Readingwhilewhite is a blog I stumbled upon about a year ago. It’s made up of librarians, teachers, editors, book bloggers….basically people in the literary world. They claim their goal is to confront racism in the field of children’s literature. But basically it just kind of let’s white people know if they like to read they have probably been doing it wrong.
Every now and then I see a post from them that actually makes a decent point. It is really cool when a young kid sees a character in a book that resembles him or her, so diversity in characters is great especially in children’s and YA lit. But the answer to achieving that isn’t to yell at white people and tell them they need to create these characters because when white people try to create diverse characters they are often then accused of doing it wrong. It’d also be kind of hard for a middle class white girl from suburbia to write a story about an Eskimo child or something of that nature.
A lot of what they discuss doesn’t concern me. However this piece does.
Allie, the author of this piece indicates that she is speaking directly to people in the lit world; readers, teachers, librarians, bloggers, editors, publishers, etc….https://twitter.com/alliejanebruce
I fall in more than one of those categories. In her
temper tantrum opinion piece here Allie lays out a list of 20+ expectations she has for white people in the lit world, these are specifically directed towards white people, but even more directed towards white males.
I’m not sure how you get to a point in your life where you think you have the authority to make demands of complete strangers. One has to be extremely privileged to be in such a position. I think I could have let this piece go, but there is one huge massive flaw here.
Allie thinks that she is defending a group of people that are oppressed in the lit world with what she is doing here. But her main target is the white male population. She seems to be ignoring the fact that males are undeserved in the world of literacy. They are not encouraged to read the way females are. When they get to middle school and high school most lit taught is female focused. Public schools are run by females. Female teachers, librarians, secretaries, administrative staff….And they are mostly good people, but when designing lesson plans and curriculum it’s easy to forget that boys and girls learn differently and the emphasis tends to be put on things that might work for the girls. I don’t believe this is done maliciously, but it still happens.
Here is Allie’s
temper tantrum list of expectations for white people, specifically white males.
“White people, I expect you to study the history of race and racism, colonialism and white supremacy in the USA and in children’s literature, and to learn how all of the above are still alive and well today.White men, I expect that in addition to studying the above, you will become experts in patriarchy and misogyny and how they are linked to White supremacy.”
Imagine being so self-righteous you think you should get to tell others what they study. I would suggest Allie study up on the gender gap in literacy rates and in the world of education in general, but Allie had the privilege of being a female in the education system. Unlike my father who wasn’t able to attend University because the money wasn’t there, who pays a decent amount in business taxes each year so people like Allie can go to school and yell about the people that are paying for her to go to school.
I expect you to prioritize this education process over your yoga class.”
How magical it must be to be so self-important that she doesn’t see any problem with what she just said.
I grew up in northern MI. There isn’t much money up there, so while we weren’t ‘trailer park’ poor…well…it’s a different kind of poor. I had my first real job at the age of 16, but prior to that there was always work to be done. Since I was 18 I’ve always had at least two jobs. My money is mine, and it is hard earned, and most of it goes into savings so I can move to the mountains. I’m generous with the rest of my money. I put money into a few nonprofits. I buy a ton of nice toys for toys for tots every year. I help people when I see they need help. Yes, I have my equivalent of a ‘yoga’ class…but in order for me to take Allie up on this expensive endeavor I’d have to spend less on toys for poor kids each year. I’m beginning to think Allie doesn’t like kids or poor people.
Anyways, I don’t need training to not be racist. I just treat everyone I meet, regardless of race, with kindness, love, and respect and 9.5/10 it gets returned. See? No training needed. If you need training for such a simple concept then you weren’t raised well. It’s really that simple.
“White men–I expect you to connect with other White men, to organize to undo White patriarchy. Including the White men you feel you are better than, smarter than, separate from. Your life may not depend on it, but your humanity does.”
She wants white men to organize with other white men? Jesus, usually when that happens these people freak out and think it’s a Klan meeting or something. So that’s a no on white men organizing politically or organizing for things such as male suicide rates, but a yes on white men organizing to self-hate? I wonder if Allie has any friends…people who actually like being around her…It’s hard to imagine that, but maybe.
“Too many of us trample people of color and Native people, especially women, in the field, in our field (librarians and educators). Too few of us advocate for women of color and Native women who are librarians. Too few of us thank them.”
I thank librarians when they help me. Regardless of color or gender. But small business owners rarely get thanked. Many of them put a lot into their communities. They hire people, sometimes giving high school students their first jobs, a lot of them put money into local causes, often supporting school sports teams or local nonprofits, and then of course the tax money they pay into the community. People don’t thank them. It’s just expected that they do that. If these business owners start doing well for themselves financially they are often demonized. But hey we also don’t usually thank the trash man and that is a very important job. Or the sewage workers, or the plumbers, or the snow plow drivers….
I think what is happening here is that people rarely Allie because…well…she’s Allie and if this post is any indication of her personality there is little to thank, so she is demanding people thank her for doing her job. Your paycheck is thanks for doing your job. If you go above and beyond that most people will thank you.
Too many of us make light of the struggles of people of color and Native people. Too many of us utilize their struggles to get the laugh, to advance our brands. This must stop now.
(Make no mistake here–I am in favor of humor as a coping mechanism. But humor that makes a joke of oppression–and thereby strengthens the oppressor–is not OK. Good humor makes fun of the oppressor. Better humor highlights the nature of oppression. The best humor weakens the oppressor.)
Hey Allie, wanna hear a Jamaican joke? No, it’s ok, a Jamaican told it to me. She told me to never lend a Jamaican money. She said you lend a Jamaican $50, in three years they’ll pay ya back $25 and act like they did you a favor for getting it back to you so quick. Ironically two nights later her and I were out for dinner and she had left her wallet at home. She came looking to me and I had to remind her that a Jamaican once told me to never lend a Jamaican money.
I wonder if Allie has ever made a joke about white trailer trash or southern hillbillies or blondes….
Oh wait Allie, I have Latino joke for you as well. Don’t worry this is ok also. I’ve lived in Colombia, traveled a lot of South America and Central America, I speak Spanish and learned Spanish while living in the barrio…no, not a slum, barrio just means neighborhood…I said Barrio and you thought of a slum right away didn’t you? Kinda racist don’t ya think? No this is a middle class working class neighborhood… in Southern Cali, I’ve also done intense self-study in the world of Latin American literature and history, so I think I can make a joke or two.
Actually I’ll just give you some memes instead
That last one is just because the Colombian accent is pretty amazing. Speaking of Colombians I know this guy in Colombia, he’s a bit older than I am, he calls me daughter and plays chess with me and lets me practice Spanish with him. That Mexican family up there….I have one of those huge Mexican families that has adopted me and to them I’m just another grand-daughter, niece, cousin…. I know three Mexican girls with a temper like you wouldn’t believe, they’ll fuck your shit up in their heels, get home on time to tell the kids to turn off the damn cartoons, clean the house, and then make the men in their lives dinner and act like it was nothing. Those girls call me sister. Not a single one of those people have ever asked me to apologize for being white, so why are you asking me to do so?
I’ll spare you my
AIDS gay jokes Allie. We all know AIDS isn’t funny, but I have a posse of gay guys around this world who take a bullet for me even though I’d never ask them to. They’ve laughed at my gay jokes and they tell me I have no fashion sense and make fun of me because of that.Have you ever lived with drag queens? You’ll never leave the apartment looking anything less than 8/10, not even if you’re just making an 11 PM run to CVS to get some aspirin….’girl you never know who might be there, you can’t go looking like that….’
Allie, have you ever been to Asia? I’ve lived in Shanghai, Beijing, and Seoul, and I’ve traveled Southeast Asia pretty extensively. The camera stereotype is true. It’s funny to witness in person.
Have you ever been anywhere besides your comfort zone? Try it sometime, most people like to laugh and are ok with laughing at themselves and with others.
Too rarely do we name our privileges as White people and White men in this field. White people, I expect you to name your whiteness openly and frequently.
Hmmmm…I’m not sure Allie thought this one through. I’m expected to go around saying “I’m white?” I wonder what purpose she thinks that will serve. I’m pretty white, it’s pretty noticeable. I think maybe at this point in her
temper tantrum opinion piece Allie is just typing words that make her feel good because this makes no sense.
People like this always think they are standing on some moral high ground and if you question them its of course RACIST. But the thing is; I know I don’t need special training on how to not be racist. People like Allie think they do need that. I wonder why that is….I wonder who really is uncomfortable about race here. Anyways, I’m going to go find some of my white male friends and tell them I adore them because I do just like I adore my Mexican friends, and my Colombian friends, and my gay friends, and my Jamaican friends, and my straight friends, and my female friends, etc….and because I’m racist, and probably homophobic and definitely internally misogynistic.