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Pandemic-fatigue | Weekly Snapshot

It got busy this week! Lots going on at home, work, and otherwise as well.  Life My daughter's school decided to close on Friday, along with several other schools in the area, with some being closed from Thursday. Not enough staff. The school had been on a mask mandate since the beginning of the pandemic, dropping it only for one week when the pandemic had appeared to have stabilized last year. And yet, they dropped the mandate completely at the beginning of this year, when cases were exponentially rising, only to bring it back again starting next week. I've gone from being very annoyed to angry to feeling fatigue in these first two weeks already. I won't lie - we all mask around here and try to avoid going where we don't have a need to be in, and still, we are not taking anything close to the extreme precaution we all took at the beginning of the pandemic. I cannot and don't want to keep my kids home - I have at least that much faith in the schools' precautions

New Kid / Class Act by Jerry Craft | Thoughts

I first heard about Jerry Craft's New Kid and Class Act over on Helen's blog. Both books have always had a long waiting list at my library and then after a few 'Deliver Later' attempts, it was some time before I finally got to reading New Kid

In New Kid, Jordan Banks would like to go to an art school, but his parents have a different idea - they enroll him at a prestigious private school that had mostly white students and a social makeup that didn't match his current lifestyle or neighborhood. He isn't sure if he will ever fit in even after he meets the handful of black or brown students enrolled at the school. As the school year progresses, he learns how to deal with micro-aggressions and also respond when he is expected to teach the black perspective and experience to his white teachers or students. His friend, Drew Ellis, who is also black, struggles more than Jordan does, if it is even fair to compare experiences in racism and micro-aggressions. Class Act focuses more on Drew and his struggles at the school - how he is intentionally set apart by some of the teachers and his race-related experiences treated as imaginary.

I loved both New Kid and Class Act. The thread of race and racism runs through both the books - a lot of Jordan's and Drew's experiences are colored by it, whether they are trying to find a book at the library (and are constantly handed out books about survival versus say, magic kingdoms), or they play sports (and are expected to be very talented), or they talk about their neighborhoods (and are assumed to be poor). Much of the race treatment is not overt as they sometimes are not in institutions that are trying to be more race-aware but very implicit and full of false assumptions. 

Both books do a great job of showing how many race-related incidents a colored student may run into on a typical day at school. There is a constant expectation, even if unstated, to prove one's commitment and capabilities. The people talking about anti-racism are almost always the people least affected by it and often colored people are treated as interchangeable and names mixed up (gosh - the number of times that has happened to me - it's frustrating). 

If there's one issue I had, it's that there was some stereotyping of the lone Indian character in the book - bangles, bindi - stuff that's very common in India but not seen commonly in US schools. This just proved that trying to understand a community means intentionally looking beyond what you already know or have heard of - this isn't easy. And complaining (as so many are doing now) that people are too sensitive is just another way to admit that one would rather ignore the damage caused by continued racism than confront one's role in continued perpetration of racism.

New Kid and Class Act are written for the middle grade audience but very well-written for anyone to read and enjoy.