Haaaaappy Saturday! We have been working so hard lately to bring you content that positively impacts your days, and today have the great privilege of passing the mic over to Rowan Renee of Raising Inclusive Kids! Rowan Renee has some fabulous words of wisdom for so many of us about coming to terms with the unconscious biases we will inevitably pass onto those we interact with. Without further ado, read on and enjoy!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!
Raising Inclusive Kids: Hello! I am Rowan Renee of Raising Inclusive Kids, a non-binary, disabled parent to a three and four year old, a first generation college student, a writer, an artist, a dreamer. As a student of the teachings of both Thich Nhat Hanh and A Course in Miracles, I am always further developing my understanding and embodiment of forgiveness, mindfulness, and joy. As a person who is passionate about social justice, I am always working to bring to light my own unrecognized prejudice, bias, and racism so that I may heal it and reduce the harm I cause.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
RIK: My passion is creating, dreaming up, and happening upon opportunities to have fun, intentional interactions with my kids that foster empathy, compassion, and the value of diversity. As a parent of a toddler and preschooler, this primarily looks like strong, positive, diverse representation in our home through books, storytelling, rhymes and sing-alongs, imaginative play, and toys. Mostly it is pretty simple but significant: change the pronoun in a sing-along from he to ze, include a character in a wheelchair when making up stories, be one of two moms when playing house. For my preschooler, my efforts include conversations with them as well as modelling difficult conversations.
But here is an important truth: I can read amazing, own voices, diverse books to my kids all day, but it will not counteract the racism I unconsciously pass on to my kids. I can adapt every nursery rhyme and sing-along, through stories and play I can create countless interactions that increase positive, diverse representation in my kids’ lives, but that will never be the antidote to my own prejudice and bias that my kids will inherit. And so, as a parent with social justice values, I must be just as passionate about confronting, naming, and digging out the deep rooted prejudice and bias in my heart, mind, and body. And then I compliment that work by providing great representation for my kids, in our home.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
RIK: Much of my ideas for increasing positive, diverse representation in your home I have compiled into a parent resource that is currently being offered for free. The activities are primarily focused on story time, storytelling, rhymes and sing-alongs, imaginative play, and toy play for the infant through preschool age groups. This Raising Inclusive Kids: parent resource is an ongoing project that I add to periodically. You can find it in my Instagram bio or directly here.
Currently in the works, in collaboration with Rabia Khokhar, is a project designed to make it easy for educators to infuse social justice into their curriculum and to create a physical and learning environment that fosters empathy, compassion, and the value of diversity. I am very excited and honored to work with Rabia, a librarian and educator who does amazing work within her school to create a diverse and inclusive library, to cultivate empathy and knowledge within the students through intentional, diverse curriculum. You can find her on Instagram @rabia_khokhar.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
RIK: Follow Raising Inclusive Kids on Instagram and Facebook, check out the free Raising Inclusive Kids: parent resource, and keep an eye out for updates on the educator resource. And definitely engage with me! My goal is to build community in order to share ideas, successes, struggles and to challenge each other to go deeper and further with our efforts to raise inclusive kids. Parenting is hard, a social justice approach to parenting is harder, takes more intention, and is greatly benefitted by community.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?
RIK: There are so many to choose from! For sure, one of my favorites was La Frontera: My Journey with Papa. It’s a beautifully illustrated, heart-touchingly written, bilingual, #ownvoices book. Co-authored by Alfredo Alva, who shares his childhood immigration story of crossing the Mexican-USA border with his father, La Frontera is a book about perseverance and courage. With details about the journey, the people they encounter, and some challenges they face, the reader learns more about the lived experience of Alfredo Alva, and by extension, other immigrants. The book ends with four additional pages of information on Alfredo’s family story and the social history of immigration, useful for parents and educators who use this book as a conversation starter around the topic of immigration, empathy, and belonging. You can get it here!
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
RIK: Building stronger community, more writing, more art creating, more reading, more time in nature, more time being really present with my kids.
Stay Connected with Raising Inclusive Kids!