Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots. We reached out to some of our authors to reflect on the impact of this landmark and turning point in the centuries of queer history in America and the ongoing fight for queer equality. We share their statements with you below.
A Q&A with Michael Bronski | The idea for YA versions of books in Beacon’s ReVisioning American History series largely came from educators and librarians. My editor, Gayatri Patnaik, and I learned that teachers were looking for resources, and Gayatri suggested we answer their call with a young reader’s edition. With support from the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility, senior editor Joanna Green reached out to educators, librarians, and adapters, who generously and enthusiastically collaborated on this effort. At the moment, Beacon is releasing my book A Queer History of the United States for Young People as well as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People. There have been, in the past five years or so, a surge in YA nonfiction publishing, particularly adaptations of adult non-fiction for younger readers. So, the time seemed right, and the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall seemed to be perfect timing.
By Adam Eichen | “You can love two children at once,” a colleague once told me. He meant that advocates for a single issue can integrate other reform efforts into their agenda without being subsumed—and are often more powerful for it. In my work promoting democracy reform I’ve repeated this message hundreds of times across the country, advocating for automatic and same-day voter registration, public financing of elections, and independent redistricting commissions—all measures that bulwark the power of the people against that of big money and unlock the possibility of progressive change.
I have come today to issue both a caution and a call. And it is that you must graduate today, but get up, get together and get involved tomorrow.There are some that want to promote the lie that all is OK. But as Chancellor Jonathan Bennett, or Chance the Rapper, says, “Sometimes the truth don’t rhyme. Sometimes the lies get millions of views.”And, in this moment, you have to question the Trumpalistic slogans we hear about bull markets and booming economies. Yes, that’s the message from the White House and from Wall Street. We do live in a time when some people who put their names in gold plating on new buildings like to talk big talk. They collude with lies and obstruct the truth and say everything is fine when it is not.
With the diploma in hand and the graduation cap thrown jubilantly into the air, the question remains: What’s the next step? Graduation heralds new beginnings and transition. But where and how to start? How should we prepare for the future when the world around us changes on a compulsory basis? In his book Don’t Knock the Hustle, S. Craig Watkins asks the same question and says we should plan to be future-ready. “What should schools be doing? Instead of preparing students to be college-ready or career-ready, schools must start producing students who are what I call ‘future-ready.’ The skills associated with future readiness are geared toward the long-term and oriented toward navigating a world marked by diversity, uncertainty, and complexity . . . a future-ready approach prepares students for the world we will build tomorrow.”
By Crystal M. Fleming | I’m going to let you in on a dirty secret. Back when news first broke of Prince Harry dating biracial actress Meghan Markle, I became quietly obsessed. I knew it made no sense whatsoever to get excited about a woman of African descent marrying into the decrepit, elitist, white supremacist British royal family. I mean, Harry was the same guy who once got caught wearing a Nazi costume at a Halloween party, for God’s sake. I knew all of these things. And yet, every headline about Meghan Markle made me beam with racially problematic happiness.
By Rebecca Todd Peters | On Saturday, a close friend walked out of her local Catholic church with her family in protest of the priest’s blatantly propagandistic pro-life homily. Apparently, he was praising the story of Abby Johnson’s conversion from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life activist and the new film Unplanned, which tells her story. The film, released by a company that focuses on producing “Christian films,” received a nationwide release, was in fourth place after its first weekend in box offices, and has gone on to gross almost $18 million since opening day.
By Rebecca Todd Peters | Imagine a society with widespread stillbirths, miscarriages, and genetic deformities linked to sabotage and accidents at nuclear facilities, chemical and biological toxins leaking into the water supply, and the uncontrolled use of chemical insecticides and herbicides. Imagine now that in addition to dropping birth rates from this environmental apocalypse, a new strain of syphilis and rapidly increasing death rates from AIDS wipe out large segments of young, sexually active people from the reproductive pool. Could you imagine that in such a world, the fertility of the ruling class becomes so completely compromised by these disasters that many women can no longer conceive and bear children and the whole social order threatens to fall apart?
By Michael Klein | Some lunatic with a gun killed some people at an immigration center in Binghamton, New York. Liz Rosenberg and her family live up there and David, her husband, teaches in the middle school which is close to all the action (the way, in any smallish town, everything is close to all the action).
By Dennis A. Henigan | Gun control forces also have an impressive list of victories in the states. Since 1989, they have succeeded in passing Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws in eighteen states. These laws hold gun owners criminally responsible for leaving guns accessible to children. During that same period, the NRA also suffered key legislative defeats in New Jersey (legislation requiring that guns be “childproofed”), Maryland (legislation requiring internal locks on guns and limiting handgun sales to one per month), and Illinois (legislation requiring background checks for private sales at gun shows), while Colorado and Oregon (two states traditionally unfriendly to gun control) extended background checks to private sales at gun shows, both by voter referendum.
We’ve reached another milestone with Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, celebrating thirty-three weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List! It’s climbed as high as number two in the listing. And now, we’re excited to announce that we’re signing a second book with DiAngelo that will build on the conversation that started with White Fragility. The follow-up book will explore the need for white people to break with white solidarity in order to better support efforts toward racial equality. It is tentatively scheduled for release in late fall 2020 or spring 2021.
February: a month that’s too short to celebrate the centuries’ worth of contributions Black Americans made to American history—and in 2019, evidently, a hot mess of a breeding ground for racial stupidity in the news! Whether it’s Liam Neeson revealing his past racist vendetta. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam admitting he was in a racist yearbook photo involving blackface. Or Gucci apologizing for and removing its “blackface” sweater. So much blackface. Even though we’re in 2019, it keeps happening. And because it keeps happening, we need to keep learning why and what to do about it. Time to hit the books! Again! In the spirit of Ibram X. Kendi’s anti-racism syllabus, we put together our own.
By Richard Blanco | Seventeen suns rising in seventeen bedroom windows. Thirty-four eyes blooming open with the light of one more morning. Seventeen reflections in the bathroom mirror. Seventeen backpacks or briefcases stuffed with textbooks or lesson plans. Seventeen good mornings at kitchen breakfasts and seventeen goodbyes at front doors. Seventeen drives through palm-lined streets and miles of crammed highways to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at 5901 Pine Island Road.
By Thomas Norman DeWolf | I looked forward to Dr. Robin DiAngelo coming to the town where I live, Bend, Oregon, since her appearance was announced a few months ago by The Nancy R. Chandler Visiting Scholar Program of Central Oregon Community College (COCC). She was the featured speaker for this year’s Season of Nonviolence. I’m a big fan of her work, and we share a publisher: Beacon Press. I’ve not had the opportunity to see her present until now. I reserved tickets for her Wednesday evening presentation as well as her workshop the following morning. I attended with several friends, members of our local Coming to the Table affiliate group.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker | The incident with the Covington Catholic school boys has been an astonishing exhibition of not only an intensely polarized country, but a dizzying conglomeration of issues. There were countless mixed messages contained in the assortment of video clips of Nathan Phillips and Nick Sandmann who appeared to be in a standoff. As an American Indian journalist and academic trained to analyze information from all possible angles and come to some kind of understanding of the evidence, I agree that much of the reactionary rhetoric and hateful response to the Covington students was misguided and outright wrong. The students did not deserve death threats.
This year’s Human Rights Day marks the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the perfect day to reflect on the US’s treatment of the immigrant community. And let me tell you: It’s going to be a stark reckoning. Just look at some of this year’s headlines. Many migrant families are still separated. Border patrol agents fired tear gas at migrant families at the US-Mexico border to disperse them. This is inhumane treatment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the “inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being—regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” That’s not what we’re seeing. Where are the inalienable rights for this community?
The Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis | The New Testament documents a moral movement of the poor and rejected. It portrays the survival struggles of the marginalized, the solidarity and mutuality among different communities, and the critique of a social, political, and economic system that oppresses the vast majority of people. Given his leadership in that movement, it is not surprising that the main theme of many of Jesus’s teachings and his ministry in general is bringing good news to the poor and marginalized, standing up for righteousness, and ending all forms of discrimination and oppression. Nor is it surprising that Jesus was recognized by Rome as a threat to the status quo and crucified, the punishment reserved for revolutionaries and those deemed insurrectionists.
By Mary Frances Berry | Protest movements began to shift tactics in the late 1980s. Unlike earlier movements, which had identifiable leaders who demanded specific policy changes, political protests increasingly relied on creative expression to influence the public and public policy. Using storytelling, graffiti, alternative music, street theater, puppetry, and new media technologies, protests sought to change popular culture and mobilize support for progressive change. The medium became the message, as Marshall McLuhan had recommended decades earlier. Now there was rap music, zap actions by the Guerrilla Girls, and Critical Mass, which brings hundreds of people together for bicycle riding in the streets, and which San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was finally forced to accept. Disruption remained the aim of these gatherings; however, it would be misleading to draw sharp distinctions between protest styles of the 1960s and 1990s.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker | Robin DiAngelo’s brilliant 2018 manifesto on white fragility was a much-needed truth bomb at a time when it’s more clear than ever that we are light years away from the “post-racial state.” Perhaps most important about the book was its clarity that racism is systemic and structural, that no white people are immune from it, and that their fragility about it is based on a belief that they are being judged as bad people (the good-bad binary). In this second part of a two-part series (see part one here), I take on the similar but very different concept we in Indian country call settler privilege and its companion, settler fragility.
By Alexandra Minna Stern | It’s been widely reported that Robert Bowers, the man who gunned down eleven congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, was active on the platform Gab. Although it went offline after the massacre, Gab has consolidated itself as the Wild West alternative to Twitter, where anything goes. Its message boards are awash in a constraint stream of obscene, demeaning, and dehumanizing memes and messages about Jews, women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.