Skip to main content

tv   Qian Wang Beautiful Country  CSPAN  April 20, 2022 4:27pm-5:08pm EDT

4:27 pm
documents american stories and sunday's book tv brings the latest nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 from these television companies and more including book i broadband. ♪♪ ♪♪ >> listen to c-span radio with our free mobile app c-span now. complete access to what's happening in washington wherever you are with live streams of the four proceedings and hearings from u.s. congress. white house events, campaigns and more plus analysis of the world of politics with our
4:28 pm
informative podcasts. c-span now available at the apple store and google play, download for free today. front row seat to washington anytime, anywhere. ♪♪ >> julie is with us courtesy of jerry and narita and joyce and ed. a graduate of yale law school. she is now managing partner, firm defecated advocating for civil rights. her writing has appeared in maple major publications such as the new york times and washington post. she lives in brooklyn with her husband and two rescue dogs, salty and pepper. give a warmwe savannah welcome, julie wong. [applause]
4:29 pm
in the episode of "seinfeld" titled library cop, a library investigation officer named lieutenant bookman, jerry's apartment. the visit occurs because according to library records, jerry had henry miller's tropic of cancer checked out since 1971 but according to jerry, he returned it that same year. when he learned of the dilemma, is terrified. do you know how much that comes to? that's a nickel a day for 20 years, $50000 but when jerry corrects him, it doesn't work like that. kramer gives voice to a fear that would have sent chills through my body as a child or a dime a day, $100,000. when lieutenant arrives on the scene delivers perhaps the best monologue of the g series and im
4:30 pm
going to try to do it justice. let me tell you something, funny boy. you know that says your public library? that may not mean mean anything to you but it means a lot to me. go ahead, laugh if y you want t, i've seen your type before flashing, flaunting convention a big stink about a library book? let me give you a hint, junior. maybe we can live without libraries people like you and me, maybe. we are too old to change the world but what about that kid opening a book right now in a branch of the local library and finding drawings of pp's and we wheeze on a cat in the hat chinese brothers? doesn't he deserve better? if you think this is about
4:31 pm
refines and missing books, you better think again. okay. i know what you're thinking. what is she doing? [laughter] why is she starting with this? when will she stop? well, i'm afraid to tell you i will never stop quoting "seinfeld". [laughter] as a jewish new yorker who grew up in the 90s, i'm legally required open every speech referencing this. i don't make the rules. [laughter] but the reality is, it's beautiful special days likef ts when so many of us get to get together and celebrate the written word of the truth of this monologue. he might havebo been comically overzealous about his job and had to live up to his name after
4:32 pm
all but heth also got something very right. books are so m much more than words on paper for a lonely child they may well be her home, her refuge, her pipeline to a brighter future. i know this because i was that child. when i moved to america from china in 1994, everything i've ever known disappeared irovernight. for the first time in my life, i found myself racial minority inu a land where he didn't speak the language on the continent where i knew no one but my parents. my parents, professors in china were thrown into 14 hours of physical labor at the sweatshop where we made pennies for an article of clothing. at the sushi plans were my
4:33 pm
mother's turned purple from exposure to ice water. learning i was newly illegal, i walked the other way never saw anyone in uniform, copy or custodian. the first english word i learned was a slur for chinese, a word etched into my brain, a certain knowledge my race was repugnant. the memory of first days in eamerica still come to me in a fog of fear, loneliness and hunger. i still remember the confusion that enveloped me as i wondered how the chinese could call this land literally translated beautiful country. albert einstein once said only think you must know is the location of the library and we
4:34 pm
call that man a genius for a reason. when i found the branch a block away from my elementary school one day, fog and confusion dissipated and my world opened up again. i was no longer alone. the library could not restore my life in china, give me back my family and friends but it did supply new companions. clifford the big red dog, the very hungary caterpillar, bears thing bears, amelia but delia and soon the babysitters club. along with my parents in a single room sharing bathroom and kitchen with the rotation of immigrant families. instead i was sitting in the bedroom in stony brook connecticut munching orioles hanging out with my friends and
4:35 pm
feeling babysitting calls just like any other american kid. claudia loved to hide junk food and books. that remindedho me of home. growing up in a persecuted family during china's cultural revolution, my father fit hid his favorite books, many band under the floorboards of his ransacked rated home. he would later become an english literature professor but quickly found even in his classrooms, he was not free to teach his students radical thought and social commentary he so admired in the words of mark twain and charles. he often told me returning frustrated censored teacher of his favorite books under his arms, narratives his power and
4:36 pm
nothing matters more than the stories we tell. that message perhaps is more important now than ever before. every time i heard this in china i thought i knew what he meant but i did not really believe it or live it until i arrived in america. volume after volume learning about thehe parts of america otherwise inaccessible to me, i learned i was not two different from the kids so often portrayed so as i write and beautiful country, there was no saving me. i lived and breathed books. i actually think they may have
4:37 pm
understated the importance of books. he failed to say books save lives, offer companionship for the lonely r, roadmap for the loss, a refuge for the persecuted. the darkness of undocumented life, number one priority was blending and. my m father told me early and often if i could learn to speak english perfectly like a native speaker who that i could plausibly say i've been born here, a full legitimate american with no suspicion about my immigration status. if i could blend in and asked is if i knew exactly what christmas was and what los angeles looked like, i would fit in just like another american kid to read
4:38 pm
that access to safety and belonging freely available to me in one place and one place along. in my work now as an education lawyer, i see the sanctuaries books offer to the children, the rest of our society seems to have forgotten. the children who have no adult supervision after school, no means of traveling around the world, no one telling them they are loved, safe, worthy, every single volume offers the boys, hope and guidance they need to dare to chart a different path to dream of a bigger dream for themselves. those children books offer a home in the presence and in the future. this is even more true for
4:39 pm
children, more than it was once for me because i was fortunate to have landed in a large city where i could walk library to library, bookstore to bookstore and avail myself of all thees public resources for free. i hadle countless books at my disposal, i chose for myself the stories i wanted to read and yet even in that freedom i felt at times lost. reflections of my life came only in slivers and asian american but suburban household, the diary of anne frank whose identity meant she, too had to grow up in hiding and through the eyes of jonah's training under theei giver, seeing all tt was invisible to others. the glimmers of recognition were even more precious because they were rare and under their scant
4:40 pm
light, i felt seen. i hope they would signal i might even be worthy. if america could love those characters perhaps i, too, could be loved. perhaps i was not so different after all. had i grown up in a different part of the united states or a different time, the glimmers may not have been available to me and it's worth returning to my father's words, narrative is power nothing matters more than the stories we tell. days ago the american library association reported this past fall unprecedented 330 challenges to the books. in november i was fortunate to speak at a library convention, i was shocked to learn the act of
4:41 pm
providing equal access to books and resources have become more politicized and exhausting than ever. the movement to ban books is not just happening in our classrooms, is happening in our library's, across our nation and discourse. i'm sure you all remember a time in your childhood when your parents were godlike, 200 feet total, all-knowing, all encompassing. as long as they were around, you were safe. for me, that smokescreen faded early. when i landed at jfken airport t the age off seven, i saw my parents shrink down to mere
4:42 pm
mortal size. overnight they were reduced to fallible beings just as confused and afraid lost as i was but for me, library books characters never lost that holy quality. over the years as i want to get all authoritarian figures under this authority, the deportation i somehow never feared librarians. they were the hosts my best friend, the only beings with whom it was safe to be like true, charlotte and wilbur, julie of the wolves and matilda who kept me company at times when i feel odd and when i feel i alone have endured the stress of moving in abrupt conditions, i need to think of missus frisby and the rest. it was through t the library i learned for the first time about the work of ruth bader ginsburg
4:43 pm
it was then and there 25 years ago i resolved to become a lawyer like them and change the stories our country told to tell its courtrooms and loss, it's books. neither that day nor that conviction has left me for the treasures of the books i discovered are etched into my being. where the red fern grows, this silliness of the school and fills itself with the feminism of the wrinkles in time but most of all, the honor of having found books that reflected me at a time when i needed them gave me a sense that perhaps despite all messaging i was not singularly unwanted, perhaps i
4:44 pm
was just as worthy as the next child. to this day when i feel scared and loss, there are few things more comforting and the sight and smell of books. because you are here at a book festival 9:00 a.m. on a saturday, i suspect you can relate. [laughter] now that you know little bit about me, i think it may be safe for me too share a confession. you see, i'm not that different from jerry. sometime over the winter in the fifth grade in 1997 or eight, i, too had a missing overdue book. as ich checked out a new batch f books one afternoon, the librarian said there was a problem. i appeared to have a book out
4:45 pm
quickly accruing fines. i said i remembered returning at the week before but the system had no record of it. when i heard this i all but sank into the ground. what i not be allowed to borrow books anymore, like get me and my parents thrown in prison for my overdue fees? when i get to read in prison? [laughter] worst of all, if i went home and no longer have a book because i've lost it or returned it without record, what would happen? does the library have other copies or what i forever deprive the other children of that rich? what had i done? the fear was particularly weighty because the book in question had been number 82 in babysitters club series.
4:46 pm
[laughter] don't worry, you might not have the numbers memorized like i do but that means you are a normal person. [laughter] number 82 in the series was called jesse and the troublemaker. it primarily followed jessica's frustration and adventures with one sitting charge, daniel roberts. both of these characters meant the world to me. jesse was the only black member of the babysitters club and it felt like her family was the only black family in town like claudia, the only asian number, jesse hit on things like prejudice and ignorance that were all too common in my life. meanwhile danielle was a child with leukemia and while i was fortunate enough not to have endured anything like what daniel went through, i have a sick mother and we were
4:47 pm
terrified attention from doctors, hospitals and otherwise. jesse's and danielle'sar experiences, apart and then together, i found in the book reflections of my reality and now i've gone in this place in the book so no other child struggling with similar issues could find the comfort i did and that to me was the worst. in the end my library was far more lenient than kramer would have suggested. they would know $100,000 charge for me. she said they would like the book in the system and give it six months to reemerge. i promised i would return home and thorley just in case i
4:48 pm
really had forgotten it somewhere and seeing the tears in my eyes, she choked back a laugh and said don'tlw worry dear, it always turns up. of course, she was right. i'd not been at home but a few months later when i inquired of the book at checkout, and i always did, absence had become something like a new pet i cannot stop thinking about. relief poured over me as i was told that yes, the book had been found. the book had been found, the flag had been removed from my account and overdue charges growing are not in the system or certainly in my brain were wiped clean. i was free but that experience stayed with me because even in a branch full of books even in a
4:49 pm
series with endless volumes, even for a child always reading five books at once, every individual book mattered because of what it portrayed, because of the message is shared, because of the heart uniquely positioned to touch and that was the idea that motivated me to write my book, the belief that my story and my life might matter to just one person. perhaps i could signal to an immigrant child still living in hunger she, too, deserve to be hon shelves. perhaps i might dare to hope for my book one day to connect with just one person out there, to tell them they are worthy of being seen in and isn't that after all, why so many of us here are trying to read, write, commune in thee power of
4:50 pm
storytelling but what happens to the fabric of ourur society? our empathy, our connection, our communities when we remove one book, then another and then another like a row of dominoes, they collapse on each other. the children, teens and adults go then to feel less lonely as you walk around on this book festival beautiful savannah today, i hope you take a moment to soak it all in, what an immense privilege and joy it is to be immersed in so many stories, perspectives, so many ideas. you don't have to agree with them but you are free to hear
4:51 pm
them all and this is our country and its greatest, its most beautiful. this is the kind of day that shows us how very fortunate we are to live in the united states, how empowered we are by words that change the world and how we might go forward share the stories we are fortunate to hear. today's events are not unlike one big library and jorge said i've always imagined paradise will be a time at the library. as you walk around paradise today, i hope you think about all of the ways you can preserve and share a piece of this paradise with your community and the people around you in the
4:52 pm
weeks and months to come. you have the power to rally for change whether by donating or volunteering at your library for calling upon your elected officials and fight for more public resources. i am legally required to open with a "seinfeld" quote. maybe we can live without libraries people like you and me, they become a sure we are too old to change the world but what about that kid sitting down, opening a book right now? you can be the voice, the champion helps remind her that her story, to is what makes america beautiful. thank you so much. [applause]
4:53 pm
i am happy to take questions come to the mic in the middle of the room, i was told to say one question a person. if no oneav asks anything, i wil have to seeing and i am tone deaf, not a threat, just a warning. [laughter] >> thank you for coming today. he mentioned you were because an education lawyer. did your love of reading influence that decision to go into that field? >> absolutely. i am fortunate enough to be a
4:54 pm
lawyer and have seen inside our legal and judicial system and as i've practiced over the years, it became very apparent to me the routes and systemic change and foundational change and progress is in our education system, availing all children of more resources of the power of literacy and viewing them with that love early andit often. all of my experiences and childhood practicing law that pointed me to the direction of educational law and seeing that was the greatest public good i could contribute to. >> your first barnes & noble gift card kind of got wasted on a workbook so if you were to get
4:55 pm
$50 to barnes & noble today, what would you spend it on? >> i would have to spend it on, i don't know how much they go for now but at least five to ten of the babysitters clubs serious. they've recently been recast as graphic novels which i haven't been able to expose myself to because i didn't want to tarnish the original experience i had through words but i would be curious to read those. >> thank you, i wish i could get that certificate back. [laughter] >> i was saddened reading your book that the parallel in translation i believe her immigrant experience was 25 years probably previous to yours and i'm curious what you see is immigrant experiences now, i think you said 94, 28 yearsre
4:56 pm
later, how are the experience is now coming from china? >> thank you for asking that question, she's a good friend of mine to i'm honored to be compared to her. the sad truth is, i don't see a huge change, i see advances in the way we talk about immigrants and resources we make available to new immigrants but so often what i see o on the ground in chinatown or even walking around new york city, much of the same conditions. the problem with the american dreamy is things may have materially changed for me but as i walked from my fancy home to my fancy law office on the way there i still see young immigrant children going to the
4:57 pm
with their parents, seeing in their eyes the same fears i grappled with decades ago and i so want to pick up the child and say it will be okay, you are seen and there are people out there fighting for you but i'm afraid that would terrify the child more so it's all i can do to keep working and working up everyday and pushing for that change but often in those momentsrs of survival skills follow me and it feels like not enough i can do everyday to take away some of the reality of the child. >> my book club read your book and we were curious why you did when you did. there's a whole lot more life. [laughter] >> i always wanted the book to
4:58 pm
focus on those five years. i know it is odd to say of a memoir but i really didn't think of my book as being about me or my life, i wanted it to be a celebration and attribute to new immigrants and children, special and almostoo universal time in r childhood where we would go in uthe world and we don't understand what's going on and so incredibly opened and vulnerable and we learn to become guarded and we learn the things that can save us and for things that are dangerous to us. i wanted to own into the precious years because when you peel back the adult players, it is that child inside of us that drives decisions in the way we engage with each other and interact with the world. when i looked, at 7-year-old
4:59 pm
child is very much me and probably the most practical reason is i'm only 34 and don't trust myself to have the wisdom yett to have enough important things to say about the later years but a lot of people have asked see that thing about possibly a follow-up should look. >> i grew up in a small rural community.y. when i became of school age my primary means of having books was the school library and that for me, for most -- i went to law school, to what. [laughter] i'm curious your feelings because you are an education lawyer as well, the last two years so many children have not
5:00 pm
been able to actually be physically in school perhaps with access to the school library, the only place they can get books. now that they are going book back, we can't predict what my happened next year or the year after. the school libraries are so important. >> the pandemic magnified social economic divides. ... meal. so what happens to those children who don't have food at home who don't have books at home who don't even have internet access and what i have seen from engaging with community librarians, including my childho what do you is that these librarians are working on having
5:01 pm
loading out ipads in computers where children can be able to access pbs resources and books on line. they are sending out virtual resources every day and making sure that emily's are attuned to them. l the librarians have really become the front lines of the pandemic for underserved communities and in my work at my firm i've seen a lot and as we know one year of missed education two years of missed education has ripple effects across the child's future. so it is everything that we are focusing on to minimize those gapsan and discrepancies that is a valid concern and i would just say making those public resources as widely available as possible even for those who may not necessarily have internet
5:02 pm
access have access to electronic devices should be the first and foremost goall of our government and libraries and communities. >> thank you. >> i'm curious with all the context you had as a child, the good and the bad have you ever run into any of those people as a grown-up? >> do you mean like everyone at the teachers? >> the teachers, the other students in the little girl the one that translated for you in any of those influences.
5:03 pm
you had so many and as an adult have you seen any of them again? >> i was fortunate to have found a veryni close-knit tightknit community full of bad but also very good people and i am leaving from here to go straight to the airport because my best friend from the third grade it late in the book is getting married tomorrow and i'm officiating. i'm very excited. i've never officiated before so i hope i don't mess it up. the book also brought me back to ps 124 where he went to elementary school and i spoke to a lot of the teachers there including my second grade teacher who is still teaching their as well as my former classmates who are now teachers and they also have some choice words to to say about the teachi describe. i've gotten a lot of reader e-mails promoting teachers like
5:04 pm
him that teaching is a hard job and i'm not connected with him. most special is my third grade teacher and a principal put us in touch and i sent her photos of the charlotte's web copy that she gave me when i was eight years old and she could not believe that i had kept it all of these years. then she sent me copies of cards that i gave her just often full of gibberish that she kept for 28 years, 30 years and i did not remember. i guess i remembered a little bit and i wrote my book, to the snarky kid i was. in one of the cards iras apologizing for what i had gotten in trouble with which was speaking chinese and i said it wasn't my fault. my friend was the one who did it
5:05 pm
and it washa followed by a ridde like what you call a witch on ia beach? i think i copied it from somewhere and to think that she thought that line of random rambling was special enough to keep baby cry instantaneously. it was just so very special and she now has children of her own and we are planning to meet up in brooklyn when everything gets less hectic but but this book hs brought about so many developments and connections that i could not even fathom and i feel like the luckiest person in the world and very special to have been connecting with readers and everyone like you with whom the book has resonated more than i could have thought because it really does prove my initial hypothesis which is it's a beautiful country and you peel back all the labels we are not different at all.
5:06 pm
thank you so much. [applause]
5:07 pm
>> today we are here to talk about nuclear weapons and the danger of nuclear conflict a topic that really could not be more important or more timely right now. nuclear weapons have not been used in combat since 1945 and at this point it's worth repeating. it's been almost 77 years since the country have used nuclear weapons in battle. for the first time since maybe the 1980s and maybe the 1960s da


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on