Thursday, November 17, 2016

Keep Talking Culture: Kidlit, Michael Grant, Autism.

Here's a storify on a recent internet fight around literature, cultural appropriation, and autism. It ended when Michael Grant, a famous YA author, called another author's autistic child a "burden." He later apologized.

Everyone wants to understand why Hillary Clinton lost the campaign and what it means for the future. Usually, it means that whatever pre-determined factor you cared about is more important and factors you care less about are less important, because we humans are flawed analysts about nearly everything.

Still, I've been troubled to see so many people - mostly white, liberal, men - react to the election of Trump by saying: Can we stop talking about identity now? 

It's true that Clinton ran an identity-driven campaign. #StrongerTogether says that whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever specific needs you have, it's together that we'll achieve our goals. I thought it was a beautiful slogan and, of course, it won a majority of American voters. It just didn't win the election, but with only the slightest of shifts - more time in WI and MI? More time hammering Trump on Chinese steel, bankruptcy (I never saw an ad: What kind of business genius loses a billion dollars on a casino and passes the bill to the American taxpayers?), or emphasizing specific good economic plans or any number of other things could have tweaked those 100K voters in the Rust Belt back to Clinton's way. Just as Republican suburban women went back to the GOP after Comey, Democratic blue collar workers could have been won back.

I'm inclined to give Michael Grant and all the white male journalists eager to cast aside identity as a political force a pass for whatever they did last week, just as I am willing to forget all the ill-considered grieving from people in all my communities, and hope you'll do the same for me. It was a rough week. If Grant is as bad as he seems, he'll show it again, and there will be no second chance (not that I'm rushing out to buy his books today or anything).

But for me the future lies not in silencing ourselves on identity, but in linking our struggles. The brilliant scholar Nyasha Junior recently introduced me to this quote from Lilla Watson: "If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."

Let's get to work. 


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