This is HUGE news! Please signal boost!
Source: (The McGill Daily)
A course lecturer and doctoral student at the McGill School of Social Work has filed a human rights complaint against McGill University, alleging systemic racism on the part of the School. In his complaint, Woo Jin Edward Lee alleges that the Employment Equity Guidelines of the School of Social Work, and generally campus-wide, perpetuate practices that discriminate against racialized persons for faculty positions.
The complaint was sent to Quebec’s human rights commission, and was officially received on July 4 of this year, on the premise of “discrimination based on race intersecting with gender and sexual orientation in violation of sections 4, 10 and 16 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.”
According to the School of Social Work’s updated list of professors, Lee is the only racialized person and visible minority – not including Indigenous peoples – registered as a lecturer this calendar year.
“I don’t think there is any representation of people of colour when it comes to the administrative level,” said social work undergraduate student Sidara Ahmad, adding, “I don’t think there is an understanding of what people of colour – students of colour – go through. I don’t think there is any acknowledgement of the discrimination and racism they face.”
Lee, a self-identified member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, and a visible minority, is currently a course lecturer for SWRK 325: Anti-Oppression Social Work Practice. He is also a doctoral student specializing in the experiences of LGBTQ immigrants and refugees.
In April 2013, Lee said, he applied for a part-time faculty lecturer position at the School of Social Work, recognizing the lack of racial diversity at the School. “Out of 22 tenure- and non-tenure-track faculty members, one or two are racialized, and one is LGBTQ,” he told The Daily in an interview.
“I don’t think there is an understanding of what people of colour – students of colour – go through. I don’t think there is any acknowledgement of the discrimination and racism they face.”
A month after applying, Lee said he was notified that he had not even been short-listed for an interview. The five candidates short-listed for the position were all white women.
According to Lee, when meeting the director of the School, Wendy Thomson, he was informed that his application was rejected because he lacked clinical experience. The job posting never mentioned the necessity of such experience, Lee said, asking only for five years of experience as a social worker in Quebec’s community, health, or social services. The job posting also included the University’s statement committed to diversity and equity in employment, “[welcoming] applications from indigenous peoples, visible minorities, ethnic minorities, persons of disabilities, women, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities and others who may contribute to further diversification.”
“The hiring committee’s internal and unwritten requirement regarding clinical experience produces a recurring, adverse impact on racialized persons who are underrepresented in clinical institutional settings in Quebec,” said Lee about his application rejection.
“I have been serving as course lecturer at the School of Social Work since 2008, in addition to devoting hundreds of volunteer hours in serving the McGill social work department and broader Montreal community,” said Lee. “It’s disappointing and saddens me that I was not at least short listed for the part-time faculty lecturer position. There are hiring criteria and procedures that must be reviewed by the human rights commission because there have been so few racialized teaching professionals that have been hired by the School within the last ten years. This is why I hope that my complaint of systemic racism in hiring will lead to change and better representation of the Montreal community among the School’s staff.”
Ahmad told The Daily about the very real implications of being a racialized person in the School. “I am one of the very few students who is racialized in the School of Social Work, and as soon as I started the program, I had a situation where there was discrimination and racism involved. [Lee] was one of the few faculty members who provided the support and the space to talk about it.”
Lee has been studying at the McGill School of Social Work since 2007, and is the recipient of numerous fellowships and scholarships for his studies. More recently, Lee was one of only four recipients in McGill history to receive the Award for Equity and Community Building, in the academic staff category. He was nominated by 16 students and community members. According to an article published in the McGill Reporter, this award “recognizes the work of students, faculty and staff committed to advancing equity and diversity at McGill.”
“In universities and corporations, the many professional and managerial positions produce a professional stigma when someone raises a claim of discrimination.”
“For me, just seeing where the students are before they take [Lee’s Anti-Oppression Social Work Practice course] and where they are after, it’s essential,” said undergraduate social work student Katrina Topping, who had previously taken Lee’s Anti-Oppression course, adding, “It challenges students to question who they are, both as people and as social workers.”
Lee has been teaching at the School for six years – as a course lecturer for five years in addition to being a teaching assistant for one year. He has also worked in the Montreal community sector for another six years and spent five years practicing social work with marginalized children and youth in Calgary.
“I think that there does seem to be some type of resistance to incorporate AOP – anti-oppressive practice – in a really big way,” said Topping.
Another current social work undergraduate, Annie Preston, added, “I think there is a structural change in the School that needs to be happening to push for this.”
On his part, Lee has been pushing for change. “There has been a lack of racial diversity that was apparent from the very beginning, it was something that I noticed when I served as Equity Commissioner for PGSS,” said Lee, who also co-created the Racialized Students Network (RSN).
In addition to the RSN, Lee is also the co-founder of AGIR, a community organization that advocates for LGBTQ immigrants, refugees, and non-status migrants in the Montreal area. He is also a member of the Social Work Association of Graduate Students (SWAGS), and was the co-coordinator of Ethnoculture, an annual event that raises awareness about LGBTQ racialized and ethnic minority communities in Montreal.
In the fall of 2009, the Principal’s Task Force on Student Life and Learning launched the McGill University Student Demographic Survey to “foster sensitivity to cultural and personal differences in the delivery of academic and other administrative supports to our students.” The survey was completed by 2,070 McGill students.
According to the survey, 26 per cent of students from any ethnic group – excluding students who identified solely as white – reported discrimination by fellow students, and 18 per cent reported some level of discrimination by McGill employees.
Section 2.6 of McGill’s Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities describes discrimination as “any action, behaviour, or decision based on race, colour, sex […] which results in the exclusion or preference of an individual or group within the University community. This includes both the actions of individual members of the University and systemic institutional practices and policies of the University.”
According to Fo Niemi, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), his organization does not receive many complaints from universities.
However, Niemi argues that this is more of a reflection of an unsafe environment for disclosure of discrimination rather than an absence of discriminatory experiences themselves. “In universities and corporations, the many professional and managerial positions produce a professional stigma when someone raises a claim of discrimination.”
Another explanation for the rarity of complaints arising from university staff lies in a Supreme Court of Canada decision, under which unionized people cannot independently appeal to the human rights commission unless the union has found a specific reason to file a grievance in the place of the employee. “That might explain why in many unionized workplaces, such as universities, we do not see very often claims of discrimination going forward,” said Niemi.
As a part-time course lecturer, Lee is a member of the newly-formed McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU). However, the union is currently in negotiation with the University for its first collective agreement, and Lee believes he would not have been able to go through the usual grievance procedure in place.
Among the remedies sought, Lee’s complaint asks the Commission to require changes to the hiring policies of the University in general and the McGill School of Social Work in particular, and to order the School to adopt a mandatory employment equity action plan to increase the number of racialized individuals among the School’s faculty and course lecturers. Lee also seeks material and moral damages.
“There are many other students that have been in situations where they have been discriminated against,” said Ahmad, adding, “and found support with [Lee].”
I am in the kitchen of the house I grew up in, holding a head of cabbage stable on the cutting board with both hands, while my mother thrusts a cleaver into it, slicing it in half. The leaves are densely packed in a squiggle of translucent white and green. She hands the knife to me, instructing me to cut the cabbage into thin shreds. When my slices are too coarse, she thwaps the back of my hand with a wet soup spoon and tells me to cut them finer.
We are making goi ga, which is a Vietnamese chicken and cabbage salad. Most of it is just work: chopping and dicing, gathering herbs from the garden, where they grow in big ceramic pots along the driveway, pulling apart the steamed meat by hand. Have you ever cooked a whole chicken before? You can get at least two dishes out of it. The salad and then a soup that you make by boiling the bones. It’s simple kitchen things, but some of it requires finesse. When you make the dressing, if it’s too salty or spicy, you add coconut soda. “Normally, coconut juice,” my mother says, “but this is how we do things in America.”
I would be lying if I said that food is all there is of culture, but it is the thing that is the easiest to explain, the thing that is most physical and visceral. Is finding home just a matter of having the right hot peppers burn your tongue? The first weekend I moved into the brick house with the green porch on Howe Street, I went grocery shopping and stumbled into a tiny Chinese market about a mile down Whalley. I don’t know if I could tell you what it’s called, now. It had just opened, but already smelled familiar. It’s an open secret that all Asian-American grocery stores contain tiny, hidden portals to each other, as well as your childhood. No matter where you go, you will find the snacks you ate after school when you were eight years old; the plastic stool you used to sit and take baths on when you were a toddler; the pastel clothespins that your extended family use to hang-dry their shirts.
I wandered in, wanting to fill up my empty corner of the pantry. One thing no one tells you when are nineteen and preparing to move into a new house for the first time is that you will need to stock your kitchen with all the spices and pastes and implements that you were so fortunate to be born into, the silver spoon of the first-generation American youth. The spice drawers in the kitchen of the house I grew up in have a thin film of chili and curry powder on the bottom; that’s how lucky I was to be born.
Downstairs, the market was cool and smelled stale. Mangoes were ripening, stacked in huge flats; I picked one up in my hands, hefting its weight, smelling the goldening skin. There were bins of tea, dried fruit and fish and squid, impassive glass jars of pickled vegetables. There were two shelves devoted entirely to chili sauces, and it was there that I found the plastic jar of hot garlic chili paste that I only know—as I only know so many things—by its Vietnamese name. I bought it immediately, along with a hand of ginger. Ginger is good for taking care of yourself or sick friends, if you put it in tea.
When I got home—by home, I mean the house in New Haven, Connecticut, which has white walls that still emanate the clean brightness of fresh paint, and a kitchen so narrow that only two people can comfortably cook in it at once—I unscrewed the little plastic jar with its green cap, and peeled back the safety lid. I dipped my pinky in the red paste, feeling a little ashamed but mostly anxious to make sure I’d found the right thing. It was, so I ate it every morning on my eggs for the rest of the semester.
To make the dressing for goi ga, you take water, a little rice vinegar, a little fish sauce, that red chili garlic paste, and coconut soda, the kind that comes in a shiny emerald pop-top can, and then mix them in a blue ceramic bowl until your mother approves. Alternatively, you mix it yourself, put the entire salad together, actually, with the chicken and cabbage nestled under the chopped Thai basil and the mint and the lime juice and drizzle the dressing over it and turn it over and over with two forks and present it at dinner, a gleaming, white and green and oily-peppered offering. The dregs of salty shreds of cabbage left in the bottom of the big china bowl are the only sign you did it right, but it’s enough.
Over my last winter break, my brother and I went to a grocery store on 82nd, deep southeast Portland, to buy snacks. It’s something we do together; we’ve grown closer since I moved out. He dragged me over to the soft drinks section and put a bottle of Calpis in my hands. “It tastes just like the stuff we used to have,” he said. There was a yogurt drink—I hate never knowing the names of things, but I’m used to it by now—and it tasted sort of orangey, and came in boxes that you poked open with a straw. We bought it and he was right: it was the same thing, just in different packaging. Proust had madeleines; I have lychee gummy candy and yogurt drinks and rice crackers with tiny specks of white sugar crystallized on their puffed tops.
It feels like cheating, to write about culture by writing about food. But how else do I explain that it wasn’t until I left my mother’s kitchen that I learned I was always struggling to remember names? How do I explain the trawling, the sifting, the smelling, trying to decide: was this it? Is this it? I’ve spent hours in these tiny grocery stores, running heavy-bellied grains of rice through my hands.
When I told my mother I was writing this piece, she said, “You had better not write any more bad things about me.”
I said to her, “I can’t help it, I write about you so much.
We are so similar it hurts. When I was still in high school, I saw a picture of her when she was sixteen. She looked just like me, only prettier, her skin clear and bright.
A few weeks after my conversation with my mother, I got a care package from home. “Open it soon, they’ll rot,” she told me; calling me on the phone I am never without in case someone I love is sick. I cut open the box and found a dozen persimmons, nestled in paper towels. They glowed warm orange in the heat of the lamp of my kitchen, not so shiny and new anymore, with a thin film of spice dust building up in the cupboards, and I was heartsick for a moment, I missed home so much.
Not that I know where home is anymore, not that I don’t think both coasts and countries have a claim on my component parts, not that I can hardly remember the last time I picked persimmons off the tree in my family’s back yard, their skins shone over with a sudden frost. It would have been late October and I must have been seventeen. That batch was too bitter to eat raw; we made jam with cups and cups of sugar, trying to sweet the tannins in the fruit. Not that I don’t still linger in grocery stores, trailing my hands over fruit that’s marketed as lush and exotic, the things I grew up eating recontextualized and strange on this chilly New England rocky soil, not that I am only writing about food because I don’t know any other way to say the things that I am feeling.
On my street in New Haven, there’s a crabapple tree. I guess it’s the next best thing to the persimmon tree I grew up next to; the pears and plums I picked and carried around in my shirt. It flowers in the spring and snows pink petals all over the sidewalk; by July, there’s hard green fruit in the trees. In September, you can pick them. They’re yellow and red by then, blushing like you wouldn’t believe how sour they can be. I stole a basket of them off the tree with my best friend, soon after I moved in. We tried to make a salad of them: grated carrots and sliced avocado and chickpeas, topped with these halved crisp stone-less cherries. No matter how hard we tried, nothing would sweeten them. And though I kept taking bites, each one made my mouth pucker, rosy as a kiss.
Larissa Pham is an artist and writer interested in intimacy, new narratives, and the ways in which our lives intersect with modern media. She is a regular contributor at Full Stop Magazine and has been previously published in The Rumpus, Salon, Nerve, and The Ellipses Project. She currently splits her time between Portland, OR, and New Haven, CT. You can find her on twitter at @lrsphm.
[Photo: ValeStock / Shutterstock.com]
A young black girl decided to not bleach her skin after seeing the success of Lupita Nyong’o.
Lupita Nyong’o was inspired to be an actress after seeing Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple.
Whoopi Goldberg realized she could BE an actress after seeing Nichelle Nichols in Star Trek
“it’s not arrogance to not engage in criticism in art. it is my right to refuse to engage in critique. it is my right to not believe in this pedagogy of art. especially in a social culture where critique is often a violent ego driven act dressed up as a necessity to invalidate art or an artist. it is a system that has developed into feeding the critic and starving the artist. it holds the artists own art for ransom. in a limbo. it strips the artist of agency and the rights as creator to guide, direct, and protect their own work. i do not have to submit my art to your approval, for it to be valid. if my art comes from me. it’s mine. i birthed it. if it smells of my breath and my bone, that is all the validity it needs. i honor the gift of being an artist by embracing what comes through me, not judging it. creating is not a comparative process for me. it is not an arduous process for me. it is pure joy and blessing to have the ability to express myself and hone my craft. i come from the practice of only feeding my creativity. i come from the practice of solicited feedback (asked for when I need it) from my trusted contemporaries, elders, mentors, and others. feedback is a different vibration from critique as I have experienced it. it is born from a place of respect, not interrogation. feedback honors and engages with the work, it respects the art and the artists. critique in the ways that I have met it, often comes to discover what is wrong with the work. how is it flawed. and how should it be better. this is not an interaction i agree with. i create from my being, from myself. i do not understand asking someone to determine the worth of my work, as creativity is a sacred relationship between myself and my soul. It is very odd to me to say ‘please tell me if the way i am expressing my soul is okay to/ for you.’ for me, that is a very nonorganic and disrespectful act against myself, to centralize others feelings about my art, inside of my relationship with my art. i am central in my art. as i should be. as I am the artist. my art must first make me happy. if it does that, then I am satisfied. folks call this arrogance. to not adopt a position where my work must be dissected and shredded to be accepted. i call it love. respect. love and respect for who I am and what I create. you are free to love it or not. like it or not. i am simply not opening to hearing why you don’t like/love it. because just like my children, you not liking something i love, will not make me love it less. so why tell me. why bring your negativity to me. what do you think will happen. what do you want to happen. what is the end game of someone saying ‘I do not enjoy what you do.’ folks presuming and dictating to me an understanding of art that I must have, will never work. if you believe all art must be critiqued, in order to be considered valid art that is your belief. if i believe that it does not need to be critiqued to be considered valid, that is mine. we all have a right to our beliefs, but you don’t have the right to disrespect me, my work, or enforce your belief systems on me in my space or in a space that includes me. I don’t make disrespectful posts and tag names, or roll up in peoples inboxes to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do/believe. because it’s not something i consider to be my right. so just know, for me, it represents boundary crossing and it won’t be welcomed here.”
— nayyirah waheed
I’ve always had this tendency to apologize for everything—even things that aren’t my fault, things that actually hurt me or were wrongs against me.
It’s become automatic, a compulsion I am constantly fighting. Even more disturbingly, I’ve discovered in conversations with my female friends that I’m not alone in feeling this impulse to be pleasant, to apologize needlessly, to resist showing anger.
After all, if you’re a woman and you demonstrate anger, you’re a bitch, a harpy, a shrew. You’re told to smile more because you will look prettier; you’re told to calm down even when whatever anger or otherwise “unseemly” emotion you’re experiencing is perfectly justified.
If you don’t, no one will like you, and certainly no one will love you.
I’m not sure when this apologetic tendency of mine emerged. Maybe it began during childhood; maybe the influence of social gender expectations had already begun to affect me on a subconscious level. But if I had to guess, I would assume it emerged later, when I became aware through advertisements, media, and various unquantifiable social pressures of what a girl should be—how to act, how to dress, what to say, what emotions are okay and what emotions are not.
Essentially, I became aware of what I should do, as a girl, to be liked, and of how desperate I should be to achieve that state.
Being liked would be the pinnacle of my personal achievement. I could accomplish things, sure—make good grades, go to a good school, have a stellar career. But would I be liked during all of this? That was the important thing.
It angers me that I still struggle with this. It angers me that even though I’m an intelligent, accomplished adult woman, I still experience automatic pangs of inadequacy and shame when I perceive myself to have somehow disappointed these unfair expectations. I can’t always seem to get my emotions under control, and yet I must—because sometimes those emotions are angry or unpleasant or, God forbid, unattractive, and therefore will inconvenience someone or make someone uncomfortable.
Maybe that’s why, in my fiction—both the stories I read and the stories I write—I’ve always gravitated toward what some might call “unlikable” heroines.
It’s difficult to define “unlikability”; the term itself is nebulous. If you asked ten different people to define unlikability, you would probably receive ten different answers. In fact, I hesitated to write this piece simply because art is not a thing that should be quantified, or shoved into “likable” and “unlikable” components.
But then there are those pangs of mine, that urge to apologize for not being the right kind of woman. Insidious expectations lurk out there for our girls—both real and fictional—to be demure and pleasant, to wilt instead of rally, to smile and apologize and hide their anger so they don’t upset the social construct—even when such anger would be expected, excused, even applauded, in their male counterparts.
So for my purposes here, I’ll define a “likable heroine” as one who is unobjectionable. She doesn’t provoke us or challenge our expectations. She is flawed, but not offensively. She doesn’t make us question whether or not we should like her, or what it says about us that we do.
Let me be clear: There is nothing wrong with these “likable” heroines. I can think of plenty such literary heroines whom I adore:
Fire in Kristin Cashore’s Fire. Karou in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Jo March in Little Women. Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. The Penderwick sisters in Jeanne Birdsall’s delightful Penderwicks series. Arya (at least, in the early books) in A Song of Ice and Fire. Sarah from A Little Princess. Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time. Matilda in Roald Dahl’s classic book of the same name.
These heroines are easy to love and root for. They have our loyalty on the first page, and that never wavers. We expect to like them, for them to be pleasant, and they are. Even their occasional unpleasantness, as in the case of temperamental Jo March, is endearing.
What, then, about the “unlikable” heroines?
These are the “difficult” characters. They demand our love but they won’t make it easy. The unlikable heroine provokes us. She is murky and muddled. We don’t always understand her. She may not flaunt her flaws but she won’t deny them. She experiences moral dilemmas, and most of the time recognizes when she has done something wrong, but in the meantime she will let herself be angry, and it isn’t endearing, cute, or fleeting. It is mighty and it is terrifying. It puts her at odds with her surroundings, and it isn’t always easy for readers to swallow.
She isn’t always courageous. She may not be conventionally strong; her strength may be difficult to see. She doesn’t always stand up for herself, or for what is right. She is not always nice. She is a hellion, a harpy, a bitch, a shrew, a whiner, a crybaby, a coward. She lies even to herself.
In other words, she fails to walk the fine line we have drawn for our heroines, the narrow parameters in which a heroine must exist to achieve that elusive “likability”:
Nice, but not too nice.
Badass, but not too badass, because that’s threatening.
Strong, but ultimately pliable.
(And, I would add, these parameters seldom exist for heroes, who enjoy the limitless freedoms of full personhood, flaws and all, for which they are seldom deemed “unlikable” but rather lauded.)
Who is this “unlikable” heroine?
She is Amy March from Little Women. She is Briony from Ian McEwan’s Atonement. Katsa from Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse. Sansa from A Song of Ice and Fire. Mary from The Secret Garden. She is Philip Pullman’s Lyra, and C. S. Lewis’s Susan, and Rowling’s first-year Hermione Granger. She is Katniss Everdeen. She is Scarlett O’Hara.
These characters fascinate me. They are arrogant and violent, reckless and selfish. They are liars and they are resentful and they are brash. They are shallow, not always kind. They may be aggressive, or not aggressive enough; the parameters in which a female character can acceptably display strength are broadening, but still dishearteningly narrow. I admire how the above characters embrace such “unbecoming” traits (traits, I must point out, that would not be noteworthy in a man; they would simply be accepted as part of who he is, no questions asked).
These characters learn from their mistakes, and they grow and change, but at the end of the day, they can look at themselves in the mirror and proclaim, “Here I am. This is me. You may not always like me—I may not always like me—but I will not be someone else because you say I should be. I will not lose myself to your expectations. I will not become someone else just to be liked.”
When I wrote my first novel, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, I knew some readers would have a hard time stomaching the character of Victoria. She is selfish, arrogant, judgmental, rigid, and sometimes cruel. Even at the end of the novel, by which point she has evolved tremendously, she isn’t particularly likable, if we go with the above definition.
I had similar concerns about the heroine of my second novel, The Year of Shadows. Olivia Stellatella is a moody twelve-year-old who isolates herself from her peers at school, from her father, from everything that could hurt her. Her circumstances at the beginning of the novel are inarguably terrible: Her mother abandoned their family several months prior, with no explanation. Her father conducts the city orchestra, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. He neglects his daughter in favor of saving his livelihood. He sells their house and moves them into the symphony hall’s storage rooms, where Olivia sleeps on a cot and lives out of a suitcase. She calls him The Maestro, refusing to call him Dad. She hates him. She blames him for her mother leaving.
Olivia is angry and confused. She is sarcastic, disrespectful, and she tells her father exactly what she thinks of him. She lashes out at everyone, even the people who want to help her. Sometimes her anger blinds her, and she must learn how to recognize that.
I knew Olivia’s anger would be hard for some readers to understand, or that they would understand but still not like her.
This frightened me.
As a new author, the prospect of writing these heroines—these selfish, angry, difficult heroines—was a daunting one. What if no one liked them? What if, by extension, no one liked me?
But I’ve allowed the desire to be liked thwart me too many times. The fact that I nearly let my fear discourage me from telling the stories of these two “unlikable” girls showed me just how important it was to tell their stories.
I know my friends and I aren’t the only women who feel that constant urge to apologize, to demur, to rein in anger and mutate it into something more socially acceptable.
I know there are girls out there who, like me at age twelve—like Olivia, like Victoria—are angry or arrogant or confused, and don’t know how to handle it. They see likable girls everywhere—on the television, in movies, in books—and they accordingly paste on strained smiles and feel ashamed of their unladylike grumpiness and ambition, their unseemly aggression.
I want these girls to read about Victoria and Olivia—and Scarlett, Amy, Lyra, Briony—and realize there is more to being a girl than being liked. There is more to womanhood than smiling and apologizing and hiding those darker emotions.
I want them to sift through the vast sea of likable heroines in their libraries and find more heroines who are not always happy, not always pleasant, not always good. Heroines who make terrible decisions. Heroines who are hungry and ambitious, petty and vengeful, cowardly and callous and selfish and gullible and unabashedly sensual and hateful and cunning. Heroines who don’t always act particularly heroic, and don’t feel the need to, and still accept themselves at the end of the day regardless.
Maybe the more we write about heroines like this, the less susceptible our girl readers will be to the culture of apology that surrounds them.
Maybe they will grow up to be stronger than we are, more confident than we are. Maybe they will grow up in a world brimming with increasingly complex ideas about what it means to be a heroine, a woman, a person.
Maybe they will be “unlikable” and never even think of apologizing for it.