[Image: A bland banner that says “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup May 2021”]
This May we’re focusing on American Asian & Pacific Islander self-advocacy, mental health, and gatekeeping.
(When I call you ‘friends’ I’m not being casual about it. I mean it with all my heart, you are my people and I treasure you.) Truly.
After panting through a high-adrenaline 24/7/365 routine of work/chores/home-school [repeat] for the past 13+ months, I’m starting to feel like a worn pair of jeans. Not fashionably distressed. I mean unwashed, inappropriately threadbare in the crotch, fits like a burst sausage casing, yet saggy, and a bit itchy.
Luckily we’re still at home, so no is around to judge my imperfect parenting. Or the shoulder-height granny panties exposed by these saggy pants.
I am traditionally super into routines. But good gosh, the unceasing noise of bickering children as we scramble to be All The Things to our kids in isolation! Not just my nerves – the fabric of my being is fraying. These children will never leave and there is no end in sight. We live in a filthy, algae-encrusted aquarium and it could be another year, or two, or forever, until we escape!
But I have you, my people, and wow, gosh. Whenever I feel worn and saggy, I see all you cool folks out there doing courageous work raising kind kids, surviving through tedious days, or even ripping your pants alongside me and having the grace to shrug through it and show up tomorrow. We’ve got a kyriarchy to smash, and we’re not alone in smashing it.
So I mean it, you really are quite dear to me. I couldn’t do this without each and every single one of you.
Button up, and let’s see what adventures we can manage. To break up the monotony of our days, we’ll tackle hard discussions with the kiddos through events & national observations, and then further down we’ll get into ‘We Need To Finally Get Around To Talking About This’ monthly themes.
You are doing a good job!
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Holidays and observances comfort us with the opportunity to make tomorrow a little different than yesterday. Nudges to start talking about a particular subject now, instead of pushing these discussions off indefinitely. But if you’re overwhelmed and miss them, no big deal, come back to it next year! No one expects you to do it all – so pick one, or knit them together. Just keep pushing a tiny bit beyond your comfort zone and crack that noggin’ open just wide enough to let a little light shine in.
When you’re in the kyriarchy-smashing business, you know everything is connected. So this month as we navigate workers’ rights, freedom of the press, mental health, the invisible work of mothers, and so on – I invite you to build today’s discussions upon yesterday’s. Encourage kids to identify familiar roots in global cultures, patterns or systemic injustice, and the common assumptions and mechanics of oppression.
To help you along with this, I’ve pulled a few items from our upcoming home-school curriculum for the month of May, simplified them down to short, at-your-own-pace discussions, and chunked them into tasty bits so they seem less daunting. And hopefully more enticing?
Need help explaining big ideas?
Check out our Luminary Wordbank, where we’ve got simple kid-friendly definitions for big words.
5/1 is May Day (International Workers’ Day)
What do labor rights, gender equality, anti-racism, and wealth inequality all have in common? EVERYTHING.
- Learn the history behind May Day in the US [0:58 video, best for kids 6+]
Parenting is Praxis: Connecting labor rights & children’s rights:
- Read On Our Way to Oyster Bay.
- What does it mean to have fair and safe working conditions?
- What do we need to work safely? What kinds of work are safe and fair for each member of our family given our unique ages, skills, and abilities?
- Why is it important to educate the people who benefit from our labor about the human costs (time, energy, health, risks), and not just the dollar price of goods and services?
Parenting is Praxis: Connecting labor rights & wealth inequality
- Choose a book from our Labor Rights Stories.
- What is compensation? What does it mean when compensation is fair, or inadequate?
- Pick an item in your house. Using the internet, can you find out if the people who made it were compensated fairly? How easy is it to find this out?
- Do the people who care for us (including at home, at school, and those who clean our streets and build our homes) receive fair compensation?
- Adults: Find out how you can support care workers, nannies, and house cleaners with the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Parenting is Praxis: Connecting labor rights, power dynamics, and transparency
- Choose a book about labor rights and advocacy. (Bonus: more books on this list about labor rights here.)
- Whose responsibility is it to demand fair and safe working conditions?
- What are negotiations?
- What does it mean to be a stakeholder in a system? (Such as in a company, a family, or a school.)
- What is a consumer? A worker? An owner? An investor? A government?
- What kind of (and how much) power does each type of person have negotiating working conditions with the others?
- Discuss the roles and responsibilities of each to create safe working conditions and compensation.
- Pick a family item you purchase often. How could you source this more sustainably and fairly?
- Example, this month we’re exploring the impact of using cloth wipes made from old bedsheets and sustainably sourced toilet paper with Who Gives A Crap ($10 off code with this afflink, if you want to check them out).
Parenting is Praxis: Connecting labor rights & women’s rights
- Watch Ai-Jen Poo, Domestic Workers Fighting for Equality
- What is domestic work?
(Ex: childcare, cleaning, planning, paying bills, running errands, laundry.)
- What is care work?
(Ex: noticing who needs what, bathing, planning meals and schedules, soothing meltdowns.)
- Who is usually responsible for unpaid domestic & care work in US families?
(Hint: women, most often women of color)
- Who does which types of work in our family? Are they paid or unpaid? In what other ways are they compensated?
- What is an industry? (Ex: a type of job)
- How do people with power and money value domestic labor compared to industries such as engineering, construction, and banking? Use the internet to find standard rates of pay, and/or ask adults how much they think an hour of that type of labor is worth.
- What differences in compensation do we notice depending on industries?
- How does average compensation differ depending on who tends to work in an industry?
(Ex: workers of a common gender, citizenship status, disability, or access to higher education.)
- Why are different types of paying jobs easier, or harder to get for people who have extra care work for family at home?
- How did the way we value and compensate workers change as industries changed from a mostly-men to mostly-women industry? What about the reverse?
(Example: Teaching, midwifery and obstetrics)
- What is domestic work?
5/3 is World Press Freedom Day
Parenting is Praxis: Change-making Through Art
- Learn how social photography impacted child labor laws (6:36 video, best for kids 8+)
- Read Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America
- Sign up to participate in the Revolutionary Humans Justice Fair (free)
- What types of art do you enjoy? Which would you like to experiment with?
- How can you use it to amplify the voices of those who are currently silenced and ignored?
- In a medium of your kid’s choice (painting, photography, poetry, etc.), have kids document an incident or pattern of behaviors that feels unfair to them.
- Ask your kiddo who they might want to share this work with. Are any of these people in a position of power to rectify this unfairness and help them seek justice?
Parenting is Praxis: Understanding reporting bias
- Read Miss Mary Reporting.
- What is reporting bias?
- How did Mary’s life experience affect what she chose to report, and how she reported it?
- Would you feel better informed about an event after reading:
- Four reports by people who have the same beliefs and background, or
- Four reports by people with a diverse set of beliefs and backgrounds?
- Why? What information might you miss out on in each situation?
5/4 is Bird Day. Save the birbs or whatever!
I love most animals, but birds are loud, tiny, vicious dinosaurs, and I don’t trust them! Those twitchy, blood-lust stares. That 4am chirping! You know they’d pop your eyeballs and peck at your entrails if given half a chance.
HOWEVER, I guess we need them for like, the planet to survive or something? Also some of them are cute and respond to scritches. And one of my favorite things to do is hang out with those industrial-sized canary cages at chain pet stores to watch the bird politics. There’s always an outcast, a pair of buddies grooming each other, and a bossy bird! RIVETING DRAMA!!!
Anyway, we need to protect birds, even the ones who would murder our eyeballs and eat us if only they had biceps and thumbs.
Parenting is Praxis
- Read Spring After Spring.
- Discuss: What natural resources do we share with birds?
- Read Sparrow Girl.
- How do humans rely on birds to survive?
- Read A Garden To Save the Birds (disclosure: LFBC sent me a free review copy of this, expect it in an upcoming book box maybe!)
- If you have a garden or personal yard, what are 1-3 habits you can start to make it a safe space for birds?
- If you don’t have control over an outside space, who can you talk to about your local school, store owner, or park to create a pocket haven for birds?
- Read Spring After Spring.
5/5 is Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG) Day of Awareness
National week of action is April 29-May 5.
Parenting is Praxis
- Adults: Read Missing Nimama and decide whether to read this story with your kids.
I know we read a lot of heavy shit with kids here, and and a testament to how rampant MMIWG is that we need a children’s book to help children process it. Content warning for kidnapping, murder, and abandonment, as the story is written to validate and help children whose mothers have been ripped away from them process their grief.
- Reflect: What kind of world do we live in where we so many children need a book such as Missing Nimama? What is our family’s responsibility to end the need for these stories?
- Discuss with your kids: How are stories about the woman often referred to as Sacajawea, as told by colonists and settlers, romanticized to downplay, normalize, or excuse family separation, child trafficking, forced labor, and rape?
- Adults: Pick 1-3 items from the #MMIWGActionNow resources. These resources include free webinar events, social media graphics, resources to share out, and a sign-on to support Senate and House resolutions declaring May 5th as National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I know it’s overwhelming, but there’s something for all levels of accomplices and allies in there.
- Adults: Read Missing Nimama and decide whether to read this story with your kids.
5/9 is Mother’s Day
I don’t mean the Mother’s Day where kids buy trash and your family lets you take the day off of from unpaid labor. I mean the non-commercial observance as Anna Jarvis originally intended – to draw awareness to the second shift demanded of working mothers and the disempowerment of work-at-home mothers within industries, communities, and their own families.
The fight for women’s rights, wealth equality, racial equality, and decolonizing is intertwined with the experiences of mothers and how we support them.
Parenting is Praxis, #FreeBlackMamas
“Sixty percent of people in local women’s jails have not even been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial—and 80 percent of them are parents. These Black women, femmes, and gender-nonconforming folks—Black Mamas and caregivers—are often without support or a safety net when they are condemned to a cage: there is no one to come for them.” …read more from National Bail Out.
Parenting is Praxis, Show Up For Single Mothers
Revolutionary Humans membership or purchases required – proceeds support Revolutionary Humans, a Black-& single-mama-led initiative.
- Adults: Watch Single Parenting in a Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape, featuring me and Bellamy S. discussing growing up and parenting in a single-mama family constellation, through the intersection of race, disability, transformative justice, and mutual aid.
- Adults: Download & read the This is Unsustainable eBook, featuring articles for your own edification, plus kid-friendly activities. (Order here, or join as a member to get free access)
- Choose a book to read together from our Triumphant Kids Stories Honoring Single Mothers collection. If you’ve already read all those, you can find more single-parent family constellation stories here.
- Discuss: What does our family constellation look like? What privileges and challenges do we navigate because of how many parents and caregivers we have? How does the gender of the caregivers in our family affect our ability to find and receive support when we need it?
Parenting is Praxis, Acknowledge Invisible Labor
- Read How mamas love their babies.
- Read You Should Have Asked comic. Or get the Metal Load collection in hard-copy. (Easiest with kids 8+)
- Discuss: What kinds of invisible work and emotional labor is required to maintain our family life? Who does it? Does this type of work feel fairly distributed? Why?
5/12-13 is Eid al-Fitr
Parenting is Praxis: How non-Muslims can support Muslims through Ramadan
- Read Amal’s Eid (disclosure: Sailaja of Mango & Marigold Press is a member of the RL Patreon community)
- Learn How to be a Good Ally to Muslims During Ramadan [3:16m best for ages 5+]
- Brainstorm ways to support friends and family who celebrate Ramadan, and how to support them in having a wonderful Eid.
- Example: If you don’t observe Ramadan or celebrate Eid, don’t schedule any events on Eid al-Fitr. Imagine someone scheduling a meeting on Christmas or New Years Eve. That would be dismissive for the folks who celebrate these days, as if their holidays don’t matter and you don’t care if they’re not included. Rude!
- Read stories celebrating and normalizing Muslim families all year long, not just during the month of Ramadan.
5/16(?) Famine Commemoration Day
In recognition and observance of Ireland’s Great Hunger and the impact of colonization on modern-day Ireland and also the Irish diaspora. As Irish Americans we typically cover this during Irish Heritage month in March, but it’s a good segue into global colonialism, authoritarianism, and modern famine crises and how to help.
Parenting is Praxis
- Read Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O’Hara
- Watch Why are there still famines in the world?
- Read (pick one)
- Discuss: What are the root causes of famine? (Ex: war, colonization, genocide, climate change, shitty leadership)
- Discuss: What are the most effective (as opposed to feel-good) ways to end world famine from home?
5/18 Marks the birth date of Vincent Chin
We started discussing the murder of Vincent Chin and how it impacted the modern AAPI movement last year when the Earthquakes were 5 & 7. There still aren’t many kid-friendly resources explaining the history of anti-Asian xenophobia in the US, so these are very much a work in progress, resources cobbled together from many conversations we’ve had over the years.
Parenting is Praxis: Say his name
- Watch this Simpsons scene on scapegoating (best for kids 4+).
- Discuss: What is scapegoating?
- Watch Who is Vincent Chin? (content warning for anti-AAPI violence, murder, cussing, best for 6+)
- Discuss: What consequences did Chin’s murderers face?
- Adults: watch ‘Other’ A Brief History of American Xenophobia (7:10, long, wordy, and drops a lot of numbers and legislation, so might be inaccessible for kids under 10.)
- Discuss: What is xenophobia?
- Watch this Simpsons scene on scapegoating (best for kids 4+).
Parenting is Praxis: Acknowledge that AAPI assimilation and playing into the model minority myth isn’t enough to stop white folks from killing us.
- Watch The Chinese Exclusion Act.
- Discuss: How is the perpetual foreigner trope weaponized against AAPI folks?
- Watch Why we don’t call the coronavirus the chinese virus.
- Discuss: How has anti-Asian racism changed over the development of the US?
- Watch: How Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School (3:42, best for kids 6+ content warning for the typical anti-Chinese classroom stuff, but also videos of physical violence against Asians)
- Discuss: Has scapegoating and xenophobia against Asian Americans ever truly disappeared?
- Watch Adam Ruins Everything: How America Created the Model Minority Myth
- Discuss: Has keeping silent, assimilating, and ‘behaving’ the way white America demands made us any safer?
- AAPI Families: Acknowledge & discuss the bind of being called on to choose white/western forms self-advocacy to avoid being targeted with our kids.
- How are rallying cries for self-advocates to ‘speak up,‘ ‘get loud,‘ etc. often used to victim-blame AAPI, given that many of us were raised to communicate indirectly? Should we be forced to assimilate to whiteness in order to be heard and believed?
- How do we balance the impulses to save face and maintain group harmony that we might have been raised in, with the need for some forms of disruption and systemic criticism often required for self-advocacy and activism in the US?
- No right answers: In what creative ways can we protect our families, advocate for our communities, and reject coerced assimilation, while showing up as our full selves?
- Non-AAPI Families: Discuss your role in coerced assimilation and victim-blaming as accomplices in support of AAPI friends and family.
- Why must we examine whiteness, rather than make further demands for AAPI to avoid/prevent attacks, in the role of white supremacy and discrimination against AAPI?
- Whose responsibility is it to stop targeting, attacking, and killing American Asian and Pacific Islanders? (AAPI shouldn’t have to get loud, perform better, or ‘act white’ to stop AAPI hate.)
- Watch The Chinese Exclusion Act.
5/25 RL Collaborators Open Office Hours
Save the date: Tuesday 5/25, 1-5 pm EST.
I’m hosting our open-office hours for our members. Come hang out – with questions, or just to connect and say ‘hi.’ I’ll post a link with the zoom invite in our patreon feeds a week ahead, so make sure you’re signed up and receiving Patreon updates if you wanna chat.
5/29 is Learn About Composting Day
We’ve done all kinds of composting – kitchen vermicomposting, fancy layered composting, rotating bin composting, and have finally leveled-up to the boss-level: ‘Send the kids dump scraps in/near a pile the yard.’ (Take certain types of food waste, and put them in a pile in the back yard. Ignore it until it turns to dirt.)
Composting is not as complicated as garden bloggers and youtubers make it out to be. I don’t think we need a kid’s book about this. But also, I am a worn-out pair of saggy mom-jeans, so I get it if you don’t want to do sloppy composting like we do. If you want to get fancy, mix in some leaves and cardboard, and poke it sometimes.
If You Must: Make composting unnecessarily complicated
- If you have a back yard, be like “We are going to start composting.” Then designate a spot on the ground not too close to anyone’s house (it’s basically a giant bird feeder, so expect visitors and their poops.)
- Before throwing food in your compost pile, google ‘Can I compost this?‘ Some types of food (meat, oil) attracts rats. Orange peels take forever to break down. It’s okay to be choosy in what you add! It’s okay to start small and only compost some things.
- If you live in an apartment or don’t have a yard or your town has rude laws about it or whatever, watch a video about vermicomposting. Any of them will do, like this one.
- I will admit vermicomposting is a little complicated because these are basically worm pets. And does take up space in your home. But hey, pets with valuable poop! Consider it – you can DIY it, or buy a fancy bin or grab one off a free stuff group. We kept our pet worms in this one until we moved to a place with yard for regular compost.
- If you really must make this complicated, or are worried about weeds or squirrels stealing your dirt, you can get fancy. Check out this video by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network on how to make fancy layers or cages, and water it and stuff.
In May, Bumblebee Hollow Academy explores Mental Health & AAPI advocacy
Destigmatizing Mental Health Challenges, dismantling about sanism & setting a model for self-care
Last May, I acknowledged how over-extending myself was not an excuse for getting sloppy and not showing up in my best form. Even though my survival depends on our progress to a small degree – this work is a choice. So I’ve taken steps to learn to say ‘no’ to [some] of that stuff that drains my spoons so I can do a better job providing the tools you need to raise kind and courageous kiddos. It isn’t fair to spread ourselves too thin, as we perpetuate harm when we do that.
From last year’s May Resource recap:
I think I’m not alone in failing to recognize when we slip into bad habits like that and take on too much. We’re so busy focused on the folks who have less, those who need our help, and on not losing the things we have, that we forget to take responsibility for body & mind check-ins and taking the time to setup accommodations for our disabilities / mental health.
That’s not an excuse – it’s a recognition. We habituate to over-extension, and particularly for folks with compulsion disorders like myself, we just double down on self-harming behavior. Recognizing that is my responsibility – and taking care of myself so I don’t mess up and create setbacks in the movements I’m working toward is also my responsibility. That means I’ve got to name it (you are here) and take responsibility for collecting myself so I prevent myself from doing harm.”
Both together with the Luminary Brain Trust* and independently, we followed through on those promises. We unpacked trauma stewardship, disengaged from toxic social media culture, strengthened our pod relationships, celebrated and vented and acknowledged the resources we needed to move forward and hold ourselves accountable.
*Not a sell, just a link for members having trouble finding the LBT – the Luminary Brain Trust is our space for Luminary+ community members.
We’ve unpacked books. Found therapists! Written, scratched-out, adjusted, and amended accountability procedures, boundaries and actions that we will do (and refuse to do!) so that when the world zigs, we can zag and keep showing up together, in all our stumbling hot mess glory.
As an unexpected side effect, I’ve found myself far less patient with folks who continue to over-extend, sway out of their lanes, and perpetuate harm when they choose to take on too much.
After setting more boundaries, I’ve noticed the folks who get the most riled up about maintaining dominance over anti-oppression work are those Nice People Who Don’t Want To Help But Not Make Waves – those with a vested interest in maintaining things the way they are, while performing an ‘ally’ identity that assuages their guilt and helps them feel good and while profiting off harm.
These folks are the Gatekeepers of supremacy and assorted systemic oppression. We’ll talk about those a bit farther below.
The State of Destigmatizing Mental Health Conditions/Challenges (MHC) in Kidlit These Days
Okay, so here is the thing – anti-sanism hasn’t gotten trendy in the kidlit community, so we’re still at the ‘hahaha let’s stigmatize people with MHCs as funny/dangerous” or “let’s pretend MHCs don’t exist and hope they go away’ level of representation.
All but the most didactic, bland, non-fiction books are written for kids who are not experiencing mental health challenges, to help them… ‘deal with‘ (I can’t think of a better way to say it – that’s what this feels like) family or friends who have a MHC.
Lots of people without MHC, writing books for people without, about people with MHC. As if people with MHCs have no ability or interest in their own reflection and care, they must rely on others to read about them… and rely on trickle-down representation for quality and justice, I guess. All the problems with disability kidlit, minus 5 years of progress, exponentially applied.
What’s beyond that one awkward library corner shelf where you can find didactic, bland, pathetic stories about childhood anxiety and parental PTSD intermixed with fairytale adoption stories? Let’s talk about all the other books for kids, and the stories they tell kids about people with MHCs.
When characters with MHCs show up in books about growth, fantasy, and fun, they’re:
- Comic relief sidekick who is lovable despite *quirks*
- Bad guy villain plot twist revealed to have underlying deep issues that somehow justify abusive behavior
- A pathetic friend-in-waiting to rescue, always with a heart of gold
- A parent doing bad parenting
- As the protagonist: a child between the ages of 8-12, who is overcoming their MHC to the exclusion of caring about anything beyond wrestling and recovery and shallow token hobby to seem more relatable.
A staggering majority of books written for the enjoyment and edification of kids employ casual sanism for humor, particularly in books for kids 7+. Even books promoting disability inclusion rely on pejorative potshots, labeling dangerous, odd, or frightening behavior as “crazy,” “insane,” “demented,” etc. to distract readers from poor character development and lazy jokes. If there is an older person in the story, they’re usually experiencing some form of dementia or make self-depreciating jokes about senior moments. Almost all the older people need to be saved by kids who haven’t had enough life experience to file taxes or troubleshoot a leaky toilet.
Of the books that do try to address MHCs beyond cheap humor, most of these didactic, boring books are still centered in sanism, suggesting that people with MHC are flawed and incapable of living a reasonable life. Or really thinking of anything beyond how to ‘recover’ from their MHC. Like disability kidlit, library shelves are full of ‘expert‘ authors who don’t openly identify personal experience with MHC, but did pay for fancy degrees so they could decorate their bylines with lots of letters and Official Resume Titles.
I can understand why an author might not want to disclose a personal MHC on a jacket flap, but I think we all know how by now how a gatekeeper in publishing salivates at phDs in clinical depression, but winces at the thought of boosting the voice of a person with actual clinical depression who wants to say anything beyond “How I got rid of it.”
The focus in these books is to separate the child from the diagnosis, as if their experiences, senses, and emotions are dirty, shameful things that don’t deserve treatment until the child can distance themselves from the stuff that is going on inside their own brains. All of this supports the dominant narrative that folks with MHC are only worth supporting if they keep those eyes on the prize of recovery to a baseline of zero issues (is that even a thing? Can a real human have zero issues?) – as if navigating school, work, friendship, and getting into or out of bed each day isn’t a series of triumphs to be proud of unless you do it while regulated, content and happy.
This just feels so very…American. The singular focus on unadulterated, purchased, bland, conformative joy, the medical pathologization of everything a human experiences, and the urgent need to get away from who and where you are right now, so you can be someone healthier, shinier, and more palatable as soon as possible.
I have no quicks-start book lists for you at the moment, so we will have to settle with cobbling together your own discussions from the archives. If you found a good one, add your recommendations in the comments.
Broad discussions & stories to support an anti-sanism framework with positive psychology & pro-social scaffolding:
- Blueloon: Unpacking sanism in kidlit
- Validating Big Feelings Because there are no such thing as bad feelings or good feelings – they are all helpful and important.
- After reading Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life, the Earthquakes had a nice discussion about the power of artists in sustaining communities through hard times, such as war and resistance. From there, check out books cultivating hope & fantasy and our in-progress collection of Books that Legit Made the Earthquakes Laugh.
- Normalizing Radical Interdependence – those feel relevant too, in terms of meeting folks as they are instead of tugging them to be something else.
- Celebrating Self-Identity & Gaining Confidence – for when our MHCs are based in comparison, scarcity, and social pressure.
- Blueloon: Unpacking sanism in kidlit
Books for specific challenges:
- Validating & Helping Kids With Anxiety
- Separation Anxiety & Parting Grief – Validating Books For Kids
- Understanding the difference between Envy & Jealousy and Helping kids navigate jealousy
- Hitting: When your kid is the aggressor
- Validating frustration with feeling small & powerless
- Whining, Tantrums & Outbursts: Books to Help Kids Chill
- How to talk to kids about shootings – Picture books that help
- Books to support kids experiencing or learning about physical violence & global conflict
- Books to support families experiencing domestic violence
- Validating Stories For Adopted Children Who Have Experienced Trauma
Exploring Individual Gatekeeping in Systemic Oppression
Back to the gatekeepers – people who benefit from an unjust system as it is, and have the power to release systems of change. I mean all of us are gatekeepers in our different roles of power. But right now, we’re talking about the ones who keep unnecessary shit flowing downriver and use their power to maintain injustice.
We all have our knee-jerk reactions to getting caught unaware or making mistakes. But there’s a specific brand of resilient, impenetrable White Feminist / TERF / Autism Warrior Parent / Eager Token / Anti-vaxxer / Anti-Masker / Incel, etc. who singularly focuses on issues that affect them personally, and refuses to acknowledge the way their actions affect others with less power. Those with agency, freedom to choose, and influence over their communities who make every action, protest, suggestion, feedback, and experience of inequity and harm about them, and decide to open those gates only when it serves them.
A gatekeeper refuses to relinquish the reigns of saviorism, delegate, or admit they’re overwhelmed, even when their sloppy mistakes cause harm to the people they’re claiming to help. Gatekeepers hold tightly to power while refusing to acknowledge that they hold any agency at all. A gatekeeper won’t take personal responsibility for their decisions. Gatekeepers listen compassionately to feedback from those they’ve harmed, and then conveniently feign powerlessness when it comes time to change their behavior.
We’re all gatekeepers in our different realms. There are some forms of power that we can’t, nor should, relinquish (like our power as parents to protect our kids from street traffic and polar bears). To be a beneficial gatekeeper is more of a steward role – is to acknowledge our power in these relationships, and our responsibility to hold ourselves in check. To avoid abusing our power and acknowledge when our behavior impacts those we hold power over. Gatekeeping is most dangerous when we refuse to adjust our behavior to do better. A steward uses the gate to block those who hoard power and abuse others. We can use our stewarding powers to welcome and listen to those who are traditionally excluded and exploited, to support them in seeking their own justice, on their own terms, not ours.
Parenting is Praxis: Understand in which realms you are a gatekeeper. I know all this looks complicated, but we’ve hold all of these conversations with the Earthquakes year-round. The trick is to keep coming back to it and being open to questions when they bring it up again.
Learn about gatekeeping in the media we consume:
- Zetta Elliot explains gatekeeping
- How to create an anti-gatekeeping family manifesto
- Read Milo’s Museum.
- What is a curator? What is a steward?
- What is gatekeeping?
- What are the members of our family curators/stewards of? How can we wield our power responsibly?
Learn about disqualifying as a tool to divide & conquer.
For example, racial-purity gatekeeping and the effects of silencing multiracial people. This extends to gatekeeping against all folks who live at the intersections of two socially imagined ‘distinct’ identities, but multiracial anti-racism work is my wheelhouse, so let’s roll with it.
- Read Anti-Racism 103: How White Supremacy Perpetuates Myths of Racial Purity. Pick some books to read and discuss with the kiddos.
- Watch Whiteopia: Unpacking Zootopia.
Discuss with the kids: how might this movie have been different if all the decision makers, writers, and casting directors had been BIPOC?
- Watch The Boy Who Spoke Chinese.
Discuss with the kids: How many non-Chinese and non-disabled gatekeepers did this book have to pass through to be written, published, and survive on library shelves for 45 years.
- Watch Making Mixed Babies Won’t Solve Racism.
Discuss, ugh, I dunno, that whole mess.
- Read What Are You? Living Multiracial in A Racial Purist Culture.
Discuss with the kids: What is othering? How does/would it feel like to be othered every time you go to the stores and public spaces in your home community?
Learn how saviorism shows up in kids stories.
- Discuss with kids: How is saviorism different than accomplice work? What does it mean to amplify, mass the mic, and stay open to supporting others the way they want to be supported?
- Discuss: The Golden Rule (do unto others as they would do unto you) vs. The [insert most democratic element here*] Rule (treat folks you have power over the way they ask to be treated) and how it pertains to de-centering whiteness and other forms of supremacist power.
*I don’t have time to name it right now. You get the point.
Learn about recognizing privilege and acknowledging your power
- Choose a category from Captivating Kids Stories Recognize Privilege to guide which topic you want to learn about
- Discuss what types of privilege you hold, and which you don’t have access to. Despite being members of the same family, expect for every member to have different types and degrees of privilege.
- Create a brainstorm map – in what communities and parts of our lives do our identities affect our power and influence over other people in the group?
- Brainstorm ideas on how each of shows up (talking, contributing, staying safe, passing the mic) within each space to promote inclusion and justice.
Exploring AAPI History, Heritage, Culture, and Self-Advocacy
I feel like we harp on this every month, so I dunno, comb through a few of our archives and see if you’d like to review all this through a 2021 post-Covid lens, I guess.
- Watch How positive stereotypes do harm
- Read more #OwnVoices Asian & Pacific Islander Kidlit
- You’re not going to cover this in school. So read all the Kids Books about Asian & Pacific Islander History.
- Learn how to spot tokenism in kidlit.
- Discuss with your kids why all the books about AAPI are about food, and how to be a better lunch date, with Delicious Kids Books That Dismantle Anti-Asian Racism.
- Revisiting the issue of disqualification within the AAPI community, understand how the model minority myth silences and targets us.
- Learn how to spot the model minority myth in kidlit.
- Learn how to not appropriate the identities of your AAPI family & friends, and how to avoid spotlighting them and expecting emotional labor from them by unpacking the mess of this gross book.
- Learn how to support AAPI publishers and makers in telling our own stories: Circumventing White Fragility With Adorable Books by Mango & Marigold Press and The Sikh Identity by Saffron Press .
- Wrapping it back around to destigmatizing MHC and anti-sanism: Support the work of the Asian Mental Health Collective. Share out the APA care package. If you’re white, please stop telling Asians to ‘just go find a therapist‘ because it is really hard to find a culturally responsive therapist or mental health support.
- Learn how to respond When you’re Invited To a Racist Birthday Party: Scripts for Handling the Violence of White Peoples ‘Good Intentions’
- Push your local school to teach kids about Japanese Internment and observe Fred Korematsu Day.
Entering… year 2, i guess? of family semi-isolation – Spring edition
- Our favorite books to read for Spring
- Hilarious books that legit made the Earthquakes belly-laugh
- Kids Books For Pandemic Life & Books To Reassure Kids During Coronavirus Isolation
- Stories Validating Big Feelings
- Our favorite books of 2021 so far.
Family Calls To Action:
[Image: Bystander Intervention is an effective tool we can all learn and use to show up for the AAPI community. Join me & sign up for Bystander Intervention Training to stop anti-Asian/American and xenophobic harassment: ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention @ihollaback @AAAJ_AAJC ]
Action for Grownups!
Join me and our friends – sign up for free Bystander Intervention training to Stop anti-Asian/American and Xenophobic Harassment and cultivate resilience & mental health for Asian & Pacific Islander Americans. It’s 1-hour long, interactive, and there are multiple dates available right now: https://www.ihollaback.org/
For Asian & Pacific Islander Americans
Workshop: How to respond to harassment when anti-Asian/American harassment:
- May 21 2021. 12:00PM ET/ 11:00AM CT/ 10:00PM MT/ 9:00PM PT/ 6:00AM HST. Register Here
For Non-Asian Accomplices
Workshop: Bystander intervention to stop anti-Asian/American harassment and xenophobia
Gift a Little Feminist Book Club subscription for your school library.
Whenever I find new children’s biographies about kickass AAPI women & femmes, I tell our partner, Little Feminist Book Club about it right away. We don’t just focus on AAPI women, but you’ll find a higher representation of us in these boxes than most places. So far, we’ve filled neighborhoods with biographies including Wu Chien Shiung, The Queen of Physics, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior, and It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew The Way.
Action for Schools & Community Groups:
Wee Tell the Truth: a BRAND NEW WORKSHOP SERIES for older kids
via Wee The People:
“More than ever before, we are seeing the power of children’s books to tell hard truths about our shared history. Starting in Fall 2021, Wee The People is rolling out a brand new series of workshops for kids 8-12: Wee Tell the Truth.
Featuring bold storytelling from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ creators, this pilot series will include workshops on the Tulsa Race Massacre, Native American residential schools, the Stonewall uprising, and the first children’s title from the New York Times‘ 1619 Project, Born on the Water, by Nicole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson.
Interested in booking a Wee Tell The Truth workshop for the 2021-22 school year?”
Book HERE by JUNE 1 to receive a 15% discount.
One more good thing…
I tried to find a funny video of the Earthquakes this month but at this point they’re getting older and smellier. All we have are videos of teeth hanging out of their mouths with strings of gristle (OMGOSH NO) and then running naked through the house screaming “LET’S KICKING ASS” (feels inappropriate?) or them just infodumping for like fifteen minutes about unicorns.
Maybe it unicorn infodumping seem fascinating to me later, but right now all I want is a few silent hours without anyone farting on me. While I would never want to go back to the hard work of caring for toddlers who scream at me for peeling bananas wrong, I do enjoy reminiscing over how cute they were before they developed the ability to dominate a conversation. And how much better they used to smell.
[Video description: Q and R2 at ages 2 & 4, watching ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ R2 urgently wants me to notice Tigger’s cameo, but he has no words for it, just emphatic and impressive tiger growl.]
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & #FreeBlackMamas
Every day I get to wake up and be like: “Cat, get your butt out of my face!”
But after that, I think: “OH GOSH YES! I am going to work on this neat research / writing / collaboration / experimentation / do-goodery today! This is my work! MY LIFE IS AMAZING.”
And that’s thanks to you! Thank you, friend. Now let’s share that love and reunite mothers with their families. Yes? YES!
Oh, hey, look – here is that tantalizing button again:
You can keep these resources free & accessible for all join the Raising Luminaries Patreon community. This is where we try out experiments in dismantling the kyriarchy – most of which flop and fail due to my hubris and steep climb up the learning curve. Come hang out with me while I fail spectacularly!
If you don’t need extra resources, but want to help me keep this free for the public – make a one-time contribution on Venmo @Raising-Luminaries. Thank you, friends!