Sunday, December 01, 2019

Recommended: "Chubby City Indian" by Jana Schmieding in THE (OTHER) F WORD: A CELEBRATION OF THE FAT AND FIERCE, edited b Angie Manfredi

Jana Schmeiding is Lakota. She does comedy shows and hosts the Woman of Size podcast. Her essay, "Chubby City Indian" is in Angie Manfredi's The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce. Published in 2019 by Amulet Books, the book includes personal essays, prose, poetry, fashion tips, and art from 30 different people. 

Schmieding's essay is a searing look at her life, beginning with her childhood. She uses a river to capture her life as a Native child in a small town in Oregon in the 1990s, where social and educational experiences were dominated by Whiteness. That was, for her, the White Side of the River. It was hard for me to read what she went through in middle school: the pain of wanting to be accepted, and the pain of doing things for that acceptance.

On the Native Side of the River, however, we see something else entirely. Acceptance. A place of kinship with other Native girls, some who had to dress up as pilgrims for kindergarten pageants. She had a place where she could be with Native family, dancing at powwows.

And on the Native Side of the River, she felt joy--as depicted in Lisa Tegtmeier's illustration of her, dancing. She writes:
My bigness and boldness on the dance floor were a celebration of their courage and endurance in the face of so much historic silencing.
I've read that sentence several times. It is so affirming! It is the Fat and Fierce of the subtitle of Manfredi's book. I think Chubby City Indian is terrific, and that the book is a must-have, for every school and public library because of its many affirmations. In it you'll find David Bowles, Alex Gino, Julie Murphy, Isabel Quintero, Renée Watson, and so many others. This is the sort of book you'll want to have multiple copies of available. Thanks, Angie, for bring it forth!

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