#KidLit4BlackLives #TheBrownBookshelf

A heart-lifting moment in recent conversations on race & how to counter racism in this beautiful USA, is the community children’s literature coming-together, of June 4th, 2020.

It collected under the banner #KidLit4BlackLives & I heard about it through #TheBrownBookshelf, my guide for 13 years, to fabulous books I might otherwise not have known about & some titles I was already seeking.

Jackie Woodson warmly welcomed us to the table, hosted by Kwame Alexander. But the best thing about it is that so many soon-to-be luminaries were invited onboard with now-famous, once-unknown, contemporary, award-winning children’s-book creators of color. I especially enjoyed meeting a 9-year-old future leader, zooming in from overseas. Correction: Leader. Period.

It’s exciting to see thousands of publishers, editors, educators, parents & creators of books for young people, listening/learning from an evening of vivid voices that are predominantly from people of color. We all pledged to learn more, learn harder, learn better, about what our community needs to do to improve.

Following the event, which he attended, graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang shared this thoughtful instagram conversation with a beloved esteemed educator who was 10 during the 1967-68 riots in the USA, which led to the Kerner Commission. (divot to the right, to flip to each page.) Educator Tony Green believes that the country needs a national commission that has broad ethnic representation (unlike the all-white, male Kerner Commission) to create implementable provisions that will move the USA forward in the wake of a shameful litany of black lives lost after an incident with police. That is one part of a larger racial issue, which involves food deserts, poverty, imprisonment and health care access. I would like to see this country’s Native American/American Indian population included in this national discussion.

I loved how Ms. Woodson, whose BROWN GIRL DREAMING, is a favorite of mine, asked everyone to speak out when a racist remark is heard, when it comes directly to you from your uncle who is a wizard at guitar-playing, or the friendly neighbor who grows sweet cherry tomatoes two streets over. “That’s not kind,” is a starter, before walking  away. “I don’t feel good being around thoughts like that.” Doesn’t have to be a long lecture. Shouldn’t be. Jerry Craft knew how to get a conversation going in many families, such as in Florida, where I live. He said to share how, “Save the Whales doesn’t mean that dolphins don’t deserve to live. Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that ALL Lives don’t matter.”

The evening was awash in appreciation for people regardless of their skin, the quality of their home, their unemployment status or the labels on their clothing. More kindness, more thinking before speaking, more interest in people of color all through the year, and not just at a significant anniversary of birth or death, or a standard celebration time, or month, is a step toward shedding racism.

Appreciations to author Joanne Fritz for this fb page grab.

To revisit these speakers, make time for the recorded event. Above, find & follow #TheBrownBookshelf link, which also includes a rich list of resources.

Appreciations to political cartoonist Nathan Archer, Florida chair of the National Cartoonists Association, for this #BlackLivesMatter 6/2020 image shared on his fb page.

MUSIC

The Spiritual Thursday choir collects around Karen Eastlund, via Irene Latham’s blog. And Renee at No Water River organizes the The Poetry Friday Party at her blog, with a wonderful shout out.

APALACHICOLA RIVER
c. JanGodownAnninoall rights reserved

In January in this space, not knowing that March would conduct
the gift of Music Month
to Spiritual Thursday,
I shared from poet Edward Hoagland:

“But songs need silences to be musical.
Prayer needs silence to be heard.
The world needs silhouetting silence.”

Today I sing a song of nature notes, for the bird symphonies
I wake to & also walk to, day into the night.
If you know someone in Alabama perhaps they catch the sounds of a surprising yellow cardinal!

Adding to sounds from Nature, a few thoughts about people-created music.
When my Father wanted soothing sound he called upon Mahalia Jackson. (Even tho’
this sweet man was an agnostic.)
The legacy of Mahalia Jackson is here.

My Mother favored most any classical French composer on record albums or also, heard on public radio, especially DeBussy, shared by NPR here.

I was never in band nor was I close to anyone in a band, but I perk up with
the music of parading high school musicians.
Anyone for a national public radio march music program we could hear from coast to coast? Having learned a lot about writing in community newspapers as a kid tagging along with my news writer Mom & then in my own career, are you surprised that my favorite is
Washington Post.
A California high school band steps out with it here.

Drums & brass horns wouldn’t have helped last month, living
on a small part of this giant blue/breen marble where the name
Parkland has become a word not at all about bucolic parks. Of the many
comforts provided the teacher, student & family survivors, I like to think
of the soothing snuffling, comforting pants & friendly behaved barks of

the Lutheran Church comfort dogs.

I lean upon a reliable choral comfort when I am not
listening to Nature. This balm is from a musician, lyricist, composer, pianist & vocalist
(all in one incomparable person)
Velma Frye.
I am soothed by her performance of An Irish Blessing, which you can easily
“>listen to on You Tube.

I cherish my collection of Velma Frye CDs,
which you can find along with Velma Frye, here.
Although I am on hiatus from singing with a special women’s song circle this talented
educator collected,
I look forward to my return another day.

I also cherish Spiritual Thursday, Poetry Friday &
music that heals.

And one more bird note,
I am imagining the chirping sound track as I read
Jason Reynolds’ AS BRAVE AS YOU, in which birds
inhabit certain unexpected spaces. His birds can be heard
by many more if a film version of this unique middle grade book is made some day. Hope so.