[Image: A very ugly banner that says “Shenanigans! June 2020”]
Spring Recap Updates
To try and keep up with the increased demands of doing Raising Luminaries stuff while juggling in a pandemic, I’m gonna switch things up and update you with quarterly recaps instead of monthly ones.
So the downside is that you are just gonna have to *trust* that I’m doing stuff in the meanwhile to justify your sustained attention. The good news is that if you are a patreon supporter, there’s a quick and easy way to check in with all the stuff I’m creating for you in real-time, because you get access to the secret content calendar where I track everything I publish and hold notes on stuff I’m working on and hoping to tackle.
So today, we’re gonna cover all the stuff we worked on, created, and a few things we failed May through June 2020. Onward!
Parenting is Praxis: How we incorporate Raising Luminaries Principles at home
Environmental Justice & Decolonizing at Home
In May, we got down into the dirt and started our garden in earnest.
For the last few years, I’ve been putting into practice all the stuff we discuss each summer about decolonizing our garden, establishing sustainable climate justicey-things in our (literal) own backyard, protecting our water with catchments and rain gardens, and cultivating interdependence and anti-capitalism with plant-sharing. Our 6-year-old has also recently gone pescatarian, so now that I’ve got him on my side, we’ve been slowly pressuring the rest of the household into converting away from animal milk and red and white meats. ::sneaky::
We’re extraordinarily lucky to have access and agency on the land we live on. When we think of stewarding the land for seven generations – it means respecting the generations who had a relationship with our bioregion before us, sustaining this space to support pollinators, neighbors, and our family – and shaping the space to protect and nurture the three families who will call this place home next.
It all makes me feel very happy and connected.
Adventures in Unschooling During the Pandemic
Our unschooling is going smoothly – mostly because the whole idea is we just stop trying so hard. The kids play Minecraft until we parents roll out of bed. Our biggest conflicts involve how to get the kids out of the house so we can work in silence, mediating 50 squabbles a day, and getting them to brush their teeth.
There will be time to learn to read and formulate the area under a curve later. Right now we’re working on personal responsibilities (brush your teeth without being asked!) and practicing transformative justice procedures through those sibling squabbles.
Managing Our Mental Health As Caregivers
In late May, I joined a coalition of kickass organizations to start the #FamilySummer4BlackLives initiative (more below) – on top of trying to manage my responsibilities here, on top of staying home full time with two kids, one of whom has high needs 18 hours of the day, every day. Some autistic meltdowns have been…melty.
I think I’m not alone in failing to recognize when we slip into bad habits like that and take on too much. We’re so busy focused on the folks who have less, those who need our help, and on not losing the things we have, that we forget to take responsibility for body & mind check-ins and taking the time to setup accommodations for our disabilities / mental health.
That’s not an excuse – it’s a recognition. We habituate to over-extension, and particularly for folks with compulsion disorders like myself, we just double down on self-harming behavior. Recognizing that is my responsibility – and taking care of myself so I don’t mess up and create setbacks in the movements I’m working toward is also my responsibility. That means I’ve got to name it (you are here) and take responsibility for collecting myself so I prevent myself from doing harm (these actions below.)
- Over in the Luminary Brain Trust (see below), we’ll be revisiting our Trauma Stewardship Series over the summer – where we discuss how to use these practices to be better activists, caregivers, and humans through recognizing our limits and enforcing our boundaries.
- In our accountability statement, I’ve evolved a couple of procedures that were causing me to meltdown but weren’t really helping others. Specifically – I no longer promise to keep the identity of my attackers private, I no longer take personal responsibility for collecting every one of the 8k members in our Facebook group, and I no longer vet, fact-check, or speak truth-to-bullshit when folks comment with problematic book recommendations.
Obligatory info & support button that I have to put here because our people keep demanding it:
If you’re struggling, support your family and use these resources, I am gleefully happy to provide this work for free to support your activism.
Now more than ever, while public schools are closed and caregivers and educators are struggling for accessible resources, we need to keep going. However, if you’re surviving the pandemic without negative effects on your finances, and you learn from this work, please help me support my family while I support yours.
But FIRST please support Incite! a network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state, domestic, and community violence. Particularly now in the middle of a pandemic – we must develop strategies to end violence and push for political change.
My family will survive the month. Many others won’t unless we take action.
Beyond Books: #FamilySummer4BlackLives
I’ll be shifting gears to provide resources for families throughout this pandemic-summer-of-abolition to focus on praxis more than book discussions.
(I mean – I will totally be tying this to books and telling you all about them. But not just books.)
- You can find updates on the #FamilySummer4BlackLives post: 3 months, 3 actions, 1 summer to change everything.
- If you’re just tuning in now – join us for June’s Action, To Minneapolis With Love – #LoveLetters4BlackLives. Even if you’re a little bit late – your actions still count.
I don’t want you to feel frazzled or rushed – so both public and private content will be completely free and open to the public through school shut downs or the end of 2020, whichever is longer. In return, I ask that you maintain some patience and boundaries that we discussed in March when I started free access to all our locked content.
Public Book Collections – New & Updated
- Cooking Is Community Care – Empowering kids in a time of uncertainty
Good Finds – New & Updated
Normally Patreon-only, but free to the public during the pandemic. Check out the full collection of Good Finds.
Unpolished in-progress lists – New & Updated
Normally Patreon-only, but free to the public during the pandemic. Check out the full collection of Unpolished Book Lists. In order to make these lists easier to search, I’m adjusting the organization of these. So pardon my dust as I move them all over to this new page.
- Ages 0-6 months (updated)
- Ages 6-12 months (updated)
- Ages 1+ Interactive: Touch & Feel (updated)
- Colors (Ages 1+) (new)
- Evolution (new)
- Sun Wukong: The Monkey King (new)
- UP: Executive Functioning (new)
- Guerilla gardening unpolished (new)
- Community gardening unpolished (new)
- Swimming (new)
- Police (new)
- Healthy Sibling Relationships (new) – This is a precursor as I gather my notes for a public collection on teaching kids to enact transformative justice
- When a pet dies (new)
- Indigenous People’s Day (new)
Member Content for Benevolent Incendiaries
- All our uncut interviews are in an easy-to-find list.
- Problematic book video analysis: Little Miss Bossy.
- Updates on how Patreon processes your local taxes (goes into effect July 1, 2020)
- Good things that keep us going
- Patreon-only Behind-The-Scenes access to my in-progress publishing calendar & content archives. Heads up – this sheet has multiple tabs to cover all our content 2014-present.
Are you financially impacted by Covid 19?
If you are financially impacted by the pandemic and your family is getting hit hard, leave a comment here or send me a Patreon private message, and I’ll refund your contribution as soon as my account balance is high enough (usually the first week of the month). If you need it, please ask for a refund!
Luminary Brain Trust
Luminary-level members, come hang with us in the Luminary Brain Trust Group!
In May, we discussed Indigenous influence, saviorism & faux-decolonization in Frozen II, sexism in Ratatouille, and a real recording with the Earthquakes with tips on pacing to foster deeper conversations during story time.
In June, we discussed the necessity of breaking the system so we can heal properly, coordinating our efforts on the Ending Police Brutality Toolkit, the toxic abuse and unhappy ending of Tangled, our plans to revisit the Trauma Stewardship series, attend and discuss Hollaback resilience trainings, the seeming benevolence of fatmisia in Wall-E, continue our grown-up book club discussions on various books by #OwnVoices authors, started a deep & slow discussion on how we’re using ‘Something Happened In Our Town‘ to unpack our family racial identities and unique roles in ending anti-Black racism.
Student Ignition Society
To kick off this summer’s #FamilySummer4BlackLives initiative, members of the SIS joined together to create a series of resources for families to end anti-Black violence. New stuff:
- Ending Police Brutality Family Action Toolkit
- ‘Something Happened In Our Town’ Guided Family Discussion
- Luminary Word Bank – where we’ll be adding way more terms and kid-friendly definitions as we tackle more topics.
To stay connected, check out the Student Ignition Society launchpad.
Social Media Highlights
- May Day: Supporting the Essential Workers Bill of Rights & valuing the labor of women
- Handing over the torch – a 5-day secular devotional on Raising Luminaries
- Mass Reading Equity spotlight on Raising Luminaries
- Honoring Stacey Milbern
- Welcome to the autistic community
- APA care package
- Sunday’s Philly Families 4 Justice Black lives matter family action
- Unpacking ‘exposing’ & ‘diversity’ in parent challenges.
- Member challenge: Explicitly Nonbinary parents in kidlit and in the comments, the problems with coding Asian dads as nonbinary
- Member Challenge Peruvian American representation in kidlit
- Lisa’s nice words about the Anti-Racism book series (it’s still in progress, but enjoy the first two!)
- Whose job is it to educate white folks about whiteness? Also in this thread: it turns out the Raising Luminaries logo is misleading and folks assumed I (as the primary author of most of our content) was Black (I am not. Yikes. I am sorry for that. For anyone who hasn’t seen our posts on this or accountability rundowns: I’m multiracial Chinese/Irish). So we’re going to have to change the logo.
- Author Zetta Elliott joins our 8-word poetry challenge in support of #FamilyDayOfAction
You can find these and more on the feeds of the Books For Littles group & Raising Luminaries page. As we continue though the summer, follow me my fellow co-conspirators on the #FamilySummer4BlackLives facebook page, too.
Contributions & Accountability
Patreon support is stable, which means unless we get a big drop in support, I’ll do my best to continue my contributions through this year.
Tthrough May & June, I’ve directed 30% of my pre-tax Patreon income to:
- The Greater Boston Food Bank
- Planned Parenthood: In honor of my daughter Thisbe, who passed in 2011 and would have taken me with her without medical intervention. So folks with uteruses like me don’t have to die from a miscarriage hemorrhage.
- Direct aid to a local essential worker: In solidarity with the Essential Workers Bill of Rights, we’ve been paying a local mother from Guatemala who supports her family by cleaning houses so she can say home and support a family member with pre-existing condition since Boston’s lockdown in March.
- National Bail Out to #FreeBlackMamas (*kid-directed) in honor of mother’s day
- Covid 19 Navajo Response Fund (*kid-directed)
- On Patreon: The Broke-Ass Transwoman (nepotism disclosure: this is my step-sister, but I’d support her even if she wasn’t), Black Girl in Maine, Bellamy Shoffner (severely impacted by the shutdowns, please support!), Alice Wong, Ramp Your Voice! with Vilissa, Lydia X. Z. Brown (Autistic Hoya)
- Rosie’s Place: A local women’s shelter
- Flippable (*kid-directed) – The Earthquakes wanted to donate their money to ‘whoever will beat Donald Trump’ and while I will definitely and enthusiastically be voting for Biden’s role a the opposition in November (VOTE. VOTE. VOTE.), I’m not comfortable with donating money to him as an individual and discussed why with the kiddos. So this was our compromise to think big and act hyper-local.
- Chelsea Collaborative: Within the Boston outbreak epicenter, the neighborhood of Chelsea (most residents are people of color, the working poor, and many are undocumented immigrants) is disproportionately affected more than any neighborhood in our state.
- Crip Camp Emergency Fund
- Boston Muslim Justice League – Organizing and advocacy for communities whose rights are threatened under the national security state in the US.
- The Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project
- Juxtaposition Arts – Minneapolis org working in tandem for the #LoveLetters4BlackLives initiative
- Campaign Zero- Working to limit police interventions and provide community alternatives to punitive justice.
- Fang Community Bail Fund – We need to reduce jail prison populations NOW. If you didn’t care about this before, listen to this white dude explain how you‘ll be impacted by overpopulated jails during this pandemic.
- Southside Harm Reduction – Listening, understanding, and providing directed support to reduce harm and protect the rights and dignity of people who use substances through a harm reduction framework.
- iHollaback Bystander Intervention Trainings– These are spectacularly done. Sign up for a free training.
- Violence In Boston (which they are against, if the name isn’t clear)
- Incite! a network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state, domestic, and community violence.
- TC Kids Mental Health – Supporting the mental health of BIPOC youth impacted by the murder of George Floyd. (redirected from the Black Visions Collective)
- Migizi – Support center for Indigenous youth, whose community center was destroyed during May rebellions.
- Various tips for fundraising platforms when we make our contributions, all under $5 each.
You can read more about why I started funneling a portion of my income into #OwnVoices orgs before covering the out-of-pocket expenses of running RL in my Accountability Statement.
*Kid-directed donations: After we discuss the topics from our booklists and talk about Raising Luminaries initiatives, I ask the Earthquakes who or what they want a portion of our contributions to go to.
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Take a Breath
We are in this together. Our families, our community – we have handled things like this before, and we will take this on again. Take care of yourselves first so you don’t become a liability, get your kids to a safe place. And then once we’ve gained a bit of solid ground – we can launch forward in saving the rest of the world. Cool? Cool.
– Ashia R.
With a few exceptions when noted, I created all of that stuff you see for you, while managing a disability, and locked up at home with two young kids. Please support the work I do if you think this kind of advocacy work – often left to disabled women of color to provide for free – is valuable and necessary for human progress.
(BUT DONATE TO A FOOD BANK FIRST because unlike many families, my kids ate lunch today)