Last week I was at Nerdcamp Michigan for the seventh year in a row! I can't believe how much it has grown. It's always amazing to be surrounded by so many nerds. It fills me up and definitely gives me fuel to keep moving forward. I'm so glad to have it in my life.
This year, my older son went with me again. He even came up with a Nerdcamp handshake! (Check it out at the end of this post!) It was fun to have him there with me again. Colby, Alaina, Suzanne and the rest of the Nerdcamp team did an absolutely amazing job yet again. Being so far away, I don't get to help much or see all that they put into making sure camp runs smoothly for everyone but I know they spend a lot of time to make Nerdcamp as successful as it has been year after year. I barely took any pictures but I did manage to take a selfie with Colby. I'm proud to call such an amazing, kidlit advocate my friend.
Colby invited me to moderate the opening panel this year with a focus on feminism. It was a huge honor to take the stage with these amazing women: Patricia Valdez, Laura Shovan, Supriya, Kelkar, Alicia D. Williams, and Pernille Ripp.
They had amazing ideas to share and I found myself taking notes as they talked and wanted to share them here!
I started us off with some words from Roxane Gay. In her article Why I Am A Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay said, “It was easy to embrace feminism when I realized it was advocating for gender equality in all realms, while also making the effort to be intersectional, to consider all the other factors that influence who we are and how we move through the world.”
Later, I shared the definition of "intersectionality" from critical race and gender studies professor Kimberlé Crenshaw. In an interview, she explained, "Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things." I believe feminism is simple...but also very complex and wanted to try and discuss this in the short time that we had.
To start, the panelists had a few books to share:
Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir
by Nikki Grimes
Other Words For Home
by Jasmine Warga
Queer Heroes: Meet 52 LGBTQ Heroes From Past and Present!
by Arabelle Sicardi, illustrations by Sarah Tanat-Jones
Laura Shovan reminded us that, "Feminism is all about choice." This resonated with me because all too often women aren't given a choice or laws take away our choices.
Pernille Ripp said, "We should embrace anger as a tool." Too often women and girls are asked to be kind and sweet and expected to be happy all the time so I agree with Pernille. If we're raising and/or teaching brave women, we all have to embrace when passion might look like anger. Because anger can lead to action. And don't we want students to stand up for what they believe in?
|Artist Gareth Hinds drew us during the panel!
At the end, I asked the panelists to share what they were sick and tired of when it comes to feminism in kidlit. Here's their list!
We're sick and tired of...
- boy books versus girl books
- boys don't read books with girls on the cover
- boys versus girls
- girls being objectified
- books where the girl needs a boy to tell her she is beautiful
- gender norms - coded words
- being a feminist means being angry
It was such an amazing panel!
The rest of Nerdcamp was also awesome as well and here's my son and Alaina sharing the Nerdcamp handshake. It's been so cool to see him come to camp and embrace his nerdy-ness!
Last but definitely not least, Nerdcamp Junior was fantastic. I was a group volunteer again and got to hear Kathi Appelt, Jonathan Auxier, and Kristin O'Donnell Tubb talk about their books. The kids had a great time!
Hooray for another great Nerdcamp Michigan!