Comic books make a great dictionary

page 427
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Moomin just came home from school with a spelling test with the word “Indian” marked wrong. My mom or sister suggested he “look it up in the dictionary”. I blush to say he doesn’t have one. But he got excited and said he knew just where to look!

Ran into his room!

Came back with an enormous phone-book-sized book of old silver age Superman comic books!

Flipped excitedly to page 427!

Where there was a rather horrid episode of some character going “Me big Indian chief!”

I have my work cut out for me tonight as I must ponder

a) why my kid does not have a dictionary
b) how odd, but kind of good, it is that he knows the 500+ page Superman comic book well enough to look up a specific instance of a word
c) must sit down and read that issue with him and explain whatever racism is going on and what we think about it
d) it takes a lot of effort to teach the internalization of anti-racism than it does to do nothing in which case the ambient racism will get taught and internalized

To Rook’s credit he had put the Superman book up on a high shelf because it was so much more sexist and racist than the other stuff we have like Green Lantern and Teen Titans; not that he couldn’t read it, but that we thought it would be better to read it with guidance.

I still feel like our explanation of “Pieface” in the Green Lantern comic books sucked. The thing is there, too, it’s not just like we can explain it once and he gets it. It takes a lot of repetition. Rook does a way better job of it than I do.

Anyway, I’m getting Moomin a whole bunch of those graphic novel biographies for his birthday. The books give at least a tiny counterbalance to the weight of popular culture and people’s messed up assumptions. How about this one… Malclom X. 😎 Just kidding, maybe that one can wait. Instead I really like this series of Graphic Biographies from Capstone Press.

Meanwhile, I’m working 2 jobs and am feeling pretty overwhelmed! More on this subject later.

I’m going on Thursday to Austin for SXSWi, which will be a total blast! Rook will be with his family in New York, and Moomin will be with my mom and dad in Texas. If you’ll be at the conference, find me and say hi!

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