June 12, 2017 was Loving Day and marked the 50th Anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision to end all anti-miscegenation laws that still existed in sixteen U.S. states. This decision meant that Black and white couples could legally marry without being arrested, charged, or thrown in jail. The law was changed thanks to the love and persistence of Richard and Mildred Loving who were part of a famous court case called Loving vs. Virginia. There have been 2 movies about this couple-- one for Mr. & Mrs. Loving, ABC television in 1996 starring actress Lela Rochon and the Academy Award-nominated Loving (2016).
Then there is also this HBO documentary film called The Loving Story from 2011.
Books have also been published about the Lovings' story including two non-fiction children's books including The Case for Loving: The fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko, Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015) and Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland (Chronicle Books, 2017).
I think that it is important to remember, revere, laud, and commemorate the Lovings alongside other Civil Rights leaders. Let us remember the sacrifices that everyday people like the Lovings have made to change the laws but also to rewrite history and the future. It is wonderful to have books like these to share with our children as they too may have an intercultural and interracial family. It is also important for us to create dialogue around our diversity and how we can live in harmony and in a diverse world. We acknowledge that there are still many people today who cannot marry without experiencing social injustice and discrimination not only in the world and communities but also in their families. Also, many young readers grow up in multiracial, multicultural, multilinguistic, and multifaith homes. These children need to see reflections of their lives on the written page too. Hopefully, these diverse books and my upcoming picture book Malaika's Winter Carnival (2017) can normalize but also depict the diversity within all families in the world.
For this week's post, I share from my #100daysto40 Instagram series. Please read on.
Day 76: Keep your love life private. If you are a frequent reader of my Instagram or Facebook posts, you will know that I share a lot of things about myself (a little too much if you ask my mother). However there are some areas of my life that I do not discuss openly and one of these is my love life. Because I write mainly for children and I also teach young people, it is particularly wise that I don't discuss my love life on social media. Some may call it prudish or paranoid but I am pretty sure no one wants to hear about Dr. Seuss', Robert Munsch's, or Judy Blume's love lives as juicy as they may be... not unless you're an adult who grew up on their work and would be interested in their bios but certainly not for young readers researching their fave authors on the internet. I know J. K. Rowling has shared some of her struggles with divorce, miscarriage, and mental health and I applaud her but I have different circumstances. First, I am a newly published author. Second, I am a Black woman who grew up in a workingclass immigrant household which comes with a lot of early lessons of "being twice as good to get half as far" and "don't mess with your job". (I'm proud and benefited from many of the values my parents taught me.) Even though I'm university-educated and technically middle-class, I don't have certain privileges. One of these is knowing how an action can be perceived negatively coming from my Black female self but more benignly from someone else. We see this in the media all the time. I don't want to oversimplify this conversation and say it's only about race because it's not. It's also tied into gender as well as archaic views of what it means to be a teacher. It may sound restrictive but I've found a happy medium/space that works for me and, for now, there is no expose about my love life. But who knows? One day, I may publish my romantic writing under a pseudonym or a slightly fictionalised autobiography. In the meantime, I choose to stay mum on this one.
This was posted as part of my #100daysto40 series. Yes, it's true. I am leaving the UAE:
Day 83: When one door closes, the other one opens. As I said in yesterday's lesson, I am leaving the UAE. I am proud to say that I am leaving on my own terms... my head held high... when only a few months ago, I was suddenly dismissed from a teaching job in Abu Dhabi... for the first time from any job in my life... for the first time in my fourteen year teaching career... and I had a difficult experience through all of that but thank God another door opened. After two months and having my bags and boxes packed to leave the UAE, another door opened suddenly-- a music-teaching contract at a wonderful school in Dubai that feels like a community, full of hope and encouragement and support and appreciation and great kids (and roses and hugs even from the Grade 4 boys who are not embarassed to hug their teachers and thank you cards and parents who leave your performance with tears in their eyes) until the end of June. The kind of place that makes my job easier... so easy that I could stage two full musicals within two months while teaching 400 kids in music and 15 teenagers in music appreciation. The kind of place that reminds me of why I chose my profession in the first place. The kind of place that does not feel like a job because it's so fun even when working my ass off. So what's next? Although I would love to stay there, another door has opened. I will be teaching music in Vietnam. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought there but I have a new opportunity there and I love adventure (plus a host of other professional and practical reasons too). I am looking forward to this new open door and visitors. Photo credit: Angela Mitchell Hudson