Notes as the school year ends

To commemorate the end of our school year, I’ve compiled HVLA members’ chosen excerpts from page 20 of the books they were currently reading that spoke to them about the state of the world. These excerpts were chosen on Tuesday, May 26th at our final HVLA meeting. 

As I arranged and ordered these sentences to create a narrative, I reflected on the two weeks that have gone by since HVLA’s final meeting. We are sixteen days into protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery and countless People of Color and people in LGBTQ communities by police and white supremacists and cases of COVID-19 cases are on the rise globally. Might we choose different books and excerpts that can speak to and guide us through this day? This moment?

There are a proliferation of anti-racist booklists circulating. Many of us are in the process of curating and sending out summer reading lists to our students. What is a booklist without active engagement? In the streets, people are risking their lives to speak out, listen and learn from each other. As an able-bodied white woman in a heteronormative family structure, now is the time for me to listen closely, fully engage in challenging my perspective, and hold up the rising leaders who are dismantling this toxic world.

This summer, join me in the streets. Let’s learn from our students, these young and fierce leaders. What books are they reading? What music are they listening to? How can we educate ourselves to support their inspiring work in leading us into a more just future?

Be safe, healthy and strong.

Black Lives Matter.



The Excerpts

(Click on the punctuation at the end of each excerpt to link to the book.)

She felt off this morning. She was still jumpy from her nightmare. She often had bad dreams, but last night’s was more vivid than ever before. 

She seemed to be in another world, as if floating on air.

“Is there a school?” Hanna asked.  It was always her first question. 

It was less a school, in fact, than an atelier run by a German painter whose true talent as a teacher lay in his ability to inspire.

I’m sure in your heads you’ve created every sort of speculation, from the likely and plausible to the wild and impossible.

He saw something in her face he never thought he’d see. Exhaustion.

The rest of the day follows a similar pattern, with minor variations: maybe she opens her curtains, maybe not; maybe breakfast, or maybe just coffee, which she takes upstairs to her room so she doesn’t have to see her family.

She told me how adding or taking away just one or two can change a character’s entire meaning. 

I guess for each one in the family it was different what was the hardest thing.

I glanced at Father. He hadn’t seemed weak until she said that he was.

The humiliation of the defeat was suffered by the whole French nation...

I can’t see everything inside it, but what I can see isn’t promising. 

I shouldn’t have raised my voice at her. I really try to be a good kid, but sometimes I get so angry.  

I can feel my eyes starting to sting from the salt.

A century later, the tradition–one that would go on indefinitely–of writing about the African was alive, and and well and more creative than ever. 

I noticed that the houses in Fort Smith were numbered but it was no city at all compared to Little Rock.  

“What’s going on?” Sierra’s hand wrapped around his arm. “Who is that?

As we left Encrucijada , I looked back for the last time in the vain hope of seeing Brígida appear in the door of the storage room, but she wasn’t there. 

I stayed in the doorway longer than I needed to.

Dad dashes over, nearly knocking the traditional wooden masks from the wall. He must have sensed there was a brag session going on.

Instead of performing, Ruby put her elbows on the back of their sofa and sighed heavily and watched the clouds drift past their window. She’d seen her father do this often when he had lost at Scrabble.

“How can you say it’s awesome?” said Janie.

Still, in his captivity, like a lower animal–like some impatient ape, or roused bear of the smaller species– the prisoner, now left solitary, had jumped upon the ledge, to lose no glimpse of this departure.  

“Whattya say we blow this popsicle stand, huh?

They’ll be fine. They’ll be better than fine. They’ll be great. 

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