Ms. Bardugo, I loved your first books, but I was terribly disappointed to see you give in to political correctness in Ruin & Rising. You had a great story and then you ruined it with unnecessary lesbianism. Authors don't need to make statements, they just need to write good books. I hope you'll remember that in the future.
I was really tempted to ignore this because I don’t believe in giving anon wangs a platform, but the term “unnecessary lesbianism” made me laugh so hard that I caved.
Authors can write good books and make statements. I’m going to make some statements now. (Get ready.)
Queer people and queer relationships aren’t less necessary to narrative than cishet people or relationships. In fact, given the lovely emails and messages I’ve received about Tamar and Nadia (and given the existence of anon wangs like you), I’d say making queer relationships visible in young adult fiction is an excellent—and yes, necessary—idea.
I do agree that story trumps statement or we’d all just write angry pamphlets, but queer people exist both in my world and the world of the Grisha trilogy. I don’t see how including them in my work is making a statement unless that statement is “I won’t willfully ignore or exclude people in order to make a few anon wangs happy.” If that’s the statement I’m making, I’m totally down with it.
Also, I’m going to take this moment to shout out Malinda Lo, Laura Lam, Alex London, David Levithan, Emily Danforth, Emma Trevayne, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Clare, and to link to Malinda’s 2013 guide to LGBT in YA. Because why just give attention to bigots when you can talk about awesome books and authors instead?
“I was really excited to see people who looked like me up on the stage. And I hope that’s what I do for some 14-year-old girl in the audience tonight and tomorrow and the next day after that.
You know, it’s a funny thing and it’s a sensitive thing, but I do think history has shown that the people who make change in the world are artists. We are the people who challenge society. It’s not our job but it’s part of our job to challenge our audiences to see the world through our eyes… and by challenging them to think outside the box and not to be so bound by the rules of how they think things were, there’s an opportunity to find lots of beautiful nuances in our performances. And I say that as an African-American actress who would like to play a variety of roles. I don’t want to be stuck only playing roles that are written for African American performers. I want to play Evita. I want to grow and change, and so obviously I am slightly self interested in the continuing of having non-traditional castings happen all over the world in theatre. I think that we’re on our way.”—Nikki M. James, Hear the People Sing: African-American Les Misérables Stars Break Down Broadway Barriers (via ohheygrace)
“The way she sees it, there’s a gender element to such scrutiny. “I really resent the idea that if a woman writes about her feelings, she has too many feelings,” she says. “And I really resent the ‘Be careful, buddy, she’s going to write a song about you’ angle, because it trivialises what I do. It makes it seem like creating art is something you do as a cheap weapon rather than an artistic process. They can say whatever they want about my personal life because I know what my personal life is, and it involves a lot of TV and cats and girlfriends. But I don’t like it when they start to make cheap shots at my songwriting. Because there’s no joke to be made there.””—Taylor Swift (x)
“As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. Becoming friends with Lena – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realise that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”—Taylor Swift (x)
“Humor is an antidote to — or at least an analgesic for — a condition we’re all suffering from. I would call this condition clarity, not depression; humor and depression are two different, but not mutually exclusive, responses to it. I know we’re told to regard depression as a disease, its victims no different from people who succumb to cancer or diabetes. But because it’s a disease whose symptoms take the shape of ideas, it can get hard to parse out pathology from worldview. The Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert once told me that “there are people who have no delusions; they’re called clinically depressed.” Depression’s insights aren’t necessarily invalid; they’re just not helpful. Depression uses clarity as an instrument of torture; humor uses it as a setup. Comedy tells us, “But wait — that’s not the good part.” Depression condemns the world, and us, as hateful; laughter is a way of forgiving it, and ourselves, for being so.”—Tim Kreider on the death of Robin Williams (via austinkleon)
Everything I know about basketball, I learned from my friend Craig. We grew up on the same street, a couple of houses down from each other. He didn’t treat me like a fragile little flower because I was a girl. He boxed me out, hard. He set screens like a wall. I was on the receiving end of his elbows, knees, and noggin — just like he was on the receiving end of mine. Foul-calling was for pussies unless you were bleeding, and me and Craig were not pussies. We played basketball from the time the sun came up until the the time the sun went down, all day, every day, except when we were at our different schools or different churches.
Other boys in our neighborhood always tagged along; we had enough players for three-on-three almost always.
But Craig and I were different than those guys.
For one thing, no one — no one on this earth — loved basketball as much as we did.
And for another thing, I was the only girl and he was the only black kid.
We were inseparable.
Craig taught me an ankle-breaking crossover, an un-guardable spin move, a fade-away jumper, a pump-fake reverse layup, a behind-the-back bounce pass, and an eyes-closed free-throw. At basketball summer camp, it was teenage girls and a thousand free throws and talk about bras and blow jobs. Craig spared me all that nonsense and showed me how to throw my own alley-oop off the backboard.
My dad had to replace I-don’t-know-how-many rims on our driveway goal because by the time Craig was 15, he was throwing down monster dunks. Any other boy, and my dad would have been livid. But Craig popped two different neighborhood dudes in the mouth the summer my sister stopped looking like a little girl; my dad adored him.
Some summer nights when we wanted to keep playing after the sun went down, we’d walk up the road to the People’s Baptist Church and shoot around in their parking lot in the orange glow of the street lights. It was always a hundred degrees and so humid you needed gills to breathe. The tree frogs were our audience, and Craig could stun even them into silence. He was dribbling; he was dancing.
On the way home one night, when we were 11, a cop pulled us over and asked where Craig was “taking me.” I said he wasn’t “taking me” anywhere. We’d been playing ball and now we were both going home to eat dinner and then we were coming back to play more ball. Craig put his hand on my forearm to shut me up, but jerked away like my skin had burned him. The cop never even looked at me, except when Craig reached for me. He never even spoke to me. “Watch yourself, boy” is what he said. “I know I’ll be watching you.”
It was a long time before Craig went back to the People’s Baptist Church parking lot with me, and we never went again without one of the (white) boys tagging along.
"I hate bringing them with us," I told him every single time. "They slow us down. They talk too much. I can’t believe Kyle thinks he balls hard enough to wear Jordans."
He said, “It’s safer this way.”
I said, “I’m not scared.”
He said, “You don’t have to be.”
When we were teenagers we used to sometimes go see dollar movies together on nights when we didn’t have basketball games or practice. He was a Bobcat. I was a Spartan. He said being named All-Area had made me soft.
People stared and pointed at us at the movies, and on more than one occasion, I reached down and clutched Craig’s hand because it felt defiant and loyal and I loved him. Not boyfriend-style. I was a clueless, late-blossoming lesbian who could only ever stomach dating the most feminine boys I could find. Craig was all man. He never pulled his hand away from mine, but one night some kids from his high school were waiting at his truck when we got out of the movies. They said the same thing as that cop that night at that church, years earlier. They said they were watching him and he’d better watch himself too.
He asked me to stop holding his hand.
"I don’t care what people think," I said.
He said, “But you do care about me not getting hurt.”
The truth is, I didn’t get it. I was young and sheltered and Hermione-frees-the-House-Elves naive about the way the world actually worked. But Craig didn’t have that luxury. As an 11-year-old child, he already knew that if he touched me, even in an attempt to get me to act more respectful to a police officer, he was putting himself in danger.
I understood it better when I grew up. When I was in college, I watched the black inner city kids I worked with get harassed by cops right up until the point that a white camp counselor walked over to see what was going on. I studied and studied and wrote multiple theses on the Rwandan genocide (something that never, ever would have happened if the victims had not been black). I moved to Jamaica to do charity work and experienced, repeatedly, the phenomenon that young black patients would wait all day to see a doctor, but young white patients were treated immediately (because so many of the hospitals were staffed with white missionary doctors). A five-year-old orphan in a makeshift wheelchair looked me right in an orphanage in Montego Bay and said, “If I were white, an American would have already taken me home.”
Watching what is happening in Ferguson makes me physically sick, every night. Because of the perpetual devaluation of black lives in this whole world. Because just under the surface of politeness, the disgusting, irrational, inexcusable racism that has permeated American society since its inception has only been fueled and stoked by the hate-mongering propaganda Conservatives and Christians have been raining down since Barack Obama first announced his intention to run for president. Because it could happen in any city in this country. Because it could have happened to Craig that night in that church parking lot when all we did was play H-O-R-S-E and drink fruit punch Kool-Aid from the thermoses my mom had packed for us.
I’m wiser than I was back then. I have the physical and emotional scars of a dozen lifetimes. I’ve traveled and traveled and traveled the world. But Ferguson makes me feel as helpless as I did when I was just a kid. I guess the only real difference is I’m old enough now not to be afraid to call a foul. What is happening in Ferguson, what continues to happen to black people — especially young black men — in this country, is a foul. A wicked, indefensible foul.
I always thought it was just basketball. But Craig knew all along it was the Hunger Games.
So, fine. Let those of us who know the truth stand together, and rise up, and be the Mockingjay.
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”—St Augustine (via itsquoted)
“Even if someone makes something terrible—like the music the Insane Clown Posse makes—at least they’re doing something that speaks to them. And they kept going even though people told them it was terrible. And they found their audience, and now they built a community around their work. Look, you couldn’t pay me to listen to their music, but I still feel like I have more in common with the Insane Clown Posse than I do with someone who just sits on the sidelines and shits on other people’s work and who never puts themselves on the line.”—Tom Scharpling in Mike Sacks’s Poking a Dead Frog (via lauraolin)
“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. An so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”—
From “Agincourt and After” (1975) by Roger Angell.
He writes about baseball, specifically Carlton Fisk’s curving, twisting, home run in Game 6 of the World Series, but he could be speaking of all fans in every corner of fandom.
“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.”—John Muir (via thecalminside)
The district school board voted 6-1 Thursday night to remove the entire reading list
If you’ve been following the story of a Delaware school board’s decision to remove The Miseducation of Cameron Post from its high school summer reading list, apparently the final decision is in — the entire reading list has now been removed.
That means not only has Cameron Post been removed, other books including Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, John Lewis’s March, and even John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars will no longer be recommended as summer reads for incoming freshman at Cape Henlopen High School. A sad end to a really wonderful and diverse reading list.