Book Drive by Faithful Friends

I’m saddened to hear that there is a detention center for immigrants at Yuba City, California, the setting for my middle grade novel, Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh, and the site of so much rich, yet troubled, immigrant history in the 20th century.

From blogger and activist Nathalie Mvondo:

Faithful Friends, a grassroots group, set up a book drive for the immigrants at the Yuba City Immigration Detention Center. We’re making a list of 50 books (the limit we were given) and are looking for titles both in English and Spanish, some in Mandarin. Any thoughts? All titles need to be available in paperback.

Requests include all genres: mystery, thrillers, Latin American Folk Stories, psychology (more specifically something on facial gestures), horror/terror, romance, vagueros..

Some of the authors and titles requested are Children of the Matrix (Spanish), Life And Times of Pancho, Ringside Seat to a Revolution by Daniel Romo, Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson, etc. I’m working on a spreadsheet, that I will share as soon as it’s ready. Thank you. Please share if you wouldn’t mind.

PS: Early book donations can be sent to:

MultiCulturalism Rocks!
140 B Street, Suite 5 #237
Davis, CA 95616.

These kids need so much, but for now, books can help to ease pain and tedium.

How Many More Ways Will America Fail Children?

Pashminacover-450x635In this Nib cartoon strip, graphic novelist and cartoon artist Nidhi Chanani shows us what it’s like to parent her mixed race child.

In Pashmina, Chanani fictionalized her own experience growing up in America with freshness, humor, and intensity. Her Nib reflection on life, language, and identity choices will feel familiar to many who are trying to raise children in an inclusive society.

Is that a vain hope? Because I think America was learning to be an inclusive society once, not so long ago, in an eight-year era that some apparently saw as less “hopey changey” than might be imagined. Maybe that whole hope change thing was delusional. Or maybe it’s just that democracy can be rigged and hijacked as much as any other system can and we’re watching a crook-in-chief do just that.

Still, I was moved by this New Yorker article by Dave Egger about a church in Connecticut that has decided to open its doors to immigrants seeking sanctuary. Moved for so many reasons. Here were fellow South Asians from Pakistan, whose troubles had all started with caste barriers in their homeland. Caste, I should add, is the identifier that makes me weep for my own people. Its horrific taboos have migrated from their source traditions into converts’ communities in South Asia, even when their adopted religions are supposed to abhor such differences. Moved as well because in the land where I arrived in 1979, immigrants were seen as welcome additions to society, not infestations to be removed.

The article quotes the Bible:

Here’s how Americans can do the right thing: first, more churches that, like the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, want to embody the words in the Bible—“Welcome any alien into your land, for you were once an alien in the land of Egypt”—can consider their roles in protecting families who have committed no crime other than wanting a safe place to live.

But the churches can’t fix the rigged and broken system. Voting might help but only if enough people with intelligence and honesty run for office, and tell me where the incentive is for that?

Finally where, I wonder, does all this leave the child in the church who just wants to play and go to school and be a child? Or Nidhi Chanani’s daughter, whose parents are trying to expand her linguistic world in the passionate belief that this will help her make sense of the real one?  What about the loosening of regulations that will put children’s health at risk? And how come a public shrugging of the shoulders has become the last word on those other children separated so recently from their parents at the border?

How many more ways will America fail children before something shifts?