Not Oprah’s Book Club: Hey, Shorty!

This irresistible little yellow book has a humble subtitle: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets. Fair enough. All of us need a guide like this, whether we’re strutting down the streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, or contending with shouts from trucks barreling down rural roads in Texas towns. The appendix is chockfull of great resources on what sexual harassment is and how to prevent, identify, and stop it.

But beyond being a “guide,” Hey, Shorty! is really a manifesto for community-based solutions and enlightened social change at the intersections of race, gender, class, ability etc. Whether it’s reading Joanne N. Smith’s tale of how she started Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), back in 2001, or understanding how Mandy Van Deven facilitated a group of girls that went on to make their own award-winning documentary film on street harassment, you end up witnessing the way change actually gets made. As someone who has devoted time and energy to visibilizing the too often invisible daily work of community organizing, social work, teaching etc., this book struck me as a truly radical and exciting addition to the small cannon of books that really gives insight into how change happens on the ground.

It will be an indispensable read for so many people–students who are just getting out of high school or college and wanting to go into community or nonprofit work, educators who struggle to tackle some of the seemingly intractable problems in their schools, athletic coaches, parents, clergy, counselors, and the list goes on and on. Congrats to GGE and the whole crew of authors (not to mention the Feminist Press, who had the wisdom to publish it) who took the time out of their busy, transformative day-to-day work to offer up a model on paper that other people will be able to learn from and emulate. It’s a gift to us all.

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