I vividly remember a junior high experience decades later. My
science teacher had scads of science articles. Three times a week we
had to read three and, for each one, write its ten most salient
points. Grades were check minus, check, or check plus. I did mine
dilligently and always got check plus. One day after school I stopped
by the science room. It was a strange room with seats arranged in
bleacher like tiers. The teacher did not see me retrieve the notebook
I left there. He was grading our papers awfully fast, not even
reading them. Was he just going by the names on the papers? I tried
an experiment. I picked an article on owls and wrote ten points of
inanity: owls can fly, owls have eyes... I wanted a check minus; I
got a check plus. It was the one time I didn't speak up. I stood up
for bullied kids. I answered questions in class to the extent people
worried I'd scare the boys away. I was articulate about my opinions.
I was the only kid in the school who told the cafeteria ladies I
enjoyed the food. But I remember that incident as vividly as if it
I'd bet that those of my readers who are women who do not gild
those between childhood and teen years with a patina of nostalgia can
recall instances when silence was encouraged. For today's middle
schoolers these situations are amplified. In the sixties bullies were
limited to what damage they could do in person and on the phone.
Today there's the cyber universe. In the sixties nude photos were of
babies. My male classmates were deterred from taking lewd photos by
fears that the people developing the film would call in the police.
Today we have pressures on girls to send nude photos as love tokens
and revenge porn when relationships go sour.
Halley Bondy's Speak Up! A Guide to Having Your Say and
Speaking Your Mind is a great resource for today's middle school girls
(and the adults who care about them). Bondy starts out explaining why
becoming your own person and speaking out is both crucial and
difficult. She then goes on to discuss more specific challenges
*How to disagree with friends without dooming the friendship;
*How to assert yourself or get help if you are being bullied;
*How to change painful family dynamics;
And *Where to go if teachers or coaches aren't being fair.
Bondy does not stick to easy situations. She tells how to
report adults who act abusive or inappropriately. She also does not
go for black and white scenarios. She reminds readers that one can
both bully and be bullied in different situations.
Basically I highly recommend this book for middle school
students, school and public libraries, and parents and people who work
with young people in this age group.
On a personal note, I participated in the Maine Democratic Caucus. I
very much enjoyed standing up for Bernie and seeing him win by a
landslide. I know I will enjoy being a Bernie delegate in Portland in
A great big shout out goes out to Bernie and all of us who know
incrementalism is not enough: we need a revolution to get back to
government of, for, and by the people.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod