Still kicking two years in, COVID brought out the worst from the nation’s populace: racist brutality against marginalized communities. This year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemorates the victims of the 2021 spa shootings as well as all other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lost to anti-Asian violence during the pandemic and throughout history. This violence is a form of erasure. As historian Catherine Ceniza Choy writes in her forthcoming addition to Beacon Press’s ReVisioning History series, “This positioning of Asians in opposition to American identity and experience is perhaps most powerfully expressed through the erasure of their long-standing presence in the United States and their contributions to its various industries.”
Bring out your flower bouquets and your brunch reservations! This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and we’re bringing the books to take you into the weekend and beyond. These books show how every kind of mother needs to be valued and supported in the catch-all societal stew we call the US. Mothers of color. Immigrant mothers. Mothers who become parents at a young age. Mothers separated from their families because of incarceration. Mothers challenging the medical establishment about misconceived notions of disability.
It has not gotten any easier for educators. If the pandemic was not enough, many are picking up the slack for unfilled job openings, riding on the fumes of burnout, and consequently, leaving the profession or retiring early since the start of COVID. Which goes to show how much they are unthanked and undervalued for all they do to nurture wisdom, curiosity, and critical thinking in students at a time when societal consensus at large would rather shepherd us toward an uneducated nation. We need to show up for them!
By Christian Coleman | He is hailed as a literary giant whose prolific writing career has made him a New York Times best-selling author. His novels include “The Master,” “The Magician,” “Nora Webster,” and “Brooklyn.” “Brooklyn” was, in fact, adapted as a feature film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, so he has movie-vetted cred, too. Now we get to see Colm Tóibín flex as a poet in his debut collection, “Vinegar Hill.”
A Q&A with Terry Galloway | It’s a Hallmark film of a movie and, as such, has every Deaf cliché you can think of, including how hot Deaf people are in bed—although I’m inclined to perpetuate that myth. “CODA,” written by a hearing person and adapted by another hearing person, made the Deaf family the nominal villains: backwards, unthinking, unfeeling, selfish bumpkins. Until, of course, their hearing, singing savior of a child makes them see the error of their dumb ole Deaf ways.
A Q&A with Margaret Peacock and Erik L. Peterson | Erik started collecting sources from China, including social media posts, in January 2020. Margaret had her own set of documents about how the US government was shaping the narrative surrounding the spread of the disease. And we had all this sitting on our computers. Between the two of us, we were worried (1) that we would lose sources, (2) that we would overlap what we were collecting and make each other’s work redundant, and (3) that we would be too siloed in what sources we located.
Remember those minutes-long social media videos of folks quarantine clapping for frontline workers? And for the medical staff and carers looking after droves upon droves of COVID patients? Do you also remember that most of the ones getting the applause were women? If our global health crisis has made one thing clear, it’s how much we depend on—and take for granted—the recognized and unrecognized work women of all cultures do to keep societies going.
A Q&A with Margaret Peacock and Erik L. Peterson | Early in 2020, we realized we were each in the process of collecting sources from the unfolding pandemic. Erik began focusing on the unfolding epidemiology of the pandemic when it was still limited to East Asia, while Margaret was paying close attention to the ways the pandemic was playing out in global media. We realized that we could produce something exceptional if we each brought our areas of expertise to the table to write a book that attempted to cross many facets of the pandemic experience.
What a difference a year makes. Book banning is back—and it’s on steroids. Is it a coincidence that it’s all the rave—more like rage—during Black History Month? The pearl-clutchers have assembled and are targeting not only books dealing with sex and gender but also books featuring Black themes and US history. It’s a predictable flex. A tired flex.
A Q&A with Jeanne Theoharis | I think people assume that they know her. Even many people who know Rosa Parks wasn’t just a simple seamstress who accidentally walked into history don’t realize how much of her history—the militancy of her early activism in Montgomery, her activism in Detroit, her work in the Black Power movement—is still largely unrecognized.
It’s a rough way to begin the new year, mourning an author and an intellectual powerhouse. Lani Guinier, legal scholar, champion for voting rights, and the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School, joined the ancestors on January 7. She was seventy-one. Although heartbroken about her passing, we remain honored to have published her work, including “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy,” which she wrote to provide a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models to strengthen our democracy rather than privilege individual elites. May she rest in power.
This is it. The final hurrah for 2021! Yes, we’re ending in the phase of Omicron rising, but many of our titles were selected for a number of best-of lists and holiday gift guides for the year. So many! Let’s raise a glass to our authors to congratulate them! And guess what? Our holiday sale is in full swing!
We did it! We made it to the finish line of another plague year! Just a few more weeks left. Even though it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, uncork some bubbly to celebrate. We earned it. Our big wish for the new year: no more COVID variants. Delta, Mu, Omicron . . . Worst. Upgrades. Ever. Before we slam the door on 2021, we need to applaud and thank our authors and staff for the blog posts they wrote for the Broadside.
A Q&A with Cynthia B. Dillard | The inspiration for this book? I think it is the other way round. This book has inspired me. It has literally been writing me all of my life! It is the story of what happens when teachers have the opportunity and the audacity to (re)member their stories and their culture. It is about how the awesome power that experiences with the African continent opens a space for Black folks and fills in the blank of our often anemic education. I was inspired by all of this to write the book I wished I could have read as I was growing up: As a Black woman, as a teacher, as a leader.
President Biden sure is making up for lost time. At this year’s tribal nations summit, skipped over the previous four years by you know who, he signed an executive order for the US to take steps to protect tribal lands and address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native Americans. He proposed a ban on federal oil and gas leases on the sacred tribal site of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. And in his official White House proclamation for Native American Heritage Month, he listed more commitments the country will make to Indian Country.
By Christian Coleman | You know who ranks supreme on our list of national treasures? Poet, educator, and activist Sonia Sanchez! Know this if you haven’t known it already. Ms. Sanchez has just won another lifetime achievement award, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Two years ago, she won the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Award. The Gish Prize is given each year to “a highly accomplished artist from any discipline who has pushed the boundaries of an art form, contributed to social change, and paved the way for the next generation.” This has Ms. Sanchez written all over it.
You’ve heard the news. Now’s the time to jump on your holiday book buying. Supply chain delays are affecting many industries, including the book industry. Some new books you’ve been waiting for may not make it to bookstores in time for the holiday, and hot sellers may be sold out by December and not reprinted in time. On top of that, what’s thrown a wrench into the works is—wait for it—the pandemic. Who saw that plot twist coming? (We’d probably be in less of this mess if everyone got vaccinated, but hey, let’s not digress.) So, gifts you would typically start buying in December may not be available.
A Q&A with Ruth Behar | So much has changed in the last twenty-five years that sometimes we forget how different were the paradigms we worked with before. Anthropologists were taught that they had to approach their research from a distance. This meant silencing the story of your entanglement with a specific set of people, in a specific place, in a specific moment in time, and how knowledge gets produced in this messy, haunting, unrepeatable process.
By Christian Coleman | Break out the confetti and the champagne! We’re having a double celebration for civil rights activist Desmond Meade! First, he has been named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow! Secondly, it’s the first-year anniversary of his book, “Let My People Vote: My Battle to Restore the Rights of Returning Citizens.” The MacArthur Foundation selected him to join this year’s class of Fellows because of his work to restore voting rights to 1.4 million formerly incarcerated citizens in Florida and to remove barriers to their full participation in civic life.
By Christian Coleman | It was a long wait before Gayl Jones broke her years of silence. When Toni Morrison first discovered her, she said “no novel about any Black woman could ever be the same after this” upon reading the manuscript for “Corregidora.” It was published in 1975 when Jones was twenty-six. She followed up her debut novel with “Eva’s Man” and “The Healing.” But then after “Mosquito,” which came out in 1999, we wouldn’t hear from one of the greatest literary writers of the twentieth century for twenty-two years.