First, there was Fist Stick Knife Gun, a memoir by Geoffrey Canada, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harlem Children's Zone. The Zone was praised by the New York Times as "… one of the most ambitious social experiments of
our time. It combines educational, social and medical services. It
starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those
services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an
entire neighborhood … The objective is to create a safety net woven so
tightly that children in the neighborhood just can't slip through." Canada has been called, "One of the few authentic heroes of New York and one of the best friends children have, or ever will have, in our nation." And Publisher's Weekly said of his memoir, "A more powerful depiction of the tragic life of urban children and a
more compelling plea to end 'America's war against itself' cannot be
A couple years ago, Beacon Press began work on a few graphic books. Fist Stick Knife Gun was one of the first titles chosen, and Jamar Nicholas was brought on board by editor Allison Trzop to bring it to reality. Jamar posted on the blog early in the process, and shared some sketches with us along the way:
Publishers Weekly highlights The King Legacy series, a new partnership between Beacon Press and the estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. The series launches next month with the publication of Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community. You can read more about the series on the Beacon Press website.
"A great irony of life on the computer screen," Watkins writes in his introduction, "is the fact that we usually go online alone but often with the intent of communicating with other people. Among the teens and young adults that we talk to, time spent in front of a computer screen is rarely, if ever, considered time spent alone." Social media, Watkins asserts, is an interim mode of communication and a means to coordinate future face-to-face interactions, not a substitute for human interaction, as was argued in the past.
Mr. 20 Prospect, a resident of the Rust-Belt town of Batavia, New York, found a lot to relate to in Hollowing Out the Middle, as he has seen his own hometown decline over the years. His post about the history of Batavia is accompanied by a series of enlightening photos.
If you are one of the small town Diaspora who left never to return, or someone who left but boomeranged back, it is a very revealing read. Not only do they highlight the demographic, and economic trends effecting rural America, they also catch the subtle undercurrents of class that play a large role in determining the opportunities and futures of the young inhabitants. At times it is also a painful book, pointing out the paradoxes that exist, and how small towns have hastened their own demise, by investing so much of their limited resources in developing their “best and brightest” and encouraging them to leave the community behind. The result is what Patrick Deneen has called the “strip mining” of young adults from rural areas, to feed the coastal, and Midwestern, urban population centers.
I was born in Philadelphia, PA, in the early 1970s. It's hard to find a picture of me as a youth where I'm smiling.
That's not entirely true. I did smile when necessary - I worked up what we called a "Kool-Aid" smile whenever I had been ordered to do so for the camera. I didn't really smile under my own recognizance. The reason being was that I hated childhood.
You'd think that what should follow is some hard-scrabble story of an anguished upbringing in a troubled home, but it didn't exactly go down like that. Most of my painful memories came from leaving the house every day to go out into the world—to school or, maybe, down the block to the corner store/bodega/mom & pop to get the Sunday paper, walking home, on the bus—just being outside was the worst thing in the world when I was a kid.
Wait, though—kids LOVE going outside, right? Yes, but… that's where the other kids are. The ones from "around the corner" who you hoped weren't there to harass you when you walked home. The kids on your block who demanded you prove yourself. You couldn't be a "punk" or "soft" in front of these kids. These were the kids you had to fight for your bicycle every month, or fight to keep that brand new Philadelphia '76ers jacket you got for your birthday. I hated the fact that every time I left the house, the real threat of violence in some manner was always just a crooked glance away at all times.