.

Complaints about the lesson plan first arose from one teacher within CMS, who has remained anonymous. Despite the fact that the lesson plan is meant to teach children how to handle harassment and bullying, the NC Family Values Coalition and the House Republican Caucus quickly jumped on board with their disdain.

Our society no longer makes judgments about a girl’s sexuality because she prefers to wear jeans and wrestle, so why do we react so strongly to a boy making similar alternative choices? The author’s who wrote Jacob’s New Dress were inspired by their son, a boy who likes to wear things that dont always adhere to traditional gender roles.

You can’t help but find it ironic that a public school district had to step back from using a book about addressing bullying and harassment after being threatened by North Carolina lawmakers. The NC House Republican Caucus, and the NC Family Values Coalition essentially bullied CMS into using different materials for their anti-bullying curriculum.

And guess what? The bullies don’t like that book either. Red: A Crayon’s Story, is about a blue crayon mistakenly labeled red, and was quickly selected to replace Jacob’s New Dress. The latest word is that Red will also be getting more scrutiny from the Republican Caucus. It is amazing that my state legislators have enough time on their hands to micromanage my daughter’s school reading list.

As a parent within CMS, as someone who has read Jacob’s New Dress and looked at the Welcoming Schools curriculum, I LOUDLY and STRONGLY support including more diverse stories in the classroom. And I call on the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board and District to put Jacob’s New Dress back into the anti-bullying curriculum so that it will go back into my daughter’s classroom, and back into the classrooms of other CMS students.

And let’s be clear: this anti-bullying curriculum is not about “promoting a transgender agenda”, in the words of Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald. It is about using stories and literature to promote safety and acceptance of vulnerable students. Reading a book that teaches students that all people deserve to be free from bias, discrimination, and harm, is a GOOD THING.

You can listen to Jacob’s New Dress on Youtube by going here.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Contemporary YA

Kudos to Angie Thomas for writing a debut novel that is so profound and powerful. How to describe The Hate U Give – or THUG, an author-coined acronym for her book? Let’s start with this:

THUG LIFE – “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone”. ~Tupac

The title of the novel is taken from Tupac Shakur, and his meaning underlying those words. That what society tells our youth has a way of coming back and affecting all of us. We see that in the protests, and riots against police brutality and police killings of unarmed black men. We see that in the anger and frustration that so many feel.

THUG revolves around Starr Carter, a teen that moves between two worlds: the impoverished neighborhood where she grew up, and the expensive suburban private school that she attends:

I get out of the car. For at least seven hours I don’t have to talk about One-Fifteen. I don’t have to think about Khalil. I just have to be normal Starr at normal Williamson and have a normal day. That means flipping the switch in my brain so I’m Williamson Starr. Williamson Starr doesn’t use slang–if a rapper would say it, she doesn’t say it–even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her “hood”. Williamson Starr holds her tongue when people piss her off so nobody will think she’s the “angry black girl”. Williamson Starr is approachable. No stank-eyes, side-eyes, none of that. Williamson Starr is nonconfrontational. Basically, Williamson Starr doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto.

I can’t stand myself for doing it, but I do it anyway.

When Starr is the only witness to the shooting of her childhood best friend, at the hands of a police officer during a traffic stop even though he was doing nothing wrong, she is forced to confront the dichotomy between her two personas.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.

Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.

THUG is an unapologetic – and rightfully so – evocative look into a subject that needs to be torn wide open across the country: the shootings of unarmed black men by police officers. The school to prison pipeline in poor, urban communities. The New Jim Crow era of mass incarceration, the biases institutionalized within the criminal justice system and the policies that control said system. The story is emotionally charged, important, and really, REALLY good.

Putting the important political message aside for a moment, Angie Thomas is a brilliant writer. THUG is incredibly well-written, and the storytelling is so incredibly powerful, not only due to the message, but the sheer intelligence and creative ability of the author. It is very rare that I gush over contemporary YA novels, but here I am! Gushing. In a debut novel, no less!

To go along with the fantastic storytelling is all the wonderful characters that truly made the story shine. Starr is…well, Starr is someone you root for from the very beginning. And her family!! I love when a contemporary YA novel includes a well-flushed out family and Starr’s is one of the best. I love all of the relationships in this book, whether it is between Starr and her parents, or her brother Seven, or her friends. All of the relationships were well-developed and I love how a few of the minor characters really experienced their own growth throughout the story, it is very much an ensemble cast, and they all shine.

Take this conversation between Starr and her Dad:

“Now, think ’bout this,” he says. “How did the drugs even get in our neighborhood? This is a multibillion dollar industry we talking ’bout, baby. That shit is flown into our communities, but I don’t know anybody with a private jet. Do you?

“No.”

“Exactly. Drugs come from somewhere, and they’re destroying our community,” he says. “You got folks like Brenda, who think they need them to survive, and then you got the Khalils, who think they need to sell them to survive. The Brendas can’t get jobs unless they’re clean, and they can’t pay for rehab unless they got jobs. When the Khalils get arrested for selling drugs, they either spend most of their life in prison, another billion-dollar industry, or they have a hard time getting a real job and probably start selling drugs again. That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug Life.”

Daddy Carter gave me all the feels in this book. And that is what The Hate U Give does: it breaks your heart, and gives you the warm fuzzies – all in the span of a few pages.

Read this book. No matter where you live – read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

SHEroes: A Parent-Child Reading List for Women’s History Month

Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Ruther Bader Ginsburg celebrated her 84th birthday. Long a champion of gender equality, it also served as a reminder that I had yet to publish my article for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!

In celebration of the world-changing contributions women have made – and continue to make – throughout history, here is a list of non-fiction selections highlighting these achievements, and companion picture books to read with children covering the same shero or topic. Starting with the birthday woman herself!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made….It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

A trailblazer. She is only the second female justice on the  United States Supreme Court, and is recognized the world over for being one of SCOTUS’s main advocates for advancing women’s rights under the law, including her support for adding an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I am currently in the middle of reading this one right now. It is the first book from RBG since becoming a Justice in 1993; a compilation of her speeches, writings, positive and dissenting arguments from her long career.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy. The first picture book written about RBG and just published last year, M received this book in November through the PJ Library program – a free, monthly book club that sends Jewish-themed books to Jewish children and their families. I Dissent tells the story of Ginsburg’s many disagreements with the motto that “disagreeing does not make you disagreeable!”

 

Malala Yousafzai

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“I tell my story not because it is unique but because it is not. It is the story of many girls. Today, I tell their stories too. I have brought with me some of my sisters from Pakistan, from Nigeria, and from Syria who share this story… This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change. I am here to stand up for their rights, to raise their voice.”

This young woman has inspired the world. A teenage Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala is a Pakistani girl’s education activist who survived an assassination attempt when she was 15. She is an inspiring individual that works tirelessly for equality in education across the world.

I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb. The story of a young girl who risked her life to fight for the right to be educated, her miraculous recovery after an assassination attempt, and her ongoing work in children’s human rights.

Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya. Filled with beautiful illustrations, this inspiring biography is perfect for young readers preschool – 2nd grade.

The Founding Mothers

“If we mean to have Heroes, Statemen and Philosophers, we should have learned women.” ~Abigal Adams, in a letter to John Adams, August 14, 1776

Little attention has been given to the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters that stood with the American Founding Fathers. Author Cokie Roberts brings to life the women in history that also helped to shape American when it was just a duckling. It was the women who insisted that the men come together for civilized conversations. It was the women who helped to keep a young, new country from falling into partisan discord.

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts. Highlighting the contribution’s to American history by Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, and Martha Washington.

Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies – the picture book based on her book for adults, also highlighting the female patriots during the American Revolution.

Women in Science

“Their path to advancement might look less like a straight line and more like some of the pressure distributions and orbits they plotted, but they were determined to take a seat at the table.” ~Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave after losing her battle with cervical cancer, yet practically every doctor and scientist knows her name. Taken without her knowledge or permission, Henrietta’s cells live on in scientific laboratories, known as HeLa cells.

This book brings up grave injustices in the scientific community, including the dark history of experimentation on people of color, and the battle over whether or not we control the very cells that make up our body. Despite Henrietta’s cells providing an inspiring breakthrough in medical research, her children and grandchildren live an impoverished life in Baltimore, they have seen no profits or reparations for what was taken from Henrietta without permission.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky. Unfortunately, there are no picture books about Henrietta Lacks or HeLa cells, but I highly recommend this book for young readers that highlights the contributions of 50 notable women in STEM fields. Women featured include Wang Zhenyi, one of the greatest minds of the Qing dynasty; Nettie Stevens, who discovered that biological sex is determined by X and Y chromosomes; Edith Clarke, the first female electrical engineer; Alice Ball, who helped to cure leprosy; and Katherine Johnson, who calculated the flight path for the first manned mission on the moon. You may recognize that last name mentioned, since Katherine Johnson is currently getting the attention she so justly deserves as one of the African-American female mathematicians featured in the hit movie and book, Hidden Figures.

Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space by Margot Lee Shetterly. Also available in a Young Reader’s edition.

Happy Women’s History Month! Are there any books you are reading this month to celebrate the contributions that women have made throughout history?

Reading as Resistance – Part 3

As part of my personal resistance and opposition to the recent executive order banning travelers and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, and accompanying moratorium on all refugee admissions, I decided to develop a three-part series highlighting authors from the seven countries included in the ban. You can find the Introduction and Part 1 here. Part 2 is here. Below is Part 3. 

Authors from the Seven Countries Affected by Trump’s Travel Ban: Iraq, Somalia and Libya.

Iraq

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Betool Khedairi. Born in Baghdad, Betool received her B.A. in French literature from the University of Mustansirya, and divides her time between Iraq, Jordan and the United Kingdom. She currently lives in Amman. I have one of her books on my bookshelf, so A Sky So Close will probably be one of the first books I read to #resist this year.

  • A Sky So Close – “This haunting coming-of-age story about a girl growing up in wartime Iraq was the subject of heated controversy when it was published in the Middle East; now in English, it offers American readers a rare chance to experience an Iraqi childhood.”

Ahmad Ardalan. Born in Baghdad in 1979, he grew up in Vienna prior to returning to Iraq in 1989, graduating from the University of Dentistry. He moved to the UAE due to the unstable conditions in his home country. Returning for a visit in 2013, this formed the inspiration for his novel, The Gardener of Baghdad. 

  • The Gardener of Baghdad – “Adnan leads a weary existence as a bookshop owner in modern-day, war-torn Baghdad, where bombings, corruption and assault are everyday occurrences and the struggle to survive has suffocated the joy out of life for most. But when he begins to clean out his bookshop of forty years to leave his city in search of somewhere safer, he comes across the story of Ali, the Gardener of Baghdad, Adnan rediscovers through a memoir handwritten by the gardener decades ago that beauty, love and hope can still exist, even in the darkest corners of the world.”
  • Baghdad: The Final Gathering – “With the drums of war just weeks away, Omar invites all those closest to his heart for lunch at his lavish villa overlooking the Tigris River of Baghdad. He can’t help but smile at the faces that have graced his eventful life that spans from an interesting childhood, the two Gulf Wars, and the inhumane embargo that crippled the nation. Loved ones come together, probably for the last time, in the city their ancestors called Baghdad or Baghdadu, ‘God’s Gift.’

Somalia

Nuruddin Farah. Farah is a prominent Somali novelist. He was awarded the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. The only author I have already read on this list, I highly recommend his work.

  • Knots – “A strong, self-reliant woman who was born in Somalia but brought up in North America, Cambara returns to Mogadiscio to escape a failed marriage and an overweening mother. Her journey back to her native home is a desperate attempt to find herself on her own terms-however ironically, in a country where women are expected to wear veils.”
  • Links (Read in 2008, 4 out of 5 stars) – “Jeebleh is returning to Mogadiscio, Somalia, for the first time in twenty years. But this is not a nostalgia trip—his last residence there was a jail cell. And who could feel nostalgic for a city like this? U.S. troops have come and gone, and the decimated city is ruled by clan warlords and patrolled by qaat-chewing gangs who shoot civilians to relieve their adolescent boredom. Diverted in his pilgrimage to visit his mother’s grave, Jeebleh is asked to investigate the abduction of the young daughter of one of his closest friend’s family. But he learns quickly that any act in this city, particularly an act of justice, is much more complicated than he might have imagined.”
  • Crossbones – “A dozen years after his last visit, Jeebleh returns to his beloved Mogadiscio to see old friends. He is accompanied by his son-in-law, Malik, a journalist intent on covering the region’s ongoing turmoil. What greets them at first is not the chaos Jeebleh remembers, however, but an eerie calm enforced by ubiquitous white-robed figures bearing whips.”

Libya

Ibrahim al-Koni. Al-Koni was born in the Fezzan region in 1948. He spent his childhood in the desert, and studied comparative literature at the Maxim Gorky LIterature Institute in Moscow. He has published more than 80 books, although most have not been translated into English.

  • The Bleeding of the Stone – “The moufflon, a wild sheep prized for its meat, continues to survive in the remote mountain desert of southern Libya. Only Asouf, a lone bedouin who cherishes the desert and identifies with its creatures, knows exactly where it is to be found. Now he and the moufflon together come under threat from hunters who have already slaughtered the once numerous desert gazelles. The novel combines pertinent ecological issues with a moving portrayal of traditional desert life and of the power of the human spirit to resist.”
  • Gold Dust – “Rejected by his tribe and hunted by the kin of the man he killed, Ukhayyad and his thoroughbred camel flee across the desolate Tuareg deserts of the Sahara. Between bloody wars against the Italians in the north and famine raging in the south, Ukhayyad rides for the remote rock caves of Jebel Hasawna. There, he says farewell to the mount who has been his companion through thirst, disease, lust, and loneliness. Alone in the desert, haunted by the prophetic cave paintings of ancient hunting scenes and the cries of jinn in the night, Ukhayyad awaits the arrival of his pursuers and their insatiable hunger for blood and gold.”

Hisham Matar.  Hisham Matar was born in NYC, where his father was working for the Libyan delegation to the UN. When he was three years old, his family moved back to Tripoli, where he spent his early childhood. Eventually, his family was forced to flee and live in exile in Egypt, later moving to London. His novel, In the Country of Men, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

  • In the Country of Men – “Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman’s days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father’s constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother’s increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn’t he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie? Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand-where the sound of the telephone ringing becomes a portent of grave danger; where his mother frantically burns his father’s cherished books; where a stranger full of sinister questions sits outside in a parked car all day; where his best friend’s father can disappear overnight, next to be seen publicly interrogated on state television.”
  • The Return (the only non-fiction selection on this list) – “From Man Booker Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Hisham Matar, a memoir of his journey home to his native Libya in search of answers to his father’s disappearance. In 2012, after the overthrow of Qaddafi, the acclaimed novelist Hisham Matar journeys to his native Libya after an absence of thirty years.”

I hope you enjoyed this 3-part series! Please add any other recommendations you might have from any of the seven countries featured.

 

Reading as Resistance – Part 2

As part of my personal resistance and opposition to the recent executive order banning travelers and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, and accompanying moratorium on all refugee admissions, I decided to develop a three-part series highlighting authors from the seven countries included in the ban. You can find the Introduction and Part 1 here. Below is Part 2.

Authors from the Seven Countries Affected by Trump’s Travel Ban: Iran and Syria

Iran

 

Mahmoud Dowlatabadi. Mahmoud is an Iranian writer and actor, best known for his promotion of social and artistic freedom in contemporary Iran.

  • Missing Soluch – “Perhaps the most important work in modern Iranian literature, this starkly beautiful novel examines the trials of an impoverished woman and her children living in a remote village in Iran, after the unexplained disappearance of her husband, Soluch.”
  • The Colonel – “A pitch black, rainy night in a small Iranian town. Inside his house, the colonel stared at the portrait of the famous military hero –The Colonel, long executed. He thinks of his own children, one of whom died supporting the Shah, another of whom fought for the Ayatollah, another of whom – his fourteen-year old daughter – has been captured handing out leaflets against the regime. The Colonel has fought against the British…he fought for the Shah… he fought for the Ayatollah…he’s dedicated his life to his country…the house is quiet.

    Could they really be coming…for him?”

 

Shahrnush Parsipur. Shahrnush was born and raised in Tehran, receiving her B.A. in sociology from Tehran University in 1973. She is the recipient of the first International Writers Project Fellowship from the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

  • Touba and the Meaning of Night –  “Introduces English-speaking readers to the masterpiece of a great contemporary Persian writer, renowned in her native Iran and much of Western Europe. This remarkable epic novel, begun during one of the author’s several imprisonments, was published in Iran in 1989 to great critical acclaim and instant bestseller status—until Shahrnush Parsipur was again arrested a year later, and all her works banned by the Islamic Republic.

  • Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran – “With a tone that is stark, and bold, Women Without Men creates an evocative allegory of life for contemporary Iranian women.”

Syria

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Fadi Azzam. Fadi is a Syrian journalist and fiction writer, who studied Arabic at Damascus University. He now lives and works in the United Arab Emirates.

  • Sarmada – “Sarmada, Arabic for perpetuate or the eternally-not-changed, is the novel’s fictitious setting. In the title, Fadi Azzam creates a new word (a derivative female form of noun-verb, which does not exist in Arabic) and in so doing immediately lets the reader know that women are the protagonists of this story that spans several generations, from Syria to Paris and back again.”

Adonis. Adonis was born Ali Ahmed Said in the village of Al Qassabin. At the age of 19, he adopted the name Adonis (also spelled Adunis) after the Greek god of fertility. He is considered one of the Arab world’s greatest living poets.

  • Adonis: Selected Poems – “This volume serves as the first comprehensive survey of Adonis’s work, allowing English readers to admire the arc of a remarkable literary career through the labors of the poet’s own handpicked translator, Khaled Mattawa.”
  • The Pages of Day and Night – “Restless and relentless, Adonis explores the pain and otherness of exile, a state so complete that absence replaces identity and becomes the exile’s only presence. Exile can take many forms for the Arabic poet, who must practice his craft as an outsider, separated not only from the nation of his birth but from his own language; in the present as in the past, that exile can mean censorship, banishment, or death. Through these poems, Adonis gives an exquisite voice to the silence of absence.”

In Part 3, I will take a look at authors from Somalia, Iraq, and Libya. Stay tuned!

Reading as Resistance – How do you fight back? Reading Authors from the Seven Countries Banned By Trump, Part 1.

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Last week, I followed Trump’s Executive Orders closely. Each day, there seemed to be new trials and tribulations unleashed from his pen as he signed one executive order after another.

What I would like to focus on today is Friday’s executive order, and my response.

When a draft executive order was leaked to the media on Wednesday that placed a moratorium on the refugee admissions program, and an outright travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries, I knew we had even more trouble ahead. Prior to the birth of my daughter, I worked in refugee resettlement. I remember the repercussions of the two-month freeze on refugee admissions after 9/11, how it devastated resettlement agencies and made it incredibly difficult for them to have enough funds to keep case workers employed, so that they could continue to help people who were already here, and prepare for those who would arrive after the ban was lifted.

When an admissions ban goes into effect, almost all funding for resettlement agencies dries up quickly. And Friday’s executive order is like no other. A 120-day moratorium on ALL refugee admissions is twice as long as the post-9/11 freeze. A complete travel ban on all citizens of seven countries, irregardless of their visa status, or how long they have lived in the United States.

Such a ban has a catastrophic impact on people fleeing war and famine, on permanent residents who have made a home in America only to find themselves trapped outside of the country and unable to return home. Discrimination against a person based on their religion or national origin is a gross violation of a person’s human rights, and Friday’s EO is harmful to hundreds of thousands of people.

Much has already been written on the illegalities of this executive order, which breaks both domestic and international law. How can we respond, especially as a book community, to such discrimination and human rights violations?

As an individual, I have participated in quite a few actions over the past week. I have called my Senators and Congressional Representatives almost every day. On Friday evening, I participated in a protest at the Charlotte Douglas Airport. I donated, again, to the ACLU, the International Refugee Assistance Project, and my local refugee resettlement agencies. I will continue to volunteer in the refugee community on a regular basis.

For those who also engage in activism, you are likely already aware that self-care is needed to prevent burnout. One of my biggest forms of self-care is reading. Yet, even in this hobby, I see a way to Resist.

I have made a committment to reading at least one novel written by authors from each of the seven countries included in the immigration and travel ban: Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia. I encourage you to do the same.

During the course of this week, I will feature authors from each of these seven countries. I am a firm believer in the ability to learn through literature. If you are participating in #DiversityBingo2017, most of these suggestions will work for a few of the categories in that challenge as well.

Today’s post will highlight authors from Sudan and Yemen.

Authors from the Seven Countries Affected by Trump’s Travel Ban: Sudan and Yemen

Sudan

Leila Aboulela. Leila grew up in Kartoum, graduating from Khartoum University in 1985. She was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000 for her short story The Museum, and her novel The Translator was nominated for the Orange Prize in 2002, and was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times in 2006.

  • Lyrics Alley – “The evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they’ve built for decades.”
  • The Translator – “Sammar is a Sudanese widow working as an Arabic translator at a Scottish university. Since the sudden death of her husband, her young son has gone to live with family in Khartoum, leaving Sammar alone in cold, gray Aberdeen, grieving and isolated. But when she begins to translate for Rae, a Scottish Islamic scholar, the two develop a deep friendship that awakens in Sammar all the longing for life she has repressed.”
  • Minaret – “Leila Aboulela’s American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman — once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London — gradually embracing her orthodox faith.”

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Tayeb Salih. Tayeb was born in Karmakol, near the village of Al Dabbah in the Northern Province of Sudan. He studied at Khartoum University before leaving for the University of London in England. Despite living abroad for most of his life, his fiction is firmly rooted in the village in which he spent his early years.

  • Season of Migration to the North – “After years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country.”

Yemen

Wajdi al-Ahdal is a Yemeni novelist, short story writer and playwright. Born in 1973 near Bajil in the province of Al Hudaydah, he received a degree in Literature from Sanaa University in Yemen. He won the Afif short story prize in 1997, and the youth prize of the President of the Republic of Yemen for a short story in 1999.

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  • A Land Without Jasmine – “A sexy, satirical detective story about the sudden disappearance of a young female student from Yemen ‘s Sanaa University.”

Zayd Mutee’ Dammaj was a Yemeni politician and writer. His short novel The Hostage was selected by the Arab Writers Union as one of the top 100 Arabic novels of the 20th century.

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  • The Hostage – “Set in the pre-revolution Yemen of the Imams, this novel depicts the experiences of a young boy who, having been taken hostage, in line with the Imam’s general practice, as a pledge for his father’s political obedience, is sent to serve as a young male attendant in the palace of the city governor.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Bookish Gifts for 8 Crazy Nights

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme was Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree. Since we don’t have a tree, or get visits from Santa, I thought I’d change it slightly to reflect our Chanukah celebrations!

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10 Bookish Gifts for 8 Crazy Nights of Chanukah!

Folio Society Books!

I love these beautiful publications, and would love to receive a few more! These are three that I have been ogling for a while:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Emma by Jane Austen

26200563

Hamilton: The Revolution

By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. Because I love all things Hamilton!

9781101965481

Game of Thrones Collection

By George R.R. Martin. I desperately want this cloth-bound boxed set that includes the first five books of the Games of Thrones series!

march-books-1-3-covers

March, Books 1 -3

By John Lewis. John Lewis is one of my idols, and a true American hero. He is the only speaker from the 1963 March on Washington that is still alive. I consider the world lucky that John Lewis chose to document his time during the Civil Rights movement in the way he did, in a series of graphic novel memoirs. I will definitely be reading these in 2017, and would love to own them!

Leigh Bardugo Boxed Sets

I would love these two boxed sets, of the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows Duology.

Harry Potter!

I have read HP multiple times, but the more I see the illustrated editions, the more I would like to own them!

What books are on your wish list lately? Happy Holidays!