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.
A Q&A with Raquel Salas Rivera | Not all my work is meant to be translated, but when I do self-translate, the flipbook is perfect for a bilingual edition. It doesn’t give priority to either language, and that feels truer to both my process and my readership. In many ways, my readers in Spanish and those who read me in English don’t always overlap but they do correspond, to borrow a term from Jack Spicer.
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.
By Tourmaline | I was a preteen when the first edition of “Transgender Warriors”—the foundational text by the late, great Leslie Feinberg—was published in 1996. It came into the world at a pivotal time for me, providing the life-changing context that would help me to understand who I was and who came before me. Context that, before this book, could only be found scattered in disparate places, passed down in whispers and folklore, or translated and excavated from bigoted depictions of historical trans figures deemed deviant by the status quo.
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.
By Ricky Tucker | This was one of the first images my friend and “And the Category Is . . .” photographer Kareem Worrell developed while I was writing the book—and it became an aspirational photo. The audacity of Lee, the central figure, drove my urge to match in tone his ferocity in the first few chapters. To, like Ballroom, unapologetically hold accountable the public appropriation of this unique culture, AND to elevate to divine status the unwavering love that is its foundation. In short, this photo is the epitome of the chapter “Werk.”
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 Laura Erickson-Schroth and Laura A. Jacobs | The belief that transgender people are recognizably distinct from nontransgender people assumes that there is something we can pick out about a transgender person’s clothing, body shape, or speech that “gives them away.” It assumes that trans people never escape their “essential” gender assigned at birth—that they are never “really” a part of the gender with which they identify.
This will be our second summer with our favorite global party-crasher, the pandemic. (Leave already, Pandy! We want to get on with our lives.) Seems like a lifetime ago when this started, huh? Except this season, the rollout of vaccines is making outdoor time under the sun a little freer and a little less fraught with worry. Although still nowhere near the comfort and safety level we need, some of us may make to the beach. Others may make it as far as their backyard. Wherever you set your beach blanket or beach chair, vaxxed and masked, we have some audiobook suggestions for the occasion.
Raise your hand if you’re going to Pride this year! 2020 has been voted off the island. More importantly, we missed Pride. As we strut our stuff under the sun, let’s not forget why we have the parades in the first place. The queers, drag queens, and trans women—especially the folx of color—who fought back against police violence. The fight for LGBTQ rights has never stopped since the Stonewall uprisings. Whether it’s the fight for self-acceptance and self-expression, for the right to marry, for the right to use the bathroom aligned with your gender identity, for affordable access to HIV medication, for the abolition of violent and oppressive systems, there’s always a fight.
This year’s theme for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service. Beacon Press views their writers as leaders, charting the way to a better future with uncovered histories, cultural commentary, and more. Which is why, as AAPI Heritage Month wraps up, we’re putting the spotlight on the work of our Asian American writers. The following list of recommended reads—by no means exhaustive—honors their work and contributions to our society and American history at large.
By Laura Erickson-Schroth and Laura A. Jacobs | Many transgender people have been marginalized from a young age. Children and adolescents who demonstrate gender variance can be harassed by their peers simply for dressing in the “wrong” garment or for having a hairstyle that more closely matches norms for the “other” gender. Teachers often refuse to acknowledge students’ trans identities and insist on referring to individuals by their birth names and pronouns, something most transgender and gender-nonconforming people find to be an aching nullification of their identity.
Black history isn’t just about the history-makers and big social movements. They begin as everyday people whose day-to-day experiences, inner Black life, and Black joy—this especially!—are just as much a part of Black history. Without daily life and joy, the picture narrows solely on struggle and trauma, and comes off as incomplete. We need it all.
By Angela Chen | When I published “Ace,” I hoped for positive reviews and perhaps a reader email or two. I did not, however, expect that social media would bring a very particular joy to my life, which is that of readers sending me photos of the book with their cat.
By Angela Chen | I distrust narratives, always have. The child too shy to open her mouth and captivate others with story became the science journalist who fetishized data instead, fond of talking about how stories can stand in the way of justice—just look at how a blond girl suddenly kidnapped can receive so much more attention and care than all the less photogenic children who live every day in difficult conditions.
A Q&A with Angela Chen | A world without compulsory sexuality doesn’t mean desexualizing everything. It means removing the “compulsory” part. It means removing pressures and presenting more ways of how to live. It means more choice. People will be able to choose what they want—a lot of sex, no sex, and so on—without pressure or shame or judgment and without feeling like they need to explain themselves to doubters.
There is no other way to put it. The start of this year’s Pride Month was painful. We can’t stop thinking of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and of too many before and after them. Witnessing modern-day lynch mobs during a pandemic is soul-crushing. Do not be tempted to say the upheaval happening now is “unique” or “unprecedented.” Because it is not. The US has centuries of history inflicting violence and death on Black bodies. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his “The Other America” speech, “the riot is the language of the unheard.” And the US has not listened since the days of slavery and settler colonialism. So the protests and riots rage on.
A Q&A with M. V. Lee Badgett | The inspiration to write “The Economic Case for LGBT Equality” came from the many LGBT activists I’ve met and worked with who wanted to use the economic case to promote human rights. I have been making that economic case for LGBT equality for a long time and have seen the argument also appeal to policymakers, businesses, development agencies, and other groups. I decided to write this book to reach all of these audiences with the evidence and stories that show how stigma and discrimination against LGBT people hold back economies.