Most people considering bringing their children to see the ground-breaking movie Black Panther are concerned about exposing them to violence and profanity. Once I confirmed that, as my younger daughter argued, the level of violence and (mild) profanity was about “the same as Star Wars,” my primary concern with bringing my 8, 11, and 13-year-old daughters to see the movie shifted to where it often does as the parent of Black American Muslim girls. I wanted to know, which parts of their identities would be affirmed in Black Panther and which parts might be called into question?
A post about kids and costumes might seem out of season but I live in San Francisco; kids in costume are year-round here.
A little over a year ago, my mother-in-law got me a subscription to Parents magazine. Parents is not a magazine I would have subscribed to on my own.
Without much knowledge about the magazine, I assumed it offered a lot of mainstream, stereotypical, commercialized views on parenting, which it does, but it also provides some unexpected and thoughtful perspectives. I’ve been pleasantly surprised (thanks OMom!). For example, the first magazine I received included an article on parents raising transgendered children.
One of the many plusses of teaching 3rd grade is that you get the opportunity to observe children figuring out who they are.
In a classroom full of black students, racial stereotypes definitely came into play. Some students readily assumed familiar roles and interests: D’Jenique, an outspoken girl who rejected any semblance of disrespect. She was quick to check anyone who mispronounced her name. Quintrell, a confident boy who adopted a tough persona and would not be caught at recess without a football.
I'm a traveler. I get on flights and, like most of us who have traveled on planes before, tune out the flight attendants as they give us the spiel on flight safety. (Though I glance up every now and then and smile because I want them to feel respected — kinda how I stay on the phone with the Democratic telemarketers long enough to say “thank you so much for calling — I can’t contribute today — have a wonderful day!”)
My husband and I are both lapsed Catholics, and we celebrate Christmas in our multiracial, adoptive, blended family with an emphasis on togetherness, giving gifts, and taking joy in traditions. Although I’ve left the Church I grew up in, I still feel a deep connection to many of its stories, and the Nativity story, in particular.
I’m compelled by the vision of the birth of a child as an occasion for wonder, hope, celebration, and reverence. I’m grateful for the equation of the humble with the holy. I’m moved by the depiction of Joseph, embracing his role in Mary’s life and in the life of her child, despite initial doubts and misgivings when he learns about her pregnancy. I think of my grandmother’s devotion to the Madonna because, as she said, “she was a mother, too,” and I regard Mary as a symbol of motherhood that has sustained generations of women in my family and beyond.
Look and see how charming is Jesus
How He is white, His cheeks are rosy!
Hush! hush! see how the Child is sleeping;
Hush! hush! see how He smiles in his dreams.
A Conversation about Who We Are and Cultural Appropriation with My 7-Year Old.
My son and I live two blocks from the end of one of the subway lines in Dorchester, Boston. Our neighborhood is full of people of many races and cultures. The hairstyles we can see in one day are amazing in their diversity and detail. So when my son asked if he could cut his hair into a mohawk about a year ago, I wasn’t surprised.
We see a lot of different versions of the mohawk: young African American women who’ve combed up the sides and combed out the top of their hair; first generation Irish American boys with the shaved sides and the tops gelled up; Black men with locks or braids intricately twisted up along the top of their heads; West African young men with detailed designs shaved on the sides and short locks on top; Vietnamese American young men with cut and styled hair.
I was at St. Catherine University last month when Library and Information Science professor Sarah Park Dahlen unveiled this updated graphic on the state of children’s publishing in the US.
Dahlen, who teaches a course on social justice in children’s literature and gathered data for Lee & Low’s 2015 Diversity Baseline survey (DBS), had invited me to campus to make a case for community-based publishing. Illustrating statistics gathered annually by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, the new graphic makes it clear that we need alternatives to the traditional publishing model if children’s literature is ever going to be truly inclusive and accurately reflect the changing demographics of the US. (UPDATE: A graphic of the CCBC's 2017 publishing statistics is available at Lee & Low Books.)
A white father, a multiracial son, and a new football tradition.
Being an upstander can be hard, especially if the people you are standing up to happen to be your dearest relatives and when standing up means standing alone.
For fifty-two seasons, Adam loved NFL football. For fifty-two seasons it was more than a game, it was a way of life. Through the Washington Redskins football franchise, he and his family shared and shed tears of joy, pain and agony.
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.
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.”