Sunday, February 04, 2007

If the Shoe Fits

There's a current bill under review in the Wisconsin State Legislature that's causing some controversy in our area. State representative Donna Seidel introduced the bill at a recent session mandating that Hmong history be taught in Wisconsin schools to educate students about their important role in the Vietnam War. It's a hot topic right now, because Northeastern Wisconsin has one of the highest concentrations of Hmongs in the United States, and at the beginning of the year, a white hunter shot and killed a Hmong hunter about 45 minutes north of here. A couple of years ago a Hmong hunter shot and killed several white hunters in western Wisconsin. There's a lot of anger brewing and tension building, so Seidel and other authors of the bill are trying to soothe troubled waters by teaching students about the important role the Hmong played in Vietnam and how their people have suffered for it. I understand the necessity of education to erase stereotypes and create understanding, but mandating this kind of teaching is worrisome. What history will have to be displaced to make room for the new curriculum? And what about the role that the Poles, Danish, and others played in fighting with the Allies in WWII? Their support of the Allies has shaped European/American relations to this day. The history of every country has shaped world history to some extent, but how much of it can be taught effectively in a classroom without diluting the importance of American history. I know that there has been a swing toward less emphasis on this country's story, but without that one story, we wouldn't have the classrooms to teach in. American history needs to be the basis for all history/social studies classes, because only by learning about our culture's role in history can we effectively understand current foreign relationships. I believe that there is room for the teaching of Hmong history in our studies, but it needs to be done within the proper context. In the article from the link above, a young Hmong states that she was never taught Hmong history in school. While I agree it's a topic to be addressed, much of our cultural education should be coming from parents at home.

If the Shoe Fits by Marilynn Griffith is a terrific book by an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It's the second in the Sassy Sistahood series, but if you haven't read the first (like me), no worries; it's easy to slide in to Rochelle Gardner's shoes. Rochelle has serious troubles: her son's daddy is back, her Bible study partner from church is making doe eyes at her, and there's a cute waiter at a hot restaurant who's making her heart beat fast. What's a woman to do? Rochelle is so easy to like and relate to; she's like a porcupine: all spines and prickly on the outside, soft and looking for love on the inside. I saw a lot of parallels between this book and Tangerine, the third book in her Shades of Style series. A woman struggling to let go of the past keeps getting pulled back into it, not only by her ex, but also by the decisions her children make. Rochelle's heart careens from man to man as she tries to figure out not what she wants for her life but what the Lord wants for it. God strips layer after layer of Rochelle's control and self-assurance away to expose the real woman inside. This is definitely a laugh out loud, grab the box of tissues kind of book. Griffin writes real people living in a world I would love to inhabit. Diverse, smart, full of God-loving sinners who aren't afraid to admit it. The climactic scene between Rochelle and the man she chooses is rife with palpable emotion. I'm ordering the first Sassy Sistahood book, and can't wait for the next. This writer has an amazing amount of talent, and I'm so glad that the Lord has given me the opportunity to read it. Don't just read this one, read everything she writes!

The weather is bitterly cold here: just above zero with wind chills of more than 20 below. My RA is acting up something fierce from the cold, and it's supposed to last all week. Ugh!


Marilynn said...

Thanks again! Great info about the war and the Hmong as well. :0