Are You Afraid of Losing Your Power? I Am.

Would you be happy to be treated the same way as a black person in America today? I wouldn’t.

White privilege has it’s perks: Not being followed around a store because the sales person thinks I”m a thief. Assuming I’m safe if I’m stopped by a cop. Having the edge in job interviews.

But if I acknowledge that I don’t want to be treated like black peeps are, I’m admitting ” [I] know what’s happening, [I] know I don’t want it for myself. So why am I allowing it to happen to others.”  Quote/paraphrase: Anti-Racist white activist Jane Elliott

And that brings up the reason many of us aren’t “spending our privilege,” we’re afraid. (Spending Privilege-using your power as part of the dominant group to advocate for/uplift those from a subdominant group.)

Afraid to lose our jobs, afraid we’ll offend, afraid we’ll lose our power. And let’s face it, being the privileged dominant group has its appeal.

I’m afraid. When a lit agent will only read submissions from  marginalized voices for a whole month, a part of me is frustrated/afraid. Does this mean being white will be held against me when it comes to getting my book published? Making it even harder for me to achieve my dream, which is already hard enough? 

Then I think, “Welcome to racism. This is a tiny taste of what it’s like to have your skin color used against you. Sucks, huh?”

So I push through my initial fear/anger and remind myself that it’s persistence that will get me to my goal. As Harrison Ford said when asked why he made it when many of his peers didn’t: “I never gave up.” And that marginalized voices having been largely ignored all these years deserve to be heard in a big way. Which then reminds me of my main purpose in life. To leave this planet better than I found it. That includes being a good ally to all subdominant groups. (*dominant/subdominant groups are a less emotional and more encompassing way to explain our social hierarchy per Audre Lorde.)

Being a good ally means not giving into the fear we all have around loss of power. Means opening up to the possibility that there’s enough power to go around. Life doesn’t have to be a zero sum game, though it feels like it at times.

How do you be a good ally? Call in (calling someone out BUT in private) your boss/colleague if they don’t treat your black colleague the same way as you. (I’m hoping that ‘calling them in’ will result in us keeping our jobs.) 

Listen to black folks when they’re sharing what it’s like to be black in America. Listen to their stories, however uncomfortable they may be. Use what they taught you to intervene the next time someone is treating a black person unfairly for no reason.

If you’re an educator/parent/caregiver, talk to kids about race at a much earlier age than you think you should. (By 4 or 5, they already notice differences like skin color.) A great picture book for younger kids about what’s happening now is NOT MY IDEA.

You get the picture, right?

Why am I telling you all this? Because I keep hearing over and over again that the best thing I can do as a white person is to talk to other white people about spending our privilege. About making changes in our spheres of influence every day. Baby steps turn into a thousand steps over time. And if each of us do baby steps? That’s a lotta miles covered! 🙂

P.S. Youtube vid on the way. Because talking to each other about racism is such an important and sensitive topic, we are still working on this week’s offering regarding how to deal with one’s fear around losing power etc.

If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you want to fear LESS and LAUGH more.

 Questions, comments, suggestions can  reach me via replying to this letter, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel.

 
#SlayFear

Weekly Rad Resource From The Library: Please borrow either digitally, or in person if preferred and allowed, this terrific book that helped me understand what’s going on between blacks and whites. Note: I still have a looong way to go in my understanding.


Posted in Books, Diversity, Empowerment, Fear, Inclusion, Rad Resource, Thinking Outside The Box, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , by with no comments yet.

Behind The Vids: What Do You Know About Your Past?

Do you know what your family or community is built upon? In other words, do you know all about your past?

Most of us don’t. Yet our pasts still run us whether we know about it or not. The obvious one is genetics. But many family/community beliefs and/or dysfunctions come from the past too.

If you learn about your past, perhaps it can help you build a better future, or understand why you behave the way you do, or even help keep your community together.

A point of Natasha Tarpley’s middle grade book, Harlem Charade, is that the past should be preserved, not thrown out like yesterday’s news.

Tomorrow in a our book review, you will meet Elvin, Jin, and Alex whose journey into the past helps them solve a present mystery; why was Elvin’s grandfather attacked. It may also save Harlem.

In the meantime, here’s a fact about my past that I literally learned today from my cousin who’s visiting from Atlanta…I have southern blood in me, unfortunately, it’s not Nawlins blood. 🙁

Apparently, some of my ancestors hail from Corinth, Mississippi. They built and owned a department store called Rubels. I’m not sure how it affects me yet, but it may explain my love of buttermilk fried chicken and fried green tomatoes, or Southern Gothic settings.

Rubels circa 1874

Do you know a fun fact about your past? How does it affect you? Please share with me by replying to this letter or tweeting me. I may even post some of your comments under our YouTube book review tomorrow.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Week:
Purple Harlem Street Art


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Behind The Vids: El Deafo Book Review, Rolling With The Punches

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Initially I think Cece Bell, author of the graphic memoir El Deafo, might’ve asked for her hearing back. (She lost it when she was four years old due to meningitis.) But some things we can’t change.

Life guarantees us only a few things, one of them is change. Lucky is the child whose parents can teach them how to roll with the punches. . . the valuable gift of resilience. Where one might see doom, another sees an opportunity to better their life, and maybe those around them.

The graphic novel focuses on Cece going to a regular hearing school when she enters first grade. She is the only one who can’t hear, and very conscious of how different that makes her. To make her stand out even more, in those days she had to wear a phonic ear. The phonic ear is a huge contraption that Cece draws and explains well in the book.

Though the book has been out for a few years now, I’m not going to talk much about the story just in case you, or your kids, haven’t read it yet. In fact our latest interviewee, Pam Simon, hadn’t heard of it. Being a part of the deaf community for so long, she instantly read it and loved it.

So since much of last week’s interview focused on what it’s like to be ‘the other,’ the different person, we decided to review El Deafo for this week’s book review vid.

What I will say is that through trial and error, Cece finds that not fitting in can have its advantages. Ultimately her deafness becomes a superpower that allows her to help her classmates, and thus become the hero of her class.

Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Oxford Dictionary

Cece has resilience in spades.

Do you have a story about resilience, either your own, or someone else’s? Please share it with me by replying to this letter, or on the comments page of our YouTube channel under the El Deafo book review video.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Week:
Batgirl


Posted in Acceptance, Books, Diversity, Empowerment, Imagination, Inclusion, Self-Acceptance by with no comments yet.

Behind the Vids: What’s Your Superpower?

We all have hidden superpowers, but many of us are never asked to discover them.

For those who can’t hear, everyday life can be a challenge. But with the right support and community, the deaf can discover their superpowers.

For some it might be learning a new language: sign language. In case you didn’t know, American Sign Language is different from French Sign Language etc. (I’m not even fluent in English, so I consider learning a new language a superpower that I don’t possess.)

For others it might be lip reading, or amplified hearing to the point 0f having ears like Wolverine.

Our interview guest this week, Pam Simon, who can hear, worked with the deaf community for a long time. She gave us a window into what it’s like to move around our world as a deaf person, and going through that window, we gained tips on how to choose to accept yourself and others.

Challenges often force us to discover our superpower(s) so that we can either overcome them, or learn to build a life that includes them.

Have you discovered your superpower(s) yet?

P.S. Turns out one of my superpowers is being a crazy dog lady! 🙂

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  

#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Week:
Purple Hearing Aides


Posted in Acceptance, choose acceptance, Diversity, Empowerment, Inclusion by with no comments yet.

Behind the Vids: Do You Judge a Crayon by its Label?

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Beauty is more than skin deep. I’m more than my ‘labels.’ (In my case, white, woman, JewBu, a creative, etc.)

But the truth is we all do it.

Published authors I know get freaked out if they hate their book cover because kids and adults do judge books by their covers. (And the majority of published authors have zero input on their covers.)

Once when someone found out I was Jewish, she asked me where my horns were. (This was when I was a kid.) I glibly answered, “They’re retractable like My Favorite Martian.”

She bought that. It wasn’t until I got home that Mom explained to that the remark was an antisemitic slur, comparing Jews to Satan.

She was a friend who thought she’d never met a Jew before. So when she learned a new label for me, she didn’t understand why I didn’t fit the description she’d been given.

That’s the subject of tomorrow’s book review of the picture book RED. I LOVE this pb because it deals with our primitive, stubborn  desire to judge people quickly by looks, or labels, before giving them a chance to show us who they are.

This need to judge served us long ago because we needed to assess whether someone or something was a threat. Now most of the time it gets in our way.

So the next time you see a new person, consider trying to stay curious about them despite their looks or labels. Your Reptilian Brain will fight you, but tell it to chill out because you’ve gotten good at distinguishing people from lions and tigers. 🙂 

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  

#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Week:
Purple Crayon:


Posted in Acceptance, Books, Diversity, Empowerment, Inclusion by with no comments yet.

Behind The Vids: Ada Twist and Curiosity

Tomorrow we’ll drop a book review on you, but it won’t hurt.  I promise.

The subject of said book review is Ada Twist, Scientist. Tho written for younger readers, 5-7 yrs old, Ada teaches the rest of us some important lessons too. The value of curiosity and support. You’ll see how in tomorrow’s vid.

What isn’t in the vid is the bio of the woman mathematician/scientist that inspired Ada’s name: Ada Lovelace.

Ada Lovelace, born in 1815 is considered the first computer programmer because she could see that computing machines could do more than just calculate numbers. She wrote extensive notes on the potential for using Charles Babbage’s Analytical Computer in areas not previously imagined, which introduced many computer concepts. She was also the poet Lord Byron’s only legitimate child.

It was her curiosity about all things, and her openness to innovation that paved the way for the computers we use today.

Like her predecessor, Ada Twist sees potential in asking “Why” and then falling down the rabbit hole to see where her curiosity takes her.

Do you have a favorite STEM hero or heroine? I’d love to hear about it!

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Week:
Purple Computer Codes


Posted in Acceptance, Books, Diversity, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Inclusion, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Behind The Vids: Drum Roll Please Asks Us To Be True To Ourselves

“Let your freak flag fly!” Easy to say, usually much harder to do.

If you know me, you know that I was the purple sheep of my family. Born to corporate athletic types who viewed the arts as a hobby, not a career, I was an oddball almost from the start. Add to that the fact that my parents divorced when I was 3, at a time when I would be the only kid with divorced parents until high school, and you can see a bumpy road lay ahead.

As a kid, dancing on tables with my gold rhinestone sandals, going to Interlochen National Music Camp, spending months rehearsing for a school musical was tolerated, even encouraged to some extent. But once I hit 13, the same age as Melly in Lisa Jenn Bigelow’s Drum Roll Please, I was told who I was and what I would be. (In my case President of the U.S., I kid you not.)

My freak flag was folded up and put in the attic–out of sight.

In Lisa Jenn Bigelow’s forthcoming book Drum Roll Please (launch date June 26th, but you can preorder now) Melly doubts herself all the time. Her freak flag has never been unfolded, let alone flown.

Hesitant about going to band camp, she’s not sure she can hack it with the other students. She’s only going because her BFF Olivia convinced her to go by promising to stay by her side the whole two weeks. A promise Olivia will break in short order, leaving Melly to defend for herself.

Having no choice, Melly soldiers on hoping she can make it through without completely embarrassing herself or her assigned band mates.

Surviving all sorts of trials and errors, she not only unfurls her freak flag, but flies it proudly. She becomes part of a real rock band, as a drummer, makes new friends, and discovers her own unique rhythm in this middle grade coming-of-age story.

This book speaks to the rebel, or the freak, or the oddball, or the ‘who am I’ that lives in all of us, at one time or another. Though Melly is figuring some of it out at 13, I think this is a recurring challenge we face throughout our lives as we change and grow.

An extra bonus for me, or anyone who went to camp in MI, is that Camp Rockaway is based in MI, and “Interlochen is that camp for prodigies up the road.”

At a time when the ground is shifting beneath us, this book  inspires its readers to not only embrace their authentic selves, but to allow that self to take them to wherever, or to whomever, they need to go.

What does your freak flag look like? I want to know! Reply to this letter or tweet me.

Hey if you’re in the mood, create your freak flag and send me a pic. I’ll post it on our Choose Acceptance Twitter account.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  

#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Sheep


Posted in Acceptance, Books, Diversity, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Inclusion, Self-Acceptance by with no comments yet.

Behind the Vids: Courage, a Middle Grade Story For All of Us-Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Barbara Binns did the impossible! She pulled a white privileged woman into the heads of two black brothers living on the South Side of Chicago! And I liked being there.

Courage centers on the consequences felt by T’Shawn and his community when T’s older brother Lamont returns home from prison. (Sadly this is not an uncommon event for many families, particularly those with black Fathers and sons.)

By making the story from T’Shawn’s point of view, Barbara has given those of us who live far from that world a way into it. We empathize with T and the choices he’s forced to make. We feel a Mother’s need to help her son overcome his criminal past, while trying to keep her family together. We revel in, and maybe envy, 4-yr-old Rochelle’s ability to simply accept both of her brothers. It’s the an old adage, the more personal the story, the more universal.

In a time when we need more diverse books, Courage provides a mirror for those who don’t always see themselves on the printed page, and offers all of us some insight on how to handle a complex family situation.

Readers 11+ and up, should run to pre-order this book, which comes out 7/31/18.

Our detailed review of Courage will be up on our YouTube channel tomorrow.

In the meantime, you can watch, or just listen to our interview with Barbara if you haven’t already. Reminder: You can listen to our vids in the car, on the bus, while you cook etc. We don’t mind if you don’t stare at our silly faces!

Fun Fact: Barbara teaches a course for female writers on how to write male characters.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Swim Trunks
(Okay, T’Shawn probably wouldn’t wear these, but I would!)


Posted in Acceptance, Books, Diversity, Inclusion, Self-Acceptance by with no comments yet.