Well, it’s Banned Books Week, my favorite library holiday! So, I thought I’d write a little rambling bit on why censoring books is silly.
2016’s most challenged book (meaning someone found it offensive and tried to have it removed/restricted in a library or curriculum) was This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It just so happens I just read this book for the first time earlier this week, prior to realizing it is last year’s most frequently challenged book. Frankly, I struggled a bit seeing why this book was oh so controversial. Yes, if you were handing it to a young kid, some of the content is a bit mature (teen pregnancy, drinking, marriage struggles). However, I’ve mostly seen it marketed towards teens, who are probably largely aware of the topics that come up in This One Summer. The book does deal with some heavy issues, but that doesn’t mean a book can’t be influential in a positive way.
Half of this year’s Top Ten Most Challenged Books were challenged for having LGBT characters or narratives. What day and age are we living in?? Are parents still afraid reading about a gay character will make their child gay? Because that’s preposterous, and haven’t we covered this?! Multiple times? Also, if your child is perhaps questioning their sexuality/identity, then maybe these characters could be a comfort to them in a world that is anything but. Books are a refuge and an open door into greater things.
Perhaps you are more afraid of having a more well-rounded child who might possess a little compassion for other?
Books seem to be most frequently challenged for sexuality, LGBT characters/narratives, displays of racism, or use of certain “bad” words. Or witchcraft. (Can’t leave out Harry Potter!)
There are many banned books that are near and dear to my heart, many of the books that spoke to me the most in my teen and early college years were frequently challenged books. That’s not why I read any of them; some were assigned reading, others were by personal discovery. Yet, truly, some (perhaps most) or the most influential books I’ve read thus far in my life have been “banned” books. I can only say I’m grateful that I didn’t have teachers or parents that felt the need to censor what books I was reading. Controversial topics help us broaden horizons, learn something new, see things from a new perspective. Controversial topics represent real life, and life is controversial y’all.
One of my older co-workers was annoyed last year that the library (where I work) was displaying banned books as well as flyers on freedom of speech and press. She literally asked “why do we have those on display? They’re clearly banned for a reason.” And my heart grew a wee bit darker and more cynical that day. There are plenty of reasons we should be displaying, promoting, and advocating for free speech, but I won’t bother to bore us all with my own political ramblings. My book-ish ramblings are bad enough, amirite?
If you find you are offended by something, seriously stop and ask yourself, why?
I think sometimes people need to be a little offended, and they need to ponder why certain things offend them, because perhaps maybe then they will grow. Books have an excellent way of helping us grow by showing us different perspectives, sharing new ideas, encouraging us to learn more about a certain topic, pushing us to ask questions and think more critically.
Disclaimer: this is a poorly written, poorly edited rant about life. You’ve been warned.
I’ve really been struggling to get through this book. I’ve given up on it at least 5 times before even getting halfway through… And yet, I keep coming back thinking maybe I’m just resisting something and perhaps there I can at least get something from this book. So far, I’ve mainly gotten frustration.
Here’s what I got:
Figure out what your gifts/talents are, how you want to use said gifts, and basically just do it. Essentially the same yada yada you get from most motivational/career change books. Even though time and again he says he doesn’t want to sound like all those “follow you passion!” life coaches. Well, sorry, but that’s all I’ve been getting out of this.
It all keeps coming back to the same general gist of, find a way you can use your gifts in a way you find satisfactory and do that thing.. so long as it supplies an income that you can live off of. This is the point where I stopped listening. No shit, Sherlock. All other points start to become moot to me when the message essentially becomes “follow your passion, so long as there is money in it.” That’s useless, I’m sorry, but it is. And it implies there are just plenty of jobs out there for the taking. Maybe in D.C. and San Fran, where this author was/is based, but in NE Ohio, where we have big corporate chains galore, little local business, crap jobs that barely pay above minimum wage, manual labor in an unstable steel industry, or the other extreme of straight up professional whathaveyou (doctor, lawyer, etc).
My husband and I have both been looking for better job prospects for two solid years. Neither of us currently using our bachelors degree, and neither of us are currently in a position that promises any job growth. The obvious response has been “go back to school,” but that’s really not so easily done considering we have to work to live, school costs an arm, leg, plus your unborn child, and we already have a large sum of money in student loans. Then with the added bonus of no guarantee of a job upon receiving a Masters degree in God only knows what. For me, it was the possibility of going back to school to be a librarian… but it just doesn’t feel worth the cost of a title in a state/nation that doesn’t feel funding public libraries is their responsibility. Cuz you know, who needs a safe, free place to get books, use a public computer, study, take classes, explore new interests etc etc?
I digress. My point is, it’s fine and dandy to spend time considering your gifts/talents and how you want to use them (if you’re the kind of person that has the kind of confidence to say I’m good at this that and the other, of which I am not) but actually applying that to your life and making changes based on those things feels damn near impossible to me right now. Yes, I get that everything requires work and fighting for what you want. but what about when you have no fucking clue what it is you even want? Or when you apply and interview for about 7 different jobs, some of which truly excite you, and each and every time you get turned down, presumably, or at least in part, for lack of experience. We can’t gain that experience when no one gives us a shot. Perhaps I’m far too negative, and my own lack of self-esteem when it comes to my “gifts,” my own inability to sell myself is my own down fall. But for fuck’s sake it gets depressing after awhile.
So, in lieu of making a list of my gifts, how I want to apply them, in what community, and what lifestyle I’d like to live, I’ve been thinking more in terms of what I would like out of life vs. what I’ve currently got.
What I’d like:
A job where I give a rat’s ass, especially one where I get paid a halfway respectable wage.
A place Hubs and I can actually afford to live in, and still be able to save a few dollars.
The option to at least talk about starting a family in the near-ish future. Just even feeling comfortable enough financially to consider having that conversation.
Time to be all homely/housewife-y. I know, how 50’s TV family of me.
Time, money and energy to invest in my own well being, ie. eat right, work out, etc.
Security. Enough so to make any given sort of leap towards progress.
What I’ve got:
A husband I love.
A husband who takes a lot of shit at work where he isn’t paid nearly enough for taking said shit.
A part-time job that I mostly enjoy, but pays negligibly more than Ohio’s minimum wage. (It used to be two part-time jobs, but people are assholes and the stress of dealing with them was making life a million times worse. AKA, an extra $70 a week was absolutely not worth being yelled at in a movie theater box office.)
A borrowed space in my brother’s house that we sometimes remember to pay “rent” for.
No time or money to go back to school to maybe get a better job.
No real marketable skills, IMO
Only a few months of health insurance left before I’m too old for my dad to keep paying for it. AKA a few months until I need to find another option that is even remotely affordable.
Okay, so now this post has just become a negative downward spiral, but this is where I’m at right now y’all. And I mean no offense to Mr. Poswolsky, it’s nothing against his book, I’m sure there are plenty of people that found his writing insightful and/or helpful. I can agree with, nod my head along to, and appreciate plenty of the things he says, but it all feels a bit shallow, privileged and entitled.. Maybe things are different when you live in a big city, share a house with half a dozen people and don’t have a significant other to factor into your “leaping to new lily pads.”
The intro was the most “inspiring” part at first, and in retrospect I realized why: he’s stroking the ego of millennials, claiming we’re different from previous generations because we desire for our work to have purpose. On first pass, I felt like “Oh, I can totally get this! I would so much rather work for a cause I believe in than make more money doing something I despise.” But on second thought, I really don’t think that is a generation thing, I think that is a personality/personal values type issue that has existed for generations. My generation just has a plethora of more options (in some senses) than previous generations. And while I agree the my generation does tend to get dissed a lot, I still don’t think we’re all that different from the others. (Plus, it’s the older generation’s fault we are this way, they made us what we are *insert childish, sassy raspberry blowing here*)
All in all, I think I’m officially adding this book to my DNF list. Just while working on this rant I picked up two more times and just couldn’t do it. I don’t know what I expected to gain from this book, and maybe that was my own fault from the start. But now I’ve used it as an excuse to whine on the internet about my current frustrations with life. So whatever. Sorry, I’m not really sorry.
This book. Damn. I can’t even.
This book is powerful.
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve felt the need to stop reading a book, just to hunt down sticky notes to write comments about specific passages of a novel.
I’m always a little nervous about books that get a lot of hype preceding and immediately at their release, we’ve all been burned by that before. However, considering how relevant this book’s contents our to modern American life, the hype was well deserved. This book deals with a lot a big topics like social class, race, identity, teen life, interracial relationships, but most notably: police brutality.
Starr lives in Garden Heights, a poor black neighborhood, “the ghetto,” run in part by rival gangs. Starr has lived in Garden Heights most of her life, but her parents send her to a private school in the rich, suburban, white neighborhood (li’l more on why this is an important addition later). Our story starts at a Garden Heights party, where Starr runs into a childhood best friend, Khalil. Trouble breaks out at the party so Starr and Khalil leave together, not knowing the night will only get worse from there. A “routine stop” for a broken tail light ends with Khalil being shot and killed.
That Hate U Give is the aftermath of Khalil’s death.
Angie Thomas tackles police brutality in a way like never before. And while this story largely revolves around the shooting of an unarmed black teen, so many other sociological issues come into play as well. Angie Thomas hits on all of these big social issues without being preachy or self-righteous; it is raw, realistic, and powerful.
I think it was brilliant on Angie Thomas’ part to have Starr attend a school where the majority of the student body is white, rich, and privileged so as to show the two very different worlds that exist right next door to each other. Throughout the book, Starr struggles between which Starr she is in which circumstance, she keeps her school life and home life separate, until eventually they collide.
With one friend, Hailey, we get the perspective of white privilege, the “All Lives Matter” voice if you will. Hailey is everyone’s “racist-but-doesn’t-think-they’re-racist” family member who can’t see past their own ignorance. You frequently want to smack her, but her character is vital to this story. I feel like every white person who doesn’t seem to think police involved shootings are a big deal NEEDS to read this and realize we need to stop trying to rationalize the real-life deaths of people similar to Khalil by labeling people as “just a drug dealer.”
“And at the end of the day, you don’t kill someone for opening a car door.”
One of my favorite parts of this books is a conversation between Starr and her dad, Maverick. It’s a meaningful conversation between father and daughter about why good kids, like Khalil, turn to dealing drugs to survive. Their conversation takes place after Khalil’s death and centers around the Tupac quote that led to the title of this book. “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody” – t.h.u.g.l.i.f.e.
A chopped up version of the most profound part of this conversation that I love:
“Lack of opportunities. Corporate America don’t bring jobs to our communities, and they damn sure ain’t quick to hire us. Then, shit, even if you do have a high school diploma, so many schools in our neighborhoods don’t prepare us well enough. Our schools don’t get the resources to equip you. It’s easier to find some crack than it is to find a good school around here. Now think ’bout this. How did the drugs even get in our neighborhood? This is a multibillion-dollar industry we talkin’ about, baby. That shit is flown into our communities but I don’t know anybody with a private jet.
Drugs come from somewhere, and they’re destroying our community.
You got folks like Brenda, who think they need them to survive, and then you got the Khalils, who think they need to sell them to survive. The Brendas can’t get jobs unless they’re clean, and they can’t pay for rehab unless they get jobs. When the Khalils get arrested for selling drugs, they either spend most of their life in prison, another billion-dollar industry, or they have a hard time getting a real job and probably start selling drugs again.
That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug life.”
This book is important. I can’t even adequately explain this book or the things it made me feel. You’ll just have to read it, and know: the hype is worth it. It’s fiction but the circumstances, the emotions, the frustrations… are all too real.
I am entirely arrested by my own self doubt. I question every move, and out of fear of failure, stand still. And I have this habit of standing still, never making changes, taking chances, and complaining that nothing changes.
I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing with my life. And I feel like a big part of that has to do with anxiety. Particularly social anxieties that I’ve felt since elementary school. I could go into cataloging all the ways in which I have retrospectively realized anxiety has effected my life and my choices, but that would just be a crazy long list. But just for example, I was always the “shy” girl in school. I really wasn’t all that shy, people who know/understand me know I can actually be quite blunt and unfiltered. I wasn’t shy so much as terrified of saying something “wrong” in front of people who may not understand me.
I’ve always felt “different” (especially growing up) and not the cool kind of different, but like my ideas are too lame and/or out in left field. And because of my fear of being too “out there,” I would always try to push down my impulses to say/do the random things that pop into my head. This same fear also always made me too afraid to share anything personal or creative with.. well anyone really. (Which is also why I was debating whether to even post this or not, but Hubs talked me into it.) Now, I fear that I’ve spent so much time suppressing my weirdness, that I’ve lost all creativity. And yet a large part of me yearns to be creative.
I so wish I could be one of those ballsy people who knows exactly what they want, and just goes for it. I wish I could tap into my creativity that I feel may be buried deep down within me, and do something productive with it. I wish I could say screw looking for a worthwhile career to just survive off of, and start doing something purely because I’m passionate about it. But I don’t even know what that is anymore. I’m clueless. At a bit of a standstill.
I don’t write these things to seek the pity of others, and I don’t mean this as negatively as it’s potentially coming off. To be clear, I wouldn’t say I’m embarrassed by my weirdness, I’m quite fond of it really. But I do struggle to wield it in a productive way, like I wish I could 😉 This has been more to express myself (something I struggle with), and by just putting it out there, a reminder to myself to occasionally be daring…
So, I guess, my challenge to myself and to others is to be daring. Be passionate about something. And most of all, do something.