Giving · Musing · Reading

Monday Minutiae – 03.08.2021

Cross-Curricular Studies

A couple of weeks ago, we passed the 500,000 mark of those in the US who have died from the coronavirus, and the response from Texas and Mississippi was, yep, we’re opening up 100% without any restrictions.

It feels like a big “f*ck you” to all of those deaths. And I’ve been wondering how, 10-20 years from now, how will this pandemic be remembered?

I know people who still think all this mask-wearing and restrictions is “insanity”. I know people who have done lots of traveling in the past year in spite of recommendations against it. I know people who have barely changed their lifestyle at all and my biggest disappointment is that none of them will remember this past year+ as being any big deal. Or, let’s be honest. They won’t realize that they have, directly or indirectly, played a role in the half a million deaths.

For those who have contracted the virus and experienced no lingering effects (including death): you were lucky. For those who may have unknowingly contracted the virus, but were asymptomatic: you were lucky. For those who have not yet contracted the virus: you have been lucky.

And why have we’ve been lucky? (“we” since I fall into one of the above categories of lucky) Because enough of us have been careful, and continue to believe in epidemiologists and science. What if we hadn’t? What would our death toll have been if none of us took the precautions? I remember a year ago when many kept posting “if our numbers remain low, it’s because our precautions WORKED, which is the goal”. I don’t know how to help my “insanity, I’m going to live my life, everyone dies sometime of something” believers change their mindset. Some would say (including those believers) I shouldn’t try.

Except I know people who have died from the virus. I know people who have long-term effects from the virus (some still serious, a year later). For them and for who it will still be, I wish I could change mindsets.

“History has its eyes on us.”

I Love to Read Month

“I Love to Read” month, which, as I understand it (without doing any extra research right now), developed from celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2. In recent years, we’ve opened our eyes to the racist depictions in some of his books and earlier this month, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced they would no longer publish six of Seuss’ titles that exhibit the racist drawings and texts. Naturally, all kinds of people yelled “CANCEL CULTURE!!”, which it isn’t. First of all, it’s only six of his books. Second of all, if they were all terrible, then maybe we should “cancel” them. In part of his interview with Anderson Cooper, LeVar Burton said, “They are being a responsible steward of the brand.”

In an NPR Code Switch article a couple of weeks ago, Tiara Jenkins and Jessica Yarmosky wrote:

“That tension between Seuss and Seuss-free classrooms is emblematic of a bigger debate playing out across the country — should we continue to teach classic books that may be problematic, or eschew them in favor of works that more positively represent people of color?”

What makes a book a classic? And why do we think only a certain set of books should only ever be considered in that “classic” canon? Or be taught, period?

Last week I caught this post about the how we teach To Kill a Mockingbird to our students, but the author also addresses the idea of whether or not we still teach it at all. Do you know what a better book would be to teach the idea of an unjust system due to racist laws and policies? The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Or All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Or any other number of books. Want the historical aspect of the novel? Let’s try something by Toni Morrison or James Baldwin.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. - Maya Angelou

White teachers get SO STUCK on what we think we should teach…mostly with the argument of, “but this is what we’ve always taught” followed by “but this is what I can relate to”. It’s nonsense. No single book should be a permanent installment in a curriculum at any level. Not Dr. Seuss, not To Kill a Mockingbird, not even Shakespeare. There are so many amazing books to choose from, let’s change up the canon to be a more accurate representation of our population and our history.

Currently Reading (print): A Song for the Road (A) – Kathleen Basi

Currently Reading (audio): Leaving Atlanta (A) – Tayari Jones

Song of the Week:

I discovered this song when listening to either the Global Top 50 or Global Viral 50 list on Spotify. It’s in Hebrew and all I know about it is that it was written about the pandemic and arrival of vaccinations in Israel. Part of the title, “chadash”, means “new” or “as new”. I’d love to know a little bit more of what he is singing, but I couldn’t find printed lyrics anywhere. I’m sharing because I have faith it’s all good – it’s so upbeat! I love it.

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