Tag Archives: Activism

‘Refugee Boy’

12 Mar

I have just finished reading Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy.

Despite some initial concerns that Refugee Boy would be simply another variation on Boy Overboard or Girl Underground, I found myself hooked from the outset.  I think my interest was stimulated by the text’s opening – a short outline of a mixed-race family’s experiences in Ethiopia, followed by an almost identical incident, this time in Eritrea.  I found this to be a very effective way of illustrating the complexities of that family’s situation and in illustrating the challenges faced during times of war.

I think this would be an interesting text to study in Years 7 or 8 in a unit with a focus on identity.  Indeed, the text deals with the tensions between self-characterisation and social identification.

It would also be worthy of inclusion in a ‘Coming of Age’ unit as it charts both the protagonist’s growing awareness of his social surrounds as well as his community’s growing awareness of the political and social landscapes in which they exist.

It would also be interesting to study this text in a unit about migration or refugee experiences, perhaps in combination with Boy OverboardGirl UndergroundThe Arrival and/or some newspaper clippings.

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Poetry and social activism

13 Apr

I have written, on my previous occasions, about the role played by literature and poetry in particular in raising awareness and advocating for social change in regards to gender inequality and gendered violence.  I have also alluded to the role played by poetry in articulating individual and community discontent regarding responses to much publicised real world events, such as the Tamir Rice shooting.

When discussing with my students the idea that responses to real life events are often immortalised in poetry, thus rendering poetry a form of social commentary, many of my students expressed scepticism.  They simply could not fathom how poetry could facilitate social change or reach a sufficiently large audience to challenge perceptions.

This, of course, prompted a discussion about the power of language.  A perfect example of language being powerful is found in Bassey Ikpi’s poem ‘Diallo‘.  As suggested by the title, the poem is a response to the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, by the police.

In her poem, Ikpi speaks of the pain felt by mothers knowing that their children, their sons, are especially vulnerable.  She also speaks of the injustice when juries return verdicts that say “murder is justified,” and “cops win right to life when that brother is still without his.”  This sentence, in particular, is powerful in that is positions white men as entitled to rights and due process whereas black men, in contrast, are shot on sight.  Furthermore,  Ikpi strikingly juxtaposes the fates of blacks and whites, welcoming her audience “to the place where a black face asks ‘who will be next?’ and a white face answers ‘not I’.”  Here, the metonymic references to faces emphasises Ikpi’s view that individual identity is irrelevant; black men, by virtue of being black, are peculiarly vulnerable and white men, in contrast, by virtue of being white, are protected.

This text would be an interesting point of comparison to the ‘I Could Be the Next Tamir Rice’ article discussed yesterday, and also to Maxine Beneba Clark’s poem ‘104 Degrees’.

 

Pairs of texts

31 Mar

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about interesting textual pairings for study as part of a comparative unit.  Many of my ideas are not suitable for my school context or the ability levels of my classes.  However, I do think that, in the right contexts and with the right classes, all could form the basis of interesting and engaging units.

  1. A Lesson Before Dying (novel) & To Kill a Mockingbird (film)
  2. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Freedom Writers (film)
  3. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  4. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Schindler’s List (film)
  5. Americanah (novel) & selected episodes of Black-ish (television series)
  6. A Monster Calls (novel) & Boy (film)
  7. A Monster Calls (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  8. A Monster Calls (novel/film) & Frankenstein (novel)
  9. Anzac Girls (television series) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  10. Bad Feminist (collection of essays) & For Colored Girls (film)
  11. Becoming Kirrali Lewis (novel) & Boy (film)
  12. Becoming Kirrali Lewis (novel) & The Kite Runner (graphic novel)
  13. Brave New World (novel) & The Crucible (play)
  14. Brave New World (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  15. Brave New World (novel) & V for Vendetta (film)
  16. Briar Rose (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  17. Briar Rose (novel) & Lion (film)
  18. Briar Rose (novel) & Night (autobiography)
  19. Briar Rose (novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  20. Deadline (novel) & Dead Poets Society (film)
  21. Deadline (novel) & The Fault In Our Stars (film)
  22. Deadline (novel) & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
  23. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  24. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  25. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Invictus (film)
  26. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Remember the Titans (films)
  27. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  28. El Deafo (graphic novel) & The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel)
  29. Etiquette and Espionage (novel) & Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (film)
  30. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & After the Storm (film)
  31. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & 11’09’01 (collection of short films)
  32. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & Lion (film)
  33. Face (novel) & The Intouchables (film)
  34. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & Persepolis (graphic novel or film)
  35. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & V For Vendetta (film)
  36. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (choreopoem) & Mustang (film)
  37. Frankenstein (novel) & Frankenweenie (film)
  38. Frankenstein (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  39. Frankenstein (novel) & The Rocky Horror Picture Show (film)
  40. Girl Rising (film) & Poetry of Maya Angelou (poetry)
  41. Hamlet (play) & Nutshell (novel)
  42. Hiroshima (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  43. Life of Pi (novel) & Castaway (film)
  44. Lord of the Flies (novel) & Where the Wild Things Are (film)
  45. Lord of the Flies (novel) & The Hunger Games (film)
  46. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Designated Survivor (television series)
  47. Macbeth (play) & The Dressmaker (film)
  48. Macbeth (play) & The Gods of Wheat Street (television series)
  49. Maus (graphic novel) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  50. Maus (graphic novel) & Night (autobiography)
  51. Maus (graphic novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  52. March (novel) & Little Wome(novel)
  53. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (novel) & The Fault in Our Stars (film)
  54. Night (autobiography) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  55. Night (autobiography) & Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography)
  56. Night (autobiography) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  57. Night (autobiography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  58. Night (autobiography) & The Seven Stages of Grieving (play)
  59. Nona and Me (novel) & Looking for Alibrandi (film)
  60. Nona and Me (novel) & September (film)
  61. Of Mice and Men (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  62. Othello (play) & Desdemona (play)
  63. Othello (play) & Gone Girl (film)
  64. Othello (play) & New Boy (novel)
  65. Othello (play) & V For Vendetta (film)
  66. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  67. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Lion (film)
  68. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Maus (graphic novel)
  69. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Night (autobiography)
  70. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  71. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bride and Prejudice (film)
  72. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bridget Jones’s Diary (film)
  73. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Mustang (film)
  74. Refugee Boy (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  75. Refugee Boy (novel) & The African Doctor (film)
  76. Refugee Boy (novel) & The Arrival (picture book)
  77. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Alex and Eve (film)
  78. Romeo & Juliet (play) & A United Kingdom (film)
  79. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  80. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Hairspray (film)
  81. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Meet the Patels (film)
  82. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Mustang (film)
  83. Romeo & Juliet (play) & My Big Fat Greek Wedding (film)
  84. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Tanna (film)
  85. Romeo & Juliet (play) & The Fault in Our Stars (film or novel)
  86. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Titanic (film)
  87. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Viceroy’s House (film)
  88. Romeo & Juliet (play) & West Side Story (film)
  89. Scattered Lives (play) & Americannah (novel)
  90. Scattered Lives (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  91. Scattered Lives (play) & Looking for Alibrandi (novel)
  92. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Peter Skrzynecki (poetry)
  93. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  94. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  95. Schindler’s Ark (novel) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  96. Speak (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  97. Stargirl (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  98. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  99. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (memoir) & Queen of Katwe (film)
  100. The Color Purple (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  101. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  102. The Dreamer (novel) & Billy Elliot (film)
  103. The First Third (novel) & Boy (film)
  104. The Fault in Our Stars (novel) & Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (film)
  105. The Help (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  106. The Help (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  107. The Help (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  108. The Outsiders (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  109. The Outsiders (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  110. The Outsiders (novel) & Yolngu Boy (film)
  111. The Rabbits (picture book) & Deadly, Unna? (novel)
  112. The Rabbits (picture book) & Poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (poetry)
  113. The Rabbits (picture book) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  114. The Scarlet Letter (novel) & Easy A (film)
  115. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & The Real Inspector Hound (play)
  116. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  117. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (novel) & Hamlet (play or film)
  118. The Kite Runner (novel) & Big Fish (film)
  119. The Kite Runner (novel) & Boy (film)
  120. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  121. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  122. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Poetry of Langston Hughes (poetry)
  123. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  124. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  125. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  126. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Help (film)
  127. To This Day (graphic novel) & Wonder (novel)
  128. To This Day (graphic novel) & Face (novel)
  129. Vernon God Little (novel) & Elephant (film)
  130. Voices from Chernobyl (non-fiction) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  131. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  132. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry)