Linda Sue Park's Hyphenated Life

I spoke at Waltham Public School's Library Volunteer Luncheon today, emphasizing how vital the hospitality of librarians can be to kids growing up with a hyphen. What's it like to grow up with a racially-identifiable hyphen? Newbery-award winning author Linda Sue Park describes it well in an excerpt on the fabulous Paper Tigers site:

. . . If you are racially hyphenated in a way that is immediately visible, then you confront the fact of your hyphen every day. Not always in a negative sense, but in an unavoidable one ... Being visibly hyphenated in a racial sense, those experiences are a constant in your life. As an Asian-American, I am well aware that my family and I experienced racism for the most part in far more benign ways than most African-Americans. There was hostility only rarely. But the countless, daily, often seemingly harmless encounters—the assumptions people made about me based on my race alone—have worked to shape what would eventually become my writing sensibility.

When I chatted briefly with Linda at a recent NESCBWI conference, we compared notes on how the world of children's book editors is also slowly but surely becoming dashed with visible hyphens. What's happening in the demographic of librarians, I wonder? I'll be checking that out when I head to New Orleans to present at the ALA Convention in couple of weeks.