Thursday, November 16, 2006

reinforcement

I admit I have certain partiality to multicultural books, which is why I am always interested in reading about other multicultural authors and how they came to their path. So, Cynthia Chin-Lee's recent article on Papertigers.org is especially fascinating to me. An excerpt on the racism she faced in her own life as follows:

The most dramatic incident of my childhood happened when I was eight and my oldest brother was eighteen. Saving to go to college, Bruce got a job at the local McDonalds in Bethesda, MD, where he commuted by borrowing our uncle's sports car. His co-workers, clearly jealous of his car and his future plans, picked on him. One night, unbeknownst to Bruce, some of his co-workers followed him to our home. In the middle of the night, we got a phone call from our neighbors,"Your car is on fire. We've called the fire station." The car was destroyed as well as one of our heritage magnolia trees. Lucky for us, our house stayed intact and none of us were injured. The investigators never identified the arsonists, but the message seemed clear to our family.


To me, the role of multicultural books have never been more important than now and this article just reinforces it to me.

3 comments:

Sally J said...

Reinforcement of what? Negativity?

I'm just going to say this, I understand how hard it is do be considered a minority and how other people go out of their way to make our lives miserable. There is a lot of racism in this country, that's certainly true, and even my own family has certain preconceived ideas about how far I am "allowed" to go. (Which shows that even our own families continue to be prejudiced against themselves.)

However, a lot of good is coming from these emotions- just look at your books and the direction you have decided to take with your career.

So with every story like this I think you should post why you are grateful for what you have, how much opportunity you have been given in this life, and what plans you have for the future.

I just get tired of stories like this, they are too easy to retell and I don't see the point. We already know things like this happen in our society. Give us something to hope for, lets not focus on the negative all the time. We see it every night on the tele.

Grace Lin said...

Hi Sally,

Thanks for your comment. What I meant was that I felt that this was a reinforcement of how important it was to have multicultural books available in our culture.

I am very grateful for what I have and opportunities I have been given; and I'm sorry that you didn't see the point or if in anyway thought I was not grateful. The truth is, I've never been personally exposed to racism of the extent in Cynthia's piece-- which is it had an effect on me and why I wished to share it.

Alvina wrote in her personal blog a while ago about how when people are exposed to positive depictions of other races, their perceptions change and become more positive. My reasoning behind posting this excerpt of Cynthia's essay was not to share a depressing story but to show that there is still a need to do more to change people's perceptions.

I don't think these stories are "too easy to retell." They are not--not to storyteller who experienced it, not for me and obviously not for the listener. And the reason why is because there is an uncomfortable truth behind them that should not be shunted into the closet. I feel that it is important to acknowlege that truth; and the hope comes from knowing that the books we create, support, read and expose to kids are what will change the future.

Bonnie said...

I think you are taking this "story reinforcement" and turing it into a positive affirmation-to do something about an aspect of our culture that is disappointing. I agree with Sally that it isn't good to always focus on the negative, however we shouldn't glaze over the bad by solely focusing on the good. A balance is needed.

Kudos for you for having a strong and clear purpose for your work. A very honorable cause.

It's nice to hear different voices and it's good to use them to say, "There are things we should work on to change and make this country better."