Wednesday, February 28, 2018

#MeToo: Sherman Alexie

My social media feeds have pretty much exploded with posts and comments about Sherman Alexie, most in response to Debbie Reese's post in her American Indians in Children's Literature site.

There are a lot of women saying that Alexie's harassed them and hurt their careers and such.  I'm especially pissed off because I like his books, and I like teaching Reservation Blues.  In fact, it's on my Intro to Lit calendar in April.

I recently read a really smart argument that we shouldn't teach or buy books or art by artists who've abused their power.   (I can't find the article now, or I'd link it, so if this sounds familiar, please share it in the links.)  I'm convinced.  And while I can't change the calendar now (because students have already purchased their books), I won't be putting him on the next one.

One of the smart things this argument said was that there's a substantive difference between teaching works by dead folks, people who can't benefit from others purchasing their works, and living folks, people who benefit a lot from others purchasing their works.  So we can teach Chaucer and Picasso and such.

What are your thoughts?  Are you going to teach Alexie's works (if you do already)?  Will you show or attend movies by men who've been identified as harassers? 

(Please note, the numbers of women who've come forward to talk about Alexie's behavior is convincing; they were threatened, and now, with the threat potentially fading in power, they've come forward.  Others, such as Joy Harjo, have publicly said that they'd heard about problems for years.)


Edited to add: I just saw this statement from Sherman Alexie on effbee.

Edited: Corrected my typo of Joy Harjo as Joyce Harjo.


  1. Another blogger brought up this same issue this week, and it came up in my class recently b/c we were discussing Percy Bysshe Shelley (whom I don’t think would have fared well on the #MeToo movement, though it’s hard to say.

    Here’s a link to the other blog post:

  2. Wow, I've been out of the loop for the past couple of weeks and hadn't heard any of this -- thanks for the links.

    1. I was really surprised to see it this week; from what's been written, it sounds like it's not new to those in the know.

  3. Not to sound pedantic, but it’s JOY Harjo, not JOYCE Harjo, you intend to reference in your final paragraph. She’s a fairly major voice in Native literature herself.

  4. Thanks, Joaquin. I appreciate your help pointing out the typo. I've corrected it.