the terrific kid

Black Superheroes of the DCU.
A couple commissioned me to do this piece as a gift of inspiration and empowerment for their daughter. Loved drawing it :)

*Una pareja me encargó esta imagen como un regalo de inspiración y empoderamiento para su hija. Disfruté mucho dibujándola :)

no offense but like Eddie Kaspbrak is the most hilarious angelic being in human creation and the cutest little firecracker

Bromances 👊

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On “I Didn’t Leave the Democratic Party, it Left Me.”

Without fail, a few times a week I hear someone who claims to have been a Democratic voter say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.”  This is almost always said as a rationale, a justification for voting for Trump or not voting at all.   It is also almost always said by a white male.  A lot of the times, they either are or were in the manufacturing sector and/or a member of a union.  They blame the loss of jobs in their field that have either affected them and/or their family and friends on the Democratic Party.  They also blame the Party for the decline in union membership and anti-union bills passed in once proud union states like Michigan and Wisconsin.  Whenever I hear these complaints, I ask for specific examples of exactly how the Democratic Party betrayed them.  So far, I haven’t received a single specific from anyone that can’t be disproved by my eight-year-old and Google.  All I get is a reiteration that the Democratic Party left them or right-wing talking points about the Democrats being the party of “corporatists.” When I ask them to explain how Democrats are supposed to push pro-union bills when many union members themselves vote for Republicans or how they are supposed to alter the inevitable changes that arise from globalization, they hem and haw and end up not saying a damn thing.

The Democratic Party didn’t leave these folks.  These folks left the Party for a number of reasons.  One reason is because they, like most Americans, are intellectually lazy, especially when it comes to knowing and understanding how their government works.  They don’t understand or care to understand how laws are made, what can and can’t be done because of legislative rules, what can be legitimately done at any given moment in time due to the makeup of the legislative bodies involved.  This situation isn’t unique to ex-Dems, the far-left also suffers from being severely civics challenged.  They expect, demand, and want FDR-like progress without the very large progressive majorities FDR enjoyed every single term in office.  This same unrealistic demand applies on the state level, as well.  If people who claim to be progressives don’t vote for progressive majorities, then they shouldn’t bitch when things are not as progressive as they’d like.  I know this sounds simple, but it seems to completely elude a whole lot of people.

When I ask these ex-Dems whether or not they voted or Democratic candidates in the 2010 and/or 2014 midterms, they almost always say, “No.”  I don’t know exactly how the Democratic Party left people who didn’t support it.  I really don’t know how allowing Republicans who are anti-union and all for shipping jobs overseas to have power is a reasonable response to wanting pro-union, less globalization.   If I’m ever able to get an answer about this, it usually ends up being something along the lines of, “to teach the Democrats a lesson.”  This is the same stupid mindset from many on the left during the 2010 midterms with regard to what they perceived were sleights with regard to health care and Wall Street reform.  How’d that “teach them a lesson” thing turn out?  As far as I can tell it led to the rise of the Tea Party, Democrats losing many states including blue states like Michigan and Wisconsin, the U.S. House of Representatives and most of the political leverage progressives had.  That wasn’t a lesson.  That was political suicide which was followed by giving Republicans control of the Senate in 2014 and the White House last November.  This is where I sarcastically slow clap and say, “Bra…..fucking….o!”  You wanted the Democratic Party to do things for you but you didn’t do anything for the Democratic Party.

Another reason these people left the Democratic Party is the same reason a lot of people left-racism/bigotry.  To many of these individuals, unions were great until minorities became members.  Public schools were terrific until their kids had to go to school with “those kids.”  Living in the city or suburb adjacent areas was fine until “those people” started moving in.  Make no mistake, White Flight isn’t something unique to conservatives.  Many so-called “progressives” bolted from their neighborhoods once it started getting ethnically diverse.  The beliefs, attitudes, mindset behind progressive White Flight are the same behind, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.”  Anyone who claims differently doesn’t know a damn thing about anything, especially political history, voting patterns, sociology, psychology, belief systems….

The Democratic Party hasn’t won the majority of the white vote since 1964.  Now, why is that?  What happened in 1964 that would cause white voters to turn away from the Democratic Party?  Was it, A) the government outlawing the poll tax?  Or, B) Barry Goldwater winning the Republican presidential primary nomination?  Or, C) the last Looney Tune cartoon produced by Warner Bros.?  Or, D) the passage of the Civil Rights Act by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson?  If you say anything other than, “D” you need to be remanded to third-grade history and can’t come back to the discussion until you pass.  The underlying reason for White Flight, for School of Choice, for whites not voting for the Democratic Party is racism. Full…Fucking…Stop!  When people tell me, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me, “ what they often mean is, “An awful lot of people I don’t want in the Democratic Party are a major voting bloc in the Party.”  The same reasons behind conservative and progressive White Flight are why the Democratic Party hasn’t won the majority of the white vote since 1964.  It isn’t because the Democratic Party’s stance on economic issues.  It is because, when push comes to shove, too many white voters don’t want to minorities to have the same rights and privileges they do.

Of course, people aren’t going to come right out and say the reason they no longer support the Democratic Party is because of racial issues. Instead, they come up with nonsense claims like, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me” or “Democrats have moved too far to the left.”  This latter claim is used by the right, the media, and so-called “Democrats” who think chasing the white vote is a smart, moral strategy.  Former Democratic Senator from Virginia, Jim Webb is the most recent person making the idiotic claim that Democrats have moved too far to the left.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows  Webb’s political history. Until 2006 he was a Republican.  I wouldn’t expect anything less from someone with such a conservative background to say something different than Democrats have moved too far to the left.  This is why anyone with an ounce of sense can and should completely ignore anything Webb has to say about the Democratic Party.

The political reality is only one party has moved hard towards their extreme and that would be the Republicans.  Read Eisenhower’s 1956 platform and it sounds like it came out of the 2016 Democratic Convention.  You don’t even need to go back that far to see just how hard to the right Republicans have shifted.  Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., even W. wouldn’t have lasted two months running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.  This shift to the right by Republicans in Congress is well researched and documented.  Since the early 70s, the majority of Democrats have pretty much stayed in the same just left of center grouping while Republicans in the Senate, but especially in the House have moved sharply to the right.  To say, “Democrats have moved too far to the left” isn’t backed up by the data.  If the gap between the majorities of the two parties was four spots on the political spectrum in the 70s and now it is ten, this doesn’t mean each has shifted three spots.  What has happened is the left has shifted one spot and the right has shifted five.  It is intellectually lazy to look at the difference between four and ten and say, “both sides have moved equally apart.”  There are no Tea Party equivalents on the left.  Jim Webb and others saying, “The Democrats have moved too far to the left,” is complete bullshit.

Progressives love to point out white privilege when it applies to conservatives.  Of course, it is low hanging fruit. What many white progressives are not very good at is recognizing and admitting their own privilege and how their beliefs and actions undermine the very ideology they claim to believe in so strongly. Progressivism is about equality, justice, and fairness with no fine print, no fucking asterisks.  If you aren’t standing up and fighting for the rights of those in society who have been and are denied them to one degree or another, stop pretending you are progressive in order to make you feel good about yourself.  Don’t blame the Democratic Party for being the only one of the two major political parties that stands up for these things because you don’t have the mental or intestinal fortitude to do so yourself.  Don’t say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me,” when what you really mean is, “I’m uncomfortable with the Democratic Party prioritizing the most vulnerable in society over my white privileged ass.”  There are actually white supremacists at the seat of power in our country right now.  So-called “progressives” who aren’t adamantly standing up and fighting for those most at risk from the quasi-fascist right may say they were Democrats, but at best they were fair weather fans who, if they were honest, would say, “I’m perfectly fine with progress as long as it is focused on my wants and needs and not on people who really need it.”  This is what it really boils down to whether progressives want to admit it or not.  If you want social/economic change, you have to vote for the party that is your best chance to get it, not the party that is completely against it.  The more you vote for and elect Democratic candidates, the more they will have power.  The more power they have, the more they can enact change.  It is See Spot Fucking Run for anyone smart enough and honest enough to see it.

No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer

I’ve been doing school visits as part of my tour for PRINCESS ACADEMY: The Forgotten Sisters. All have been terrific–great kids, great librarians. But something happened at one I want to talk about. I’m not going to name the school or location because I don’t think it’s a problem with just one school; it’s just one example of a much wider problem.

This was a small-ish school, and I spoke to the 3-8 grades. It wasn’t until I was partway into my presentation that I realized that the back rows of the older grades were all girls.

Later a teacher told me, “The administration only gave permission to the middle school girls to leave class for your assembly. I have a boy student who is a huge fan of SPIRIT ANIMALS. I got special permission for him to come, but he was too embarrassed.”

“Because the administration had already shown that they believed my presentation would only be for girls?”

“Yes,” she said.

I tried not to explode in front of the children.

Let’s be clear: I do not talk about “girl” stuff. I do not talk about body parts. I do not do a “Your Menstrual Cycle and You!” presentation. I talk about books and writing, reading, rejections and moving through them, how to come up with story ideas. But because I’m a woman, because some of my books have pictures of girls on the cover, because some of my books have “princess” in the title, I’m stamped as “for girls only.” However, the male writers who have boys on their covers speak to the entire school.

This has happened a few times before. I don’t believe it’s ever happened in an elementary school–just middle school or high school.

I remember one middle school 2-3 years ago that I was going to visit while on tour. I heard in advance that they planned to pull the girls out of class for my assembly but not the boys. I’d dealt with that in the past and didn’t want to be a part of perpetuating the myth that women only have things of interest to say to girls while men’s voices are universally important.  I told the publicist that this was something I wasn’t comfortable with and to please ask them to invite the boys as well as girls. I thought it was taken care of. When I got there, the administration told me with shrugs that they’d heard I didn’t want a segregated audience but that’s just how it was going to be. Should I have refused? Embarrassed the bookstore, let down the girls who had been looking forward to my visit? I did the presentation. But I felt sick to my stomach. Later I asked what other authors had visited. They’d had a male writer. For his assembly, both boys and girls had been invited.

I think most people reading this will agree that leaving the boys behind is wrong. And yet–when giving books to boys, how often do we offer ones that have girls as protagonists? (Princesses even!) And if we do, do we qualify it: “Even though it’s about a girl, I think you’ll like it.” Even though. We’re telling them subtly, if not explicitly, that books about girls aren’t for them. Even if a boy would never, ever like any book about any girl (highly unlikely) if we don’t at least offer some, we’re reinforcing the ideology.

I heard it a hundred times with Hunger Games: “Boys, even though this is about a girl, you’ll like it!” Even though. I never heard a single time, “Girls, even though Harry Potter is about a boy, you’ll like it!”

The belief that boys won’t like books with female protagonists, that they will refuse to read them, the shaming that happens (from peers, parents, teachers, often right in front of me) when they do, the idea that girls should read about and understand boys but that boys don’t have to read about girls, that boys aren’t expected to understand and empathize with the female population of the world….this belief directly leads to rape culture. To a culture that tells boys and men, it doesn’t matter how the girl feels, what she wants. You don’t have to wonder. She is here to please you. She is here to do what you want. No one expects you to have to empathize with girls and women. As far as you need be concerned, they have no interior life.

At this recent school visit, near the end I left time for questions. Not one student had a question. In 12 years and 200-300 presentations, I’ve never had that happen. So I filled in the last 5 minutes reading them the first few chapters of The Princess in Black, showing them slides of the illustrations. BTW I’ve never met a boy who didn’t like this book.

After the presentation, I signed books for the students who had pre-ordered my books (all girls), but one 3rd grade boy hung around.

“Did you want to ask her a question?” a teacher asked.

“Yes,” he said nervously, “but not now. I’ll wait till everyone is gone.”

Once the other students were gone, three adults still remained. He was still clearly uncomfortable that we weren’t alone but his question was also clearly important to him. So he leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “Do you have a copy of the black princess book?”

It broke my heart that he felt he had to whisper the question.

He wanted to read the rest of the book so badly and yet was so afraid what others would think of him. If he read a “girl” book. A book about a princess. Even a monster-fighting superhero ninja princess. He wasn’t born ashamed. We made him ashamed. Ashamed to be interested in a book about a girl. About a princess–the most “girlie” of girls.

I wish I’d had a copy of The Princess in Black to give him right then. The bookstore told him they were going to donate a copy to his library. I hope he’s brave enough to check it out. I hope he keeps reading. I hope he changes his own story. I hope all of us can change this story. I’m really rooting for a happy ending.

what have i done