An open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
August 11, 2009
Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder,
I want to start a WAR: WRITERS AGAINST RACISM!
When you spoke at the Department of Justice in February in honor of Black History Month, you said that Americans simply do not talk enough with each other about things racial. I agree.
So I wish the Department of Justice and the Department of Education would call a conference in Washington, D.C., to bring together writers who have written children and young adult novels that deal with racism. We can start talking. I would certainly attend – and I have other writer friends who I think would also attend.
This past June, Simon & Schuster published my NIGHT FIRES, set in 1923 Lawton, Oklahoma. It’s about a young boy who, while looking for a father-figure, is pulled into the Ku Klux Klan by his neighbor, a member of the Oklahoma legislature and the Imperial Wizard of the Oklahoma Ku Klux Klan. I’m enclosing a copy.
I’m also enclosing a copy of recent comments from Amy Bowllan’s School Library Journal Blog in which we discussed the subject of racism and how novels can be used in America’s classroom. (Amy also teaches at the Hewitt School on Manhattan’s Upper Eastside.)
I agree with Amy that teachers should be challenged to incorporate truthful, historical accounts through their fiction selections to get students talking about race: about how it has divided us as a nation for centuries and about how young people can solve the racial problems that their parents and grandparents haven’t been able to solve. At the conference, we could start talking strategy.
(Dr.) George Edward Stanley, Professor of African and Middle-Eastern Languages and Linguistics
Lawton, Oklahoma 73506
If we don’t start talking about race, in the classroom, racism will persist. -Amy Bowllan
(photo comes via USDOJ)