People are passionate about the serial comma one way or another. I’ve witnessed the most hyperbolic exchanges around that particular usage of the comma. I will use whatever convention the recipient has requested (APA 7th Ed, sure. AP Style, okay, let’s not). However, I refuse to call that piece of punctuation an “Oxford comma” because that’s some snobby, ethnocentric bull malarkey. I also refuse to accept the use or abstinence from the serial comma as “correct.” Like, why follow some tweed-wearing grammar dweeb? Do your own thing.
I was thrilled to be the yearbook editor my senior year of high school, class of ’89, but it turned to total crap. Fortunately, watching my dad have my back rocked my senior year. Since then, I’ve lost sleep remembering regrettable yearbook signings. Thinking back, I understand where the snark came from and how to differentiate the hateful from the … nah, it’s all hateful.
On crisp autumn Friday nights in my collegiate hometown, visiting teams in the late 1980s who made strong plays against the Norman High School Tiger football team might hear “We have more National Merit Scholars than you do!” Maybe our team didn’t win every football game, but we were sure proud of our academic success. Of the six teachers I had my junior year, four held doctorate degrees. The two who didn’t were the yearbook advisor and the history teacher. Feeding straight into stereotypes, the history teacher was among the football coaches.
These days, Norman has two high schools. I presume football is still important to both the Tigers and whoever prances around in green on a campus haunted by spirits of Longfellow Middle School past. I am sure that residents of Norman will say academics are still important, but it’s hard to believe that they have the same level of support as back in the day when the town had never voted down a bond for education.
My English teachers had us read the classics, which consisted of nearly all the banned and challenged books of last century. With a few exceptions, these were books about white people written by white men. These offensive texts typically exposed us to profanity or religion or socialism/communism. My teachers didn’t seek banned and challenged books, but we students sure did! Thank goodness I wasn’t a teen mom. I would have named my kid Holden, and lord knows this planet has enough phonies in it.
Había una vez there was a hard-working Student Library Aide who was tasked with processing books. She did not identify as a reader, and so she could handle large numbers of books without temptation–until The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera caught her eye. Did her supervisor look the other way as this book trailed the student worker through her assigned duties at the front desk, while training new co-workers and as she prepped for her eventual departure upon graduation? Yes, I did. I did because I also read The Last Cuentista and know how transportive the story is. Continue reading
I’m selling table seats for Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) African American Student Services’s A Legacy of Excellence College Scholarship Banquet. This black and white (and silver!) event is scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa. Continue reading
My inner black-clad, post-punk RebL soul is totally delighted that Maggie Thrash juxtaposes her memoir with one of Shakespeare’s ghost stories in Lost Soul, Be at Peace. And like angsty Hamlet, Thrash confronts her family’s past where many of us dare not tread. This graphic novel depicts all my teenage angst, though my angst had different origins than Maggie’s. The dark, moody tone reflects what many young people feel—including Hamlet. Continue reading
Jabari is every child who has made a frighteningly ambitious goal. Jabari will leap off the high dive, definitely, at some point. He prepared for this moment by taking swim lessons and passing his swim test. While it looks easy from afar, it takes guts to face the big moment and Jabari casually puts the task off until he is ready. He stretches, he observes successful jumpers, and he even makes a test run up (and back down) the ladder. Dad recognizes Jabari’s need to do things in his own time and gently provides the support required for Jabari to summon the courage to make a big leap.
I don’t know much about hurricanes but as an Oklahoman I know all about tornadoes. Hurricanes and tornadoes are swirly, destructive storms caused by unstable atmospheric conditions, and so I can extrapolate how a hurricane might be like family. I have one of those, too! And thus, I understand the Westfall family’s dysfunction in Kris D’Agostino’s The Antiques.
The edge of his stiff, leather-soled wingtips puts just enough pressure on the coagulating puddle that the skin bursts and a tablespoon or so of blood spills past the membrane levy and under his shoe. This is enough so that when he shifts his weight, his shoe slips in the moisture. For that millisecond, he loses his center. Once the friction from the dry floor boards catches him, he checks to see if anyone noticed. Whether the assembled group of cops, detectives, coroners or whomever saw, they don’t say a word to the reporter barely out of his teens.
A writing prompt given to my son last year asked him to create a list of five things. I’m revisiting it this year because 1) the list accurately reflects his thought process, 2) not only is it thoughtful and creative, it’s funny, 3) public schools, 4) he killed it on his PSAT, which is not related but brag-worthy anyway, and 5) today is his birthday. This is his list.