A novel approach to critical thinking
Real-life murder used to explore racial and educational concerns in the rural South
BY KIM WHITING
Author John Yearwood’s new novel, Jar of Pennies, is based on the real-life murders of a young wife and her three-year old toddler in rural East Texas several decades ago—and how the killer was brought to justice. It’s also derived from Yearwood’s decades of study of the region’s culture and character, and explores its racial complexities with deep insight. The book’s subplots involving political corruption and illegal drugs also have a ripped-from-today’s-headlines vibe that indicate, as a main character observes, “nothing really changes.”
The tale is told through the eyes of a small town newspaper editor, an outsider observing the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the people in east Texas; not coincidentally, Yearwood was once the owner and editor of three small Texas newspapers. In Yearwood’s experience, crime and racial bigotry arise from the same cause: misguided, even cynical public educational policies.
“Public ignorance leads to failure of the educational system,” Yearwood says. He calls education in Texas an “assembly line process, as though children can be shoveled in like raw materials on one side and come out doctors and lawyers on the other side. This system is a complete and abject failure, and the result is racism, fear, and murder. Every episode in the book illustrates the ways in which ignorance is constantly overcoming efforts to improve humanity.”
Yearwood, who was also a high school teacher for 20 years, and a communications professor at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas for 15, introduces Jar of Pennies readers to a brilliant teacher named Charles Henniker, a Black military veteran who makes learning both creative and relevant to his students by developing their critical thinking skills—much to the displeasure of the school administration.
An excerpt: (more…)
Hate trans folks all you want…
We're here to stay and determined to fight
Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment of “The Transchick Chronicles,” an on-going series of essays written by out transgender journalist Stephanie Haskins, as she documents her transition. Scroll to the bottom for links to her previous entries.
BY STEPHANIE HASKINS
The dictionary defines the word cruelty as “callous indifference to or pleasure in causing pain and suffering.”
Its list of synonyms include: brutality, savagery, and inhumanity.
In recent weeks and months, the amount of cruelty being foisted in the direction of transgender people like me is on the rise. And I don’t mean hate crimes—I mean concerted efforts to LEGALIZE cruelty.
As a newly-minted transgender person four years ago, I fully understood I might be in for some resistance and some tough times from transphobic people as I transitioned. I mean, let’s face it, when a middle aged White guy announces to the world that he’s no longer interested in maintaining his penis, you expect you’re gonna get some pushback.
From men mostly, I figured.
After all, penis-people—like our great Soldier of Orange, Donald Trump, or his Former Veep and Ass-Kisser-in-Chief Mike Pence, or the Florida Manatee Man Ron DeSantis—practically double over in agony when they consider the possibility of having their limp-biscuit scrotal tissue repurposed into vaginas.
They assume that would be about the worst possible thing that can happen to ANY person, except maybe actually being BORN with a vagina. And breasts. And consciences.
Being a woman. Unimaginable.
Oh, don’t get me wrong—they’re heterosexual guys, so they do just LOVE to express their reservoirs of seminal fluid (much like squeezing the anal glands of unsuspecting honey-badgers) into the genitalia of females. (more…)