¡Mira, Look!: Letters to My Mother

letters to my motherFirst, please allow me to say that I hope you are celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day well. Usually, we wouldn’t post on a holiday. However, the issue of civil rights is so large that there is simply so much literature available for review that relate to the topic. So today, we have a book for you! For this week, we will be discussing Teresa Cárdenas’s Letters to My Mother. While it does not necessarily deal with civil rights, this book includes a discussion of race and racism that is appropriate for young adults.

Letters to My Mother is a book about a young, Afro-Cuban girl who goes to live with family members after the death of her mother. In this book, this young lady communicates with her dead mother by writing letters to her. In fact, this whole book is a compilation of letters, each of which begins with “Mamita” or “Querida Máma.” While it is clear that the narrator is struggling to deal with the loss of her mother, she is finding it equally difficult to acclimate to her new surroundings. While the death of one’s mother, especially at a young age, is a difficult situation, her family’s attitude towards her compounds the issue. This young lady is taunted by her own family because of her dark skin. They utilize stereotypes regarding people with dark skin, and they make her feel like an alien in her own skin. As she begins to find a life outside of her family, she meets other young people who are also suffering from issues of identity.  Continue reading

Local Event!! Guest Lecture: Why Do You Make Me Hate Myself? Love, Abuse, and Whiteness in Urban Teacher Education

The Graduate Student Association of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico is hosting a lecture by Dr. Cheryl E. Matias on Tuesday April 9 from 4:00-6:00 pm at the University of New Mexico, Student Union Building, Ballroom A.

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¡Mira Look!: The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

evelyn serranoAs our current Vamos A Leer theme, we’ve been discussing race in YA literature and I took my first book recommendation hot off the press from the 2013 Pura Belpré Award list. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano is the 2013 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book winner and it is well deserved. In this historical fiction novel, written in exciting, inviting and descriptive English with smatterings of Spanish (technical, slang and geographically specific) Manzano traces the lives of New York Puerto Ricans during the late 1960s when the Young Lords emphatically put their struggle into the public eye. Continue reading

WWW: Ted-ED

Flickr Creative CommonsUser: PraveenbenK

Flickr Creative Commons
User: PraveenbenK

I have been a big fan of the TED talks for a while now. I think their combination of innovation, heart, imagination and information is unmatched in our age of pessimism, misinformation and discouragement. Given that, imagine my elation when my sister and brother-in-law turned me on to TED-ED, the TED site dedicated to teachers. Let me break down all the greatness that is TED-ED first, then highlight a few videos I think will be useful for your classroom discussion on race. Continue reading

WWW: Breaking the Silence, Race in Young Adult Literature: Ideas for How to Discuss.

Even for adults, the topic of race can be a difficult one. Fear of saying the wrong thing, asking the wrong question or feeling ignorant can stop the conversation before it starts. Add young adults to the mix and it can seem an insurmountable problem. That is not however, the case. Today’s WWW post is designed to give you some concrete ideas on how to use literature to discuss stereotypes and race in an intriguing, respectful and productive way.

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