I come from a very politically correct family. My father was the Director of Transportation for a small city system for most of my life growing up and he instilled in me that everything is “political.”
So I’m careful what I say. Careful how I say it. It’s not being duplicitous, it’s understanding that anything you say can and will be held against you – so find a way to say it delicately.
Ask my close friends, I’m known to rant and get things off my chest in some of the most un-PC terms ever. But what I put out there in black and white for all to see…that’s a different story.
I think Doret, the Happy Nappy Bookseller blogger, knows where of I speak because a few weeks ago, she posted this “rant” about how often African American children’s lit is left out during mainstream discussions of kiddielit.
The first sentence in the blog summed up how I feel about a lot of things when it comes to blogging: “I wrote this last night. Slept on it and still wanted to post it, so here it is.”
I do that a lot. I think about whether or not I want to argue with faceless commenters. Whether what I’m about to say will impact sales of my books if I make enemies. Whether my opinions are justified because maybe I’m only looking at one side of the story.
I had these same thoughts when I posted the Oprah Book Club picks. But, in the end, decided that it was worth ranting (albeit low key) about.
Truthfully, I think, on the issue of Af-Am children’s books being excluded from so many mainstream conversations, we don’t rant enough.
But those of us who are a part of the larger children’s lit community walk a line. Like any other professional – we risk alienating ourselves from our peers if we vent too much or too vehemently.
Everything is political.
But Doret brings up another issue, that I think we’re not nearly as honest about – the expectation of inclusion on a mainstream level, when even amongst the niche audience of African American readers we’re not consistently supportive.
Or the flip side – feeling that just because we share a race we’re obligated to “read black.”
It gets messy if you let it.
So most of us just say nothing or rant so quietly you can’t tell it’s a rant.
But Doret’s rant is lovely. Eloquent. Poetic. Honest.
I’d rant more often if I could do it that way.
Paula Chase Hyman is the YA author of the Del Rio Bay series. Her latest release, Flipping The Script (Dafina 2009), is the fifth and final book in the series. She considers herself a double-threat because she can rant and rave.