Thoughts on culturally relevant parenting and teaching.
Cultures vary in the ways they interact with children. This informs how students interact with each other, with adults at school (i.e., are they raised to see adults as peers, caretakers, authority figures, or a combination of several roles), and with the processes used to acquire and analyze new information.
How, then, do we culturally socialize children to be their very best selves? I’d like to begin with a scenario followed by a question or prompt. If you’ve had or have a young child in your life, whether as a parent, teacher, or caretaker of any kind, I’m guessing the scenario will be pretty familiar!
In which an alien inspires reflections on transracial adoption
As I noted in my previous Embrace Race post about Mike Jung’s middle grade science fiction novel, Unidentified Suburban Object, I hope many child readers will discover its major plot twist on their own. But even if they find out that protagonist Chloe Cho is an extraterrestrial alien (and not Korean American as her parents raised her to believe) before reading the book for themselves, there’s much more to be savored and appreciated about Jung’s book beyond its stunning reveal. During our shared reading, my ten- and eleven-year-old kids, Caroline and Stevie, and I ended up talking about children’s rights to their own stories and histories and the work we need to do as a society to promote and protect those rights. These conversations were informed by my children’s experiences as transracial adoptees.
I'm pretty used to getting messages from readers who are offended by my work. Usually, they are fellow Asians upset that my work isn’t authentic to their experience (I get a fair amount of flack for portraying light-skinned Asians or Asians in the stereotypical haircut of heavy bangs) and I actually really do understand it. I don’t like it, but I understand it and I’ve learned to accept that once a reader has the book, it’s no longer mine. Tonight, I received a message from a reader upset that I made a point that Minli (in “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon”) was not brown like the rest of the mud-covered village and how I had made a negative association with brown. All I could say was that I sorry and I’d try to be more aware in the future.
Inspired by an article by Rumaan Alum’s article We Don’t Only Need Diverse Books. We Need Diverse Books Like A Snowy Day, many of you in the EmbraceRace community posted or messaged us your favorite books featuring kids of color NOT fighting bigotry, discrimination or enslavement. We’ll continue to add your suggestions to this completely crowdsourced list, so continue adding to the thread on Facebook.
An interview with my 11-year-old son.
Ever wonder what a young activist sounds like? Before I was a parent I would have said that activists are raised, not born. My 11-year-old son makes me think that maybe it’s a little bit of both. I sat down to talk with him about it.
Me: What do you think makes someone an activist?
Son: I think that what makes someone an activist is that they have strong ideas and they put those ideas into actions.
Me: Why do some people choose to be activists?
Son: I choose to be an activist because if no one was, then the world would not be the way we want.
Supporting kids to push back against racial injustice.
"I guess they only like white people,” my 5-year old said the first time she noticed the Our Generation doll section at Target.
Screeeech! I stopped our cart short in the middle of my dash to buy home supplies.
“They only have white dolls,” she explained. Then she shrugged her shoulders and moved past the aisle.
And she was right. All the Our Generation dolls on the shelves — upwards of 20 dolls in a dozen or so varieties — were white.
“Maybe they’re out of stock,” I suggested. “Let’s check another time.”
Racial profiling - and white privilege?! - in my all-american multiracial family.
We meet my parents every Sunday, either for brunch at their retirement community or dinner at our house. We usually focus on Krishna and his latest antics. From the positives, like beginning to learn soccer and swimming, to the not-so-positive, like making himself burp — loudly, and often. We are political animals, and we often discuss current events, especially in an election season.
We talk freely about race and racism, which they experience acutely in their overwhelmingly white community in some of the same ways as when they first immigrated to this country from India over 50 years ago. Maybe it’s true about any generationally specific space, it seems kind of trapped in time.
With my heart breaking throughout the day, learning more and more about #KorrynGaines, the latest Black women, the 9th this year, murdered by the police, I began preparing for my kids’ bed time routines.
I sat in our rocking chair, feeding August, who is about to turn 1, and I kept running through the details: A SWAT team sent in to serve a warrant on someone with outstanding traffic violations. A confident, empowered Black woman who repeatedly documented her unjust racist encounters with law enforcement, as well as her spoken word poetry denouncing anti-Black racism. The police, fearing a repeat of a Facebook live stream of their actions, gets Facebook to deactivate her account, where she was posting videos about what was happening. Her recording, still up on Instagram, of her conversation with her 5 year old son, asking him why he thought the police were there, and his response, “to kill us”. And then they killed her, shooting and injuring her son as well.