#BlackLivesMatter — A Twitter Essay

1. #Ferguson. #MikeBrown #EricGarner. #TrayvonMartin #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. – Philip Nel (@philnel) December 3, 2014 2. We can tweet #BlackLivesMatter all day. And we should. And we should ask why killing a person of color doesn’t even warrant a trial. – Philip Nel (@philnel) December 3, 2014 3. There’s actually video of #EricGarner saying #ICantBreathe

On Reading the Expurgated Huck Finn; or, Why We Should Teach Offensive Novels

As you may recall, three years ago NewSouth Books published an edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Adventures of Tom Sawyer in which editor Alan Gribben replaced the n-word with “slave,” and the in-word (“Injun”) with “Indian.” Many (including yours truly) criticized Gribben’s decision, and most critics focused on Huckleberry Finn. But

Ferguson: Response & Resources

This post has two parts: my response and some resources for teaching about Ferguson. Feel free to skip ahead to the resources section. My Response For two weeks now, I have been wanting to write something about the state-sponsored terrorism in Ferguson – and all that it represents (structural racism, police brutality, militarized cops, etc.). But it makes

Was the Cat in the Hat Black?

Like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat owes a debt to blackface minstrelsy. In my “Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: Exploring Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination” (in the new issue of Children’s Literature), I explore the implications of this fact.  Here’s the opening paragraph: In 1955, Dr. Seuss and William Spaulding–director of

“The Boundaries of Imagination”; or, the All-White World of Children’s Books, 2014

Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? – Walter Dean Myers, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” too often today’s books remain blind to the everyday reality of thousands of children. Children of color remain outside the boundaries

The author, at about age 11, reading The Hobbit

If I Were a Middle-Class White Kid

Gene Marks’ instantly infamous “If I Were a Poor Black Kid” column (Forbes, 12 Dec. 2011) is a classic example of how privilege remains invisible to the privileged.  Though he acknowledges that he is “a middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background” and so “life was easier for” him, the