Kids and Race (A list of sources)

If you are reading this and didn’t come from Natural Mother Magazine, this article is a list of resources I used in my May 2016 article. I’ll link when the article goes live. Until then, this will seem disjointed and is basically a list of great reading if you are interested in the topic of children and race.

  1.  Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge,
    MA: Perseus Publishing.
  2. Aboud, F. E. (2008). A social-cognitive developmental
    theory of prejudice. In S. M. Quintana & C. McKown (Eds.),
    Handbook of race, racism, and the developing child (pp.
    55–71). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Aboud, F. E. (2005). The development of prejudice in
    childhood and adolescence. In J. F. Dovidio, P. S. Glick, &
    L. A. Rudman (Eds.), On the nature of prejudice: Fifty years
    after Allport (pp. 310–326). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  4. Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L.S. (2007). Developmental
    intergroup theory: Explaining and reducing children’s
    social stereotyping and prejudice. Current Directions in
    Psychological Science, 16, 162–166. Abstract.
  5. Boykin, A. W., & Ellison, C. M. (1995). The multiple ecologies
    of black youth socialization: An Afrographic analysis. In R.
    L. Taylor (Ed.), African-American youth: Their social and
    economic status in the United States (pp. 93–128). Westport,
    CT: Praeger.
  6. DeCaroli, M.E., Falanga, R., Sagone, E.(2013)Ethical Awareness, Self-identification, and Attitudes Toward Ingroup and Outgroup in Italian, Chinese and African Pupils. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume 93, 21 October 2013, Pages 444–448

  7. Hale-Benson, J. (1990). Visions for children: Educating black
    children in the context of their culture. In K. Lomotey (Ed.),
    Going to school: The African-American experience (pp.
    209–222). Buffalo, NY: State University of New York Press.
  8. Hirschfeld, L. A. (2008). Children’s developing conceptions
    of race. In S. M. Quintana & C. McKown (Eds.), Handbook
    of race, racism, and the developing child (pp. 37–54).
    Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  9. Hughes, D., & Chen, L. (1999). The nature of parents’ race related
    communications to children: A developmental
    perspective. In L. Balter & C. S. Tamis-LeMonda (Eds.), Child
    psychology: A handbook of contemporary issues (pp.
    467–490). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
  10. Hughes, D., Rodriguez, J., Smith, E. P., Johnson, D. J.,
    Stevenson, H. C., & Spicer, P. (2006). Parents’ ethnic/racial
    socialization practices: A review of research and directions
    for future study. Developmental Psychology, 42(5), 747–770.
  11. Johnson, A. G. (2006). Privilege, power, and difference (2nd
    ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  12. Katz, P. A. (2003). Racists or tolerant multiculturalists? How do
    they begin? American Psychologist, 58(11), 897–909. Abstract.
  13. Katz, P. A., & Kofkin, J. A. (1997). Race, gender, and young
    children. In S. S. Luthar & J. A. Burack (Eds.), Developmental
    psychopathology: Perspectives on adjustment, risk, and
    disorder (pp. 51–74). New York, NY: Cambridge University
    Press.
  14. Lesane-Brown, C. L. (2006). A review of race socialization
    within black families. Developmental Review, 26, 400–426.
  15. Lewis, A. E. (2003). Race in the schoolyard: Negotiating the
    color line in classrooms and communities. New Brunswick,
    NJ: Rutgers University Press. Abstract.
  16. McIntosh, P. (1990). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible
    knapsack. Independent School, 49, 31–36.
  17. Murray, C. B., & Mandara, J. (2002). Racial identity
    development in African American children: Cognitive and
    experiential antecedents. In H. P. McAdoo (Ed.), Black
    children: Social, educational, and parental environments
    (pp. 73–96). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  18. Patterson, M. M., & Bigler, R. S. (2006). Preschool children’s
    attention to environmental messages about groups: Social
    categorization and the origins of intergroup bias. Child
    Development, 77, 847–860.
  19. Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of
    intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social
    Psychology, 90, 751–783.
  20. Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the black kids sitting
    together in the cafeteria? And other conversations about
    race. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  21. Van Ausdale, D., & Feagin, J. R. (2001). The first R: How
    children learn race and racism. Lanham, MD: Rowman &
    Littlefield.

If you need help finding full text documents, hit up your local librarian. She lives for this stuff, trust me.:)

Should I Be Using Gender Neutral Pronouns In My Writing?

I struggle with how I, as a cis-het person and an advocate and ally, should use gender neutral pronouns in my writing.

I thought of changing my pronouns on FB. My friends who have done this  have given me a great gift because I’m challenged to think of gender each time I get a notification that uses the neutral singular “THEY commented on THEIR post”. It sounds “weird” because I’ve lived forty years on this rock only using feminine and masculine pronouns when referring to people. Having friends that use gender neutral pronouns on fb means I get a daily nudge towards assimilating this into my linguistic comfort zone.

I thought, “maybe I should change mine so all of my friends get daily reminders of gender inclusive language.” Like, maybe each person amplifies the signal and spreads the meme that gender is a construct – a construct WE ALL have control over. That meme spreads like a virus and the world becomes more open, accepting, loving. (I mean that’s why I say anything on here, I hope that’s clear even when I fail.)

And then I think, it isn’t true. I identify with the pronouns she/her. I’ve always been completely comfortable as a cis woman. I’m a “girly girl” – at least I was when I was still interested in performing gender. Even now that I actively try to stop the performance and find a true self beyond the social conditioning of girlness (which means no offense to anyone in full embrace of the femme! This is just my current journey.), I still feel comfortable at this time in identifying as a woman, whatever that word may be laden with in cultural conditioning. I don’t want to be disingenuous or dishonest, ever.

Then I was looking over an article I’m writing right now which, as usual, is chock full of personal examples involving my kids. I rarely name my kids in an article (except on my personal blog) but I refer to them by their gendered pronouns.

I wonder, am I doing a disservice to “the cause” (for want of a better shorthand) and my ideals by not using the neutral singular in my writing? Am I failing to maximize my potential for good? Or, would it be disingenuous because, in reality, we live a gendered life.

It’s just the truth. I do. My kids don’t have gender neutral names. I learned their sex before they were born and bought gendered clothes. I fight daily to shed my social conditioning and give my kids more – more choice, more autonomy, less direction and control.

brainwashed-rthghg.jpgIT IS FUCKING HARD! I’m fighting forty years of immersive brainwashing into states of sexism internalized to the level of automatic thought. On the scale of enlightenment I’m a noob.

And, if I decide to wage genocide on gender in my mind and reflect that in my writing, would I lose my ability to talk to the person I was just yesterday? Then I didn’t even know the word transgender. Or intersex. I believed humans were born either male or female with only “freak anomalies” as extreme outliers. I mean, of course I did, forty years of immersive brainwashing and all, right? Will changing my language make my words indecipherable to the person I used to be?

That matters to me. It matters because I live in rural America. I live where good people, people who’d give you the shirt of their back and bake you a pie ta boot, hang rebel flags in their windows. Where the local FB group routinely posts “jokes” deadnaming Caitlyn Jenner. Where Caitlyn Jenner, despite her many problematic views, is LITERALLY THE FIRST TRANSGENDER PERSON THESE PEOPLE HAVE HEARD OF. I’m not kidding you. They don’t read the same news we do or watch the same shows (some of them, some of them are fucking awesome, of course.)

They aren’t all bad people. They have some things in common that disadvantages them to “being awake” (once again a shorthand that comes off as rude as hell, please forgive): poverty, hunger, lack of education, illiteracy, christianity, complete homogony of demographics (remember I was in college the first time I even MET a black person.) BUT, they aren’t bad. Some are not open to expanding their worldview, for sure. But some are.

Shouldn’t someone speak to them?

I feel torn, often, between living my radicalism, if you will, and maintaining attachment to the people in my environment that I want to touch (consensually, obvs.). It is possible to be SO DIFFERENT that people have difficulty relating to you. (As an example, mention homeschooling and people nod knowingly. Mention unschooling and they look panicky, mention radical unschooling and they start backing away, kwim?)

Recently, I was alerted to the fact that the UK version of my book on amazon got a scathing one-star review that called the book both bigoted and transphobic. OUCH! This knocked me to my knees for several weeks emotionally. I’m crying even talking about it now because it hurts to feel I could have failed so catastrophically that I would actually HURT the very group I’m aiming to help.

Hello depression spiral, you old friend!

Several things helped me get past this and avoid El Spiral. One, that very weekend I got three separate emails thanking me for the book and telling me how it has changed their lives. The response has always been like this – either hate mail (you’re going to burn in hell feminazi cunt!), or heartfelt thanks. This is infinitely more valuable to me than the approximately 70 bucks a month I make from my book.

Second, I spent several weeks meditating on why some people could hate my book so much when I *knew* from personal accounts the positive effect it was having on at least a few hundred people (I’ve sold or given away about 15,000 books). I tried to think of it not as a “wounded party” with “woe is me, why do they hate me” and instead contemplated the problem as a failure (maybe feature) of spreading a meme.

reaching-out-helping-othersMaybe there is something like Vygosky’s Zone of Proximal Development for social memes. Maybe a person is only capable of grasping the next rung on the ladder of understanding. And, if you want to be the person reaching a hand down to help, you can’t do it from twenty rungs up.

I tried to explain that my book wasn’t for parents of transkids or trans people themselves but for cishet folk striving to understand this new-to-them area of social equality. They WANT to understand how gender limits them and their parenting. They want to CHANGE this for the better in their parenting so their kids won’t have the limitations they had.

But I completely understand how someone more advanced on this topic, even at the rung I’m on – maybe five steps up at best, sees a book called Gender Neutral Parenting and slaps their forehead when I have a “girl” chapter and a “boy” chapter. I get it. It isn’t near radical enough, even for me and, as I said, we live pretty gendered lives.

I am so profoundly sorry if my book offended anyone in the LGBTQ+ community. I am not of you. I’m the ignorant white eighteen year old asking to touch the black girl’s hair. I’m aware that I stumble and fall as I clumsily try to create good.

I believe SO SO STRONGLY in letting humans bloom into who they were meant to be and I feel like gendering is one of the main ways we limit them. It is one of the first inequalities we train kids to and then racism and a multitude of other prejudices just slip into the created framework. It becomes a cornerstone on which we wean the next generation into the system of patriarchy.

I hope to review my book later this year and revise it. I’ll be incorporating every idea and criticism I’ve received (apparently I used “trandgendered” which I always caution against). After all, I’ve grown since 2013 and my book should too.

However, my audience is still (and can really only be because “write what you know”) the people I interact with every day. The people below me that need a boost. I don’t want to fall into writing for my “learning peers” (which I mean without any of the value judgment often put on that word) and never the learners behind me.

The world needs everyone. Everyone has a unique role to play. Caitlyn Jenner’s problematic role in the world is still a profoundly powerful role in the lives of million of people. The NET EFFECT of Caitlyn Jenner is unequivocally GOOD. Trust me from the rural, conservative, mid-west. It really MATTERED.

So, to use gender neutral pronouns or not? I don’t know. I vacillate a million times a minute. My mind crunches this constantly to the point I wonder what other people even think about! (I jest.) That isn’t a lament. I love my current passion – to dissect and critically examine every aspect of my mind. It is my practice right now. I do it so I can pass something different on to my kids. Something better.

I’d love your thoughts.

*******

I’ll refrain from finding a way to slip an apology into everything I write (Fuck you Patriarchy!) and just say, if you read this I thank you for the gift of your time and energy. It is deeply and truly appreciated.

The Need for Creativity

This weekend my mom used a roll of old wall paper that she bought or a dollar at the thrift store to re-line her pantry shelves.

She did this while her house was full of family and kids and while making dinner and cleaning. We teased her mercilessly about it because that is how my family rolls.😉

She said something very true: “decorating my house is how I’m creative.”

How true! I paint and sew. My mom decorates. My house looks like a tornado hit it with a craft supply store. Hers looks like the pages of a magazine. And both are the signs of us living our creativity.

6a011570601a80970b01538dee9231970bI didn’t do that much creative for years. I was busy getting graduate degrees (and writing papers became my only creative outlet) and working on my career. Once I had kids I suddenly had this URGE to sew and cook. Later this turned into painting and drawing. Now I can’t imagine life without creating.

It relieves stress and is like meditation. The popularity of “adult” coloring books testifies to our need for creation.

How do you feed the need to be creative?

A Civil Debate About Vaccines

conflict-clipart-CLIPART_OF_ProcessI don’t write about vaccines much anymore. The reason is simply that I had read more than enough (several times over enough) to completely convince me that vaccines were a bad idea for both humanity in general and my children specifically (which, contrary to popular press, are BOTH very important to me). It isn’t my passion anymore. Unless someone is talking about “anti-vaxxers” going to jail or having their kids sent into foster care. It is only when you seek to infringe on my right to body integrity that I engage. I no longer play the show me your research and I’ll show you mine game.

I am disheartened that, from my perspective, so many people believe the vaccine propaganda without digging deeper behind these recommended substances being injected into our most vulnerable population. However, what really pains me is how impossible it apparently is to have a civil discussion about the topic.

Last year I was kicked out of a feminist group for, “promoting child abuse” after having a rather civil discussion on vaccines with other members. The group admins believed so strongly that vaccines are an inarguable benefit to children and humanity that they not only couldn’t have a conversation with me about bodily integrity and the right of the state to force medications on autonomous human beings, but that to even bring it up promoted child abuse.

Damn, that is some seriously strong cultural indoctrination.

I *get* that I’m the minority. I know you think I am straight up wrong. I get that you can’t believe I don’t get it. But what I don’t get is that you are going to shame and demean me in your arguments. Honestly, when you notice yourself so vociferously defending a point of view, which is fine, but feeling hot under the collar about it, then maybe you want to examine where feelings that strong are coming from.

An emotional response that strong comes from one of two places. Either you have a personal experience to draw on (for example, you have a child injured by a disease that has a vaccine and you feel the unvaccinated were responsible) or you’ve been subliminally and overtly indoctrinated to feel something by someone else. Who is that? Why did they do that? I’d want to know. And why do they need to use influence and marketing to “sell” this idea so hard? Why don’t the vaccines speak for themselves?

Maybe you feel you have examined these issues and you still feel vaccines are for you. That is great. I’m happy for you. Perhaps you even think that unvaccinated individuals are a danger to others. I imagine that is a painful feeling to have. I know how I feel when I see transphobia against little kids just trying to be comfortable in their skin. I just know I have to speak out – and do so loudly – to give voice to a group that I know is so often silenced. If you truly feel that my choice not to vaccinate my children puts infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised people at risk then I empathize deeply with the compassion for those people that drives your passion. Namaste. That place in me that feels compassion sees the same place in you and I respect your voice in this argument.

Can you see me for one moment? I do care deeply about people for whom measles or chicken pox are deadly. I would never, never have made this decision without researching that aspect of public health and vaccines. I know you think I haven’t researched enough, or in the wrong places, or that I simply don’t understand enough to make what you consider the right choice. I’m not asking you to understand my choice. I’m asking you to see the place of compassion inside that my choice comes from.

The fact is I am not a shitty person. I’m not uncaring. I’m not uneducated or swayed by celebrity worship or an irrational hippie (I’m a quite rational hippie thankyouverymuch). I am a very kind person. If we met in person I’m sure we’d like each other.

You’d undoubtedly call me weird, or crunchy. You most definitely rolled your eyes when I said “vaccine propoganda” (ha! my side uses subliminal bias too.) My medicine cabinet has more brown, glass jars with droppers than things you’d buy at Walgreens. I’m a peace-freak who doesn’t spank her kids or send them to the local schools. I’m a “femi-nazi” and I’ll tell you, at length, why you should never say that. But I’m friends with many people who don’t believe the same things I do. And I think at least some of them would vouch for me being a decent human being. I’m not asking you to *get* me or agree with me.

I’m just asking that you can stop for a moment and not see me as an “antivaxxer.” I’m not your enemy. I am a friend. My life isn’t like yours. My choices aren’t like yours. But I worry about my kids all the time just like you. I think about their health and do things to make them as healthy as possible. I also care about humanity and I care very much that babies die around the world, just like you do. I think deeply on issues like white, western privilege and how this discussion would be different if I didn’t live in a place with access to healthcare, sanitation, and nutritious food, just like you do.

Do you want to send the police to my house to put my kids in foster care? Do you want them to be held down and injected against their will? I am such a pariah to you that you want me HURT and ROBBED of dignity and my own children? If you had to be the one to hold them down after ripping them from my arms would it change your answer?

I hope you answered no. If we can’t look past our own thoughts and, even briefly, see the humanity in each other then what is all this even for?