[Image: A ugly banner that says “Shenanigans! Raising Luminaries 2020 Summer Recap”]
Summer Recap Updates
Well, okay. Wow. That was a summer. Not the one we wanted. Not the one we expected. But for those of us who survived it, I guess we’re gonna have to use what we’ve learned these past few months to smash head-first into the tail-end of 2020 and try to minimize the damage.
So here’s a full rundown on what we got up to.
Parenting is Praxis:
New thing: Instead of breaking this down in a long boring infodump in our seasonal recaps, I’m including a short list of doable, family-friendly calls-to-action within each deep dive book analysis (more on those below).
Okay maybe not short. But doable! There are so many doable things we could be doing!
Between this and trying to keep up with the sh*tstorm of our Covid-inspired segregated education system, parenting has been less about modeling action or engaging the Earthquakes in taking action, and more about just getting through each day.
The part where I ask you to hand over your pizza money:
If you’re struggling to support your family and use these resources to get by, I am gleefully happy to provide my work for you at no cost. However, if you’re one of the lucky few who can afford to support my work, please help me support my family while I support yours.
But FIRST please support Seeding Sovereignty an Indigenous womxn-led collective leading a Covid 19 rapid response initiative to support Indigenous communities and fighting Indigenous voting suppression in the November elections. Particularly now in the middle of a pandemic – we must support Indigenous people in self-advocacy, decolonization, and I dunno, trying to maybe prevent more forest fires with sustainable land stewardship?
Dude! Only you (with the guidance of Indigenous fire stewards) can prevent forest fires!
While my work is not yet financially sustainable, our patreon supporters help me keep putting food in my mouth. If I’m willing to give the cost of two pizzas to support Seeding Sovereignty this month, then perhaps you can, too?
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.
New & Updated Articles
We’re doing lots of things differently now!
My kids are rocket-blasting out of the ‘little’ stage, which means we’re gonna need some fresh eyes on our books for younger readers. So I’ve lined up a series of #OwnVoices guest writers to recommend their favorite kidlit based on lived experience outside my lane.
The California wildfires, raising kids single-handed in a pandemic, my financial ability to pay for this labor, and y’know, 2020 stuff means coordinating with targeted folks who already have a lot on their plates. That means these will roll out slowly, in keeping with what each guest writer needs to survive while they share their truth with us. Cool?
To consolidate my workload while I manage 24/7 parenting, working, and disinfecting all the things, I’m incorporating the books I normally include in the Good Finds collections into our new deep-dive book analysis posts (more on those below.)
I temporarily unlocked these early in the pandemic, but I’ve also decided to make these patreon-only archives free and open for the public into perpetuity, thanks to feedback from our friendly patreon community – who are cool with that (of course the most generous folks I know would be cool with that.)
New this summer (and also our last in the series): Good Finds July 2020
Now that we’ve almost fully transitioned book links from the monopolizing, labor-exploiting Amazon into Indie-supporting Bookshop.org (some rare books are still only available on Amazon) – I’ve also discovered a perk! I can now share quick-reference curated book lists directly from Bookshop.
These are both way, way easier to make on my end than our code-heavy website book collections, and if anyone chooses to buy books directly from my Bookshop lists, that supports both my work and your local indie bookshop. Win-win.
However – for deeper notes on problematic tropes, caveats, and books not available on Bookshop, I’ll still need a parking space for infodumping. So keep that bookmark for our Unpolished Book Lists home page.
Also bookmark the Raising Luminaries Bookshop page – as the web addresses for my bookshop lists will change as I keep tweaking the titles (they are all works in progress).
New this summer on our Curated Best-Of Booklists on Bookshop:
*New* Deep-Dive Book Analysis
This is a new thing! Instead of posting one broad category curated book list with a way-too-long article each month, I’m posting a deep-dive analysis with a …way-too-long article about a single book, along with a mini-collection of books to help you really sink your teeth into a topic
Extra fun, and probably overkill: an at-a-glance overall awesomeness score, and as I mentioned above, direct family-friendly calls to action.
Now that these posts are gaining traction, you’ll find it way easier to search for book suggestions based on topic and age range. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page – you can browse articles by keyword now. NEAT, right?
After experimenting with pacing, I think I can make at least one of these each month – and each article will provide more tools for cultivating your own critical reading skills so you can curate your own book lists, rather than just telling you what to read.
Patreon perks for the folks who make all this possible:
As we discussed in previous recaps – other than Illuminati 1-on-1 consultations and goofy hijinks in the private Luminary Brain Trust group, I’ve unlocked all our patreon-only content during the pandemic. So, with that:
Are you financially impacted by Covid 19?
If you lost your job due to 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).
Luminary Brain Trust
Luminary-level members, come hang with us in the Luminary Brain Trust private Facebook group! This summer, we created space to connect on this stuff. (Also I’m gonna throw in afflinks because I am still foolish enough to think that 2 cents of daily affiliate cash might one day add up.)
- In the #GrownUpBookClub, we discussed
- We wishlisted Tell Me Who You Are for every single middle & high-school classroom
- Talked about how to get white dudes to read Me & White Supremacy
- Pachinko made us fall in love with every character and then ripped our hearts out and forced us to gently watch it wither and die.
- Also we do TV sometimes? Some of us wrestled with I May Destroy You
- Some of us finished Trick Mirror
- Cackled our way through The Witches Are Coming
- Donned courderoy jackets with leader elbows to plow through Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain
- Nodded through We Want To Do More Than Survive
- And also started an open thread on the various books we’re reading this month
- Revisiting the #TraumaStewardship series, we tried to tried to push off burnout and overwhelming despair for a couple more weeks, took responsibility for not becoming someone else’s problem, and cut through a bit of the bullshit that keeps us from being effective advocates.
- In our weekly #FamilyMovieNights, I live-ranted through the following movies for fun & venting:
- Completely surprised to see how well The Sword In the Stone held up
- Sobbed through Inside Out even though it’s like the 10th time I’ve seen it, I’M NOT A ROBOT!
- Gagged our way through Monsters versus Aliens
- Writhed through all TWO HOURS AND NINTEEN THOUSAND BILLION MINUTES and like 4 songs about compound interest in Mary Poppins
- Said some stuff about Mary Poppins Returns, which honestly I’ve already completely forgotten the plot to.
- Grimaced through Gnome Alone, but also caught an interesting cameo!
- Winced through Neverending Story
- Softly growled in frustration through Neverending Story II
- Just barely contained my screeching fury and despair through Mr. Peabody & Sherman
- And in our #WeekendOpenThreads, we made space to celebrate little wins, celebrations, name what we’re stuck on, and brainstorm what we’d do with our time if money and shame weren’t a thing.
Student Ignition Society
Educators all over the planet are scrambling to support students through the pandemic under the quagmire of bureaucracy, inequity, and overwhelm. In figuring out how to navigate all of this, our vocabulary word for the this upcoming Autumn is shit-show.
Apri B., our Dean of Rebellious educators is navigating her own cross-country transitions through this pandemic, but she’s been steadily holding down the fort over in the Student Ignition Society facebook group – highlighting kickass #OwnVoices Anti-Racism & Anti-Bias (ABAR) educators who have been fighting against systemic inequity and lack of resources for decades.
This autumn, we’re hoping to have a comprehensive list for non-FB users to reference so we can learn from these ABAR educators and their vast experience, but be patient, cause we’ve got work deadlines, dinner to cook, community organizing zoom meetings – and actual kids busting in on us while we pee who I guess we need to teach math to or something?
- Updated regularly: Luminary Word Bank – we sporadically add new words and definitions to help you talk about social justice with your kiddos.
- Updated every weekish or so: New #OwnVoices ABAR educator spotlights in the group
Social Media Updates
- In the spirit of our 2020 goal to explore demolition, the BFL Facebook group, the cradle of today’s Raising Luminaries & this Books For Littles website, is officially closed & archived. Farewell!
- Meanwhile, you can sign up for weekly (or monthly, if I’m busy with deep work) updates over on the Patreon feed. You can sign up for email updates without contributing, if $1 is outside your budget.
- I’m still posting 1-2 updates with older articles over on the Raising Luminaries Facebook page. I’m no longer using this as a space to boost non-book related articles and calls to action. Those are now embedded within the book analysis articles. I’m not sure how long that will last, but am too tired to figure out how to keep non-patrons on the loop. So that’s there for now.
- Over in the #FamilySummer4BlackLives facebook page, find calls to donate, video interviews, and share your family’s #LoveLetters4BlackLives and your #FamilyManifesto4BlackLives with the world.
Contributions & Accountability
Patreon support is down a little (there’s always a big drop in July & August while folks go on and/or realize I’m just word-barfing my frustrated nonsense into teh void). And despite my ever-patient partner, I’m really pushing it on the ‘give away more money than I contribute to our bills’ dynamic. So I’ve reduced our donations, and will be working with someone who doesn’t feel crushing guilt* for escaping food insecurity to establish financial contribution boundaries so I don’t die in a ditch.
*Literally every single time I eat lunch, I’m like “WHAT KIND OF CORRUPTION IS THIS THAT I CAN AFFORD THIS SANDWICH WHILE OTHERS GO HUNGRY?” but it’s delicious so I can’t stop! So instead I just work an unhealthy amount and throw money I don’t have at other people to assuage my sandwich guilt.
Through June & July, I’ve directed 16% 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 stay home and support a family member with pre-existing conditions. I’ve heard from MULTIPLE PEOPLE who aren’t financially affected by the pandemic and yet have ceased to support the folks who keep them clean, fed, and cared for and like WHAT? Rich folks reap the benefits of no-conracts, no vacation or sick pay or health insurance or safety net for domestic workers and then drop them when a pandemic hits?! DO BETTER.
- 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 (home alone 24/7 with two kids while running Revolutionary Humans!), Alice Wong, Ramp Your Voice! with Vilissa, Lydia X. Z. Brown (Autistic Hoya)
- Rosie’s Place: A local women’s shelter.
- 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.
- The Wôpanâak Language reclamation project – I was born & raised on Wampanoag land where I raise my family today. This is our family’s small contribution to undo some of the harm from colonizers forcibly erasing Wampanoag language and culture.
- Muslim Justice League – Sounds like super-heroes, right? Accurate. MJL is a Black/Queer/Muslim-led organization that organizes and advocates for ALL communities whose rights are threatened under a US administration who labels people ‘suspicious’ simply due to race, faith, or other targeted identity.
- #FamilySummer4BlackLives ‘Place Inside of Me’ Fundraiser to get copies of this life-affirming book into the hands of adjudicated youth targeted by the industrial prison complex.
- Samantha Irby’s new thing – Okay I dunno if this actually *counts* as a contribution. But I count folks who pay for my work swearing and ranting about board books as a contribution. And Sam Irby’s emails are basically the only thing that makes me laugh and keeps my sanity afloat right now so I can keep this work up. Besides, if white folks can count buying Thai food from a Black owned business as ‘supporting Black people’ then let’s lump this under the performative category of ‘supporting Black writers.’ The key, I think is to do this and also do other stuff, such as eliminating white feminist gatekeeping in publishing.
- The Navajo Water Project because hot damn through the environmental racism of climate change heat waves, and a pandemic, coupled with the way we’ve forced indigenous people into only the most remote and infertile spaces on Turtle Island, the very least we can do is provide clean drinking water and the bare minimum to protect themselves from Covid. It’s 2020 and the people we stole this land from have systemically been denied clean running water. Again – WHAT?!
- Native American Civil Rights Fund – The US administration is fighting to end voting access for Indigenous folks because of course they are so what are we going to do to fight back? If you’re not culturally comfortable with giveaways, I recommend sending in checks anonymously to make your money count. I’m still getting used to the receiving part of giveaway culture and they send me a lot of keychains/pens/coasters and it kind of makes me feel guilty? But maybe that’s a part of it? Anyway, be forewarned they will send you nice things.
- Indigenous Youth Council – Youth-led womxn & two-spirit organization hosting a COVID-19 emergency response fund and other smart mischief that youths get up to.
- Seeding Sovereignty – As I mentioned at the top of the post – Indigenous womxn-led collective leading a Covid 19 rapid response initiative to support Indigenous communities and fighting Indigenous voting suppression in the November elections.
You can read more about why I funnel a portion of my income into #OwnVoices orgs before covering taxes or work expenses in my Accountability Statement.
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Set The Screen Down A Minute
We are in this together. Our families, our community – we have handled things like this before, and we will take this on again. I’m gonna ask you to close your device and put down the screen for 15 seconds after you’re done here. Take a few breaths.
Remember that everything here – I made this for you. Cause you are important and you deserve safety, health, and support in the work you do. So take this next 15 seconds and pause thinking about what you can do for other folks, and just accept that you also are an important person we need in the world. I like you and want you to be okay.
– Ashia R.
I genuinely don’t know how I’m going to get through distance learning / at-homeschooling + making stuff for free + 24/7 childcare! So 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 SEEDING SOVEREIGNTY FIRST because unlike many Indigenous families, we have easy access to drop-box voting this year.)