Category Archives: Culture

Intolerance and The Fate of Fairy Tales in West Virginia

Inclusivity in children’s literature for one community comes down to a pastor and the county library board as the decision to ban a book about a prince and a knight falling in love is pushed back.

from Daniel Haack’s “Prince & Knight”
from Daniel Haack’s “Prince & Knight”
The Upshur County Public Library Board in West Virginia recently pulled the children’s book, ‘Prince & Knight’, from the library due to its LGBTQ content. This is another example recently of one person or group shouting louder than everyone else and forcing their opinions and personal beliefs on others in an intentional effort to destroy access to information.

In Citrus County, Florida, the county commissioners laughed at the idea of paying for a subscription to the New York Times, a subscription which would have benefitted 70,000 people, allowing them access to news and research. Their reasoning? The commissioners personally felt the New York Times was “fake news”.

Now another community “leader”, this time a pastor in West Virginia, is taking a similar position—his personal beliefs or opinions should supersede his community’s access to reading material, because the fairy tale he believes in of an omnipotent god who created the universe in seven days two thousand years ago is more realistic than a fairy tale about two guys falling in love.

from Daniel Haack’s “Prince & Knight”Because how dare you teach kids to be happy with who they are.

The children’s book was removed from the shelves of the library at the wishes of a pastor who released an anti-LGBTQ statement claiming the book “is a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children, especially boys, into the LGBTQA lifestyle.” Pastor Layfield claimed that the only reason his four sons are straight “is that they never read children’s books with gay knights in them.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis states that “The decision to remove Prince & Knight from the shelves of the Upshur County Public Library is an act of discrimination, plain and simple. Inclusive children’s books do not ‘indoctrinate’ but do allow LGBTQ families and their children the chance to see themselves reflected in the world.”

Daniel Haack, the author of ‘Prince & Knight’ (as well as coauthoring ‘Maiden & Princess’ with Isabel Galupo) said the book is “meant to be a fun little adventure story that also just happens to better reflect the reality of millions of families not seen in other children’s stories. If the protesters are worried that reading this book will turn someone gay, I can easily refer them to all the gay adults who grew up only reading about straight romances.”

At a meeting of the library board on November 20 the president of the board walked out after several minutes of protest when it became clear that the board would not hear public comment on the banning of the book.

The book’s ultimate fate—whether it is to remain in the children’s section, get moved to the adult section, or get banned entirely—will be decided at a later date.

Until then you can show your support for inclusive storytelling by purchasing your own copy of Daniel Haack’s books, ‘Prince & Knight’, ‘Maiden & Princess’, or other similar titles such as ‘Jack (Not Jackie)’, ‘Our Rainbow’, ‘Except When They Don’t’, ‘Jacob’s New Dress’, ‘The Princess and the Treasure’, and ‘And Tango Makes Three’ just to name a few.

Are there any diverse or inclusive titles you’ve found or read to your kids that positively represent LGBTQ characters? Add them in the comments and I’ll try to update with cover images and links for others to purchase them.

Daniel Haack, Prince & Knight, Stevie LewisDaniel Haack, Isabel Galupo, Maiden & Princess, Becca HumanOur rainbow, Little Bee BooksJack not Jackie, Erica Silverman, holly Hatam Except when they don’t, Laura Gehl, Joshua Heinsz Jacobs new dress, Sarah Hoffman, Ian Hoffman, Chris caseThe princess and the treasure, Jeffrey miles, j.l. PhillipsAnd tango makes three, Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, Henry cole


Also check out Megan Walsh’s article, “The Missing Youth: How Rigid Gender Roles In Children’s Media Leave Many Kids Out of the Picture”

The Almost Accurate History of American Literature

From William Wells Brown to Phillis Wheatley and Jupiter Hammon—meet the first African American authors in reverse.

If you follow @gasstation_b on Instagram you may have seen a quote recently from William Wells Brown to commemorate his death on November 6, 1884. I also mentioned that with the publication of his novel “Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States” in 1853 he became the first African American author to be published in the United States.

And that’s almost accurate.

If you’re not familiar with the novel, it follows Clotel and her sister, fictional slave daughters of Thomas Jefferson and explores the destructive effects of slavery in the United States on African-American families, the difficult lives of American mulattoes or mixed-race people, and the degraded and immoral condition of the relation of master and slave. Its general premise pulls from the common knowledge of the time that Jefferson had fathered several children by his slave Sally Hemings (herself believed to be the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife).

A short time after posting that quote from Brown I came across a post from @andresawilson of the Phillis Wheatley monument that is part of the Boston Women’s Memorial. It’s located between Fairfield Street and Gloucester Street on Commonwealth Avenue, if you’re in the neighborhood and have a thing for literature, history or even just statues.

I mention this since Phillis Wheatley is also commonly given the distinction of being the first African American author to be published, with her book, “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” having been published September 1, 1773.

And that’s almost accurate.

Now, I know you might want to argue that since Wheatley’s book of poetry predates the founding of the United States, Wells earns the distinction instead of Wheatley, because semantics—but don’t be that guy.

Wheatley was a fascinating historical figure and gifted writer, as was Wells. Although separated by decades—Wheatley died thirty years before Brown was born—both writers were former slaves and gave an unprecedented voice to their experiences. Their respective works were widely read and celebrated with even George Washington said to have been a fan of Wheatley’s work, and they served to inspire other artists and writers of their time.

And also neither of them was the first African American author to be published.

After all that misinformation the distinction truly goes to Jupiter Hammon, who’s poem “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries” was published as a broadside in 1760.

Jupiter Hammon

Hammon, by the way, was quite a fan of Wheatley’s work when she became the first African American woman to be published, and his second published work was a poem titled, “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley”. Hammon would die nearly fifty years before William Wells Brown would become the first African American to publish a novel, but he probably would have written a poem about it if he’d still been around.

Regardless of who holds the title of first published African American author, all three of these literary figures, and the many who followed who were inspired by their work, should be celebrated for their lasting contributions to literature and history.

That, at least, is accurate.

Eat the Whole Bag, Realistic Advice For a World On Fire

Eat the whole bag, because let’s be honest, that bag of chips is all you can afford for dinner. Guess you shouldn’t have bought that Starbucks as you rushed between jobs.

Finally, the inspirational book of life advice we all really need to survive the dumpster fire our world has become!

Because if you’ve survived high school without getting shot to death by a classmate, and survived college without drinking yourself to death or getting shot to death by a classmate, then you deserve to eat the whole damn bag of chips.

Chances are you’re going to grad school now because that’s what you were conditioned to do. And since you have zero financial literacy and don’t realize you’ll be graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt that will financial and emotionally cripple you for the rest of your life—if you manage to survive grad school without getting shot to death by a classmate or random stranger at Walmart. So go ahead, live a little; eat the whole damn bag of chips.

Go ahead and eat that whole damn bag of chips, because you’re going to spend the rest of your life working six jobs and still earn less than your parents. And through it all you’ll blame yourself, having been raised under the false assumption that if you had just worked harder everything would be ok.

It won’t.

So go ahead and eat the whole damn bag….

After all, the planet is going to literally cook us all alive next week so that the ten people who control 99% of the world’s resources can buy another 100,000 square foot house they’ll never visit.

The updated edition also includes the essays:

“Coffee Will Kill You Instantly…. And Other Things We’ll Tell You the Exact Opposite of Next Week”

“Red Wine Will Cure Your Coffee Cancer…. And Other Things We’ll Tell You the Exact Opposite of Next Week”

“Avocado Toast Is Why You’re Poor”

“10 Things Millennials Have Ruined Because Wages Are Half of What They Were 40 Years Ago”

“Suck It Up, A Cure-All Guide to Mental Health”

“Your Insurance Only Covers WebMD; You Have Cancer”

…and a new poem from Lewis Black called “You’re All Fucked! / Love, Baby Boomers”


The original cover this post is based on is for “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”, a collection of inspirational essays from Penguin Books. Based on those who contributed to the book, I have no doubt that these essays are full of actual positive advice from social, political, and cultural icons who have dedicated their lives to fighting for the very things I’ve mocked with my fake inspirational advice book and the essay titles included. For anyone who didn’t find this funny, I’m sorry; I was being foolish, and I was very hungry at the time.

However, I fully support eating the whole bag of chips.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb for “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”:

“Graduation day is a pivotal moment. After a lifetime of learning, and at least three years of studying, we’re thrown headfirst into the unknown world of adulthood.

That day – and the months afterwards – are full of possibilities. They can feel thrilling and rudderless, dreamy yet terrifying but it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past and look at what’s still to come.

In this collection of carefully curated speeches, Barack Obama, Gloria Steinem and Tim Minchin and many more share their advice for graduating students who have gone on to shape the world we live in. This little collection is perfect for anyone seeking inspiration, no matter which life stage they’re at.”


And just so we’re being completely honest with each other, I just ate an entire bag of chips while writing this.

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