Please join Room 220 for a special event as part of the New Orleans Loving Festival—Black Rabbits and White Indians: Racially Controversial Children’s Books—at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12, at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.). NOTE: Unlike most Room 220 events, this one will start (sort of) on time. It will be immediately followed by another Loving Fest literary event in the same location, beginning at 7 p.m.
Children’s books are often innocuous objects intended to benignly teach young people love for stories and, sometimes, simple moral lessons. At the same time, they are occasionally perceived as propaganda that can mislead and oppress. In the spirit of the Loving Festival, an annual event held at points across the country to celebrate interracial harmony, Room 220 has gathered three talented local writers to each present a children’s book that, for one reason or another, prompted outcry related to race. While examining racial conflict might seem a strange way to celebrate interracial harmony, we at Room 220 believe that confronting points of contention is the most fun and efficient way to squash beef.
Each of the evening’s three writers will read a selection from a controversial children’s book, with accompanying projections, and offer a description and their own personal take on the book’s controversy.
Kristina Robinson is currently finishing her MFA in creative writing at the University of New Orleans. She is a frequent contributor to Room 220, a New Orleans native, and her writing has appeared in The Baffler, among other places. She will present Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle by Susan Jeffers.
Carlus Henderson is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan’s MFA writing program and currently works as a teacher. He has won a number of fancy literary awards and has been a cheese salesman in Vermont and a dockworker along the Eastern seaboard. Room 220 had the pleasure of hosting Henderson for a reading recently with Ottessa Moshfegh. He will present The Rabbits’ Wedding by Garth Williams.
Jeri Hilt is a former lecturer of African Studies and International Development issues at Tennessee State and Dillard Universities. She has also worked with research, development, and teaching projects in South Sudan, Kenya, Burundi, and the United Kingdom. Hilt, a Louisiana native, currently teaches literacy intervention at an elementary school in New Orleans. She will present Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron.
As usual, this event is free and open to the public, and complimentary libations will be on hand (though we strongly suggest donations).
Following the Black Rabbits and White Indians presentations, an evening of poetry readings and music will commence, also as part of the New Orleans Loving Festival. Poets include Travis Duc Tran, Rosana Cruz, Geryll Robinson, and Delia Tomino Nakayama. Musicians include Peter Nu, Kiyoko McCrae, Miguel Alvarado, Abbey Justo, Zuri McCormick, Rosana Cruz, El Tahra, Mayumi Shara, and Jamal Givens.