Monday, January 16 2017



We are all wearing a little thin on this,The National Day of Service. The kids have attended school only a handful of days since the beginning of December. They just called another Snow/Ice Day for tomorrow. We do math problems at the dinner table and I assign people for them to study: Assata, Sojourner, Malcom, Huey. I think that this is what we should try to do every weekend. I put Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama on my list. I hope that they will teach me more than I will teach them. They'll pack food bags later and I beg them as a gift to me and this day, to just be kind to each other. Please.

I read about what Mrs. Obama might attempt to do when she becomes a private citizen. "Open a window on her own without permission" is at the top of the list. I am grateful for what she put herself through the last 9 or more years. I realize that she will continue to pay for the privilege of her husband's office for many more years. I aspire to be as strong and committed as she is to her family and to her work. I cannot imagine the responsibility. I also struggle to come up with a plan for dinner. So, it seems like I have a long row to hoe.

I am grumpy and frustrated with the carelessness that the boys carry through the house. They drop things they're finished with at their feet and step over them to go into the next room. They leave cheese on the table, pee in the toilet, and lights on in empty rooms. One says "I hate you" and the other responds quickly with the same. I wonder how those words come out of their mouths so easily. I know that I'm not good enough or kind enough in any of these moments. I am better at my sewing machine or in front the computer or scrubbing the toilet, or really– anywhere else– but right in the middle of doing this.


I cleaned out our bookshelves and sorted through all of the many, many children's books we own. I pulled out everything. I separated the books into stacks: white protagonists, non-white protagonists, non-human protagonists. Then I pulled and sorted until the stacks looked more equal. They were still lop-sided, but better. Representation matters. (I am reminded that Augie's whale/stingray/turtle phase was really long.)

Next to the Kadir Nelson favourites and our growing Christian Robinson collection, I stack up: Chicken Sunday, Patricia Pollaco; Everybody Cooks Rice, Norah Dooley; Harlem's Little Blackbird, Renee Watson; Spin a Soft Black Song, Nikki Giovanni; Ron's Big Mission, Rose Blue; Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor… There are lots more. There are the board books about loving big hair and Princess Truly (!!) who has happily upset Pinkalicious.They sit next to the books I should have already read as an adult and the Young Adult fiction I'm trying to force my Middle Schoolers into. I see that I need more books from other countries and that there are important perspectives I'm still missing. I hope they come back to these shelves when they are grown and pull out their favourites to take home to their people. That they one day have a home and people is the hope on a day like today. To be honest, that is the hope of every single one of my days.

What books do you love from the places you're from? What books opened your eyes to the places you do not claim?


I am often told that the boys are kind and sweet to their friends and classmates. People tell me that they look after each other when they are out in the world and that they are always so polite. They like to be helpful. We go over the rules before we go into Target– "no running, no hands in your pockets, no picking things up and carrying them around". The little one asks why and one of his brothers explains. There will be school on Wednesday. I will send them off with an affirmation… "I am loved, I am wise, I am kind" and hope that they carry the best of what they have out into the world with them.


  1. The hope of every parent. I read with interest. the line about other people telling you your children are so great just when you have described them at home. The at home children are my grandkids and were my children and I still to this day cannot reconcile how my perfect in the outside world left dirty dishes, art projects, books and games littered all over their world.


  2. Thank you SO MUCH for the book list! I was able to request most of them from the library. And I’m so happy to see you blogging again, I’ve been following you since the beginning of this journey and honestly it’s inspiring. My son is currently in Pre-K and a minority white kid in his class. Every time I see him on the playground or visit his classroom I wonder what I should be doing.
    Is it enough that he’s surrounded by this variety of skin tones? That he has play dates and goes to parties and is sometimes the only white kid in the room? That he sees me and his dad talking and laughing with their parents? I don’t know. Please keep writing – voices like yours are necessary for the rest of us.


  3. Books!!!! I have books, honestly as a Sci-Fi reader everything can be a bit other worldly at times. I love that new voices are becoming more popular within the sci-fi world and over the past year I have read the following by nonwhite man that I have loved.
    The Paper Menagerie Short stories by Ken Liu-this collection is so beautiful and the language is so so simple. It was my favorite book I have read in many many years, it really knocked my socks off. All the stories are connected around themes of the written word.
    The Grace of Kinds Also by Ken Liu-I found it interesting that I loved this book and my coworker who is Chinese American found it just a simple retelling of the Han Dynasty which really opened my eyes to how little I know of Chinese history.
    Ancillary Justice-by Ann Leckie I world in the future where the main character is an artificial intelligence that had many bodies but now is contained into one. The world is interesting as everyone is referred to as a she/her. There are men and women but in this world the genders have become so equal we all go by she/her.
    The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin-Three women travel along a future land where the world has basically fallen apart. It is told through their different perspectives on this world and this comment from another review sums it up greatly “one hoping it will offer her refuge, one furious about its demands on her, and one hoping to just avoid its gaze altogether.”
    On another note: I think everyone in Portland is at their wits end with this weather. I have really been realizing my privilege as an able bodied person who does not have to rely on Tri-Met to get around. I also want to thank you for this blog, it is hard to convey all the love I send to you via this form and all the little ways it has made me think about my own behavior. I am also so proud of how many people I know or only know via the web that are working to these hard conversations.


  4. I am so grateful for your blog. Thanks for writing it. I am a children’s librarian. I just finished reading Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk which has stayed with me. I also loved John Lewis’s March graphic novel trilogy. I’m currently reading Night of Fire by Ronald Kidd. I will pass this one on to my son when I am done.
    Thanks for writing, I hope you keep up.


  5. Just popping in to say thank you very much for your wonderful blog! What a gift you give us when sharing your lives!
    I adore books, but can’t think of anything to add right now.


  6. I have enjoyed reading your updates and adventures, even though they sound like they have been a lot of work (to live and to write). Thank you for sharing them. I just wanted to recommend the Carl Hiaasen YA books – He’s from Miami and the books really sound like Florida. The characters, the issues, etc.


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