Hats off to all students graduating this season! Because whew! This is no easy time to finish up school. The ideal graduation ceremony would be outdoors, filled with the company and applause of loved ones. Most will be held online, some outside within the parameters of social distancing. It won’t be the same, and frankly, nothing has been since March last year. But isn’t that what graduating is all about? Growing into the next new phase, whatever that phase happens to be? Before we get all misty-eyed and sob into our masks, here’s a list of recommended reads for the occasion.
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A Q&A with G’Ra Asim | Toni Morrison’s aphorism is definitely germane to the genesis of this book. As I write about in the chapter “Evidence of Things Unscene,” I started working on “Boyz” in a grad school MFA workshop. At first, I was trying to write essays on punk and straight edge in a less overtly personal way. The feedback I got from my instructors and classmates was that the “I-character” in my essays was difficult to fully imagine or believe. That led me to a larger idea: for the most part, we all walk around with our own IRL dramatis personae of what kind of people we think exist in the world.
A Q&A with Eric Berkowitz | My UK publisher was proposing ideas for new projects, none of which seemed likely to hold my—or the public’s—interest very long, until one or another censorship/free speech issue popped up. I think it was the censorship of “drill” music—a hardcore rap genre—there, along with the inevitable battles and accusations. It struck us that every time an issue like this comes up, it’s as if it was for the first time.
By Marga Vicedo | “You are being emotional,” someone may tell you during a conversation. It is not a compliment. It usually means you are being irrational or at least unreasonable. The underlying assumption is that you are not thinking clearly because you are letting your emotions interfere with your reasoning. This belief is not only prevalent in daily interactions. The separation between cognition and affects has a long history in philosophical and scientific approaches in the Western world. The emotional and cognitive realms are often seen as separate, if not opposed to each other.
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.
A Q&A with Emily Paige Ballou | I think I actually benefited more from being diagnosed as an adult than I would have as a child. It came as a huge vindication and a relief, to have confirmation that I wasn’t just imagining all the ways I was different. Things really were harder for me. I wasn’t making it up. I wasn’t being spoiled or dramatic, and I wasn’t just broken.
By Andreas Karelas | Based on the latest findings of positive psychology research, I suggest that, in order to address climate change, we need to cultivate different values—values that place a greater emphasis on community and less on consumption—and that living according to these values will have the benefits of reducing our impact on the planet and increasing our personal well-being. To do this I’ll describe what I believe to be an effective three-step approach: (1) cultivate gratitude, (2) choose simplicity, and (3) focus on serving others. If we can learn to be more grateful for what we have, simplify our lives, and put more effort into serving others, I think we’ll be well on our way to a happier, more sustainable world.
By Aviva Chomsky | Joe Biden entered the White House with some inspiring yet contradictory positions on immigration and Central America. He promised to reverse Donald Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies while, through his “Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership with the People of Central America,” restoring “US leadership in the region” that he claimed Trump had abandoned. For Central Americans, though, such “leadership” has an ominous ring.
Beacon Press supports our authors, the Asian and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and all those fighting against American xenophobia and hatred. This violence is not new. It has a long history in this country. We know that recent acts of violence are rooted in the same white supremacy and hate that take the lives of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color. We remain committed to publishing resources to help dismantle the systems of white supremacy, hate, and toxic masculinity. #StopAsianHate #EndWhiteSupremacy
A Q&A with Sharon daVanport | AWN finds our history deeply rooted in the need to find community and shared-lived experiences. At the time AWN entered the autism community, the narrative centered mostly around young white boys and men. In those early days, we discovered quickly that AWN was an initiative that was desperately needed.
A Q&A with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz | It was the first time a filmmaker showed interest in the book. I never imagined that any filmmaker, even if they loved reading the book, would be interested in using it in a documentary. But Raoul Peck is not any ordinary filmmaker. I have long admired his work. His first documentary, from 1989, was “Lumumba: Death of a Prophet,” which is about the first president of the former Belgian Congo colony that won its independence in 1960 and was then assassinated with CIA involvement.
A Q&A with Morénike Giwa Onaiwu | It’s interesting, because it kind of makes me think about certain medications. Some do not have any adverse reaction when taken together. Neither is there a positive reaction. They just coexist simultaneously but aren’t necessarily interrelated in any meaningful way. Another medication might help enhance the efficacy of another—maybe by increasing its metabolism rate or boosting its effect in some other way so they interact in a helpful way.
By David Freedlander | Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did something unheard of in politics: she skipped town. While the Crowley forces were holding a big rally on a rainy Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez was thousands of miles away at the US-Mexico border to protest the Trump administration’s child separation policy. It led to striking visuals that rocketed around social media of Ocasio-Cortez pleading with guards at the gate, but it seemed suicidal politically. It was Ocasio-Cortez’s idea, and no one tried to talk her out of it.
By Emily Paige Ballou | My guess is that if you have a child or family member on the autism spectrum or have been involved with the special education system or disability services as a professional, you have most likely been taught, at some point, that the correct way of referring to people with disabilities is to use “person-first language,” or to “put the person first.”
Where would we be without the leadership of extraordinary women who chose to challenge the societal status quo? This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was Choose to Challenge. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we’re highlighting books from our catalog to celebrate the inspiring women who saw the need for change, and took action for equality!
A Q&A with Robin Broad and John Cavanagh | This book is about two of the most unlikely and inspiring victories that we’ve ever witnessed or had the privilege to be part of. That these wins take place in a poorer country, one that the United States and global corporations have exploited for decades, makes the wins even more remarkable. As we celebrated the victories, we realized that by sharing the story of these wins in a narrative nonfiction book, we could also share this sense of hope with readers, including readers who may have given up hope in these challenging times.
By Christian Coleman | It’s another fest of firsts for Octavia E. Butler! The multi-award-winning author and MacArthur fellow is having a moment, or rather a series of rolling moments that’s been gaining speed over the last few years, and we hope it keeps going!
By Yaba Blay | The US Census reveals much about the country’s perspective on race. It counts people according to how the nation defines people, and historically, those people counted as Black have been those people with any known Black ancestry. Blacks are defined by the one-drop rule. No other racial or ethnic group is defined in this way, nor does any other nation rely upon this formula; the one-drop rule is definitively Black and characteristically American. It should make sense then that the origins of the rule are directly linked to the history of Black people in the United States, and as such, our discussion of the one-drop rule begins during the period of colonial enslavement.
By Alex Zamalin | Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter of the long-running television serial, The West Wing, prefers flair to substance. His characters talk fast and sound like civics teachers. But it’s not clear, beyond aspirational quotes, what they offer. The same is true in this acceptance speech. During his Golden Globes acceptance speech for writing the Netflix film, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Sorkin quoted one of the film’s character’s, Abbie Hoffman, saying, “‘Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat. But it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.’ I don’t need any more evidence than what happened on Jan. 6 to agree with this.”
By Jeanne Theoharis and Brandy Colbert | What you learned about Rosa Parks in school was a myth. Much of what is known and taught about her is incomplete, distorted, and just plain wrong. Because Rosa Parks was active for sixty years, in the North as well as the South, her story provides a broader and more accurate view of the Black freedom struggle across the twentieth century. Jeanne Theoharis and Brandy Colbert show young people how the national fable of Parks and the civil rights movement—celebrated in schools during Black History Month—has warped what we know about Parks and stripped away the power and substance of the movement.