The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory

The Boleyn Inheritance came recommended to me from The History Chicks, which is one of my favourite podcasts. In The Boleyn Inheritance, Katherine of Aragorn is dead (from neglect and heartbreak they say), Anne Boleyn has been executed, and Jane Seymour … Continue reading

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Phillipa Gregory

Three Sisters, Three Queens is Phillipa Gregory’s most recent historical fiction novel. Set during the Tudor era, Phillipa presents Mary in a much fairer light than history generally paints her, something she admits to doing on the basis that she … Continue reading

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The last Olympian, book 5 by Rick Riordan

Aaaaaaand this series that I am finding so much enjoyment in ended with a fabulous bang. Basically, the war is right on top of Percy and his friends. A few things happen beforehand, like the children of one god are fighting … Continue reading

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The battle of the labyrinth, book 4 by Rick Riordan

Those of you who’ve already read the reviews for The Lightning Thief, The Seas of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse, know that I am absolutely loving the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. In The Battle of the Labyrinth, 15-year-old … Continue reading

Apps and websites to check out if you’re going into the work world (or really just because it’s cool)

Plum talent assessment  Plum is a company that was founded and operates in Canada’s tech triangle. One of their services is this talent assessment for employees (or to-be employees). It’s actually pretty cool because it tells you about what some … Continue reading

Summer watching on Netflix

** This list is based on what I can access on the Canadian Netflix, sorry if you can’t access all the shows in your country (I for one am so disappointed that I can’t get Parks and Recreation here when … Continue reading

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The sea of monsters, book 2 by Rick Riordan

Wow, what a quick read that was, I read it within 24 hours. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Sea of Monsters is the second book in the five part series about a demigod (half-god, half-human) named Percy, … Continue reading

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, book 1 by Rick Riordan 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a 5 book fantasy and young adult series that is written by Rick Riordan and begins with The Lightning Thief. Percy Jackson is a 12-year-old boy who has never known his father and has … Continue reading

The Queen’s Fool by Phillipa Gregory 

Set during the reign of Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor) in the mid-1500’s, The Queen’s Fool by Phillipa Gregory melds history with Mary Tudor and her fool, Hannah Green. Hannah Green wasn’t technically a real person. She was based on … Continue reading

The Translation of Love by Lynn Kutsukake

The Translation of Love by Lynn Kutsukake is a moving story set in post-war Japan. 13-year-old Aya, one of the the main POV characters, has recently moved from Canada to Japan with her father. After spending years in interment camps … Continue reading

Working with You is Killing Me by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster

Working with You is Killing Me by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster is a wonderfully helpful about dealing with the emotional and political entanglements of the office / general workplace. According to the introduction of the book, Katherine Crowley is … Continue reading

Review: Leave Your Mark: Land your dream job. Kill it in your career. Rock social media. by Aliza Licht 

Leave Your Mark, written by Aliza Licht, is a great book for young people, or anyone from any walk of life, who would love a fresh perspective on career advice and personal branding. Divided into four parts, Leave Your Mark … Continue reading

Review — The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling and Brooke S. Passey

I’m not sure how I originally learned about Lindsey Stirling or her memoir, The Only Pirate at the Party. It was sometime shortly after seeing this book that YouTube recommended her music videos, maybe because of all the videos I … Continue reading

Friends of the Apparating Library 2016

The Harry Potter Alliance and the community I am a part of by volunteering with this most wonderful organization never ceases to amaze me. Friends of the Apparating Library 2016 is an Indiegogo-hosted fundraiser that will allow The Harry Potter Alliance to … Continue reading

Reasons to love GLA

Granger Leadership Academy Its a week post-GLA now and I think that it is due time that I reflect a little on it. The Granger Leadership Academy is a leadership conference hosted by the Harry Potter Alliance. This year it … Continue reading

Slow Cooker Harvest Beef Stew

Soup or stew in the winter is always a good idea. There is nothing better than having a good stew full of meat and veggies and hot goodness on a cold day. Plus, most soups and stews freeze really well … Continue reading

On JK Rowling appropriating aboriginal culture

Native American Navajo women herding sheep in Arizona.

Image source: JK Rowling under fire for writing about “Native American wizards”, Alison Flood, The Guardian * picture is linked to article

This isn’t the first time that J.K. Rowling has had to answer for messing up matters of identity, race and culture. Over the years, fans such as myself have been able to use numerous positive social messages she did get right in advocating for social change. For that, I will be eternally thankful for the power of the Harry Potter series. In many ways, those books are life changing.

At the same time, we, as fans, have challenged issues we saw, such as the lack of diverse representation in minorities, such as the LGBTQ+ community or ethnic or cultural minorities. We wanted more representation. But, of course, we didn’t want it at the expense of having J.K. Rowling appropriating the other cultures.

For me, circumstances like this are really upsetting. The Harry Potter world has had such a huge impact on my life in a lot of positive ways. It can be hard to reconcile a series that has been so positive for me, and an author I admire a lot, to understandably very problematic and negative issues that I feel compelled to do something about.

As much as it might upset me on a personal level, it’s also not ok on a higher social level either. The greater social concern is by far the most important factor in the issue of JKR’s appropriation of Navajo culture.

I’ve been made aware that colonization and appropriation in the UK is not always understood as comprehensively as it is here in North America, but I’d be sad if that were JKR’s only excuse. And, of course, I’m in no way wanting to imply that that applies to everyone in the UK (I know for a fact that it does not). In addition, I would have thought (or idealistically hoped) that someone like J.K. Rowling would have been at the forefront of understanding those problems. At the very least, she is uniquely positioned to be able to inform on these issues and make a really positive impact through positive, reaffirming representation and diversity in her writing.

Responding to a question on Twitter, Rowling said that “in my wizarding world, there were no skinwalkers”, with the legend created by those without magic “to demonise wizards”. – JK Rowling under fire for writing about ‘Native American wizards’, Alison Flood, The Guardian

By talking about real-life cultures then saying it didn’t exist in her wizarding world / existed differently and, from there, using that as a reason to use a “cool” part of the Navajo nations culture to suit her purposes is basically a prime example of exactly what cultural appropriation is. I’m sure she meant to try to clarify her intent here, but all I’m seeing is that she doesn’t really understand what appropriation is. In addition, the author of the article (Alison Flood) is rightfully pointed out that there is no singular Native American culture. There are many indigenous nations in North America with diverse cultures that shouldn’t be lumped together as one any more than the same can or should be done to diverse Europeans ones.

I don’t want to get to far into the specifics because I prefer to defer to the knowledge and experiences of aboriginal people when it comes to their cultures and concerns. With that said, I would like all of my readers to consider reading the article if you didn’t read it prior to reading my post and going from there.

In the meantime, issues like this are understandably problematic and can reiterate trauma, racism and other awful things. As a fan activist, I want to do something about it and that’s why I am writing this post. I am hoping that J.K. Rowling will do the right thing and make amends.

What I think needs to happen is that JKR needs to issue a real and sincere apology with plans to correct her error. I think she needs to consult with the people who are from the nations that she’s writing about, starting with the Navajo nation. I am sure that there are many people in many nations who would practically donate a kidney (not literally of course) for the opportunity to collaborate with someone like JKR and they would be able to help her be more culturally aware and represent their cultures in the wizarding world better. She could also use this as an opportunity to lean about current issues like colonization and appropriation. The colonizer’s / Western cultures don’t get to decide when history doesn’t matter or is “truly in the past”, especially when it is still so relevant today and that’s something I think JKR needs to understand if she doesn’t already.

Representation and diversity is so important in popular media and I do believe that there are ways to do so that are culturally appropriate (not to be confused with appropriation). I would absolutely love to see aboriginal people represented in Harry Potter’s wizarding world but not in the way J.K. Rowling made a mistake with and not if it means the cultures have to be appropriated (because, seriously, they don’t need to be). Fortunately, what J.K. Rowling’s controversial bit of writing is currently published online, which means it can be fixed. She can learn what she needs to know (which, frankly, she should have taken the time to know to begin with) to understand and respect aboriginal cultures in her writing from the right people and make amends. I really hope that if she realizes how important this is to us, then she will listen.

Source

JK Rowling under fire for writing about ‘Native American wizards’, Alison Flood, The Guardian

Enjoying Providence, RI — Brown University, RISD Museum and The Duck & Bunny

A new trend of mine is to have 1 or 2 days of free time in a city and quickly do some research on places I’d like to see and do in that city. It’s so much fun to pick out … Continue reading

Review: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

ixar Creativity, Inc. was written by Ed Catmull, who is the president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation, with Amy Wallace. It was published on April 8, 2014. It is an great book that revolutionizes the way that leaders can lead and … Continue reading

Review: Bliss by Shay Mitchell and Michaela Blaney

Bliss was written by Shay Mitchell and Michaela Blaney. Shay Mitchell is a Canadian actress Emily Fields in Pretty Little Liars and Michaela is her best friend who works in marketing. In Bliss, the main characters are Sophia, Demi and Leandra. … Continue reading