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Capitol Hill Just Congratulated YA Writer Elizabeth Acevedo For Her Accomplishments And Contributions To Latinidad

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As the literary world becomes more inclusive, we are hearing from fresh voices who are sharing experiences that marginalized people have long endured but have never seen represented before. If this year’s Carnegie Medal winner is any indication, these voices are finally being celebrated by the literary world for the power they speak.

The 2019 Carnegie Medal has been awarded to Dominican-American slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

This is the first time in the prestigious award’s 83 years that a writer of color has been the honoree.

Twitter / @nationalbook

The UK’s Carnegie Medal is an esteemed award for works of children’s and young adult’s literature. It was founded in 1936 and named after Scottish-American businessman, Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was responsible for founding over 2,800 libraries in the English-speaking world.

Acevedo was awarded the Carnegie Medal at the June 18, 2019 ceremony for her debut novel, “The Poet X.” The book utilizes Acevedo’s poetry skills as she tells the story of shy 15-year-old Xiomara. In the book, the young Dominicana joins a slam poetry club at her school. As a result, Xiomara gradually opens up to the world and shares her own powerful voice.

Chosen by a panel of a dozen of children’s librarians, Acevedo and her “Poet X” received high praise by judges.

Twitter / @midashahab

Judges of this year’s awards called “The Poet X” “a searing, unflinching exploration of culture, family, and faith within a truly innovative verse structure.” They add that the book’s protagonist “comes to life on every page and shows the reader how girls and women can learn to inhabit, and love, their own skin.”

This is a sentiment echoed by the other accolades “The Poet X” has been awarded since its publication. At the 2019 Youth Media Awards, the book won the Michael Printz Award for best young adult literature. Additionally, “The Poet X” won the Pura Belpré award. This prize honors the Latina writer who best portrayed the Latinx experience for children in their work each year.

It’s that concept in particular that encouraged Avecedo to write “The Poet X.”

Twitter / @Wardle_Academy

Before she was a writer, Avecedo was an 8th-grade school teacher in Maryland. It was while teaching that one of her students gave her the desire to write. The student kept rejecting the books Avecedo suggested she read. According to the writer, the girl said she couldn’t read any of them because “none of these books are about us.”

Consequently, this drove Avecedo to write a story that reflects the sights, sounds, and people of her neighborhood. In doing so, she succeeds in creating a book that gives a voice to “all the little sisters yearning to see themselves” — just as she hoped in the book’s dedication. Undoubtedly, it is this sort of literature — the kind that validates depreciated identities — that we need to see so much more of.

Once news of Avecedo’s win reached the Internet, Twitter came alive with congratulations for the Dominicana.

Twitter/ @lilaybean

This Twitter user pointed out that seeing Avecedo win inspires a huge sense of pride for the Dominican Republic and the Latinidad. Since we all win when one of us wins, it almost feels as if a prima or amiga is being honored.

Avecedo was even congratulated on Capital Hill for her history-making win.

Twitter / @RepEspaillat

New York Representative Adriano Espaillat applauded the writer for her win as well as for her role as a teacher. As Rep. Espaillat explained, Avecedo saw a need for diversity in her school’s English curriculum and she created the change herself. The world would be a more beautiful place if more of us also created the change we need.

Some well-wishers simply expressed how much they love Avecedo’s literary voice.

Twitter / @itsjustkate4

This Twitter user joked that Avecedo is such a good writer, that she’d even listen to her read appliance manuals. Between “The Poet X” and her second novel, “The Fire On High,” we’re total fans of Avecedo so we can relate.

This win will forever be a part of history and — as such — so will this Dominicana’s voice. Here’s to Avecedo’s victory, breaking barriers and making the world into what we need it to be.

Here’s What Those Mourning Over Victims Of The El Paso And Dayton Shootings Can Takeaway From Toni Morrison’s Death

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Here’s What Those Mourning Over Victims Of The El Paso And Dayton Shootings Can Takeaway From Toni Morrison’s Death

Today, Toni Morrison, the first Black woman to receive the Novel Prize in literature died at 88. 

Known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved, Morrison meant a lot to many communities. She reshaped American literature, she gave a voice and paved a path for future generations of Black women writers, she was unapologetically herself, she flawlessly wrote about the complexities of the Black experience in America. Above all, she didn’t just write for writing’s sake, she transformed American thought and others’ way of being with her words that still ring true today.  

Morrison was one of the most important American writers of the 20th century and her words will forever stay with the communities she wrote about and the lives of those she touched. 

Morrison, who wrote a total of 11 novels, had a career in publishing before she became an award-winning novelist. Aside from being the first Black woman to receive the Pulitzer Price in literature, she was also the first Black woman senior editor at Random House. In a statement released Tuesday morning, her family and publisher Knopf confirmed the death of Morrison. She died Montefiore Medical Center in New York on Monday night after a brief illness. 

Through her writing, she made a point to not write through the “white gaze” and focused on amplifying the Black experience through themes including “slavery, misogyny, colorism, and supernaturalism.” Outside of her writing, Morrison continued to do the same. In multiple interviews, published essays, and other works, she continued to put a mirror in front of American society and show it its true colors. 

Morrison not only transformed American literature with her novels, but she also transformed American society by reminding us to resist racism and white supremacy.

In an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin in 2008, Morrison spoke about why she doesn’t believe in using the word “post-racial” to describe society. In the interview, she was discussing her book “A Mercy” — her 9th novel that revealed what lies beneath the surface of slavery in early America, following the story of mothers and daughters — which takes place in a “pre-racial” time. 

“It seems to indicate something that I don’t think is quite true, which is that we have erased racism from the country, and that certainly isn’t true — or the world,” Morrison said. “Racism will disappear when it’s: no longer profitable, and no longer psychologically useful. When that happens, it’ll be gone.”

She went on to say that at the moment, people continued to make a lot of money off of it and that it protects people “from a certain kind of pain.”

This sentiment still rings true when we think of 2016, a time in which a racist man with disgusting views and ideals of the world took the Oval Office. It also applies to 2019, where Morrison’s last days saw 2 mass shootings within the span of hours and immigrant children and families continue to be ripped apart at the border.  More particularly it applies in an era where America continues to profit off marginalized communities and thrive off racist rhetoric. So, like Morrison states, we don’t live in a post-racial time.

“If you take racism away from certain people — I mean vitriolic racists as well as the sort of, social racist — if you take that away, they may have to face something really terrible: misery, self-misery, and deep pain about who they are,” Morrison continued. “It’s just easier to say that one over there is the cause of all my problems.” 

This interview was only one of many where Morrison dropped some serious gems about racism and white supremacy in America. 

In an interview from 1993 with Charlie Rose,  she spoke about racism being a moral issue because it had become a quality that defined so many people. 

“If I take your race away, and there you are, all strung out. And all you got is your little self, and what is that? What are you without racism? Are you any good? Are you still strong? Are you still smart? Do you still like yourself?” she said in the interview with Rose. 

The world will continue to mourn Toni Morrison’s death and honor the lasting impact she left behind with her writing. 

Today, everyone who loved Morrison — from readers, fans, to politicians — are sharing what the writer meant to them and the difference she made in their lives.

The Paris Review shared a tweet following the announcement of her death where they said Morrison “influenced just about every English-language writer currently working.” 

Texas Congressman and brother of 2020 presidential hopeful, Julian Castro, Joaquin Castro shared an impactful quote on oppressive language as violence.

The theme of oppressive language resonates more than ever today, especially when the current president of the U.S. uses language as violence to further marginalize and demonize communities of color.

“We have lost a stunning storyteller, unmatched in her imagination and power. She will be deeply missed,” Castro added in another tweet. 

Oprah, who has interviewed Morrison in the past and who also starred in the film adaption of Beloved, shared what her death meant to her on Instagram. 

“She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them,” Oprah wrote of Morrison. 

California Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Kamala Harris also shared a tweet about how we’ve lost one of the greatest voices and storytellers of our time.

“Her work gave us power, hope & freedom,” Harris tweeted. 

Author and “Project Runway” star Elaine Welteroth stressed the path Morrison paved for Black women everywhere.

“Because there simply would be no me if there hadn’t been you,” Welteroth said in her Instagram caption. 

Afro-Dominicana author and storyteller, Elizabeth Acevedo, referred to Morrison as a “curandera” because of her writing.

“She was so many things. Yes, brilliant, but so witty, purposeful, methodical in her gestures, thoughtful in her answers & a seer, I believe. A curandera. She’s left us so much. And I’m not sure she’s left us at all,” Acevedo wrote in her tweet. 

Lastly, former president Barack Obama, who awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, also shared a touching tribute. 

In 2012, when he awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he called her works “hallmarks of the American literary tradition. “What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while,” Obama tweeted.

Morrison’s novels and her thoughts on how to resist racism will forever leave an impact on our lives and society. Whether you’ve read her work before or not, it’s never too late to revisit it or to start. 

Best Selling Author Elizabeth Acevedo’s Book ‘With The Fire On High’ Is Going To Be Turned Into a Movie

Fierce

Best Selling Author Elizabeth Acevedo’s Book ‘With The Fire On High’ Is Going To Be Turned Into a Movie

Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

Lately, Afro-Dominican author and poet Elizabeth Acevedo has gotten a lot of well-deserved praise for the incredible writings she has contributed to the literary world. Back in June of 2019, Acevedo’s “Poet X” won the prestigious Carnegie Medal — making her the first writer of color to ever receive the honor. The writer also released her second book, “With The Fire On High,” to esteemed reviews back in May of the same year. 

Now, the Latina creator is getting another honor to add to her distinguished resume. 

Her book, “With The Fire On High,” has been picked up by a production company with plans to develop it into a movie. 

Twitter / @AcevedoWrites

It was announced on Monday, August 5th that the production company, Picturestart, acquired the rights to the New York Times bestselling novel and will produce a film that Acevedo will adapt for the big screen. Picturestart was launched earlier this year by Former Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-president Erik Feig. This adaptation will be one of the production company’s first. Feig and Executive Vice-President of Picturestart, Lucy Kitada, are set to produce the film for the company. As of now, there is no date or time frame for the film in these early stages of its development.  

“With The Fire On High” tells the story of protagonist Emoni Santiago. The 17-year-old Philadelphian works through the challenges of becoming a single mother during her freshman year of high school. Despite many hardships, Santiago finds that the one place she can still feel free is the kitchen. The magic, love, and kindness she puts into her dishes make both her and everyone who tastes them happy. However, as much she likes to cook, Santiago feels its an impossible dream to pursue so she is conflicted about pursuing it. Still, she can’t help the way she feels when she turns up the heat and creates something new. 

On Twitter, fans and colleagues alike celebrated Acevedo’s newest project. 

Twitter / @YesikaStarr

Fellow Latina writer, Yesika Salgado, took to Twitter to congratulate Acevedo. As the Salvadorean says in her tweet, the “With The Fire On High” author really seems to be on a winning streak lately. We’re glad to see her getting all the accolades she deserves. 

As this tweet points out, Acevedo’s news is very needed after this weekend’s tragedies. 

Twitter / @GlamBelle9

After a weekend filled with so much pain, the Latinidad is in desperate need of some happy news so this announcement comes as a beautiful win for all of us. Acevedo was raised by immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. To see her succeed in the ways that she has is both inspirational and so gratifying for our Latinx and immigrant communities.

Some supporters expressed their excitement to see Acevedo’s characters on the big screen. 

Twitter / @juliaerin80

This new film deal means that we will see Emoni and all of the book’s other characters brought to life. Seeing more films with protagonists of color not only opens more roles up to Black and brown actors, but it also provides an opportunity to see ourselves and our community is reflected by Hollywood. 

Most of all, Acevedo’s fans and supporters were just really excited for the Latina writer. 

Twitter / @IAmKingBey

Acevedo’s announcement was full of reactions from friends, fans, and supporters and they all echoed the same excitement and happiness for the author. GIFs and reaction images expressed just how proud they are to hear the Dominicana’s news. Her mentions were basically a big celebration. 

We’re very happy for Acevedo and can’t wait to see her book come to life. It’s another example of what can be accomplished with Latina excellence.