I'd never even heard the name James Baldwin until my first semester at Union Theological Seminary. As a white, middle-class American, I was the product of a predominantly white, middle-class education that didn't assign The Fire Next Time and Giovanni's Room, two of Baldwin's masterpieces, alongside 1984 and The Scarlet Letter. It wasn't until I moved to New York and took a class on Baldwin's life and writings that I was transformed by the black, same-gender-loving, 20th-century author's honesty and candor.
Baldwin grew up on New York's Fifth Avenue — not the Fifth Avenue of Saks and the Social Register but the Fifth Avenue of 1930s Harlem, where black Americans like Ellison's invisible man were kept at a safe, 60-block distance from fearful, prejudiced whites. The child preacher turned writer experienced racism and homophobia firsthand and possessed an unflinching eye for the injustices of American life. Unlike many authors I have read before, Baldwin was filled with love, courage and an unrelenting imagination. It was precisely because of his abiding care for his country that Baldwin retained the right to critique her so harshly. He had faith that the United States could be better, not only for him but for all people.
Featuring an all-star cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Kevin Bacon and others, “8” is a play written by Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and directed by acclaimed actor and director Rob Reiner. It is a powerful account of the case filed by the American Federation for Equal Rights (AFER ) in the U.S. District Court in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8 [LINK], a constitutional amendment that eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. Framed around the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010, 8 provides an intimate look what unfolded when the issue of same-sex marriage was on trial.
The panel discusses how we talk to kids in elementary school about sexual orientation. 10 percent of the population is gay, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families are on the rise. Yet we rarely hear about these families in Ontario elementary schools. Why is that? Why do kids need to see themselves and their families reflected? And what happens if they are excluded from the curriculum, how does that affect their development and learning?