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September 20, 2022

Honoring the Victims of the Salem Witch Trials

 

Christmas Day 2020, I was watching my favorite childhood Christmas movies and researching the Salem Witch Trials.


When I was at the library, I came across the witch section on a shelf of paranormal books in the children’s section. I checked out every book they had on witches. These four books. I wanted to see how they handled the subject. The only one I didn’t really like was the small one (Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer). At times, the author’s tone rubbed me the wrong way. The others were great, though: The Salem Witch Trials: A Primary Source History of the Witchcraft Trials in Salem, Massachusetts; The Salem Witch Trials by Michael Martin; and Creatures of Fantasy: Witches by Cynthia A. Roby.


On September 22, 1692, the last eight INNOCENT victims were hanged, which is why I am posting this on September 20th.

This post is about the Salem Witch Trials, and I am posting it to honor the nineteen people who were wrongly executed.

I also want to honor the THOUSANDS (40,000 - 60,000) INNOCENT people who were wrongly executed during the European Witch-Hunt that took place in western Germany, the Low Countries, France, northern Italy, and Switzerland that lasted more than 200 years.


EUROPEAN WITCH-HUNT:

Although this post focuses on the Salem Witch Trials, which is just a brief moment in the overall nightmare of witch-hunts, I still want to discuss the European Witch-Hunts.


MIDWIVES AND HEALERS:

Many of the women who were targeted and executed as witches were the wise women, healers, and midwives who used plant medicine (and were likely poor or considered peasants), and the Catholic Church didn't like their use of plant medicine one bit. [1]

The Church and the medical field were best buds, and the Church supported male physicians, not female healers.

Male physicians, who knew NOTHING about women, did not like that midwives and female healers were taking patients from them because those women knew their shit and the male physicians did not. So, the Church and male physicians teamed up to get rid of their competition; male physicians accused wise women of witchcraft.


DEVIL'S TEAT:

It's also known that women were accused of witchcraft for having a spot (birthmark/freckle) on their skin that was called the "Devil's Mark."

Oh, and let's not forget the "Devil's Teat." In The Malleus Maleficarum, a guide for finding witches, it was said that the clitoris was the "Devil's Teat," and any woman with one was a witch. 😂 No one had any clue about women's anatomies, so when one was found on a victim postmortem, it was deemed evil. [2

What I find interesting is that the jailer and his wife did the postmortem search. I wonder if his wife later looked to see if she had one and kept it a secret after she helped classify it as evil. Or did her husband ever notice it later? Not all clitoris' are the same size, but all vulvas have one.

To think that a unique part of a woman's anatomy that has no bodily function other than pleasure (which the Church definitely would've labeled sinful if they'd known), and has 8,000 nerve endings, double that of the phallus [3] was used to accuse women of being in league with the devil. (If male physicians knew their phalluses weren't as superior in comparison, they really would've felt emasculated). It's partly laughable, but also deeply horrifying. That truly goes to show you how powerful a woman's body is and how scared the Church and patriarchy are of a woman's pleasure and power. Then and now. *mic drop*


Before I move on, here's a little musical inspiration:


I'm A Witch Playlist

This isn’t just a playlist of songs with witchy vibes, but a playlist that’ll make you feel empowered in embracing the witch inside, because we all have a little witch in us.

NOTE: Although the victims weren't real witches, now-a-days people are taking back the word “witch” and claiming it for themselves. These people connect with nature, honor ancestors, work with plant medicine, seek knowledge, pass on wisdom, hone their intuition, nurturer the Earth, want to make the world a better place, celebrate the change of the seasons, live cyclically with their menstrual cycles or phases of the moon, and are open-minded. They may use Tarot cards and pendulums for guidance. They may use crystals and herbs for protection. They may use spells for manifestation. They are not evil. In fact, they are forces of good. Anyone can be a witch. Some may identify as Wiccan or Pagan or Jewish or Christian. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you're being your AUTHENTIC SELF.

You can also check out the playlist on the Spotify app here and add it to your library by clicking the ❤️.


Salem Witch Trials:

I don't want to repeat info you likely know, so I’m sharing info you may not know. I'm also choosing not to talk about the accusers. This post isn't about those idiots. This post is about...


Dorothy Good:

Dorothy (Dorcas) Good was the youngest victim of the Salem Witch Trials. She was four years old. Her mother, Sarah Good, was also accused of witchcraft. Dorothy was interrogated. The nature of the interrogation is unknown. Were they gentle because she was a child or were they harsh because they thought she was evil? It doesn't matter. She admitted to being a witch, as any frightened child would, especially if they don’t understand what is happening.

At the age of five, she was sent to prison for almost nine months. Shackled. Unable to move her limbs, just her fingers. December 10th, 1692, she was released from prison, but the damage had been done. The abuse, neglect, and horrible conditions resulted in her mind deteriorating. She passed away not long after.

RIP Dorothy.


Sarah Good:

September 13, 2022

Latin American Heritage Month Book Recommendations

 

NOTE: This post was originally titled “Hispanic Heritage Month Book Recommendations,” but here’s why I changed it to “Latin American Heritage Month.” I recently learned it’s more accurate to say Latin American Heritage Month instead because of the fact that there’s 33 countries (and 15 territories) in Latin America and 448 spoken languages, with Spanish, Portuguese, and French being the main three, which really only makes up 1% of the spoken languages, the most being Indigenous languages. And “Hispanic” refers to only the Spanish-speaking countries/territories, of which there are only 20 countries and one territory. (Thanks to Eliana Chinea for this info.) So The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa, which I originally had on this post but removed because Brazil’s primary language is Portuguese, definitely belongs on this list, as well as so many others! We’re not limited to only Spanish-speaking countries, but all of Latin America. 👏 Which is definitely more inclusive and makes so much sense. ❤️


From September 15th to October 15th it is Latin American Heritage Month.

To celebrate the beautiful and colorful cultures that span many countries and territories of Latin America, as well as Latinx characters and authors, I have created a short list of book recommendations for you. This is not an exhaustive list but rather a starting point.

Enjoy!



BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS


A Taste of Sage

by Yaffa S. Santos

Dominican

Romance

BUY @ BOOKSHOP

BLURB: Lumi Santana is a chef with the gift of synesthesia--she can perceive a person's emotions by tasting their cooking. Despite being raised by a single mother who taught her that dreams and true love were silly fairy tales, she takes a chance and puts her heart and savings into opening a fusion restaurant in Manhattan. The restaurant offers a mix of the Dominican cuisine she grew up with and other world cuisines that have been a source of culinary inspiration to her.

When Lumi's venture fails, she is forced to take a position as a sous chef at a staid French restaurant in midtown owned by Julien Dax, a celebrated chef known for his acid tongue and brilliant smile. Lumi and Julien don't get along in the kitchen and she secretly vows never to taste his cooking. Little does she know that her resolve doesn't stand a chance against his culinary prowess.

As Julien produces one delectable dish after another, Lumi can no longer resist his creations. She isn't prepared for the intense feelings that follow, throwing a curveball in her plan to move on as soon as possible. Plus, there's the matter of Esme, Julien's receptionist, who seems to always be near and watching. As the attraction between Lumi and Julien simmers, Lumi experiences a tragedy that not only complicates her professional plans, but her love life as well...


American Dreamer

by Adriana Herrera 

Dominican

LGBTQ+ Romance

BUY @ BOOKSHOP

BLURB: For Nesto Vasquez, moving his Afro-Caribbean food truck from New York City to the wilds of Upstate New York is a huge gamble. If it works? He'll be a big fish in a little pond. If it doesn't? He'll have to give up the hustle and return to the day job he hates. He's got six months to make it happen--the last thing he needs is a distraction.

Jude Fuller is proud of the life he's built on the banks of Cayuga Lake. He has a job he loves and good friends. It's safe. It's quiet. And it's damn lonely. Until he tries Ithaca's most-talked-about new lunch spot and works up the courage to flirt with the handsome owner. Soon he can't get enough--of Nesto's food or of Nesto. For the first time in his life, Jude can finally taste the kind of happiness that's always been just out of reach.

An opportunity too good to pass up could mean a way to stay together and an incredible future for them both...if Nesto can remember happiness isn't always measured by business success. And if Jude can overcome his past and trust his man will never let him down.


American Sweethearts

by Adriana Herrera 

Dominican

Romance

BUY @ BOOKSHOP

BLURB: Juan Pablo Campos doesn't do regrets. He's living the dream as a physical therapist with his beloved New York Yankees. He has the best friends and family in the world and simply no time to dwell on what could've been.

Except when it comes to Priscilla, the childhood friend he's loved for what seems like forever.

New York City police detective Priscilla Gutierrez has never been afraid to go after what she wants. Second guessing herself isn't a thing she does. But lately, the once-clear vision she had for herself--her career, her relationships, her life--is no longer what she wants.

What she especially doesn't want is to be stuck on a private jet to the Dominican Republic with JuanPa, the one person who knows her better than anyone else.

By the end of a single week in paradise, the love/hate thing JuanPa and Pris have been doing for sixteen years has risen to epic proportions. No one can argue their connection is still there. And they can both finally admit--if only to themselves--they've always been a perfect match. The future they dreamed of together is still within reach...if they can just accept each other as they are.


CHECK OUT MORE IN THE DREAMERS SERIES:

Book 1: American Dreamer

Book 2: American Fairytale

Book 3: American Love Story

Book 4: American Sweethearts

Book 5: American Christmas


ALSO CHECK OUT ALL BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR:

ADRIANA HERRERA

September 06, 2022

Freedom Writers Diary / Book & Movie Chat

 

Freedom Writers Diary

Freedom Writers Diary
Image by Chrys Fey
Taken on a hospital room’s guest chair.

Zlata Filipovic:

One big difference between the book and the movie is that in the book, in real life, it wasn’t Miep Gies (who hid Anne Frank and her family) who the students wrote letters to and desperately wanted to fly to America and meet. It was Zlata Filipovic, author of Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo.


Zlata’s Diary
Image by Chrys Fey

They did meet Miep, but it was during a trip she was already taking to California. I believe they chose to make Anne Frank’s story more prominent in the movie and to replace Zlata with Miep because Anne Frank’s story is more well known, but they totally missed the opportunity to share Zlata’s story with more people. It was Zlata’s book that the students wrote about the most in their diary entries after they read it, and Zlata, herself, who they became friends with. If the movie had stuck with reality, more people would’ve learned about Sarajevo and a war that happened more recently.


The Freedom Writers see this book as the third leg of a relay race. Anne's story inspired Zlata, who has been hailed as the modern- day Anne Frank. Zlata then reciprocated by passing the baton to the Freedom Writers. We hope this book will inspire you to be the fourth leg of the race by encouraging you to pick up a pen and be a catalyst for change.

Teenagers Are Smart:

This book demonstrates just how intelligent teenagers are.

Teens are often looked down on as not knowing anything that happens in the world, not knowing about struggles and hardships, and being ignorant about…well, everything. But teens see. Teens know. Teens understand. Teens feel. And teenagers want to create change. Then and now. The diary entries reflect how deeply these students think and feel and dream. They have insight many adults wouldn’t believe they could possibly possess. (Which is true of many teenagers.)


Representation Matters:

In this book, students of every race and ethnicity are represented.

They share their life stories that include gang violence, domestic violence, molestation, death and murder, drug and alcohol use, and…more importantly their growth and the impact that Ms. G and reading and writing had on their lives. One student has dyslexia. Some students left countries before violence and wars could breakout. One has ADD, another is a lesbian. Ms. G’s class was full of representation on all spectrums…a realistic representation of America and the world.


No matter what race we are, what ethnic background, sexual orientation, or what views we may have, we are all human. Untor- tunately, not all humans see it that way.


Good And Bad Teachers:

This book also demonstrates the power of a teacher to build up a student or to tear a student down.

 Before Ms. G, her students had teachers who didn’t believe in them and made it plainly known, even voicing it to their faces. Not to mention how other teachers targeted Ms. G in order to stop her from doing the extraordinary things she was doing for those kids, because the other teachers didn’t believe her students deserved good books, a good education, a compassionate teacher, or a chance. They certainly didn’t believe her students had a future. They were racists AND prejudice. Sadly, there have always been teachers like this, who make kids feel worthless. These teachers make it difficult for the ones who truly care to shine. The mean/negative teachers forever scar students who are marginalized or deemed troubled or who simply don’t test well. The students’ experiences with nasty teachers shines a light on the educational system and how flawed it is, especially in underrepresented neighborhoods.

There is so much more in this book than the movie. The movie is a sliver of the book, so if you like the movie I highly recommend that you read this book and immerse yourself in these students’ lives, grief, hardships, and triumphs.


Addressing Goodreads Reviews:

I do want to address a couple of things that so many people discussed in their Goodreads reviews.


Edited Entries:

Many were upset that the entries had been edited and wondered how that went about (FYI: the students edited them their junior year after they’d grown as writers) and expressed their views that the entries didn’t feel authentic because they were edited and read as though they all had the same voice.

None of that bothered me. Right in the beginning of the book it says the students edited the entries themselves and within the diary entries it explains how they passed the typed copies to other students to edit, so I took that to mean that working on their entries and the entire process of getting the book ready for publication was treated like an assignment on editing, grammar, spelling, writing, etc. to help the students further hone their skills. These students were very proud of what they’d done and wanted to be proud of their published work, so I imagine they poured over their entries to get them as perfect as possible for publication and for people around the world to read. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. All writers do it. Yes, these are diary entries but there’s no rule that forbids writers to edit their diary entries or else they will not be authentic.

At the end of the day, I was surprised to see that I didn't have to substitute a word in my story just because I couldn't spell it. Thanks to spell check, now I feel like there are no limits or boundaries enclosing my ideas and feelings. Sitting in front of the monitor with my fingers on the keyboard makes me feel powerful in a way I never have before.


Teens Can Write!

One reviewer couldn’t believe fifteen to eighteen year olds could write that well, and I’m just like, “Really???” I started writing at the age of twelve. A lot of writers start writing around that age and mature and get better throughout their school years. I suppose if I shared content I wrote when I was twelve, that specific reviewer wouldn’t believe I’d written it at that young of an age.

In fact, I will…

The opening of the first novel I started at twelve (yes, a novel…I wrote three by the time I was eighteenth) was this: 

Deep in the black and purple night of the Unknown World came a voice. The voice spoke to all the humans in the Real World. It echoed in their dull, unmoving dreams, although no one would remember a single word, let alone a vowel spoken by this mysterious voice once it passed. Every night, the voice would say, “I live in a world you don’t see, you don’t know, and you don’t want to know...”

And that is unedited.


Similar Voices:

Only near the end of the book did I think the entries started to sound like their voices were similar, but, again, that didn’t anger me one bit. 

Also, the reason for the stories sounding similar, as well as numbering the entries, was to protect the students’ anonymity and save them from retribution.

Writers know that if you’re writing about a real person to change not only how the character looks but how they talk and act so that other people who know that person won’t be able to pick up on specific traits and know who you’re talking about. This is done in order to prevent possible legal repercussions. The students no doubt did the same to their entries to protect their identities. After all, they shared really tough and traumatic stories. Whatever they had to do to feel comfortable sharing their story and protect their identity was one thousand percent in their right to do. Again, this does not make their entries unauthentic. Their experiences and stories are real and true, and they were safe sharing them with the world to read, and later review on sites like Goodreads that didn’t exist back in 1999 when this book was first published.

The fact that the entries are numbered instead of using their names is also addressed in the beginning of the book.

To me, how the entries sound similar created a smoother reading experience because the entries flowed nicely as a whole (which is the point when you’re publishing a compilation of 145 diary entries from multiple people). However, entries were not without their own distinct style or word choice. And they were not emotionless, either. I got teary-eyed several times.


Ms. G:

Other reviewers wanted to know more about Ms. G’s tactics to get these students to trust her, as well as her resources. They don’t believe enough was shared in this book on that. Well, we get an entry by Ms. G at the beginning of each grade, which is how the book is formatted, but remember...this book isn’t really about her, but rather the students. That’s why we don’t read much about what things were like for her or how she accomplished what she did.

But if you want those answers so badly, you can read the two books she wrote and published that tackle those subjects: Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers by Erin Gruwell and Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers and Erin Gruwell.


Good Causes to Support:

The Freedom Writers Foundation - From their website: “The Freedom Writers Foundation has impacted over 1,000,000 students with its Freedom Writers Methodology.”

“Your donation contributes to our Teacher Training Program, Outreach Program, and Scholarship Program. By pledging your support of this cause, you are making a difference in the lives of teachers and students around the world.”