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.

Activities That Bring Joy Into Your Life

I don’t know about you, but this isolation thing is starting to get to me. I MISS PEOPLE! So I was ecstatic when a few friends of mine asked me to beckon lovely with them.

Simply put, Beckoning Lovely was started on 8/8/08 at 8:08p CDT by late author Amy Krouse Rosenthal. (And continued for 3 years after.) Her point? To bring more joy and wonder into the world by doing/creating random acts of silliness and kindness.

For ex, that first year she gave a bunch of flowers to someone who showed up to the ‘Bean,’ someone she’d never met before, and asked him to give a flower to various strangers who passed by. The surprise and joy on the faces of the recipients was priceless. To get more background and understanding about Beckoning Lovely, watch Amy’s Ted talk.

In light of the pandemic, one of my friends suggested we beckon lovely via Zoom last week. Though not a substitute for real life, it added laughter and love to our lives, and we hope to yours if you decide to watch our playful party.

We came up with 10 activities to share with each other, and if you want to do them along with us while watching the vid, please have the following stuff handy:
-A small bowl of popcorn, M&M’s or other small, tasty food item
-A candle of any size Matches or a lighter
-A small serving of a food you really love to eat
-As many of your favorite books as you can hold up in front of a video camera
-A poem or part of a poem to share—and yes, your own poems are eagerly welcomed!
-A danceable song cued up on your computer or smart phone to play loudly
-A handwritten message of thanks, hope, or encouragement you’d like to send out to the world
-A special item that brings you beautiful memories of someone or something special to you.

No pressure! Do some or all or none. Watch what we did and then create your own Beckoning Lovely event with those you are sheltering in place with, or on Zoom. And if you do beckon lovely, please reply to this email, or comment on our Youtube video and tell me all about it. We can always use more ideas for the next time we add more joy to the world. Hopefully in person!

Weekly Rad Resource From The Library: Did you know most public libraries offer access to free digital magazines and even some newspapers like the New York Times? Go to your public library digital resources page and see what’s there. This is from Chicago Public Library Online Resources page.


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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


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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: Disrupting The System with Cornelius Minor

“Disrupt the system!” When I first heard Cornelius Minor utter these words at a Social Justice Institute event here in Chitown last year, I had very little understanding of what he meant.

Which system or systems? What exactly are we changing? How do we do it?

All I knew was that this man was magical, and I wanted to be part of this movement he was espousing.

In this week’s interview, he elaborates more on what it means to disrupt systems, particularly educational systems, so they are more inclusive. “It’s about changing a system – a rule, procedure, practice or policy – that’s preventing equal outcomes in the classroom.”

Turns out exploring how and when to choose acceptance more often can be an important part of that change. Accepting who someone is, or where they’ve come from, and learning about that culture, can help you meet them where they are at now.

Suffice it to say, this interview is a little longer than our average vid, but we feel that what he has to say, combined with our silliness, is worth your time.

As a teacher of teachers, one who spent time in the 7th grade trenches before his current gig, he’s in a position to take down policies, rules etc. that have failed many students for decades.

And lest you think I’m only talking about minorities, who of us hasn’t had a few teachers who at best ignored our needs, and at worst made us feel stupid or worthless, and thus unable to succeed in our classroom? I’ve had a couple, and to this day I remember them and the damage they did to me.

On a lighter note the faces we make in this vid are priceless, if I do say so myself!

Remember: if you prefer, any of our vids can be treated as podcasts. (Though you will miss some of our silly faces. But we don’t mind if you don’t.)

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 Sand


Posted in Acceptance, choose acceptance, Empowerment, Inclusion, Self-Acceptance 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.

Life Begins When You Get Back Up, Revisiting After The Fall By Dan Santat

Two years ago I went extra crazy.(Hormones can be very mean.)

The anxiety I inherited at birth skyrocketed. It got so bad that I could barely eat, leaving me too weak to leave the house for about six weeks. It was the second ‘dark night’ I’d experienced in my life, and just like the other one, I came out of it with wisdom that changed my life.

I realized that without peace of mind, nothing else mattered. Without peace of mind, I couldn’t create the life I wanted. I couldn’t be the person I wanted. Ultimately, I couldn’t really live.

The problem with anxiety is that it forces you to make your life small. The terror that comes when your anxiety is triggered is so overwhelming, you’ll do anything to avoid whatever freaks you out.

Humpty Dumpty suffers from anxiety too. After he falls off the wall, he becomes afraid of heights. This new phobia immediately robs him of his favorite activity, his favorite cereal and other things. I’ll stop here so as not to spoil the rest of the story for you.

Because kids dance with anxiety too, Dan’s picture book is for all ages.

This book is important because Dan takes mental illness out of the closet, and shows the stages we can go through on our way to getting back up again. And he does it in a subtle, powerful way without preaching.

As Dan says, “Fear is a really tough beast to tackle.” Maybe because Dan has had a front row seat to his wife’s journey through anxiety and back out the other side, he can stand in our shoes a little bit.

If I could, I’d give this book to everyone I know, and ask them to do the same.

I wanted to revisit this book with Christina, who hadn’t read it, because now that we’ve wrapped up play as a way into acceptance, recap video here, Christina and I will be looking at how fear and acceptance intersect.

Please watch or listen to our review, which I’ll post on our channel tomorrow. If it resonates with you, go out and buy my favorite picture book of all time. (At least so far.)

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 Cereal

 

 

 

 


Posted in Acceptance, Books, choose acceptance, Empowerment, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Behind The Vids: Anny & Christina tackle Colby Sharp’s The Creativity Project

On the surface, Colby Sharp is a 5th grade teacher in Parma, MI. But scratch the surface a little bit, and you find out he is so much more.

For one, he’s a rockstar in the kidlit world. Among his achievements is Nerd Camp, which he, his wife, and a team of volunteers run every year in Parma, MI. It’s main goal is to promote a love of reading in children. In order to do that, Colby and Alaina realize they have to educate us too–us being writers, educators, parents, aunts etc. So the first two days of Nerd Camp is jam packed with chats and workshops led by some of the leading lights in kidlit and kid education. (R. J. Palacio, Wonder, Tracey Baptiste, Jumbies, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, one of my fav illustrators, teacher Chad Everett)

I had the pleasure of attending the event last year. Two takeaways of many: Discovered why it’s vital not to classify books by gender, i.e. ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ books, but to encourage kids to read whatever strikes their fancy. For one thing, a boy reading a book about girls can help him gain empathy for what it’s like to be a girl in our world, and vice versa. This wisdom supplied by the best-selling Fantasy author Shannon Hale (Princess Academy among others.) Met and learned about how to talk about and promote diversity in the kidtlit world from librarian Kathy Burnette, who is starting The Brain Lair, a diverse bookstore in South Bend, IN.

Colby’s latest contribution to kids, and the rest of us, is The Creativity Project. Colby asked well-known kidlit writers and illustrators to supply creative prompts for each other, and then use those prompts to create a short story or illustration. You see the fruits of the creators’ labor, and then there are about 40 prompts in the back of the book created for us, the readers. (Of course you can do any of the prompts in the book.)

For this week’s vid, Christina and I each did a prompt. Not only were we pleased with the results, but more importantly, they allowed us to stretch our creative wings. Colby’s book reawakens, or strengthens your creativity muscles. And creativity leads to innovation, a stronger and more diverse community, learning, and so much more. In my case, I discovered something new about my Uncle Earl.

I hope you’ll listen or watch our video about the Creativity Project when it posts tomorrow. For now, here’s a moment from the video: Uncle Earl and the journal I used to write his story.

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:
A purple Hummingbird


Posted in Acceptance, Books, Creativity, Empowerment, Imagination, Inspired Creativity, PLAY, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.