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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: native American, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Review: House of Purple Cedar

Hproductsprimary_image_215_touse of Purple Cedar

Author: Tim Tingle

Date:  February, 2014; Cinco Puntos

adult crossover

The House of Purple Cedar is set in Skullyville, Oklahoma at the turning of the 20th century. The New Hope Academy for Girls just burned down and a new Indian Agent has just arrived in town. Rose and her brother, Jamey joined Amofo, their grandfather, for a trip into town, a rare treat that would replace their daily chores. This outing actually placed them in the right place at the wrong time. The town marshall appears, alcohol leads to events and Amofo is struck with a board.

House of Purple Cedar unfolds as a story of how those who are disempowered choose to react when they are abused. The process of deciding how to react was a slow, deliberate process for Amofo as it was for Choctaw elders and Rose keenly observes this process. The narrative voice changes and we come to understand power balances throughout the community. We realize that while an individual’s actions define their own relationship, the community as a whole plays a role in allowing things to happen.

There are houses of purple cedar in the story, however, I’m not sure why ‘purple cedar’. I’ve spent some time researching this wood and can’t find anything about it. The more I looked, the more curious I’ve become about its significance.

Tingle manages better than most to weave in and out of time and back and forth between narrative voices. Rose, a young girl throughout most of the story, is the only character who has a narrative voice thus making the book appealing to young readers. Rose lives with her parents and grandparents in a home outside the city. Skullyville is a small community where Choctaw and Nahullos (Whites) all know each other, worship separately, maintain prejudices and come together in unpredictable ways. While Choctaw identity is essential to the story, this isn’t a story about being Choctaw.

‘Hearing’ the community sing “Amazing Grace” will give you goose bumps. Tingle brings faith to life and makes it another character in this story. No doubt, Tingle is a storyteller! He brings together many characters, details and events in this story in a very gentle, purposeful way.

Thank you, Bobby Byrd  of Cinco Puntos, for providing me a review copy at ALA Midwinter!


Filed under: Me Being Me Tagged: adult crossover, book review, native american, Tim Tingle

1 Comments on Review: House of Purple Cedar, last added: 3/15/2014
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2. Native American, Lloyd Arneach, talks about his fire for storytelling

With the release of our new book, “First Fire,” which is a retelling of a Cherokee folktale, we decided to sit down with storyteller, Lloyd Arneach, to find out more about the culture and the art of storytelling. Arneach is a longtime Native American storyteller that got his start in a rather interesting and unexpected way. He’s keen on Cherokee culture, having lloyd_arneach_frontgrown up in Cherokee, North Carolina, and learning from his family. Arneach spent about twenty years sharing the culture and history of his people at universities, museums and even Girl Scout meetings. Now he’s been a storyteller now for over twenty years and still has a lot of stories to be told.

 

Me: Can you tell me a little bit about how you first got involved with storytelling? What inspired you?

Lloyd: Well, I really backed into it! My late wife and I were living in Atlanta, and we had a babysitter who was in a Girl Scout troop. And she couldn’t find a book on Indians in the entire county library system. And she said, “wait a minute! I babysit for an Indian, maybe he can help me.” So she called me up and asked if I could help her and I said sure. She told me the requirements, and they were fairly simple and I said, “sure! But I’m going to have to come straight from work, I won’t have time to go home and change. Is that going to be a problem?” She said no, so the next Girl Scout meeting I came straight from work. I went in and sat down and the young girls looked at me and I could hear one of them say, “I don’t know where the Indian is but he’s going to be here pretty soon.” I was working as a computer programmer at that time and I was wearing a three-piece suit, so you don’t see many Indians in three-piece suits. I got up to talk and you could hear their jaws hitting the ground. She started calling other scout leaders who had the same problem in that county, they couldn’t find books on the Indians. I became a resource material as a result. Boy scouts started calling, and then schools started calling, and museums started calling. I was sharing primarily Cherokee culture and history at that time.

In 1985, I got a call from student at Georgia State University and she said she was in a Folklore class. Her assignment was to record stories from original tellers, and I said she would need to go to the reservation in Cherokee to find a storyteller. She said “no, you’d be fine!” So she came and recorded some stories, and I didn’t think anything about it. Then in ‘88 I got a call from Dr. John Burleson at Georgia State and he said “I teach the Folklore class here at Georgia State and our students have been collecting stories. And the stories we have recorded from you I’m going to be putting in a book with these others I have collected, and I’m calling all storytellers to be invited to a book signing. Would you be willing to come?” I said, well let me know. Well, in November of ‘88, we discovered my wife had a terminal brain tumor. It destroyed her motor capabilities and she couldn’t walk, she had very little control of her hands. But her mental capabilities were still there and her ability to communicate had not diminished. My father-in-law, my son, and I brought her home and someone was with her twenty-four hours a day. I was still working at that time, so I would go to work and my father-in-law and son would be taking care of FirstFire-Spread-10her during the day and I would come home and I would relieve my father-in-law and he’d go fix supper and come back and relieve me while I ate supper. This is how it went until the spring of ’89. Dr. Burleson called me back and said “we’re going to have a book signing in September would you be willing to come?” And I talked to my wife, Charlotte, and she said “go ahead!” you know, I needed to get out of the house. Well, she passed away in the end of August in ’89 and I was doing everything I could to fill my time. So I went to the book signing and as I was taking a break, a lady came up to me and said “I’m Betty Ann Wylie and I’m a member of the Southern Order of Storytellers. We have a storytime festival in January, would you be willing to come and share your stories?” and I said “YES!” so in January of 1990, I started sharing stories. It was never something I intended to do.

So from 1970 to1990, I was just sharing Cherokee culture and history, but in 1990 I started sharing stories and I’ve been doing it ever since. So it was never something I intended to do, I literally backed into it.

It’s something I thoroughly enjoy, I had never really thought about it. I was a very introverted individual. My late wife brought me out of my shell. She taught me that people are interesting, but you have to talk with them to find out these interesting things about them. If you don’t talk, you don’t know. She was a very good people person; she had unbelievable people skills. She taught me to come out and enjoy people, and if she hadn’t done that I would have never agreed to do the first session in front of the girl scouts.

 

Me: How did you learn the stories? Who taught you?

Lloyd: I had two great uncles who were wonderful storytellers and at our family gatherings, Uncle George would tell a story and Uncle Dave would tell a story. It was like a tennis match! And without realizing it, I was learning the old stories of our people. And then my mother had Tuberculosis for two years and I went to live with my great uncle. My great aunt taught French at the University of Oklahoma, so we went out during the winter to Oklahoma where she teached University. My other aunt, my mom’s sister, was studying languages and lived on the cottage at Aunt Dell and Uncle George’s property. She and Aunt Dell would speak French. Well without realizing it, I was in second grade, I started picking up conversational French. So after the school year ended, we came back to Cherokee for the summer. I was walking through downtown Cherokee, after graduating from the second grade, and this tourist stopped me and said “Hau! You speak-a the English?” and I said “Bonjour! Comment ça va?” He called his wife over, “hey Gertrude! Get over here and listen to this kid speak Indian!” So that’s when I realized how much people really didn’t know about Indians, in second grade. So when I was going out sharing culture, I tried not to dress in the feathers and buck skin, because I realized the young people would think this is what an Indian looks like today. So I wanted to try to avoid that stereotype. Also not many people knew of an Indian who was a computer programmer – they don’t associate those two.

 

Me: Do you find that stories change over time since they are all learned through word-of-mouth?

Lloyd: The nucleus of the story stays the same, but each person uses different words. Some people might use very flowery descriptions of the “long winding trail to the sharp rock,” somebody else might say “he took the long trail up to the top of the mountain.” But still, the important essence was that he went to the top of the mountain.lloyd_arneach_1_600w

 

Me: Which do you prefer? Do you prefer more flowery descriptions?

Lloyd: Not flowery, but I try and visualize the story as I’m telling it and describe what I see. I’m aware the audience may not be aware if I say “there were snake dens,” but if I say “there were Rattlesnake dens,” suddenly they’re realizing “oh my gosh! This wasn’t just a walk past snakes, but they were dangerous snakes!” and it pulls their attention into the story. I’m trying to keep the audience involved in the story. If I say, “Well, there were some Indian medicine right along the trail, that means nothing. If I say “there was kudzu” which we have learned to use for medicine, they say “oh!” and it’s a totally different approach to the story.

 

Me: Do you have a personal favorite story to tell?

Lloyd: Yes, Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce. A very moving story and for me, I have to have about an hour with the audience. And what I do when I first go into a program, I do a couple of stories and do a very quick read on the audience. And by “read,” I mean that when I tell a story, there may be a point in the story where the audience should react and they may laugh, but instead their response should be an “ohhh yes” and when I get that reaction I realize they don’t understand the story. And so I’ll switch to a different group of stories and they’ll never realize the program has changed in mid-stride. It’s just been garnered over years of sharing with different groups and seeing how they respond. One of the best pieces of advice came from an internationally known storyteller named Carmen Deedy, and she was really my first good mentor when I was coming up. She was very quick, she picked things up very very fast, a very intelligent woman. And we were talking, I was grousing about the programs I had and how I couldn’t get this one guy to pay attention. And she said “Lloyd, if there are a hundred people in the room and one person isn’t paying attention to you, why are you focusing on them? There are ninety-nine people who are hanging on every word, share with them. If the one person comes around, fine, but reward the ninety-nine people for their attention.”

That would save me so much heartache over the years, because it was obvious some people didn’t want to be there. “Storytelling? That’s for kids!” But I’d tell them, if you give me twenty minutes and an open mind, I will change the mind of any adult.

I’m seventy and I only have a few summers left where I can get out and travel on my own without someone attending me or worrying about me. So I’m cutting down a lot of my programs now, because there’s still things I want to do – I’ve still got my bucket list! And that involves traveling.

 

Me: Is there one thing you’d want younger generations to know about the Cherokee or storytelling?

Lloyd: Stories are meant to be shared. Share them. Everybody has stories. They might not realize it but everybody has stories.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Lloyd Arneach, visit his webstie at www.arneach.com

Learn more about our book “First Fire” here: http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=FirstFire


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3. Why We’re Drawn to Tragedy

The story of the Dakota War of 1862 — a six-week clash between Dakota warriors and white soldiers on the Northwestern frontier that left hundreds of settlers dead and culminated in the execution of 38 Native Americans on the day after Christmas, the largest mass execution in United States history — is grim. Its troubling [...]

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4. Chicanonautica: Welcome to the World Wide Wild West Show



Seems like the ghost of Buffalo Bill is stalking me. A reprint of a dime novel about him found me in New Mexico, then a copy of Linda Scarangella McNenly’s Native Performers in Wild West Shows: From Buffalo Bill to Euro Disney came my way.

Oh yeah. Buffalo Bill has set up shop in Paris. Like a persistent ghost . . .

The Wild West show and the dime novel were the origins of the western genre, which in the beginning was all about explaining just what are all these white people doing in this untamed country? After making his name killing buffalo, William Frederick Cody became the star of dime novels and pioneered the Wild West show: a chimera of theater and the circus that is also an ancestor of performance art.

McNenly’s book is a fascinating account of this business/art form with political consequences. It focuses on the native performers and their transformation from menaces to commercial attraction/myth figures. Faced with the deconstruction of their world, you can’t blame some for preferring show biz to the Office of Indian Affairs’ “civilizing” policies on the reservations.

As Short Boy, put it in 1911: I wouldn’t go back to the reservation for a new rifle and cartridges enough to last me the rest of my life . . . He enjoyed fighting American soldiers even with blank cartridges.”

In 2004, Kevin “Kave” Dust, who worked at the Euro Disney (with Mickey Mouse) explained: I am protected through the medicine man and my strong tradition. I am still here, still proud, and still alive.

Native Performers in Wild West Show was a rather surreal read for an academic study. It has me rethinking my own Wild West environment, and wondering about futuristic developments.

It also gave me the urge to re-read Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Storyteller. South America’s myths and traditions about native tribes is different than those of the North. No heroic wars romanticized are by popular culture and the entertainment industry. Still, there are parallels to the bizarre world of the Wild West show . . .

The Storyteller of the title is Saúl Zuratas, called “Mascarita” because of birthmark on his face that, along with his being Jewish, makes him an outsider in Peru. He is driven away from civilization and becomes obsessed with the culture of the Machiguenga Indians: “Do our cars, guns, planes, and Coca-Colas give us the right to exterminate them?” He doesn’t want them made into “zombies and caricatures of men, like those semi-acculturated Indians you see in Lima.”

Disgusted by acculturation and assimilation, he wishes that Machiguenga could remain isolated, and their culture preserved in a state of purity. Instead of creating a mestizo identity for the modern world, he goes native, becoming a storyteller for the tribe.

But still, civilization is out there, creeping through the jungle . . .

Meanwhile, in Arizona, I see postmodern Americanos looking for the same kind of purity and spirituality that’s missing in their lives. They often find themselves in the hands of snake oil salesmen. Sedona is an inside-out Wild West show, with high-priced psychics instead of simulated Indian attacks.

Eventually, the entire world could be a Wild West show, but who will be the natives?

If you look at the rodeo coverage in the Navajo Times, these days, a lot of the cowboys are Indians.

Ernest Hogan discusses High Aztech, and Chicano science fiction in a video on Latinopia.com.

0 Comments on Chicanonautica: Welcome to the World Wide Wild West Show as of 1/17/2013 3:02:00 AM
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5. First Book, Stories for All Project Chooses LEE & LOW

In a groundbreaking announcement, First Book, a non-profit social enterprise launched the Stories for All Project. The project’s aim is to introduce a significant number of multicultural books into the hands of low-income children. LEE & LOW was chosen as one of two publishers to be a part of this endeavor and receive a $500,000 award.First Book

For us the presence of this project further addresses the fact that diverse books are a necessity. Making multicultural books available to low-income families is a step toward addressing the chasm between people who believe these books are important to actually making the books available to the children who need them.

For years I have been involved in conversations with librarians and educators on the subject of how we need more diverse books. However, there is this strange disconnect where people continue to point out the lack of diverse books without doing the most obvious thing, which is supporting the companies that publish these books in the first place. The support is simple. It involves buying the books. It also involves telling people about the books and recommending them to buy the books. The more this happens the more books we can publish.

What First Book has done is monumental in supporting multicultural books. It is a bold statement that I hope is just the beginning. An infusion of this many diverse books increases the chances of a child being able to see a face like his or her own staring back at them from the pages of a book. This moment of recognition for a child will create a profound experience that will be forever associated with the act of reading. This powerful relationship to books is one that they will hopefully cultivate for the rest of their lives.

On behalf of everyone at LEE & LOW I want to thank CEO Kyle Zimmer, Executive Vice President Chandler Arnold, Vice President Erica Perl, along with all the dedicated people working on the Stories for All Project. First Book’s commitment and dedication to literacy and multicultural literature is to be commended. This will be a game changer for many children who will be receiving their very first book ever.


Filed under: Awards, Bellringers, Book News, Dear Readers Tagged: African/African American Interest, Asian/Asian American, diversity, first book, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, LGBT, Middle Eastern, Multiracial, Native American, Race issues

3 Comments on First Book, Stories for All Project Chooses LEE & LOW, last added: 4/8/2013
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6. Where’s the Diversity? A Look at the Emmy Awards and TV

Publishing diverse children’s books for more than two decades has given us a unique perspective when it comes to diversity. While our mission is to bring more diverse books to children, we hope our efforts as activists keep the wider conversation on race and inequality in the spotlight. Our previous Diversity Gap studies on the Tony Awards and the children’s book industry revealed a disturbing trend in ethnic and gender representation. We decided to focus on the television industry next.

Diversity Gap Emmy Awards infographic

Emmy Awards infographic (click for larger image)

Our Diversity Gap study on the Emmy Awards was the logical choice for objectively looking at the small screen. Since the Emmys will be presented on September 22, 2013, we collected data to see if a diversity gap exists in television. See our infographic above for Emmy related facts like:

  • No woman of color has ever won an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series
  • In the last twenty years, winners in the Best Director of a Comedy Series were 100% white and 95% male
  • An African American woman has not been nominated for lead actress in a Comedy Series since The Cosby Show (1986)

We implemented the methodology we have used previously, with the help of the Writer’s Guild of America West, and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with two talented writer/actors. Their combined insights into the mechanism behind making television illuminate why the lack of diversity in casting and writing remains a very real, very complex problem.

Luisa Leschin

Luisa Leschin definitely believes in the richness of diversity. She has enjoyed four very successful careers: ballet dancer, actress, voice-over artist and television script writer. Her writing credits include The George Lopez Show and Everybody Hates Chris. She is currently developing a children‘s sitcom pilot with EOne Entertainment with a theme of healthy living and is writing a pilot about Latino millennials called Homies.

Kelvin Yu Kelvin Yu is a Taiwanese-American writer currently working on the Fox animated series Bob’s Burgers. A Los Angeles native, Yu studied theater and communications at UCLA. His acting credits include Milk, Star Trek, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, and The Shield. He also has a small white dog named Yuki who used to live in New York. Neither of them are fixed.

Luisa, what types of roles were you being cast for when you were an actress?

LL: I was lucky enough to be a working actress during the 1980s and early 1990s. I started my career in New York, where I studied with Uta Hagen, a legendary actress and teacher. I speak un-accented English, but judging from my auditions, I soon realized that I better work on my Mexican, Cuban, Guatemalan, Colombian, and Puerto Rican spitfire accents because those were the only roles for which I was being considered. I remember walking onto the set of Hill Street Blues, where I was playing the pregnant girlfriend of a gang member. We had just been arrested. My fellow “actor” introduced himself to me and asked me how many times I had been arrested, because he’d been arrested twice! Toward the end of my on-camera career, I did a “role-count” and discovered that I had played a pregnant woman (in various stages of delivery) no less than six times, hookers, maids, gang-girlfriends, and as I got older, gang-girlfriend’s mothers . . . and not much else.People are just ‘writing what they know,’ which can be a virtue while simultaneously a tragedy.

Kelvin, in our initial conversation you said you felt that as an actor you have resigned yourself to always playing second banana—that you would never appear as a main character in a TV show. You attributed this to a standard of beauty. Could you elaborate on this for us?

KY: I may have used the word “resigned” but I think, more accurately, as an Asian American actor you just come to understand the market place as it is. That’s not to say that you don’t hope it could someday change, but you understand that American audiences are not generally even ready for a female lead most of the time, so it is unlikely they will mass-consume a television show or a studio feature with an Asian American carrying the story. That said, this year we’ve seen Mindy Kaling and Ken Jeong take on huge projects that are viewed by millions of people. But these are, of course, the exception rather than the rule.

As I said before, it’s not entirely an issue of race either. I don’t think Dan Devito had any illusions in Romancing the Stone that he was gonna get to kiss Kathleen Turner. The paradigm of the American hero is, in the main, a handsome white dude, say, six feet tall—and that’s just how it is. I truly feel though, at the end of the day, audiences are going to connect with the best storytelling. We’ve seen that movie goers will champion protagonists in every shape, color, or form (even a talking pig!) if the storytelling is honest and resonant. So in some ways, I just challenge Asian American writers, producers, and directors to introduce great stories that feature different types of protagonists. It wouldn’t be fair or realistic to charge other people to tell your stories. People are just “writing what they know,” which can be a virtue while simultaneously a tragedy.

Luisa, you founded the comedy troupe Latins Anonymous. Tell us the goal of Latins Anonymous and how this led to you become a writer.

LL: The resulting frustration of having a demo reel that was a hit parade of stereotypes led me to join forces with three other Latino actors who were in the same boat. We knew that as actors we were powerless to effect change from the stage. We just didn’t have the voice to do it. The real power came from higher up—the writers and producers. So that’s why I embarked on a writing career, to help change how Latino roles were written and perceived, and also just to get more Latino actors in front of the camera. Ironically, this move pretty much killed my acting career because casting directors who came to see our show skewering stereotypes were too embarrassed to offer us those same stereotypical roles.So that’s why I embarked on a writing career, to help change how Latino roles were written and perceived, and also just to get more Latino actors in front of the camera.

Kelvin, you attended college at UCLA, where the number of Asians make up 49% of the student population. Yet you mentioned that you are the only person of color in a thirteen person writing team. Why doesn’t the density of Asians living and working in Southern California amount to a larger representation of Asians in decision-making roles in TV?

KY: Don’t know. I know for a FACT that Asian Americans love to consume media—movies, television, video games, social media, all of it—so their lack of representation over the past several years is probably a combination of factors including cultural emphasis in different fields, a lack of avenues within the industry, and some level of systemic prejudice (particularly in the past).

However, I do think this is about to change big time. I think in the next few years you will see a flood of Asian content creators. Some of that is simply the rapidly closing cultural gap that social media and the internet are facilitating. Young Asian writers and actors and directors are growing up seeing Ang Lee and Justin Lin and Wong Kar Wai and Zhang Yimou win Oscars and BAFTAs. The world, for better or for worse, is remarkably smaller than it was a decade ago and audiences are more open, even hungry, for unique voices. I also think new media renders many of those past obstacles powerless against the thousands of outlets for Asian American creativity. For instance, even if your stern Korean father wants you to become a doctor, he can’t really stop you anymore from making small movies with your iPhone and cutting them with some app. People can write, shoot, edit, and even distribute content from a $300 laptop. How was an Asian American teenager supposed to do that in 1990? Not to make Asian parents seem like the only barrier, and also not to make them seem all like Kim Jong Eun. I just think we’re about to see an influx of new voices and, thus, new stories. Which is very exciting.

Luisa, during our conversation you mentioned “that there is a system” in place to break into writing for television. Describe for us what that system is and what are some of the hurdles involved with addressing the problem of the diversity gap in TV programs.

LL: We all know the famous quote by William Goldman: “In Hollywood, no one knows anything.” And we also know that many roads lead to Rome. . . . So, having stipulated that, I’m talking about the established network system. If you manage to get in on the ground level as a staff writer or story editor and then move up the ladder to senior story editor, producer, co-producer, and ultimately co-executive producer you will then become a known entity to the networks. At this point the powers that be feel confident that you have experienced firsthand about how TV shows are written and run. The network is willing to listen to show ideas from you, willing to consider ordering a pilot from you, because they know you have put in your time working under showrunners they trust and that you have experience on how things are done. This is the path that most showrunners have taken to rise to the position where a network trusts them to run a multi-million dollar show.There are very few diverse writers because there are few diverse showrunners/creators because there are few diverse executives who think that people of color and/or women tell stories that ”their” audience wants to hear.

Which brings us to the biggest problem facing us in trying to narrow the diversity gap. There are very few diverse writers because there are few diverse showrunners/creators because there are few diverse executives who think that people of color and/or women tell stories that ”their” audience wants to hear. Certainly there are other ways of breaking into television writing, especially with all the new media platforms, but ultimately there are no shortcuts for putting in the time and learning the workings of television from the bottom up.

Kelvin, what are some of the factors that may keep white writers and producers from taking a chance on casting or writing more characters who are people of color into TV shows?

KY: I honestly think most writers just write what they know. Particularly in TV, which is by definition on a deadline, it’s just not going to be your instinct to pitch a story about a Pakistani family if you have never had any experiences with Pakistani families. Nor do I blame writers and producers for remaining within a personal wheelhouse of stories that reflect their particular vantage point on the world. Every once in a while, you get an Ang Lee or a Coen Brothers—storytellers who find a way to turn something quite foreign to them into something deeply personal. But I think most of us, when given that rare chance to tell a story, want to tell the stories we dreamed of sharing with the world. Our own stories. And that’s okay. That’s not just okay; that’s good. So the issue is, how do we get more eclectic people into the room? How does the face of TV writing start to look more like the face of America?So the issue is, how do we get more eclectic people into the room? How does the face of TV writing start to look more like the face of America?

Luisa, you worked on The George Lopez Show, which aired for five seasons. From your description of the system, how did a show like this get made in the first place?

LL: It took a movie star, an established showrunner of multiple hit shows and an exceptional talent. At the time, Sandra Bullock had a development deal at Warner Brothers. Someone told her about stand-up comedian George Lopez and she and showrunner Bruce Helford (Creator of Norm, The Drew Carey Show, and Anger Management) went to see his show. Sandy fell in love with George’s talent and told Warner Brothers this was the show she wanted to develop. It took a lot of pull and star power to get the show on the air.

Everyone always has that one great idea for a pilot. But it’s seldom about the idea. All you have to do is look at most hits on TV. Cosby, a show about a family; Seinfeld, a show about nothing; Friends, six friends sitting on a couch. The salability of a pilot really rides on the team behind it. Who is the talent big enough to carry a show that has broad appeal for middle America? And who will be writing and running the show? This is why the same dozen showrunners get pilot after pilot every season. (Can you say Chuck Lorre? Bill Lawrence?) It’s because they have a track record in the network system and executives know they can deliver a show.

Luisa, you have done considerable work on some successful sitcoms over the years. Are there shows that you have worked on, or actors and actresses, who have been overlooked by the Emmy Awards?

LL: Yes! Every show I have worked on had brilliant actors who should have been at least nominated to receive an Emmy: George Lopez, Constance Marie, Belita Moreno from The George Lopez Show; Terry Cruise, Tichina Arnold, both from Everybody Hates Chris. Too often shows that feature diversity are overlooked by voters of the Academy. I don’t believe it’s any kind of conscious bias. Having been a judge for a few award shows myself, I discovered that I was more favorably inclined to a show if I had already watched the show, if I was familiar with the characters or if I might have already seen the nominated performer or episode. In short, I was already a fan. The sad fact is that most judges in the Academy are not diverse and may not be watching shows that feature diversity and/or diverse characters.

One thing worth noting about the 2013 Emmy Awards: Kerry Washington is nominated for best actress in a drama for Scandal. If she wins, she will be the first actress of color to win an Emmy Award for a drama in the sixty-five year history of the award! The fact that she is nominated at all is a testament to Shonda Rhimes’s style of ethnically inclusive casting and writing. Ms. Rhimes is essentially the embodiment of what Luisa Leschin describes as the television system for breaking into writing. Ms. Rhimes worked her way up the ranks, paid her dues, and became a showrunner. Her version of television presents a real world example of what TV shows could look like: ethnically and gender inclusive, entertaining, and . . . successful.

Our Emmy Award study, much like our studies on the Tony Awards and the children’s book industry  show that the diversity gap is a widespread, societal problem that we all have a responsibility to fix.


Filed under: guest blogger, The Diversity Gap Tagged: African/African American Interest, diversity, Emmy Awards, History, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, Middle Eastern, Multiracial, Native American, Race issues

10 Comments on Where’s the Diversity? A Look at the Emmy Awards and TV, last added: 9/20/2013
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7. Happy Friday, Happy Developments

A lot of the time, discussions about diversity, racial equality, and pop culture can be disheartening. A quick look at Racebending or Racialicious is a good reminder of how far we still have to go when it comes to respecting all cultures, especially in the media. But sometimes, good things happen. People and companies take steps forward. And when that happens, we should talk about it. It’s nice to be able to talk about what people are doing right instead of what they’ve done wrong.

With that in mind, I wanted to share this nice story from the Native Appropriations blog. To make a long story short, the company Paul Frank held a “Dream Catchin’ Pow Wow” party in Los Angeles a few weeks ago for Fashion’s Night Out, with a “Neon-Native American Pow Wow theme” complete with plastic tomahawks, feather headdresses, and a drink called the “Rain Dance Refresher.” On her blog, Adrienne wrote up a post about why the party was so offensive to Native Americans and several others wrote, tweeted, posted, or spoke about it as well.

This story could have had the same sad ending many others have: a half-hearted corporate apology but no real change. Instead, Adrienne got a phone call with the president of Paul Frank Industries, Elie Dekel, so they could discuss what went wrong and how to do better in the future. The company outlined several steps they would be taking to right the wrong, including removing Native-inspired designs from their digital/online imprint, working with a Native artist to make new designs, and collaborating with Adrienne and Beyond Buckskin blogger Jessica Metcalfe on a panel about the use of Native imagery in the fashion industry. You can see more about Paul Frank’s plans here.

It’s really nice to see a conversation about the appropriation of Native culture have such a positive outcome. Congratulations to Adrienne, and kudos to Paul Frank for stepping up, apologizing, and earnestly looking for a way to do better.

In other positive news, check out this handsome guy who was cast as Magnus in the upcoming Mortal Instruments movie based on the YA novel by Cassandra Clare:

Godfrey Gao

In this Tumblr post, Clare describes why she was adamant that Magnus be cast as Asian. So many characters of color have been whitewashed in the book-to-movie transition; I’m glad to see that Magnus isn’t one of them.

Happy Friday!


Filed under: Diversity Links, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: diversity, good news, Native American, native imagery, Race issues, racialicious, whitewashing

3 Comments on Happy Friday, Happy Developments, last added: 9/24/2012
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8. Rethinking Columbus Day

In this post, our publicity intern Gina Chung offers some thoughts on reframing the Columbus Day holiday:

Have you ever stopped to think about the implications of celebrating Columbus Day? While most of us probably grew up associating the holiday with classroom rhymes and pneumatic devices (“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” etc.), days off from school, or sales at the mall, it’s important to remember what really happened in October of 1492. Columbus Day occupies a dubious spot in our nation’s calendar, ostensibly commemorating both the “discovery” of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and the subsequent destruction and enslavement of countless indigenous people.

Check out this video created by Nu Heightz Cinema filmmakers Carlos Germosen and Crystal Whelan in 2009. In order to garner support for a movement to “reconsider Columbus Day,” Germosen and Whelan collaborated with indigenous organizations and community activists, giving voice to the horrific and painful stories behind the mythology of the holiday.

In fact, there’s been a push to eliminate Columbus Day altogether and replace it with a federal holiday in honor of Native Americans. As this petition mentions, several states, such as Alaska, no longer recognize Columbus Day, or have replaced it with a day honoring indigenous people.

For example, since 1990, South Dakota has celebrated the second Monday of every October as Native American Day. In California, Berkeley replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day in 1992, and in 1998, legislation calling for Native American Day to be celebrated as an official California state holiday on the fourth Friday of every September was also passed. Hawaii also celebrates Discoverers’ Day instead of Columbus Day in order to recognize the Polynesian discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. Many tribal governments have also reclaimed the day as Native American Day, or, like the Navajo Nation, have replaced it with a holiday honoring their own tribe.

Here are two books we found that, like the alternatives listed above, aim to dispel the myths around Columbus Day:

A Coyote Columbus Story, written by Thomas King, a Canadian novelist and broadcaster of Cherokee and Greek descent, and illustrated by Kent Rethinking ColumbusMonkman, a Canadian multimedia artist of Cree ancestry. It tells the story using the figure of Coyote, a traditional trickster character who, in King’s retelling, is a girl who loves to play ball!

Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, edited by Bill Bigelow & Bob Peterson. This collection of essays, articles, poems, teaching ideas, and primary source materials helps educators teach students how to think critically and creatively about the consequences of the arrival of Europeans on the North American continent.

What are some other ways you can think of to observe Columbus Day? Do you have any favorite books or resources that tell the story of Columbus from a Native American perspective? Let us know in the comments below!


Filed under: Holidays Tagged: Book Lists, Columbus Day, History, Native American, Race issues

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9. Roger Gaetani: The Powells.com Interview

Roger Gaetani is an editor, writer, and educator who lives in Bloomington, Indiana. He serves as the vice president for World Wisdom, an independent publishing company focused on religious and philosophical texts. With Jean-Louis Michon, he edited the World Wisdom anthology on Sufism, Sufism: Love and Wisdom. He directed and produced the DVD compilation of [...]

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10. SundayMorningReads

I had to get up and turn the heat up before starting this post. It is definitely getting colder outside. Yesterday was Cookies and Cocktails and I spent the day baking cookies with my sister. No doubt it was a long, long day but it’s a tradition we do not want to give up any time soon. I’ve boxes wrapped and ready to ship off to family and friends who I hope will enjoy eating them as much as we did baking them! I’ve also contacted several people for my annual Cookie Traditions posts and hopefully those will begin rolling in soon.

Zetta Elliott has beem working on completing her annual list of MG and YA books by African American authors.

In doing this work, Zetta urged me to collate my list according to ethnicity so that we can see how many books were compiled by Native Americans, Asian Americans and Latino/as as well. I cleaned up my list removing nonfiction titles and a few that I decided are too young for MG readers and categorized the books I found. I added the titles I didn’t have that Zetta found and some from Debbie Reese as well. I am sure there are books written by authors of color and published by traditional publishers that I have missed, and hope that you will mention them in the comments.

Does this matter? Of course, it does. I’ve been saying for months the numbers and dropping and I’d like to figure out why, particularly since the overall number of children’s books is up this year. This year we say Neesha Meminger, L. Divine and B.A. Binns all self publish. Don’t you think its time for another YA from Cindy Pon? Alex Sanchez? Medeia Shariff? Dia Reeves?

 

 

“In the Margins Committee  

What is it?  A group of librarians creating a committee to seek out and highlight books:  preschool through adult fiction and non-fiction titles of high-interest appeal to boys or girls, ages 9-18  who may fit into one or all of the following categories:

 multicultural (primarily African American and Latino)  from a street culture  in restrictive custody  reluctant readers  What does it do?  The committee will select and review the best books of the year, specifically for the population listed above. Titles of interest will be unusual, possibly unreviewed,  have multicultural characters, dealing with difficult situations including (but not limited to) street life, marginalized populations, crime, justice, war, violence, abuse, addiction, etc. The first year we will also review a few older titles that may not have been reviewed previously but which are deserving of attention.

 Committee membership and requirements:   research and nominate titles that are self published, independently and published by small presses  provide written review of books, and read for special content for detention facilities  read all nominated titles  work with or do outreach to teens in custody and/or from street culture.  get feedback from at least 3-10 teens on each title  actively participate in email discussions  meet 1-4 times a year via video conferencing and/or in person  opportunity to blog in column about your and your youth’s experiences with a certain title or author  Don’t delay – Apply today!”

No doubt incarcerated teens need books which will interest them as these teens often have incredibly poor reading skills. And I think the intent of this committee is to review books for those who work with incarcerated teens.  If I read correctly, these reviews will appear in SLJ as the chair of the In the Margins Committee now has a blog on SLJ’s site. Will this blog be balanced with one that gives a wider representation to African American and Latino (and Native American and Asian American) literature?  What effort will SLJ make to educate readers about the vast contrtibutions writers of color make to teen literature and the even broader reading preferences of teens of color?

This is what the CCBC reported  for 2011:  We received approximately 3,400 books at the CCBC in 2011. Of those,

• 123 books had significant African or African American content

• 79 books were by Black authors and/or illustrators

• 28 books had American Indian themes, topics, or characters

• 12 books were by American Indian authors and/or illustrators

• 91 books had significant Asian/Pacific or Asian/Pacific American content

• 76 books were by authors and/or illustrators of Asian/Pacific heritage

• 58 books had significant Latino content

• 52 books were by Latino authors and/or illustrators

This is what I found so far for 2012.

MULTI-ETHNIC

1. Diverse Energies edited by Tobias Buchnell and Joe Monti; Tu Books, November

NATIVE AMERICAN
1. Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith, illus. by Blake Henry;Clarion Books,  Feb. 22
2. Outcasts of River Falls: sequel to Belle of Batoche by Jaqueline Guest; Regina Coteau Books for Kids, 1 Apr
3. Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith; Candlewick Press; 14 Feb

ASIAN AMERICAN
1. The friendship matchmater by Randa Abdel-Fattah; Frances Lincoln, 6 Sept
2. What’s Left of Me: The Hybrid Chronicles, Book One by Kat Zhang; Harper Collins, 18 September MG
3. Adaptation by Malinda Lo; Litte, Brown Books for Young Readers 18 Sept
4. Ash Mistry and the savage fortress by Sadwat Chadda; Harper Collins, October
5. The girl who lept through time  by Yasutaka Tsutsui and David Karashima; Alma Books 1 Sept
6. Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee and Dan Santant;  Scholastic, 1 Aug
7. A beautiful lie  by Irfan Master; Albert Whitman & Company, 1 August
8. The choke artist: confessions of a chronic underachiever by David Yoo; Grand Central, 19 June
9. Reincarnation (Legend of Snow Wolf series) by Fred Lit Yu; China Books,   1 June
10. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons; Tor, 2012
11.     Dumpling Days by Grace Lin; Little Brown Books for Young Readers; 2 Jan
12.    Tina’s mouth: an existential comic diary by Keshni Kashyap and Mari Araki; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 3 January
13.     The whole story of half a girl by Veera Hirandandani; Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 2012
14.     Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani; HarperTeen; 17 Jan
15. Fair Coin  by E. C. Myers; Pyr, 27 March
16. Another Jekyl another Hyde  by Daniel and Dina Nayeri; 27  March, Candlewick
17. The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda; St Martin’s  Griffin, Apr. 19
18. The mapmaker and the Ghost by Sarvenaz Tash; Walker Book Childrens, 24 April

LATINO/A
1. A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez; Knopf Books for Young Readers 9 October
2. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadelupe Garcia McCall; Tu Books, October
3. BorderTown #4: No Second Chances by Malin Alegria; Scholastic Nov.
4. The revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano; Scholastic, 1 Sept
5. Con carino/Love Amalia by Alma Flor Ada; Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 10 July
6.  Choke by Diana Lopez; Point; 12 July
7. Border Town #2: Quince Clash by Malin Alegria; Scholastic, 1 July
8. Bordertown #1 Crossing the line  by Malin Alegria; Scholastic, May MG
9. Body Slammed! by Ray Villareal; Pinata Books, 30 Apr
10.     Border Town#1: Crossing the line by Malin Alegria; Scholastic 1 May
11.     Prom dates to die for by Kelly Parra; Buzz Books; 1 May
12. Irises  by Francisco X. Stork; Authur A. Levine; Jan 2012
13.     Facts of life: stories by Gary Soto; Graphia, January
14.     The glass collector by Anna Perera; Albert Whitman and Co. 1 Feb
15. Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz; Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 21 Feb
16. The girl who could silence the wind by Meg Medina; Candlewick, 13 March
17. The Temptation: A Kindred Novel by Alisa Valdes; HarperTeen, Apr. 4

AFRICAN AMERICAN
1. Hollywood High by Ni Ni Simone and Amir Abrams; Kensington 12 Sept
2. No Boyz Allowed by Ni-Ni Simone; Dafina Books, 31 July
3. Hollywood High by Ni-Ni Simone and Amir Abrams, Dafina Books, 25 Sept
4. Pinned by Sharon Flake; Scholastic, 1 October MG
5. Time to Shine by Nikki Carter; Dafina Books, 30 Oct
6. Crazy Love by Amir Abrams; Dafina Books, 27 Nov
7. Dork Diaries 5: Tales from a not so smart miss know it all by Rachel Renee Russell; Aladdin, October
8. Fading Amber: The cambion chronicles #3 by Jaime Reed; K’Teen Dafina 26 December
9. Kiki doin’ it (Juicy Central)  Saddleback, 1 Sept
10. Marnyke: the fake date  (Juicy Central); Saddleback
11. Tia Diva, (Juicy Central) Saddleback Sept
12. Sherise Stalked,(Juicy Central) Saddleback, Sept.
13. Nishell Tempted by Stephanie Perry Moore (Juicy Central); Saddleback, 1 Sept
14. Settle down/be real Cheer Drama/Baller Swag; Lockwood High Series by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback
15. The diary of B. B. Bright possible princess by Alice Randall, Caroline Randall Williams and Shadra Strickland (illustrator); Turner Publishing 4 Sept
16. Charly’s Epic Fiasco by Kelli London, Dafina Books, 28 Aug
17.     A Certain October by Angela Johnson; Simon and Schuster; August
18.     Denim diaries 6 Lying to live by Darrian Lee; Urban Books, 28 August
19.     Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon; Aladdin, August
20.     The Cruisers 3: A star is born by Walter Dean Myers; Scholastic 1 Aug
21.     Dork diaries 4: Tales from a not so graceful ice princess by Rachel Renee Russell; Aladdin, June
22.      Back to me by Earl Sewll; Kimani Tru 1 July
23. Always upbeat Cheer Drama (Lockwood High Series)by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback, 1 June
24.     Keep jumping/no hating Cheer Drama (Lockwood High Series) by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback 1 June
25.     Settle down/be real Cheer Drama (Lockwood High Series)by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback 1 June
26.     Yell out/Do you Cheer Drama (Lockwood High Series) by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback 1 June
27.     Back to me  by Earl Sewell; Kimani Tru; 19 June
28.     Lone bean by Chudney Ross; Amistad, June
29. Download Drama  by Celeste O. Norfleet; Kimani Tru, May 20
30.     37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) by Kekla Magoon; Henry Holt, May 3
31.     Happy families  by Tanita Davis; Knopf Books for Young Readers, 8 May
32.     Burning Emerald: The Cambion Chronicles #2 by Jaime Reed; K-Teen/Dafina; May
33. Creeping with the enemy (Langdon Prep)by Kimberyly Reid; Dafina, 24 April
34. Black Boy White School by Brian F. Walker; HarperTeen 3 Jan
35.     The mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis; Wendy A. Lamb Books, January MG
36.     The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards; HarperCollins, 17 Jan
37.     Best shot in the west: the adventures of Nat Love by Patricia C. McKissack, Frederick L. McKissack and Randy Duburke; Chronicle Books,  18 January GRAPHIC NOVEL
38.     Mesmerize  by Artist Arthur; Kimani Tru, January
39.     The clone codes #3: the visitors by Patricia C. McKissack, Fredrick McKissack and Pat McKissack; Scholastic, 1 February
40.     Beneath a meth moon  by Jacqueline Woodson; Nancy Paulsen Books, February
41.     No crystal stair  by Vaunda Michaux Nelson; Carolrhoda Press, February
42.     DJ Rising by Love Maia; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 6 Feb
43. Power Hitter  by M. C. Higgins; Darby Creek Pub, March
44. Boyfriend season: Cali boys  by Kelli London; K’Teen, 27 March
45. Creeping with the enemy (Langdon Prep)by Kimberyly Reid; Dafina, 24 April
46. All the right stuff  by Walter Dean Myers; Amistad, 24 April
47. The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson;  Margaret K. McElderry Books , 17 April
48. On the flip side: A fab life novel #4 by Nikki Carter; KTeen Dafina; 28 February
49. Ship of souls by Zetta Elliott; AmazonEncore, 28 Feb
50. Bad boy by Dream Jordan; St. Martin Griffin, 28 Feb
51. The Agency 3: Traitor in the Tunnel by Y. S. Lee; Candelwick, 28 Feb

 

What’s missing??

 

 


Filed under: Sunday Reads Tagged: african american, asian american, latino/a, native american, teen books 2012

3 Comments on SundayMorningReads, last added: 12/10/2012
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11. Rabbit's Snow Dance

 Rabbit's Snow Dance
 Rabbit's Snow Dance

Rabbit loves the winter. He knows a dance, using a traditional Iroquois drum and song, to make it snow--even in springtime! The other animals of the forest don't want early snow, but Rabbit doesn't listen to them. Instead, he sings and dances until more and more snow falls. But how much snow is too much, and will Rabbit know when to stop? A hilarious fable!

If you liked this, try:
Bear has a Story to Tell
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
Chloe
Snowmen at Work
Brave Squish Rabbit

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12. The Turkey Girl

 
The Turkey Girl

To a young girl who tends turkeys for a living, an opportunity to go to The Dance of the Scared Bird seems but a distant dream...another retelling of the Cinderella tale...

If you liked this, try:
The Egyptian Cinderella
Yeh-Shen
The Rough-Face Girl
The Golden Sandal
Smoky Mountain Rose

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13. Buffalo Bird Girl

 
Buffalo Bird Girl

This fascinating picture book biography tells the childhood story of Buffalo Bird Woman, a Hidatsa Indian born around 1839. Through her true story, readers will learn what it was like to be part of this Native American community that lived along the Missouri River in the Dakotas, a society that depended more on agriculture for food and survival than on hunting...

If you liked this, try:
Unspoken
The Herd Boy
The Star People
Grandfather Buffalo
Gift Horse

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14. Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories

What a powerful collection of short stories! Alexie really stretches his wings and explores fascinating new territories, while at the same time revamping his old works by placing them in new contexts. I was completely blown away by Mr. Alexie, as usual. Books mentioned in this post $27.00 New Hardcover add to wish list Blasphemy: New [...]

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15. Booksgiving!

Turkey Day. Autumn Pie Day. American Gluttony Day.

Thanksgiving.

It’s coming. Are you ready?

Have you picked out a book to get your kids in a spirit of thanks and appreciation for the natural world?

Have you picked out a book to teach your kids the American origins of popular Thanksgiving foods like cranberries, potatoes, and pumpkins, and to get them excited about helping in the kitchen?

Have you picked out a cute, clever, thankful book about family to read aloud between turkey and pie?

We have.

Thanks for the world: Thanks for the food: Thanks for the family:

Do you have book-related Thanskgiving traditions? What do you read while traveling or enjoying a couple days off? And, of course, what do you eat?


Filed under: Musings & Ponderings Tagged: Book Lists, environmentalism, holidays, Native American, Power of Words

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16. The Pueblo

One of the many distinctive cultural, iconic homes of our Native American people.

1 Comments on The Pueblo, last added: 1/18/2011
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17. 10th Anniversary: RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME

Congratulations to my wife, Cynthia Leitich Smith, on the Tenth Anniversary of the publication of her first novel, RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME.  Go over to Cynsations to check out some reflections on the occasion!

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18. The Christmas Coat

Page from The Christmas Coat by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, illustrated by Ellen Beier, to be released in August. A true story from the author's life, set on the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota, in winter, 1945.

4 Comments on The Christmas Coat, last added: 7/23/2011
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19. So what do we think? The Wild West: 365 days

 

 The Wild West: 365 days

 

 Wallis, Michael. (2011) The Wild West: 365 days. New York, NY: Abrams Press. ISBN 978-0810996892 All ages.

 Publisher’s description: The Wild West: 365 Days is a day-by-day adventure that tells the stories of pioneers and cowboys, gold rushes and saloon shoot-outs in America’s frontier. The lure of land rich in minerals, fertile for farming, and plentiful with buffalo bred an all-out obsession with heading westward. The Wild West: 365 Days takes the reader back to these booming frontier towns that became the stuff of American legend, breeding characters such as Butch Cassidy and Jesse James. Author Michael Wallis spins a colorful narrative, separating myth from fact, in 365 vignettes. The reader will learn the stories of Davy Crockett, Wild Bill Hickok, and Annie Oakley; travel to the O.K. Corral and Dodge City; ride with the Pony Express; and witness the invention of the Colt revolver. The images are drawn from Robert G. McCubbin’s extensive collection of Western memorabilia, encompassing rare books, photographs, ephemera, and artifacts, including Billy the Kid’s knife.

 Our thoughts:

 This is one of the neatest books I’ve seen in a long time. The entire family will love it. Keep it on the coffee table but don’t let it gather dust!

 Every page is a look back into history with a well-known cowboy, pioneer, outlaw, native American or other adventurer tale complete with numerous authentic art and photo reproductions. The book is worth owning just for the original pictures.  But there is more…an index of its contents for easy reference too! Not only is this fun for the family, it is excellent for the school or home classroom use too. A really fun way to study the 19th century too and also well received as a gift.  I highly recommend this captivating collection! See for yourself at the Litland.com Bookstore.

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20. Interview with Carolyn Meyer, Author of Where the Broken Heart Still Beats

Carolyn Meyer is the author of many books, most of them delving into the lives of strong young women.  Her first historical, Where the Broken Heart Still Beats, is being re-released  next week.  Since it features one of my favorite historical figures, Cynthia Ann Parker, I was dying to ask Carolyn some questions about this book.  She graciously agreed to stop by the virtual offices for a chat.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us about Where the Broken Heart Still Beats?

[Carolyn Meyer] I discovered this story when I moved to Texas in 1990 and began to make the long drive across the Texas Panhandle. One day I stopped in a Dairy Queen in the little town of Quanah and picked up a brochure on the local history. Quanah was the name of a Comanche chief whose mother was a white woman named Cynthia Ann Parker, kidnapped from her family at the age of 9. She grew up with the Comanches, learned their language and customs, married and had 3 children. When her youngest was an infant,  Texas Rangers seized her and the baby girl and took them back to civilization. Cynthia Ann had been kidnapped a second time!

[Manga Maniac Café] Why did you decide to write about Cynthia Ann Parker’s life?

[Carolyn Meyer] Captivity stories were common in the 19th century, but Cynthia Ann was kidnapped TWICE! Her story is well known in Texas, but I couldn’t find any books that told the story the way I thought it should be told. It really tugged at my heartstrings.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Cynthia Ann Parker?

[Carolyn Meyer] Terrified – courageous – steadfast.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Carolyn Meyer] Showing her slow, reluctant acculturation back into the white world that she had left behind, and getting into her feelings during her ordeal.

[Manga Maniac Café] What kind of research did you conduct for the book?

[Carolyn Meyer] I learned all I could about the lives of early pioneers in Texas as well as everything I could about the Comanches. I also visited the log cabin in Ft. Worth where she lived after being rekidnapped. Remember, I wrote this book more than 20 years ago, and I didn’t have access to all the material now available on the internet, including the virtual tour of that cabin that I just discovered (see www.logcabinvillage.org/tour-parker-cynthia-parker.html).

What a help that would have been!

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the most interesting fact you discovered about Comanche culture?

[Carolyn Meyer] The Comanches lived their lives on horseback, constantly on the move. I can scarcely imagine what a rough life that would have been.

[Manga Maniac Café] Are you excited to see this book in print again?

[Carolyn Meyer] Excited and amazed. This book was my first attempt at writing a historical novel, and it changed my life. I’ve never looked back.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you enjoy most about writing historical novels?

[Carolyn Meyer] The research. I really get lost in the details of lives so completely different from ours and yet, at heart, very much the same.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you share a little about your next project?

[Carolyn Meyer] I’m wrapping up the last revisions (at least I hope they’re the last!) of VICTORIA REBELS, due out in January 2013. And I have several ideas simmering in my brain with a few scribbles on the backs of envelopes, but nothing definite yet.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

[Carolyn Meyer] Many thanks to you, Julie, for your interest in my

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21. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Equality . . . For All

Throughout the history of the United States, equality for all people has been fought for and won time and time again. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence ”that all men are created equal,” and over time equal rights have been gradually extended to different groups of people. However, equality has never been achieved without heated debate, despite our country’s founding principle that all people are created equal in the first place.

The language used to seek equality has remained familiar over time. Posters demanding equal rights (pictured) contain messages we have all seen or heard. One of my theories is that since the human life span is finite, the message of equality has to be relearned by each generation as it comes to realize that more work needs to be done.

If humans lived longer, would full equality across racial and gender lines have been acquired by now? Ask yourself: Would women suffragists from the 1920s, who so anti-semitism is anti-mevehemently demanded the right to vote, think it was fine for African Americans to be denied this same right? It depends. My theory also includes the caveat that empathy for others does not always translate into citizens banding together for the greater good. Then again, the social evolution of the United States is progressing. This progression is the reason the language and message of equality remains relevant.

Equality is a shared goal that not everyone enjoys. Racial intolerance for one group is no different than bigotry for another. Denying equality for a particular group plays into the kind of discriminatory trap that makes no sense if one applies the very same principles of equality indiscriminately. All people are created equal, period.

The Declaration of Independence was written with the hope of possibility. Think about it—the signers of this document were declaring a new and independent country! separate is unequalJefferson’s words made a statement about human rights that became the foundation for a country unlike any other in the world. The signers never anticipated that their vision would eventually embrace so many different kinds of people, but that is the beauty of it. The Declaration was groundbreaking because it provided a foundation of principles and moral standards that have endured to modern times and that accommodate human evolution and its capacity for acceptance.

Stepping back and viewing all these posters as a whole, one could come to two conclusions. First: the human race does not learn from history. Second: humans love unitesrepeat the same mistakes over and over. However, I believe that the preservation and repurposing of the messages of protest in all their different forms are evidence that we do learn from history, and that we apply these tactics when the moment calls for them.

Similar to my previous posts on Race-Based Comedy and Race in Advertising, this post is a small glimpse into a bigger topic that welcomes further discussion. These subjects would be commonplace in a college syllabus, but is there any reason why we shouldn’t introduce dialogue about such issues into our daily lives? At the dinner table, instead of asking your kids how their day was at school and receiving a one-word answer, try bringing

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22. Review: Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Story by S D Nelson

  

   Title: Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Story

   Author: S D Nelson

   Publisher: Abrams

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Told from the Native American point of view, Black Elk’s Vision provides a unique perspective on American history.

From recounting the visions Black Elk had as a young boy, to his involvement in the battles of Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee, as well as his journeys to New York City and Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, this biographical account of Black Elk—an Oglala-Lakota medicine man (1863–1950)—follows him from childhood through adulthood.

S. D. Nelson tells the story of Black Elk through the medicine man’s voice, bringing to life what it was like to be Native American in the mid-to-late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The Native people found their land overrun by the Wha-shi-choos, or White Man, the buffalo slaughtered for sport and to purposely eliminate their main food source, and their people gathered onto reservations. Through it all, Black Elk clung to his childhood visions that planted the seeds to help his people—and all people—understand their place in the circle of life.

The book includes archival images, a timeline, a bibliography, an index, and Nelson’s signature art.

Review:

I read two books recently about young children victimized by war, and they both broke my heart.  In Black Elk’s Vision, a picture book based on Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt, warfare destroys not only Black Elk’s home, but also his people’s entire way of life.  From the cover to the last page, this colorful book is striking and thought provoking.  It doesn’t pull any punches, either.  From Little Big Horn to the massacre at Wounded Knee, Black Elk’s story is compelling and unforgettable.  From the vast plains, hunting buffalo, to the hardship of a walled reservation, his words remain steady and engrossing.  I am not sure that I would be as forgiving as Black Elk, Great Vision or not.  Manifest Destiny is such an ugly chapter in the history of this country, and I find it painful to read many accounts of settlers as they steamrolled over everything in their path to conquering the West. 

There are several parts of this book that I found disturbing, and I am sure that I will find them hard to forget.  Before the white settlers flooded like a tsunami over the Great Plains, there were an estimated 30 million bison.  Thirty million.  By 1889, there were about a thousand.  The numbers are mind-numbing.  Worse, diseases brought by Europeans wiped out hundreds of thousands of Native Americans. And that was before the settlers began to intentionally drive them off of their ancestral homelands.   Thinking about the massive loss of life is nauseating.   Thinking about a twelve year old boy forced to defend his life, as well as the lives of his family, is also upsetting.  Thinking about having everything you owned, every belief and physical possession, even your way of life, torn away  also merits deep contemplation.  I would not have survived nearly as well, or lived nearly as gracefully, as Black Elk. 

I found Black Elk’s Vision a compelling read.  Interspersing colorful acrylics with vintage photos of the events described in Black Elk’s narrative, I found t

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23. Review: Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac & S D Nelson

 

 

Title: Crazy Horse’s Vision

Author:  Joseph Bruchac & S D Nelson

Publisher: Lee and Low

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Joseph Bruchac tells the compelling story of how a young boy named Curly seeks a vision in the hope of saving his people – and grows into the brave and fierce warrior Crazy Horse. Sioux artist S. D. Nelson’s paintings, in the traditional ledger style of the Plains Indians, evokes the drama and the tragedy of this important American figure.

Review:

My fascination with the lives of Native Americans continues.  I haven’t read many picture books about Plains Indians, so discovering new reading material at the library has been fun.  Crazy Horse’s Vision is my favorite to date.  It doesn’t cover much of the conflict between white settlers and the Lakota, instead focusing on Crazy Horse’s childhood.  The tone is more upbeat than my previous forays into the lives of famous Native Americans, and the paintings are breathtaking.  I love S D Nelson’s use of color; these illustrations are big and bold, the vivid hues jumping off the pages and demanding more than a second glance.

Introducing readers to Crazy Horse, the book follows the carefree days of his youth.  Though lacking in stature, he was a charismatic child with a thirst for adventure.  Exploring one end of the Lakota territory to the other, where he led, the other boys followed.  From his first buffalo hunt to the taming of his pinto horse,  bright visuals accompany his childhood triumphs.   When trouble brews between his people and the white settlers, Crazy Horse is desperate to help protect his band.  Striking out on his own, he seeks a vision to give him the wisdom to help the Lakota during the troubled times that are fast approaching.

Gorgeous illustrations document Crazy Horse and his childhood vision quest.  I found this an interesting look at one of the fiercest Lakota warriors.  Remembered for his prowess in battle, Crazy Horse was also kind and generous, as well as a man of few words.  The prose is interesting and highly readable, but the bold, vivid illustrations are what held my attention and kept me flipping through this book time and again. The paintings are beautiful and made this a delight to read.

Grade:  B+

Review copy obtained from my local library

 

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24. Three Great Books to Celebrate the Olympics

It’s Olympics time! Have you all been glued to your televisions and various electronic devices for the last 5 days? Or, conversely, have you been dodging your televisions and electronic devices, trying to avoid spoilers?

Either way, the Olympics are one of my favorite things. And while it’s tons of fun rooting for all the current big names (Michael Phelps! Kerri Walsh! Gabby Douglas!) it’s also worth spending a few minutes remembering some great Olympic athletes from the past who paved the way. Here are three to start with:

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds1. Sammy Lee (Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds): Diver Sammy Lee was born on August 1, 1920 in Fresno, California. Growing up, Sammy was barred from the public pool six out of seven days of the week because he was not white; despite that, Lee became a world-class diver and at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, became the first Asian American to win a gold medal. There’s a great picture of Sammy Lee, now 91, in this now-and-then piece on athletes from the last London Olympics.

Jim Thorpe's Bright Path2. Jim Thorpe (Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path)Jim Thorpe is often described as one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century. He was born in 1887 to a Pottowatomie mother and Sac/Fox father, and was sent to an Indian boarding school when he was very young. He eventually began playing football and running track under the eye of the famous coach Pop Warner at Carlisle Indian School, and in 1912 won gold medals in the Pentathlon and Decathlon at the summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.

Surfer of the Century3. Duke Kahanamoku (Surfer of the Century): Born in Hawaii, Duke Kahanamoku started off as a surfer and learned how to swim in the warm waters of the Pacific ocean. While swimming in the ocean one day, he was discovered by an attorney named Bill Rawlins who thought he could make Duke a star. Rawlins coached Duke all the way to the 1912 Olympics in Sweden. Duke later competed in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium and 1924 Olympics in Paris, France. In all, he won three gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze, and held the record as the fastest swimmer in the world for twelve years.

It’s heartening to see so many countries this year bringing female athletes as part of their delegations for the first time – here’s hoping that decades from now there will be a whole new set of athletes we can celebrate who have broken records inside and outside the stadium!


Filed under: Summer Tagged: Add a Comment
25. International Day of Indigeneous Peoples

Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples! According to the United Nations, the theme this year is “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices.” It’s nice to see indigenous groups being recognized not as ancient civilizations or oppressed minorities, but as powerful, modern communities actively working to shape their futures. To that end, I came across this video from the BBC and thought it was pretty cool:

Mapuche Rap

Mapuche Rap – click through to view

What a way to preserve language!


Filed under: Musings & Ponderings Tagged: indigenous culture, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, Native American, Power of Words, videos

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