Sunday, April 12, 2015

Diversify! - [Let's Level] The Real Issues of Muslim Representation, Part I

This afternoon, the wonderful Angie Manfredi (librarian extraordinaire and diversity advocate) linked me and author Aisha Saeed to the 2015 official poster for Banned Books Week. This poster is currently available in the ALA Store and can be viewed there, but for my readers, I’m also adding it below.

Angie wanted our reactions as Muslim women, and mine was almost instantaneous. I spent another five minutes trying to give ALA, and the designers, the benefit of the doubt. But it soon became clear that I just couldn’t. It was just too blatant, and many other friends, both Muslim and non-Muslim, reacted with the same discomfort and anger.

If you look at the image, you can see that the design forms a veil over the model’s face. That, coupled with the fact that the model is otherwise dressed rather “skimpily”, in Angie’s words, quickly draws the mind to the usual stereotypes about the oppressed, repressed Muslim woman, smothered by her veil and her “backwards” faith.*

(I’ve heard this directed at me so many times, but typing it out always gives me another little twinge of irritation.) 

Added on top of this already problematic suggestion is the accompanying text: a big, red “Readstricted,” and the fine print that reads, “Warning: Banning Books Restricts Our Freedom to Read.”

I’m not going to lie: in 2015, coming up on the anniversary of the initial #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, from an organization that has a young hijaabi librarian that I personally know as one of its 2015 Emerging Leaders

I am not amused. I am not amused at all.

Since I know I can get incoherent when on a tear, I’m parsing this down to two main points. 

(Honestly, I’m a big fan of three, since three is a magic number and all, but…let’s stick to the basics of this situation and why it’s concerning.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

In Memoriam: Sir Terry Pratchett.

It is hard to sum up the exact sensation I felt, earlier today, when I happened upon Rhianna Pratchett's tweet that read quite simply: "The End."

I think first, there was this brief electric moment of dread. Please, no, not today, not this year. It is utterly childish to add on, Not ever, but isn't that what we always feel, in the moments when we have a good book sprawled over our knees or its talented creator before us with a twinkle in their eye and a hand extended for a shake.

It's particularly hard to swallow, on days like these, that everything is so brief and fleeting and dishearteningly finite.

And now, a fount of wisdom and whimsy has been stopped up for good. And all we can think is, What a great, great loss. Because that is what it is.