Thursday Book Blurbs!

Quick History: Filipino-American History Month

In 1988, October was established as Filipino-American History month: a month to celebrate and recognize Filipinx-Americans, (as an inclusion to members of the Philippine-American community of all genders) their unique past, culture, and their many contributions to the United States.

Lightning Fast Fact Sheet:

  • The United States colonized the Philippines in 1898 after a 300 year colonization by Spain
  • As of 2015, there are approximately four million Filipinx-Americans in the United States
  • We’ve been on land that is now the United States since 1587, making us the first Asian group to be on United States soil!
  • We have a history of activism!

Cool. But why is this important?:

Like other minority groups, the contribution of FIlipinx-Americans is often neglected in histories of the United States, either being traded  for the “bad immigrant” trope or the equally damaging “model-minority” myth, not realizing the rich and complicated history that Filipinx-Americans have with the United States. Similarly, Asian-American history month, while an incredibly important celebration for its own reasons, can simplify and even homogenize the Filipinx-American experience as something not as unique as it is.

With FIlipinx-American History month, our special culture can be recognized and celebrated in full and our complicated history with the country can be addressed.

I want to learn more!:

Great! Take a look at these resources and further expand your knowledge of Filipinx-Americans!

Pride History Month

Pride history month, during the month of October, is a month to recognize a few things; the unspoken history of lgbt rights and movements, the history of iconic figures like Harvey Milk, James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin. We aren’t taught the history, so therefore why not have a month dedicated to the history of us.

According to the Library of Congress, the history behind LGBT History Month is as so…

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

In 1994, a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States designated October as LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months.

LGBT History Month is also celebrated with annual month-long observances of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, along with the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. National Coming Out Day (October 11), as well as the first “March on Washington” in 1979, are commemorated in the LGBT community during LGBT History Month.

Sex Workers Unite by Melinda Chateauvert

A provocative history that reveals how sex workers have been at the vanguard of social justice movements for the past fifty years while building a movement of their own that challenges our ideas about labor, sexuality, feminism, and freedom

Documenting five decades of sex-worker activism, Sex Workers Unite is a fresh history that places prostitutes, hustlers, escorts, call girls, strippers, and porn stars in the center of America’s major civil rights struggles. Although their presence has largely been ignored and obscured, in this provocative history Melinda Chateauvert recasts sex workers as savvy political organizers-not as helpless victims in need of rescue.

Even before transgender sex worker Sylvia Rivera threw a brick and sparked the Stonewall Riot in 1969, these trailblazing activists and allies challenged criminal sex laws and “whorephobia,” and were active in struggles for gay liberation, women’s rights, reproductive justice, union organizing, and prison abolition.

Although the multibillion-dollar international sex industry thrives, the United States remains one of the few industrialized nations that continues to criminalize prostitution, and these discriminatory laws put workers at risk. In response, sex workers have organized to improve their working conditions and to challenge police and structural violence. Through individual confrontations and collective campaigns, they have pushed the boundaries of conventional organizing, called for decriminalization, and have reframed sex workers’ rights as human rights.

Telling stories of sex workers, from the frontlines of the 1970s sex wars to the modern-day streets of SlutWalk, Chateauvert illuminates an underrepresented movement, introducing skilled activists who have organized a global campaign for self-determination and sexual freedom that is as multifaceted as the sex industry and as diverse as human sexuality

Bend by  Nancy J. Hedin

Lorraine Tyler is the only queer person in Bend, Minnesota. Or at least that’s what it feels like when the local church preaches so sternly against homosexuality. Which is why she’s fighting so hard to win the McGerber scholarship—her ticket out of Bend—even though her biggest competition is her twin sister, Becky. And even though she’s got no real hope—not with the scholarship’s morality clause and that one time she kissed the preacher’s daughter.

Everything changes when a new girl comes to town. Charity is mysterious, passionate, and—to Lorraine’s delighted surprise—queer too. Now Lorraine may have a chance at freedom and real love.

But then Becky disappears, and Lorraine uncovers an old, painful secret that could tear the family apart. They need each other more than ever now, and somehow it’s Lorraine—the sinner, the black sheep—who holds the power to bring them together. But only if she herself can learn to bend.

Hmong Americans

Interested in learning about the Hmong American diaspora, their identity, history, culture and experiences? Check out The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir written by Kao Kalia Yang and The Bride Price: A Hmong Wedding Story by Mai Neng Moua. Yang and Moua are Hmong American writers from the Twin Cities, having both migrated to the United States as young refugees after the Vietnam war.

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

The aftermath of the war in Vietnam left the Hmong people vulnerable—their fight alongside the United States in the Secret War made them targets of persecution by the communist Pathet Lao. Thousands of Hmong families trekked through the jungles of Laos and across the Mekong hoping to seek refuge in Thailand. The Latehomecomer tells a classic refugee story of a Hmong family’s relocation from the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand to their new beginnings in St. Paul, Minnesota. Upon their arrival to America—the land of opportunity—Yang and her family find that learning how to survive in a new place they’d eventually call “home” isn’t easy.

The Bride Price: A Hmong Wedding Story

The age-old tradition of the “bride price” is a sum of money given to the bride’s family as compensation for their daughter’s hand in marriage. Hmong parents see it is a symbol of honor, respect, and a promise of love. To Mai Neng Moua, she sees this custom as one deeply rooted in sexism and patriarchy, her refusal to accept the tradition causes a rift in her relationship with her mother. The Bride Price addresses the intersections of Hmong diasporic issues regarding: culture, traditions, identity, gender roles, and family dynamics.  


* Writing Women at the Center: Mai Neng Moua along with Nora Murphy, Marcie Rendon, and Jna Shelomith will be visiting St. Cloud State University on Thursday October 26, 2017 in the Atwood Theatre from 3:30 – 4:45 p.m.

Let’s Talk About Palestine

Many do not know the of the Palestinian occupation and apartheid currently happening which is crucial to Americans since the American government is heavy allies with Israel, the occupying force in Palestine .  What is usually written on Palestine is from the point of view of the dominant culture that is not of the Palestinian people.  To see and understand the struggles of the Palestinian people is to be immersed in the culture and what better way to do so than read it directly from the source?  I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti and Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa are two personal accounts of Palestinians displaced and the land altered un-consentingly.  

I Saw Ramallah

Ramallah had numerous conflicts occur in the beautiful and ancient city. One of the most dire and unsettling events was the 1997 six day war.  Not only did it displace thousands of Palestinians but it also forced the culture to be disrupted and for the people to be displaced.  Mourid Barghouti creates a beautiful and harrowing account of his exile away from his homeland.  He delves into the separation of family many Palestinians face and the ambiguity as his role as a Palestinian.  The account he provides is of the old Ramallah and the newly spaced Ramallah.  He delves into many questions about the actual living idea of Palestine and the place and identity of a Palestinian.  

Mornings in Jenin

This novel is absolutely heart wrenching and it does resonate deeply with the loss of identity of someone who is forced to evacuate their homeland. The family portrayed in the novel is the Abulhejas who are removed from the small village of Ein Hod into Jenin, both residing in Palestine.  What makes it incredibly difficult to comprehend is how a family is forced away from their community as the community is disbanded and how they are forced off the land they harvested and grew for years.  It’s not only the land that is lost to them, but it is the sons of the family who fear for the bullets that raid into a village and the peace that quickly resided down because of the occupation. The point-of-view is many of the members but it is Amal, the granddaughter of the Abulhejas family, who gives a chilling account in the daily life of Jenin.

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