- Morrow, B (Ed.). (2019). Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.
- Genre: Anthology (Fiction, Poetry, One Short Graphic Poem)
- Characters: Each protagonist of the fictional pieces represents a youth member of a minority group: Lipan Apache (“Grace” & “Homecoming”- Darcie Little Badger) - Grace is a strong Lipan Apache girl who comes of age within the two stories to finally find her own voice; Muslim (“Are You the Good Kind of Muslim?”- Samira Ahmed) - A quiet student who learns to stand up for her beliefs; Jewish (“Ruth”-Laura Silverman) - A well-read feminist student who writes her own blog, stands up to haters; Black (“The Helpers”- L.D. Lewis & “As You Were”-Bethany C. Morrow) - A young female with an older sister takes over her role as a health care provider after a blast rocks the city/ Ebony, a dedicated member of the band that points out racial discrimination and turns down her romantic crush for homecoming; Argentine-American (“Aurora Rising”-Yamile Saied Méndez); Latino (“Real Ones”-Sofia Quintero) - A high school student expected to fight takes the high road and resolves the conflict; Transgender (“Parker Outside the Box”) - Parker, a transgender high school student who likes to play basketball, works hard to meet the final requirements for graduation. The poetry included within the collection is primarily abstract without character descriptions, just powerful voices.
- Plot: The plot of each piece is confrontation stemming from systematic discrimination, bigotry, and racism. Each piece starts off with a short scene that introduces the protagonist and primary supporting characters to the reader. Shortly thereafter conflict arises: a friend makes a comment that is racist, but doesn’t understand that it is, a troll posts hateful comments on a blog, a school principal hasn’t put up gender-neutral bathroom signs despite laws requiring him to do so, protestors stand in front of a school with signs to bring back a racist mascot…. Each protagonist struggles internally to decide what action he, she, they should take. They often talk with family members and friends to get advice. Then each is put in a situation where a decision has to be made and each decides to take action in different ways. They take a stand and join a protest against gendered bathrooms, Grace takes the mic at a local rally, Ebony turns down her “crush” for homecoming because he doesn’t see anything wrong with his elaborate and highly offensive proposal. Each story ends with the protagonists reflecting on their decisions. Although each story’s end is different, each character ultimately decides that they are satisfied with their decisions.
- Touchy areas: There is some explicit language, and ultimately each story centers on highly politicized issues. White characters in every fictional story are portrayed as ignorant or reluctant to do anything about systemic oppression and racism.
- Related Titles: I Represent(1996), dream in yourself(1997) ed. Quraysh Lansana Movies:Black Panther (2018), The Blind Side (2009), Spanglish(2004), American History X(1998), The Color Purple(1985) Music: “Changes” by Tupac Shakur (1998); “Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (1995); “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday (1939)
Poem: “I, Too” by Langston Hughes; Poetry by Juan Felipe Herrera, Tracy K. Smith, or Joy Harjo.
Classic Work: Fire in Beulahby Rilla Askew; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Waoby Junot Diaz; Song of Solomon, Sula, or Jazzby Toni Morrison; The Color Purpleby Alice Walker
Art: Kehinde Wiley portrait of Barack Obama, Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama; “Last Thanks” or other self-portraits by Wendy Red Star
- Evaluation: Every piece in this anthology is captivating and well written, capturing modern culture with modern language and style: many pieces include text messages between characters; blogs, posts, and snapchats are often included or alluded to as characters face not only in-person conflicts, but also digital conflicts. The inclusion of these elements shows how children growing up today face conflict on multiple fronts simultaneously and often harassment doesn’t end at school but continues online. I would love to “teach” or lead discussions over several of the works within this anthology. My only fear, as mentioned earlier, is how stereotypically oblivious to racism every white/straight character is portrayed. However, the portrayal of those supporting characters could lead to wonderful discussions within a classroom. Reading this work of fiction that is heavily based on issues of discrimination occurring today brought out the absurdity of the time we are living in as we argue about bathrooms and people still claiming “not seeing color” as a way of stating that they are not racist…. I believe that students of all backgrounds would benefit from reading this anthology. Personally, I am currently writing an essay about the mascot of my daughter’s school, and reading Darcie Little Badger’s piece was particularly enlightening.
- Reviewed by: Jason Poudrier