Both sides of my family, the white one but especially the Southeast Asian one, are going to freak when they see that title. However, since my mom went to the great Gucci outlet in the sky a few years ago, there is no one here to throw a massage sandal at my head and verbally assault me for an hour in response. And my dad barely does email, let alone read blogs, so let’s continue.
The title of my story is the great unspoken truth for many of us North Americans “of color.” I have heard my mom say, “Send them back!” in various political and casual conversations concerning various ethnic groups — including her own.
With well over two million people in state and federal prisons, juvenile correctional facilities, local jails, detention facilities, and other spaces of confinement, the United States incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country in the world - and it's not close. The harms done by mass incarceration extend to every domain of social life, not least to the bonds between children and their parents. Most often, these parents and kids are people of color.
Andrew and Melissa of EmbraceRace spoke to guests Amani Sawari and Beth Navon on August 27, 2019. Drawing on their extensive experience with the prison and juvenile justice systems, and with the parents and children in them, Amani and Beth offer sobering insights into the impact of prisons on family life - and some ideas about how we can help make things better.
Watch the video, check out all the resources in the tip sheet or continue below to read a lightly edited transcript and to learn more about guests Amani Sawari and Beth Navon.
In 1943 in Manhattan, NY, a 46-year old African- and Native-American man who was a renowned band director and jazz composer marries a 19-year old naive European-American woman of Jewish Ukrainian descent, who wants to sing professionally. I’m the second of five children.
At age four, I overhear Mommy telling her Mom she won’t leave Daddy and me in order to come back home with my whiter looking brother. Every year of our growing up, Mommy takes the whitest looking child to find new housing, and our unwanted family moves in the middle of the night. We’re in new schools, too.
The Conversation: A growing number of children across the U.S. and Canada born to Indigenous parents are not being enrolled as “tribal members” because they are not eligible under blood quantum requirements, generally defined as the share of their ancestors documented as full-blood Natives. Lacking the documentation of their membership in a state or federally recognized Indian tribe, this generation of “Paperless Indians” are also not eligible for a wide range of tribal government services – from health care, housing, and jobs to hunting and fishing rights, religious protections and much more. Widespread non-enrollment of Indigenous children contributes to a widespread identity crisis among native youth, among whom suicide is the leading cause of death, and raises the question of whether independent, sovereign Indigenous nations will survive into the next seven generations or be completely dissolved and assimilated into American society.
Thanks to Souta Calling Last and Tyler Walls of Indigenous Vision for joining the EmbraceRace community for this conversation. In addition to watching the video and reading the lightly edited (for understanding) transcript, you should also checkout their tip sheet - Building inclusive communities and strong Indigenous youth - which outlines steps you can take to support Indigenous youth and tribes today. Other resources and bios also follow.
Watch EmbraceRace's conversation with a mom and son pair who, respectively, cofounded and is an alum of the Los Angeles based group Kids 4 Freedom & Justice, created to be a "space for kids of color of all genders to learn and share practices of liberation, wholeness and foster their fierceness in a cohort of their peers." Co-founder Kim Tabari and her son, Azaan, a K4FJ alum, join the EmbraceRace community to share their insights about the opportunities and challenges of preparing youth of color to be changemakers in a world that often works to limit their possibilities.
The lightly edited transcript of their conversation follows.
How do you choose children’s books about Native peoples? Because most of us were socialized and educated to think of Native peoples in narrow and biased ways, we typically don't recognize how deeply flawed many of the books we choose are. Too many children's books present Native peoples exclusively as historical figures, for example, ignoring the presence and realities of the 500+ federally recognized Native Nations in the United States today. Too many present American Indians as "people of color," which they may or may not be, dismissing their defining attribute as people of sovereign nations. Watch this Talking Kids and Race conversation with special guest, American Indians in Children's Literature founder Dr. Debbie Reese. Andrew and Melissa of EmbraceRace interview Debbie and then she takes questions from EmbraceRacers in attendance. Dr. Reese offers an opportunity to move beyond what you've been taught to a place where you're able to identify great books about Native peoples, the original people of the lands currently known as the United States of America.
Find the transcript (lightly edited for length and understanding), related resources and more about Debbie Reese below. Don't forget to check out about past and upcoming monthly Talking Race & Kids online conversations, too.
On April 23rd, EmbraceRacers gathered online for our first-ever Talking Race & Kids Open Forum. Hosts and EmbraceRace co-founders, Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas, shared what they’re seeing and experiencing on the frontlines of race and raising kids and invited participants (you!) to do the same. Hear those stories, insights, triumphs, disappointments and more in this hour-long video. See an edited transcript below followed by resources.
Andrew Grant-Thomas: Welcome folks. Really glad you're here and I'm excited about this. We’ve been doing these webinars for over two years now, and this is the first time we're really talking with each other and with you to the extent that we hope to do it today. So, this is the way it'll go.
We are going to start out by talking a little bit about the road we've traveled so far. It's been three years – we started EmbraceRace in earnest in April of 2016. So, we thought this would be a good time to take stock, reflect a little bit, tell you where we've come from and maybe a little bit about where we are going.
Caregivers, educators, coaches, extended family members and other adults in young people’s lives have opportunities to have meaningful conversations with young people every day – conversations that can help young people process their emotions, understand their experiences and the world around them, receive validation and perspective, build a sense of identity, and connect with a sense of purpose. But how many of us really see ourselves as “mentors” to the young people in our lives? And how can mentoring relationships of all kinds directly address the impacts of race, class, gender, sexuality and other factors on young people’s identities and experiences?
On this episode of Talking Race & Kids, Andrew and Melissa of EmbraceRace spoke with Dudney Sylla, program manager at Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership, and with Dr. Torie Weiston-Serdan, the author of Critical Mentoring, and the Founder and Executive Director of the Youth Mentoring Action Network, as well as engaging comments and questions from the EmbraceRace community. Watch the video. Find the edited transcript of this episode below, followed by amazing related resources, and then by our special guests' bios.
As a child of Indian immigrants growing up in white suburban Connecticut, I was the only brown kid in school for most of my early childhood. Constant race-based microaggressions and straight-up bullying in elementary school taught me that my Indian identity brought ridicule and shame at the hands of my white peers. No one could pronounce my name, and both kids and teachers found humor in butchering it. We had statues of Hindu deities in our home, I knew no Bible stories, and I had never been skiing. Our kitchen at home “smelled weird”. Some of my friends’ mothers remarked that they had never had an Indian kid at their house.
My mother had this funny habit of always pointing out every other Indian-appearing child in any public place - “Look! There’s another Indian girl! Go and say hello to her; maybe you’ll make friends?” When I was a young child, I found it perplexing and didn’t understand why I would have anything in common with a random girl across the room. I would reply to my mother, “Just because she’s Indian doesn’t mean that we actually have anything in common!”
Last year for Black History Month, Georgia art teacher Kymm Daniels celebrated by creating a crafty homage to black hair on the doors to her classroom. When her students walked in, she recounts, they asked her: "'Miss Daniels, who are they?' I was like, ‘They are you, or you, they could be anybody.’ It’s something that relates to them, and they just love it.”
Her students weren't the only ones to love it. Daniels posted pictures and a video of her creations on social media and they quickly went super viral. On Facebook, her video had over 3 million views and her overall post has 75K shares and counting.