Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The July/August 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Click here or above to watch the July/August 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter.


Hi, Community! I'm Lee Wind, and this is the Summer of 2020. And everything continues to not go as planned. It's the end of July, so this is going to be the July/August newsletter, and I'm not going to do anything I planned to do, because I just read this article in the New York Times that I have to speak to. [Links below]

So it turns out there's this senate race in Georgia, and the Republican candidate took a photo of his Jewish, Democratic rival, and they enlarged the nose to make it, I guess the guy, seem more Jewish. And they ran it on Facebook. And they were caught at it. And they're being accused of this anti-semitic trope. And it's crazy that in 2020 we're still facing this kind of ridiculousness.

And this is to take nothing away from all the challenges of people of color and Black people in our country especially. But I have to speak to this. Because it's an insight for me into how much we internalize the hatred in our country and this sense of "other."

So when I was a kid, not only was I a closeted Gay kid, but I hated myself. I had so many things that I didn't like about myself. And I had this horrible mantra that I would repeat every day, hundreds of times a day: "I'm ugly. I'm stupid. I have a big nose."

This wasn't coming from a vacuum. This was coming from a culture that told me that being demonstrably Jewish in that way was a terrible thing. And while I don't think it was a conscious thing on my part, I focused on that. It was this focal point of my self-hate.

And when I graduated high school, the thing I asked my parents for was a nose job. So this nose, that I have, which I like, and is fine, is actually just a scaled-down version of my previous nose. And for years I was closeted about that, too. Like I didn't want anybody to know. Because I thought it made me seem super vain. And, I am a little vain.

But what's so crazy is that, fast-forward, I came out, and I started to love myself. And the nose job helped a little bit, it helped me break that cycle, that idea that "I'm ugly, I'm stupid, I have a big nose." Wait a minute, I don't have a big nose anymore. So maybe I'm not ugly. And maybe I'm not stupid. And I went to really good colleges, and I have a masters degree from Harvard, I'm not a dumb guy. But it took me so long to unlearn that self-hate and try to approach myself with a sense of self-love.

So fast-forward to meeting the man who is now my husband, and we were on our third date or something, and we're out at a restaurant, and this guy walks by, and Mark literally stops talking and stares, and he's like, "Wow. That guy's so handsome."

And I was like, "Okay, tell me more. Why do you think he's so handsome?"

And he was like, "Wow, it's just like, he has such a prominent nose!"

And I just started laughing. (laughs)

So it turns out my husband thinks that guys with really strong prominent noses is a super sexy, super cool thing. And I had done everything in my power to have a more 'normal' nose, a more 'normative' nose.

I love that story, because everything I thought would prevent me from being loved – being Gay, having a big nose – turned out wasn't true. I could have found love. My husband probably would have been happier if I had my original nose!

But I'm bringing it up because in our world... It's like those movies that start out, "In a world where..." Well, we're living in that world. We're living in a pandemic. We're living in a completely racist society where only now people are starting to realize that, "oh, well if I'm not Black, maybe I need to try to work to be anti-racist." Yes! Yes! We do. We all do.

In a world where anti-semitic ads, where politicians are enlarging noses of their Jewish competition to discredit them, to make people hate them. The statistics on anti-semitism, on anti-semitic acts of violence and hate, are actually higher than they've been in the last 40 years!

This is this pivot point, this inflection point in our world, in our culture. and I want the teens that are watching this, and the people that care for teens to know, we have to get to a place where we can embrace and celebrate the differences within ourselves and in others - because that's how - we stand up for each other – and that's how we shift the world.

So it's not a normal video newsletter, but these aren't normal times. There's a lot of cool things going on that I'm really excited about. I did a really cool podcast interview where we were talking about Jewish kid lit and LGBTQ kid lit. The SCBWI conference is coming up and I'm really excited about that, it's all virtual. There's a lot going on, and a lot of it's good.

But in the midst of everything, I needed to take this time, and just speak from the heart. Because I want kids today to have what I didn't have: Which is a sense of safety and security to be themselves, their authentic selves. And that is also what I wish for you.

All right. Until next time, the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you.


The New York Times article, Georgia Senator Is Criticized for Ad Enlarging Jewish Opponent's Nose

The Anti-Defamation League’s Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2019 states that “In 2019, ADL tabulated 2,107 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States. This is a 12% increase from the 1,879 incidents recorded in 2018 and marks the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.”

The Book of Life Podcast Where Heidi Rabinowitz and I Interview Each Other About Jewish Kidlit and LGBTQIA2+ Kidlit

The SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular conference information is here. I'll be leading SCBWI Team Blog coverage here.

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