Young Adult Literature Excerpts Used for Text Graffiti Exercise
YALSA YA Lit Symposium – Austin, TX – November 2014
Hughes-Hassell & Stivers


From Born Confused

So I was an ABCD. Why hadn’t anyone told me? Why didn’t they put this in those spots where they say race doesn’t matter but please check one of the following? Growing up, I was always exing Asian/Pacific Islander, even though I didn’t understand why they were treated as the same thing. It would have been so much easier to check ABCD…I wondered if I’d ever be an ABD…But for now I was an ABCD. I didn’t really know what that meant. But I suppose that was the point. (Hidier, 2002)

From Ball Don’t Lie

Dante reaches down to grab a couple of stones off the ground. See that wall in front of you? he says. In America, life’s like a race to that wall. That’s the way I see it. He sets the first stone less than a foot from the wall, points and says: If you born white and got money then you start the race way up here. Ahead of everybody…

But say you ain’t white and rich. Say you poor and black. Or you Mexican, Puerto Rican…You may not even have enough food to eat a balanced meal every night…In this case you startin the race of life way back here. He points to the second stone. Only a fool would think someone who starts here has the same opportunities as cats startin at the first stone. (De la Peña, 2005)

From Bronx Masquerade

White folks! Who they think they kidding? They might as well go blow smoke up somebody else’s you-know-what, ‘cause a Black man’s got no chance in this country. I be lucky if I make it to twenty-one with all these fools running around with AK-47s…Life is cold. Future? What I got is right now, right here, spending time with my homeys. Wish there was some future to talk about. I could use me some future. (Grimes, 1998)

From Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I didn’t know how to start, so I just started with the biggest question.

“Who has the most hope?” I asked.

Mom and Dad looked at each other. They studied each other’s eyes, you know, like they had antennas and were sending radio signals to each other. And then they both looked back at me.

“Come on,” I said. “Who has the most hope?”

“White people,” my parents said at the same time. (Alexie, 2007)

From If you come softly

“Thing about white people,” his father was saying. They were driving along the Long Island Expressway, heading out to East Hampton. There was a house there his father wanted to look at for his next film. “They don’t know they’re white. They know what everybody else is, but they don’t know they’re white.” He shook his head and checked his rearview mirror. “It’s strange.” (Woodson, 2001)

From The Living

“Gorgeous name for a gorgeous gal. And where you from, Ms. Carmen?”

She glanced at Shy for a fraction of a second, then told the man: “I’m from San Diego, sir.”

“Originally, I mean,” the man said. “What race are you?”

Carmen was as good as anyone at laying down the fake cheerful vibe. But Shy could tell by her eyes, she wanted to boot dude in the huevos.   (de la Pena, 2013)

From Bird

“Hey,” he said, “what are you, anyway?” The words were curious, not mean. “You’re not from around here.”

A little something tightened inside me, like it did every time I got this question, but I was used to it. Mostly. “I’m half -Jamaican, a quarter white, and a quarter Mexican,” I said.

“Wow,” John said. “I didn’t know people could turn out like that.”

“And I am from around here,” I said, making sure my voice carried over the crickets. “I was born in the house down the road.”

John said, “I’m not trying to insult you or anything. I’ve just never met someone like you.”

I’ve learned that it’s best to get this conversation out of the way so we can talk about more interesting things.

“Well, now you have,” I replied. “And my name’s Jewel.” (Chan, 2014)

From Brown Girl Dreaming

Once there were four white families on our block

but they all moved away except for the old lady

who lives by the tree. Some days, she brings out cookies

tells us stories of the old neighborhood when everyone

was German or Irish and even some Italians

down by Wilson Avenue.

All kinds of people, she says. And the cookies

are too good for me to say,

Except us. (Woodson, 2014)

From Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

“These Latin girls mean business. If I were you, I’d stay home tomorrow.”

I stop chewing and give her a look.

“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a Latin girl, too, Darlene.”

Darlene rolls her eyes—again—like I’m the stupid one. White-skinned. No accent. Good in school. I’m not her idea of Latina at all. (Medina, 2013)


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