I think you should go to the Granger Leadership Academy! 

Are you thinking about going to the Granger Leadership Academy? Or did you find this post by accident? I think you need to think about going either way.

For those of you who don’t know…

The Granger Leadership Academy is a leadership conference planned and hosted by The Harry Potter Alliance. It’s really awesome because it draws on building leadership skills through different fandoms.

It is an amazing experience…

When I went to the 2016 GLA in Warwick, RI, USA (close to Providence), it was an amazing experience. I met so many amazing people, many of whom I am proud to call my friends now. I went to a bunch of though provoking and fun seminars about planning events, about social causes, about being engaged and engaging others. I’ll be honest; I don’t really go to a lot of conferences, or any for that matter. GLA is basically the most amazing introduction to a conference that I could possibly ask for.

And don’t worry about age…

I think most of us were 18 to about 35, with the average obviously being somewhere in the middle, but there was a group of kids about 12-15 years old and a group of us who were about 40. I’ve been asked by a few people if age matters; it doesn’t. If you want to go, then go; you will love it.

I wish I could be going to St. Louis…

And I wish I stopped pronouncing it like St. Lewey and say it like St. Lewis. (it could also be said like Lou-Ease). How are there so many ways to say 1 name? GLA is so amazing that, yes, I’d go again, but alas I recently got a job and I can only take so much time off.

 

St. Louis is supposed to be really fun. If I was going, I’d definitely book an extra few days and plan to do some sight seeing while I was there. Also, I heard some people I know talking about events that might revolve around going to this really fabulous museum in St. Louis. You should check out the schedule that is on the website.  I think GLA is going to be so amazing.

So… Check it out? Rest assure that I thought it was really amazing.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; The background and some thoughts on the matter…

Sometime while writing the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling also took the time to write a few companion books that were “real” wizarding books within the Harry Potter universe. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander, The Tales … Continue reading

6 lessons from Harry Potter 

Fantastic Beasts (and Where to Find Them) is out in theatres! It was awesome and there were so many things that I liked about it. For those of you who do not know what Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them … 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

My Favourite Fictional Relationships

Lily Aldrin and Marshall Eriksen – How I Met Your Mother  Lily and Marshall are one of my favourite fictional couples for a few reasons. Firstly, they’re best friends, which kind of makes them a perfect couple in my opinion. … Continue reading

Odds In Our Favor

avatar1This year, Odds In Our Favor is reclaiming the narratives of socioeconomic, racial, sexual and gendered inequalities. Based on the themes of the Hunger Games, Odds In Our Favor provides fans with a forum to tell their stories and push back against the inequalities in a world with a shrinking middle class.

The #MyHungerGames hashtag is opening a space for people to tell personal stories about inequality. Stories can also be submitted to the My Hunger Games blog on Tumblr. I have been reading through the stories, and they are touching and heartbreaking but they are also inspiring and hopeful. It’s where I learned about the Campaign for Youth Justice.

Campaign for Youth Justice is an organization fighting to keep minors out of the adult prison system.

As a sociologist at heart (and by education), I am so inspired by the youth justice advocates who are involved with these kinds of campaigns.

I am very inspired by the stories that are being submitted and the power that these stories have to reclaim narratives of those who are marginalized. I would strongly encourage everyone to read these stories and submit one of their own if you’d like to share. You can go to the My Hunger Games blog here and the Odds In Our Favour website here. You can also follow the stories on Storify, Twitter, and Facebook. This is our hunger games!

The Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

The Career of Evil is the third book written by Robert Galbraith, who, if you don’t know, is really J.K. Rowling; she has a pseudonym. In The Career of Evil, Cormoran Strike, a private detective, and his assistant/partner-in-training, Robin, are … Continue reading

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell was released on October 6, 2015. Those of you who have read Fangirl, also by Rainbow Rowell, will have been introduced to the characters and story of Carry On. Simon Snow is a teenaged boy … Continue reading

FANGIRL by RAINBOW ROWELL – with Friends of the Apparating Library book group discussion responses

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, is a book about an 18-year-old girl named Cather who’s struggling with all of the changes in her life, including how her mom abandoning her family when she was 8, she is now learning to how … Continue reading

Fandom and activism – Rethinking Harry Potter in real life

I was an executive for the Harry Potter Alliance, a non-profit with chapters across Canada, the USA and internationally. The organization combines Harry Potter fandom with social activism and includes mottos such as “the weapon we have is love” and … Continue reading

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling; The way that JK Rowling gave us amazing advice

J.K. Rowling is such an inspiration for me. I jumped on the chance to read Very Good Lives, a commencement speech that Rowling gave at Harvard in 2008. It is beautifully illustrated and so inspiring. Her words of wisdom are touching … Continue reading

The Magic of Harry Potter – or “Books Turn Muggles Into Wizards”

For myself, Harry Potter did not end when I read the last book or watched the last movie. Years later, I still live out Harry Potter in my own life. For the most part, I take Harry Potter way more … Continue reading

What is the Harry Potter Alliance?

I was the PR executive for the Harry Potter Alliance while I was in university. I absolutely loved the experience for a number of reasons. Harry Potter was involved. Social justice was involved. Public relations was involved. Becoming involved with … Continue reading