Review: A Country Called Amreeka

“Today there are at least an estimated 3.5 million Americans of Arabic-speaking descent, and they live in all fifty states. […] The purpose of this book isn’t to separate them out but to fold their experience into the mosaic of American history and deepen our understanding of who we Americans are.” p. xi

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A Country Called Amreeka: U.S. History Retold Through Arab-American Lives by Alia Malek.
Free Press, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2009.
Nonfiction, 292 pages.
Not leveled.

A walk through American history through the lives of a wide variety of Arab-Americans.

A Country Called Amreeka resized

I picked this book up on a whim, but it turned out to be very interesting nonetheless.  Mostly, I wanted to know why America was misspelled in the title (Amreeka is the Arabic word for America), and after looking at the blurb, I thought this could be an interesting perspective on American history which I personally had not very much considered before.

Much like Prisoners Without Trial, this book opened my eyes to another important part of American history.  Similar to that book, this one also deals with a limited time period, since immigration laws prevented large numbers of Arab immigrants prior to the 1960s.  However, Malek tells her story in a very different (although just as engaging) way.

After a brief forward explaining the background, format and scope of the book, she takes snapshots from various Arab-American lives and uses them to illustrate a wide variety of experiences and time periods.  In between these vignettes are brief chapters that give immigration statistics, updates on legal and cultural developments, and information about world politics that had bearing on Arab-American lives.

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Review: The 57 Bus

“For now, both teenagers are just taking the bus home from school. Surely it’s not too late to stop things from going wrong. There must be some way to wake Sasha. Divert Richard. Get the driver to stop the bus. There must be something you can do.” p. 5

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater.
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, New York, 2017.
YA nonfiction/true crime, 305 pages.
Lexile:  930L  .
AR Level:  6.5 (worth 8.0 points)  .

In November 2013, two teens were on the same bus for just eight minutes.  Agender senior Sasha fell asleep on the long ride home from fir small private school.  Sixteen-year-old Richard was joking with friends as he left his large public school.  Then Richard held a lighter to Sasha’s skirt, forever changing the course of both their lives.

The 57 Bus

This unique, well-written exploration of one particular incident evokes much more.  Richard’s struggling (but loving) young mother took in two nieces after her sister was murdered.  He grew up in a rough neighborhood, where 4 of his close friends and family members had been murdered before he was 16, and he was mugged at gunpoint only a week before the fire.  And Richard was African-American, possibly ADHD, and definitely traumatized.  He spent time in a group home because of fights before, but didn’t start them – he was a follower.

Sasha is white, middle class, an only child who had struggled with fitting in before – autistic and agender, with a major passion for public transport.  Fi is shy, so fir parents were surprised when fi started wearing skirts.  However, they took great joy in seeing the child a psychiatrist told them to lower their hopes for blossoming into a confident, thoughtful teen.

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Review: Keeping the Dream Alive

A unique coffee table book with ample photos and information about legal work for justice.

Keeping the Dream Alive: The Cases and Causes of the Southern Poverty Law Center by Booth Gunter.
Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, Alabama, 2014.
Non-fiction, 248 pages.
Not leveled.

This is a book with photographs and text from the history of the Southern Poverty Law Center, from its founding and earliest cases, to their current educational efforts.

Keeping the Dream Alive resized
Keeping the Dream Alive: The Cases and Causes of the Southern Poverty Law Center by Booth Gunter.

I love shopping at library sales and used bookstores.  This book was incredibly cheap and didn’t appear to even have been opened.  It’s not something I would have sought out, just a great random find.

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Review: Outliers

“Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are.” page 285

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Little, Brown, and Company, New York, 2008.
Adult nonfiction, 309 pages including notes and index.
Lexile:  1080L  .
AR Level:  7.8 (worth 13.0 points)  .

What do geniuses, rice paddies, hockey players, a Korean airline, a small town in Kentucky, and young Jamaican twins have to do with each other?  These topics and more are woven together in Gladwell’s explanation of success.

Outliers

This book goes beyond the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery theory to examine what else can effect our success or failure in life.  Gladwell looks at how community can change health, how Germany jumpstarted the Beatles, what made one Jewish lawyer wildly successful while his father struggled, and what linguistic difference makes Chinese children understand math more easily.

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Web: Racism in America

A few articles to read.

As a side note, I would like to mention that lately it seems my timed posts are off and not all of my “likes” are sticking.  I have still been reading but just noticed these issues today (when there were ten extra scheduled posts in my queue) and am busy, so it may take some time to correct them.  My apologies.

Now on to the articles.

The Most Racist Places in America resized
“The Most Racist Places in America by Google Search” map from the Washington Post

The Most Racist Places in America, According to Google by Christopher Ingraham.

If nothing else, click to this article to see where your hometown (or a major city you’ve visited) falls in private racist opinions.  I also found the methodology of how they decided to measure for racism fascinating.

Geography of Hate: Geotagged Hateful Tweets in the US .

This one is not an article, just a series of maps using tweets to determine relative hate speech in different counties over the US.  I found this interesting as well, although it seems more easily skewed by individual users, and not all tweets are geotagged (probably accounting for the lack of hate speech in some cities).

Three Quarters of Whites Don’t Have Any Non-White Friends by Christopher Ingraham.

Another intriguing and eye-opening article from the Washington Post.  (They do limit the number of free articles you can read per month, so this will be the last I link from them.)

“The implication of these findings is that when we talk about race in our personal lives, we are by and large discussing it with people who look like us.”

How America Spreads the Disease that is Racism by not Confronting Racist Family Members and Friends by April Harter.

I feel like the most important part of this is the racism scale, but the whole article is interesting.  Personally I feel that our education system should be a primary method of confronting racism (see the previous article about social networks) but any method would work.

Todd Robertson photograph
This historic 1992 photograph by Todd Robertson captures an interaction between a young boy in KKK robes and the African-American trooper there to protect his civil liberties.

How a KKK Rally Image Found New Life 20 Years After it was Published by David Griner.

This image has been circulating widely on social media once again the past week.  It’s had a long life because this accidental image says so much about our nation.  There’s even a reflection sheet for teachers to use (PDF).  This article gives a detailed history on the photo and includes reflections from the photographer.

Photographer, Trooper from Klan Rally Image Meet by Andrew Beaujon.

More backstory on the historic image, this time from the trooper portrayed in the photograph.

Web: Zero Discrimination Day

Have you heard of Zero Discrimination Day?

It began as a program promoting healthcare access for people with HIV worldwide.

But people were interested and it began taking on a larger meaning, and now is a day aimed at ending all forms of discrimination.  (PDF)

I had never heard of this until a friend shared it with me yesterday, and with today being Website Wednesday, it was the perfect time to share this information with all of you!

zero-discrimination-day

My favorite article is this one from UpWorthy with 19 big and small things you can do for Zero Discrimination Day.  They have a list of recommended children’s books, signs, and information on simple ways to help people being harassed and stand up for diversity.

A new website that I in particular found very helpful and interesting was Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice.  It lists a lot of different ways to advocate for change at various levels and in different areas of our lives.

Of course, one way that bibliophiles can help is by reading diversely, promoting diverse books, and putting our book money towards new diverse books (this is the goal with my Target Picks).

While diversity and discrimination prevention should never be limited to one day a year, I also love days like this that give us opportunities to share resources and reach out to those who might not otherwise be thinking about diversity.

This year for Zero Discrimination Day, my family will be reading books from cultures we’re not very familiar with yet and reflecting on how we can be more inclusive of others this week.

Have you ever heard of Zero Discrimination Day before?  Do you plan to celebrate?

I’d love to hear how your day goes!