Skyping Freedom Middle School in Stone Mountain Georgia
Not my fans, at least not yet, these are a class of kids from Georgia who listened to Thunder Over Kandahar as a read a loud. Sharon McKay came over so I could help her skype in to answer their extremely thoughtful questions. I thought Sharon was joking when she said she was bringing me a burqa to wear for the interview. I chuckled out loud. That Sharon. Such a kidder. Me dressing up for that tiny skype window.
She wasn’t joking. It felt a bit claustrophobic even though it was a pretty aqua coloured fabric with some nice embroidery. I found it hard to breathe and stumbled to the computer. Sharon spoke about the detailed research she does, usually onsite, and how she relies on a team of supporters from the culture to fact check.
She likes to write about what she wants to know rather than following the old adage of writing what you know.
So the question she left the kids with was, should a white middle class woman write about the life of a young Muslim girl? Should she ever write outside her culture?
I think, since we’re privileged to live in a free speaking country, we not only should write about other cultures, but it’s our duty. They can’t always write about their own lives with impunity. Also a western woman can write in a mainstream way for western kids to find the story readable. One young woman who had read the book before listening to it and speaking to Sharon, told us how it had changed her life and how grateful she was that Sharon had written the story. Brought a lump to my throat. It’s what every author hopes for. Netoba Watson said the skype visit was one of the highlights of her teaching career. All I can say is, it’s teachers like her and Itaski Arnette that help kids achieve their full potential and Sharon and I, as moms, and grandmoms as well as authors,value them. You’re lucky Freedom Middle School.