We are parents and educators committed to a just and equitable society. This blog is a forum to share ideas and resources to help us teach our children and ourselves about social equity issues.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Reading List- Part Two

Parent and teacher colleagues,
Here is the second part of a summer reading list- some books I recommend, all of which are engaging, well-written and have changed the way I think about educating our children and engaging the world:
1. Why are all the Black Kids sitting together in the Cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is an excellent and thoughtful exploration of racial identity development for children and adolescents.
2. If you read the book above and enjoy it, move on to Can We Talk About Race, also by Dr. Tatum. It is an expansion of four lectures she gave over a period of time on topics related to racial identity and education. Profound and thought provoking.
3. How to Rent a Negro by damali ayo is a sharp satire about the tendency of white folks to embrace "diversity" but to engage simultaneously in micro-aggressions and othering of people of color. Be prepared to be discomfited if you self-identify as white.
4. Whistling Vivaldi by Dr. Claude Steele is a review of the most recent science of stereotypes for non-academics. It looks at the negative effect stereotypes have on their target group's performance and how they can be overcome by simple re-framing.
5. Definitely not beach reading is The Everyday Language of White Racism by Dr. Jane Hill. This is an academic text by a highly esteemed linguist and I recommend it strongly. The first chapter is excerpted to the left under "documents you may be interested in."
6. If you are interested in more detail about the principles and framework of an anti-bias curriculum, look at What if All the Kids are White? Anti-bias Multicultural Education for Young Children and Families. This book gets to the practical aspects of implementing an anti-bias curriculum in a school where the majority of students are non-children of color.
Looking forward to next year and a revised and restructured program for Discussing Diversity!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kindness/ Love is not a pie

Parents and Teacher Colleagues,
I have been thinking about this question: In the service of what do we strive for social justice? There are a lot of strong feelings that come out through this work; anger, outrage, shame. This is to be expected, because these are powerful dynamics, all have suffered, and many, many have suffered deeply. But it feels to me that working for social justice in the service of anger is limiting and risky.
Dr. Cornel West wrote in Race Matters that his goal was to speak truth to power with love. Dr. Hsiao-Wen Lo, one of the diversity speakers this past year, spoke of the need for greater compassion in this work, not just in the direction of people with privilege to people with less privilege, but from privileged people striving to be allies, to other privileged people who may not be as far along in the work. Her remarks were powerful for me, because the meta-message of what she said was, the work is the expansion of compassion and empathy in a fundamentally restructuring way. i.e. Love is not a pie. The generosity in how she framed the task with such inclusion and expansion was profound.
So I am thinking about what it looks like and feels like to do this work in the service of love. Love not in the context of "being nice" or "liking."Rather love of self and the expansion of empathy and dissolution of self so that love of self encompasses love of other. It is a powerful force of wholeness.
This poem, Kindness, one of my favorites by Naomi Shihab Nye, speaks to this expansion of empathy.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Reading List- Part One

Parent and Teacher Colleagues,

Summer is almost here and as we take a break from the school routine, I want to share with you a couple of interesting websites related to social justice parenting. Some of them are dormant, but contain a lot of interesting material in their archives.

http://cocoamamas.com/about/ "Raising cocoa children in a bittersweet world." An on-going parenting blog for mothers of color.

http://whiteantiracistparent.blogspot.com/ This site is dormant but has very interesting observations from a white mother working towards anti-racism as she raises her child.

http://sociallyjustparenting.org/ A recent and active site written by a friend of Dr. Moore. "Resources for raising our children to create a more socially just world."

http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/ This is a dormant site but contains a wealth of material in its archives. The writer is a white male who casts a discerning eye on white culture.

Of course, one of my favorite sites, http://loveisntenough.com/ "Raising a family in a colorstruck world," formerly known as anti-racist parent, is already linked on our blogsite.

Take a look and enjoy!