The Good Side of Negativity

It's Monday, my blog feed is full of blog posts. Now where were they yesterday when I took a lazy day and had time to read them.

I learn I am out of sync with the blog world. There are weekday mornings at such and such a time guaranteed to get you a larger audience. I would be specific but I don't remember or don't care. Not that I don't care about my blog. More like, I will write what I can, and if it looks good enough I will hit publish. I've heard of blog posts going viral.

I doubt any of mine go viral. It would make me swallow my heart. I have my real name out there. You never know how all the trolls in the world will react much less the "holier than thou" brigade with their sense of indignant indignation addiction. There is the dual dimension of all writing. You can say one thing but someone else can read another.

Just call me chicken liver. I learned at my mother's knee to avoid an argument.

So - I have spent a great deal of time commenting. It is my way of working myself up to standing my ground. I know that does not make me sound very tough, much less cool. I said, call me chicken liver. I quiver.

I don't know why I recoil from criticism. Criticism makes you better. There is a point you need to consider if criticism is rubbish. Oh so very confusing when it is easier to not agree with anything negative which is the gist of this post.

I've been following Facebook and blog posts discussing race in books.

One is about the Scholastic pulling the book, "A Birthday Cake for Washington" which is a children's picture book discussing a slave chef of President Washington baking a cake with his daughter. It is a worthy topic in that the slave Hercules was very accomplished. However the delivery of that story would take the wisdom of Solomon to make people happy.

What is shocking to me is how the writer and illustrator are being threatened online and personally. Have we lost our minds in this country? Alright, you hate the topic and inferences. The writer, illustrator and Scholastic should get an award for Bravery and Foolishness to embrace the topic.

In humility, I feel so much sympathy for them being attacked. I also feel their sadness. Proud to write and illustrate a book on an honorable topic and have it blow back up in their face.

These topics do need to be taught in school. I felt so awkward when an African American child wanted to interview me about life before the civil right's movement. They were being children looking for the easiest and quickest way to get a report written. The first time, I answered the questions and told them the facts I knew. The next year, I wanted to tell them to interview someone black, but, I didn't. They were sincere. So, I gingerly broached the topic once again.

I never had a problem. No colleague asked me how I became an expert. No parent got upset, and I know of one who read over her daughter's paper. It wasn't that I was that great. It was personal one on one. But how do you write a book on these topics that will please a broader group of people? If you have an easy answer, I'm sure your talents can be used for more lofty topics like peace in the Middle East.

The other one is a blog I read occasionally about Native American literature. Although I don't always agree with the blogger Debbie Reese, it bothers me that what she says is being drowned with people calling her negative. Native Americans are not a large percentage of our population. If they withdraw, protest or boycott, will anyone notice. I also think what she has to say has to be heard even if you do not agree.

You would think I agree with her. Some of what she says is picky or misunderstood. Sometimes, it is point of view that I did not know. Other times, I think everyone should know that. She has a reason for how she feels. She is giving a real unexpressed viewpoint which should not be taken lightly. We get so used to people keeping the peace and not making waves that we don't recognize when people are giving us the gift of honesty.

I do think she needs to write some complimentary or light-hearted posts. I do not read her blog to completion more because they are pretty much the same post just different books.

I have not read "A Cake for Washington". I would probably like the book. I don't know if I would have used it in my classroom. 90 percent of black people were enslaved in the United States during slavery. I know from experience it has nothing to do with the topic but how the child handles the topic.

So I think it is obvious why public criticism is scary.


  1. Monday usually is the top day of the week for blog posts. Ugg, people need to get a life. Yes, fine the book may have been a mistake, not saying it was as haven't read it or anything, but unless the author or illustrator or even scholastic are going full on Mel Gibson with some racial rant, there is no reason to threaten them. People are far too sensitive thinking everything is about them, oh it hurt my feelings, boo hoo, when really it has nothing to do with them.

    1. For an emotionally healthy child, I would read the dang book to them. My only consideration would be if they had an emotional problem. However, the book looks b-o-r-i-n-g. Some of the books and topics are just money makers for a publisher. Now a tornado followed by a tsunami on Washington's Birthday is what kids like.

  2. I'm not controversial on my blog, but I am subtle enough with my beliefs that I think most people visiting would pick up on them without being offended.
    Slavery happened in Washington's time. We can't erase the past, people.

    1. Avoiding controversy is a good idea. I'll be glad when social media matures and some of the over-reaction ends.

  3. There is criticism and there is constructive criticism. Sure we don't like to hear negative comments about our blog/topic but if they're said in a positive way I don't mind it. The one's that aren't so nice don't even get published but they are very few and far between. I've been blogging for 5.5 years and there highs in low in days of the weeks and seasons of the year too. I do the best I can do and hope everyone understands.

    1. You have a strong following so I imagine you have experienced a lot. With negative comments, it is good to look at what has been said. However, I think some negativity has more to do with the person spouting it than the comment. I hate giving people bad news. If I was critiquing someone's book, I would be honest. Only because, it would help the person create a better book and hopefully sales.


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