Tag Archives: LGBT Activism

The Love-Alphabet Rockers

Featured Artists and Guest Artists:

Alphabet Rockers - HighRes Photo by NinoFernandez
Photo by Nino Fernandez

Over 60 guest artists join the Alphabet Rockers co-founders, Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd. Voices from our next generation — Lillian Ellis, Maya Fleming, Kali de Jesus and Tommy “T3PO” Shepherd III, as well as 123 Andrés, Angel & Koja Adeyoha, Aris Wong, Ashanti Branch, Billy Dean Thomas, Celestina Pearl and Esperanza Carter-Pearl, Genevieve Goings, H. Daniel Mujahid, Harlow Carpenter, Honey Mahogany, Jennifer Johns, Juan “Wonway Posibul” Amador, Kanyon “CoyoteWoman” Sayers-Roods, KARLON, Kiran Nagraj, Lucy Kalantari, M. Zamora, MADLines, Mahawam, Malachi Garza, mariposa & AmihanCh’íníbaa’, Michelle “CHELLE” Jacques, Mike McCann, Nizhoni & Pálxcqíwn Ellenwood, Okee Dokee Brothers, Rei Matsuno, Rhonda Crane, RyanNicole, Samara Atkins, SaulPaul, Shaina Evoniuk, The Singing Bois, Sólás B. Lalgee, Yaw, Yiann, Zumbi Zoom.

For ages: Humans of all ages can groove to these beats!
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Image via Kanyon Konsulting LLC

Language: Primarily English and Spanish, but features many other languages in songs such as This is Ohlone Land which acknowledges the variety of indigenous groups and languages of Oakland, CA, where the album was recorded.

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Non-Binary Identity, Transgender Activism, Radical Joy, Self-Love, Cultural Consciousness and Pride, Self-Expression, Respect for All, Survival, Black Gxrl Magic, Ancestral Power and Healing, Strength, and Truth.

 

Summary:

It is impossible to sit silent and still when listening

to the Alphabet Rocker’s album The Love.

The album begins with a respectful acknowledgement of the land on which it was recorded, setting the stage for the thoughtful and transformational nature of the album.  Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd cover a wide range of topics artfully and powerfully.  In other hands and different voices the album could be heavy-handed and preachy, but by allowing the guest artists featured on the album to speak their truth, McGaw and Shepherd spread the love and recognition across the board.

ruth azul
Art by Ruth Azul

The Love is joyful, realistic but also hopeful, which can be an extremely challenging balance to strike-and they do it expertly.  The music and lyrics recognize the struggle and work of past generations and queer people of color from the far reaches of history like Hatshepsut to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, founders of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries as well as today’s activists like two-spirit Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas.

sharice
(R-KS) Sharice Davids

The album’s lyrics could easily parrot the “everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “life is suffering” binary found in many narratives.  Instead, the artists both acknowledge the injustice heaped upon marginalized groups and create a sense of hope that emanates from songs like “Black Gxrl Magic.”  This faith in the promise of the future is fired up by “the next generation” of voices, empowered young people who speak their mind clearly and energetically.

We loved the small photos with pronouns of all the other artists featured on the album!  It allowed us to get to know each artist as an individual, and provided a visual reference for the wide range of personalities, identities and cultures represented in the fantastic music. The explicit celebration of the many intersections of queerness and cultural identity is refreshing and radical, as so many queer narratives are whitewashed and simplified to appeal to a larger audience. The Alphabet Rockers recognize the truth of the windows and mirrors approach that we reference here at the Tiny Activist; that honoring the distinct identities of people who are not like you creates more space for everyone.

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The Gender Wheel by Maya Gonzalez

One feature of the album that we particularly enjoyed were the interludes, especially They/Them, where each speaker introduces themselves with their pronouns.  It was powerful recognizing that children are able to grasp and see the importance this practice, especially when so many adults can’t be bothered to do the same. It gives us great hope that the next generation will be more open and accepting from a young age.The interludes create a space for dialogue, and they echo the practice found in other hip-hop albums, presenting more voices and personalities to be heard (both literally and figuratively).

Thinking in terms of incorporating this album in a class or community space, the short interludes allow for breaks and group discussion. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex in their understanding of culture and intersectionality, but easy to follow along with. The language is accessible and the lyrics are nuanced, subverting the tradition of simplifying concepts and wording in music produced for children.

The songs in this album went by so quickly, and it hardly seemed like 17 tracks! The Love should be in every classroom, so bring on the social justice dance parties!

About the Artists:

AboutAlphabetRockers-PhotobyKristin-Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

ALPHABET ROCKERS make music that makes change. Led by Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) and Tommy Shepherd (he/him), they create brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. Their GRAMMY nominated 2018 album, Rise Shine #Woke has reached 300K kids and families since its release, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate and be their brave and beautiful selves. Their latest album, The Love (2019) lifts up voices of our trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming community.

With headlining performances at Lollapalooza, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco Pride Festival, Art & Soul Festival (Oakland) and Kidchella (Philadelphia), and in over 50 schools across the country each year, diverse audiences love their contemporary sound and positive messages. They were Izzy Award Winners in 2018, American Library Association’s Top Album in 2017 and 2018, and won the Parents’ Choice Award for their 5-album catalogue. Alphabet Rockers appeal to a broad audience with lyrics like “I will stand up for you” and “I shine in my beautiful skin,” landing them in the top 5 songs of 2018 on Kids Place Live SiriusXM Radio. Their music, videos, concerts and curriculum are designed by an intercultural team of anti-bias thought leaders, educators, artists, parents and young people of all genders.

YOU KNOW I GOT YOU, SO GET ME!

Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution.

Written by: Rob Sanders

Illustrated by: Jamey Christoph

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Activism, Community, Historical Events, Acceptance, Historical Figures. 

Summary: This book was written in a fascinating way.  The narrator is the Stonewall Inn itself!  Sanders expertly weaves together the history of the building starting with its construction in the 1840’s up to present day, while tangentially discussing the LGBTQ rights movement.  The narrator tells the reader how the Stonewall has always been a place of acceptance, expression, and home to outcasts.  People who were told they didn’t fit in were welcomed and celebrated at Stonewall, it was a community space where LGBTQ people could congregate and have a good time.  Stonewall officially became the Stonewall Inn in 1967, and had become a destination for the queer community.  Having a safe space was particularly important because there was much homophobic legislation and sentiment in most of the country, even in New York City.  During some nights at Stonewall Inn, police would raid it and arrest some of the people inside.  The ones who weren’t arrested would quietly slip away into the night, but not for long.  On June 28th, 1969 the police raided Stonewall Inn and something different happened this time.  Instead of running away, the people who weren’t arrested stayed standing in the streets and began to join together in anger and defiance.  For too long they had been pushed around and made to fear for their lives.  The Stonewall Uprising had begun!  The police barricaded themselves into the Stonewall Inn while angry crowds started protesting outside.  On and off for 5 days, these protests continued against homophobic treatment and police brutality.  One the one year anniversary, a parade was held!  This has since morphed into the annual Pride parade.

Things have changed for the better in the last 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising, but we still have a long way to go.  This is especially true for the treatment and safety of our trans sisters of color, who are subjected to astonishingly high rates of violence and murder.  THIS IS NOT OK.  Acceptance and celebration of trans identities also reduces rates of suicide by up to 80% in trans youth.  These are statistics we absolutely cannot ignore and should be doing everything in our power to make positive changes.

In the back of the book is a slew of photographs and more information about the Stonewall Inn.  While no specific names of activists are mentioned in the main story (like Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera) they are in several of the photographs.  There is even a short interview with Martin Boyce, LGBTQ+ activist and who was an Uprising participant!  The last page has a glossary and suggestions for further reading.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you heard of the term LGBTQ or any of the corresponding terms? Maybe you have a friend or family member that is a member of the queer community.
  • When is a time you stood up for what was right?
  • How can you be a good friend to someone that other people might call an ‘outcast’?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Acceptance and celebration of the LGBTQ (and every other marginalized group) is something that should be ongoing in both the classroom and everyday life.
  • For older kids, learning the history of unique architecture in the surrounding community could be a great way to tie in the book, if not going for an activism-based lesson.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

rob-sanders-67725889-2 Throughout junior high and high school, Rob Sanders had wonderful English teachers who taught him to diagram sentences, speak in public, read the classics, show what he learned in creative ways, and who taught him to write. He wrote letters, poems, stories, plays, radio scripts, and more. Even now those teachers would be considered among the best. He is still reading and writing today. As a matter of fact, every school day he teaches kids about words and books, and stories and writing. Helping his students become strong writers is his favorite thing to do. Now he also writes books. Explore his website and learn all about them!

IMG_1983Jamey Christoph is the illustrator for this book. Jamey’s illustrations have appeared in The New York Times,  San Francisco Chronicle, and in several award winning children’s books. An old soul at heart, his work draws inspiration from vintage advertising and travel posters and a lifelong curiosity of the past, particularly in the character of old buildings, cars, fashion, and music. He has received multiple recognitions from the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and 3×3 Magazine.  He works out of his 1920’s home in Cleveland Heights, OH with his crazy dogs, Owen and Jack.

Our Rainbow

Written by: Partnership between GLAAD & little bee books, additional appreciation to Tierney (creators of the Philly Pride Flag)

Illustrated by: C.G. Esperanza (Opening), Mohammed Fayaz (Black/Brown), Love is Wise (Red), Beena Mistry (Orange), Dylan Glynn (Yellow), Cynthia Yuan Cheng (Green), J Yang (Blue), Chris Kindred (Purple), Jeromy Velasco (Closing)

For ages: Toddler & up

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Acceptance, Self-Expression, Social-Emotional Development, Activism.

Summary: This book is SO cool!  It is a board book shaped like a waving flag, which is a great sensory experience for readers.  The collaboration of this book specifically covers the Philly Pride Flag and what the flag represents for our LGBTQ community.  A different artist illustrates for each color, explaining the original meanings intended by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker.  Feelings, Nature, Forgiveness, and many more are included in this book that will be engaging to a variety of ages.  We can’t recommend this book enough, it needs to be on every shelf!

Having books that normalize the LGBTQ community is crucial for community members and allies alike.  Children that grow up seeing multiple family structures are more accepting and open to real individuals that they will inevitably encounter in their daily lives.  We need to be proud to know (and be!) these people all year round, not just during Pride Month.  Like other marginalized populations, corporations and advertising focus on them for a month and then do nothing for the rest of the year that benefits them (and sometimes have policies in place that actively hurt members).  What can we do to stop these harmful practices for everyone, especially individuals that are marginalized in a variety of ways?

Reflection Questions:

  • What is your favorite color in the rainbow?
  • Why do you think that specific flags were designed to celebrate different communities?
  • What do you think is important for everyone to know about the rainbow flag?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Design your own flag that represents you.  What colors and symbols are important to you and your family?
  • Learn more about the organizations that helped make this book possible.  Why were they passionate about LGBTQ activism enough to make books for children?
  • Find out what you can do in your community for the LGBTQ members that live there.  Are there specific resources needed, or community centered activities that you can be a part of?

About the Authors & Illustrators:

glaadFor over 30 years, GLAAD has been at the forefront of cultural change, accelerating acceptance for the LGBTQ community. GLAAD was founded in November of 1987 in response to the New York Post’s grossly defamatory and sensationalized HIV and AIDS coverage, and in that same year they persuaded the New York Times to start using the term “gay” instead of “homosexual” so that they could help the Times “get with the times”. They have been continuing to monitor and influence the media since then!


Little-Bee-Books-Logo-e1505769066989

little bee books is a children’s book publisher dedicated to making high-quality,
creative, and fun books for busy little bees ages 0 through 12, offering an inspired selection of early learning concept books, board books, novelty books, activity books, picture books, chapter books, nonfiction, gift sets, and more.


cgesperanzaOpening

Born the second of six kids. The South Bronx is where C.G. Esperanza first opened his eyelids. A land shrouded in bright colored decay, the birthplace of graffiti and the hip-hop DJ! He paints fantasy worlds of elephants, and castles too! Accompanying this wonder is some whimsical truth. Charles has a voice that is seldom heard. A fusion of jazz, distorted guitars, and chirping birds.

Author and Illustrator of “Red, Yellow,Blue and a dash of White too!” available now! (Skypony Press)


 

Black/Brownmofayaz

Mohammed Fayaz is an illustrator and one of the organizers of Papi Juice. Born and raised in New York City, Mohammed’s illustrations are intent on documenting his community of queer and trans people of color. With work that spans digital and mixed media, his illustrations lend an eye into a world traditionally left out of mainstream media.

 

 


 Red

2018-05-31-e-lee-loveis-wise-university-of-the-arts-new-yorker-cover-illustration-1-768x512Love is Wise is a Freelance Illustrator based in Philadelphia from Washington, DC. In addition to being a Capricorn lady who is obsessed with the color pink, she has worked with some amazing clients such as The New Yorker, L’Oreal, The New York Times, REI, Refinery29, BuzzFeed News, Bitch Media, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia Printworks ,Illustrated Impact, Tampa Bay Times, Eileen Fisher, The Poetry Foundation, Cartoon Network, LeafTV, Got A Girl Crush, BUST Magazine & Wieden+Kennedy

Check out her collection of prints/shirts here with Philadelphia Printworks, The Schomburg Center in Harlem, buy prints of her New Yorker cover here and her Etsy shop here.

Contact her for a chat, commissions, & inquiries at loveiswiseillustrations@gmail.com!


Orange

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Beena Mistry is a combo pack UX Designer and Illustrator who can tell some pretty good stories with shapes and colour. Find Beena at beenamistryart@gmail.com and @BEENATHEMISTRY.

 


Yellow

dylanglynn_author-683x1024

 

Dylan Glynn is based in Toronto and studied animation at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and directing for animation in Valence, France. His multidisciplinary practice is characterised by its emotion, grace and sense of wild-movement. His work has been recognized and exhibited by Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Somerset House and the Canadian Screen Awards.

 

 


Green

selfie

Cynthia Yuan Cheng is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist recently landed in Los Angeles, CA. Cynthia loves to create warm, hopeful comics & illustrations exploring relationships, identity, and personal experience.

In her free time, you can find Cynthia on the hunt for delicious foods and fun movies.  She grew up reading manga and playing American football in New Jersey and graduated from MICA with a B.F.A. in Illustration and a concentration in Sequential Art.

Find her on social media: twitter / instagram / tumblr
Her online store can be found here.


Blue

JYang_Morn3J YANG is a trans illustrator and designer working in children’s books and education. Published work—Our Rainbow, Spirit Day (upcoming this fall), and the interior illustrations in Craftily Book 6. The content J aims to put out in the world normalizes the existence of queer people, people of color, and disabled people by not making their differences the focal point of the story. J organizes & produces 2 charity artbooks a year with 30+ artists each—check out the Found Family Zine, Huemanity 2019 (a calendar), and this year’s #DogsforFlint and Beyond The Veil. Based in New York. BFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute. Pronouns they/he. Reach out at jyang1029@gmail.com!


 Purple

chriskindred

Chris Kindred is an illustrator, cartoonist, and writer working in Richmond, VA. He can be found on twitter and via email here: chris@chriskindred.com

 

 


 Closing

jeromy velasquez

 

Jeromy Velasco is a left-handed illustrator/printmaker currently based in Los Angeles. Contact Jeromy via email, on instagram and twitter!

Who I Am Inside:Exploring Trans-Feminine Heroes Through Multimedia Art

Happiest of Pride months to everyone!  In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Corrie decided to share a lesson plan that she made and presented last year at the Gender Spectrum Conference in Moraga, California.

It is critical that we remember and honor the trans women of color that brought about the modern gay rights movement.  Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and many other activists worked tirelessly on our community’s behalf.

This lesson was designed for 4-6 year olds, but can easily be adapted for older aged groups.  The pictures included were designed as posters to hang up in a classroom or office!  Feel free to use this lesson, and let us know how it goes!!

 

Overview & Purpose

This presentation and lesson plan involve a multi-media art lesson, beginning with some background history on important trans-feminine figures from history including Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, Christine Jorgensen, and Lili Elbe. The lesson plan is an adaptable program for a wide range of ages and includes two parts. One part being best suited for grades K-2, and the other building on that basic information and extending knowledge to create a lesson for grades 3-5.  

           The “Who I Am Inside” project focuses on the fact that how we present on the surface, from our clothes to our outward appearance is only one facet of our identity. The art activity centers the idea that we each have qualities that others cannot see unless we tell them; reinforcing with younger children that while it’s important that we are empowered to present ourselves the way we want to be seen, our inner feelings matter just as much. When someone has the courage to tell you their truth, whether it be about liking a “boy” color or not always feeling like a “girl”, it is important to believe them and honor the strength it took to expose a part of themselves they may not be comfortable with. For younger children that could sound like “thank you for sharing, I like you just the way you are!”

           Children are given a human outline, they cut out magazine pictures of “what they are inside” (favorite food, colors, activities) emphasis on things others cannot see (hair color for example, is something others can usually see).

           The “Trans Heroes” lesson extension has accompanying posters to illustrate the individuals highlighted. Younger children’s (grades K-2) lesson has emphasis on positive community impacts, extension for older children (grades 3-5)  involves more detailed vocabulary as well as understanding created community and how these individuals chose their families and helped others that experienced rejection from their biological family.

Education Standards

  1. Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework: Overview of Scope and Sequence, Grade 2: To help students understand that American citizenship embraces all kinds of people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and national origin.
  2. Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework Core Concept: In visual arts, people express ideas and emotions that they cannot express in language alone.
  3. Guiding Principles for English Language Arts and Literacy Programs: 5: Students should read a diverse set of authentic texts balanced across genres, cultures, and time periods.

Objectives

  1. Students will be introduced to various trans-feminine heroes
  2. Students will become familiar with the importance of a strong internal identity that can connect them to the world around them.
  3. Students will become comfortable with vocabulary and concepts surrounding community organization, chosen family and validation of their whole identity-both internal and external.

Materials Needed

  1. Blank human outline
  2. Magazines for collaging
  3. Scissors; Tape or Glue.
  4. Informational posters (provided below)

Activity

The activity opens with a group discussion led by the teacher about how there are multiple facets to personal identity, not just how you present on outside but also how you feel on the inside and how you think about yourself. The teacher will start by modeling, and then children will be given the opportunity to identify one thing that they feel on the inside, and how they express that on the outside, verbally, artistically or through their appearance. An example: a student raises their hand and says “My favorite sport is basketball, I show that by wearing my team t-shirt and inviting people to play basketball at recess.”

Teacher shows example of completed collage, highlighting some of the pictures inside the human outline which could include favorite foods, colors, or hobbies.  Students will be given their outline and access to magazines to cut out their own images to express their internal identity. Students that have difficulty with fine-motor skills such as cutting or gluing can be paired with another student to assist, or with an aide.  All students are encouraged to share images to promote the discussion of similarities between classmates as well as materials. Upon completion of collage, students may write what the images inside represent. Examples: a heart representing love for animals or a spoon representing cooking.  

While collages are drying, the third part of the lesson is introduced. A question is asked about why it’s important for people to know who you are inside and why it’s important for people to believe and validate how you feel inside. Students can be asked how they might feel if they weren’t believed when they shared personal things about themselves. The teacher introduces the concept of having to fight to have your identity validated, teacher gives personal examples about how girls were not always allowed to play soccer like boys were. But by finding other people, both girls and boys (and people who don’t feel like a girl or a boy) who believed that girls could play soccer, people got together and made it possible for everyone to play. People who work really hard to change the rules are called activists, and they create their own family with people who love and believe them.

Using the materials and posters included with this lesson plan, the teacher begins outlining the experiences of some or all of the historical trans-feminine figures, in an age appropriate way. The teacher explains:

  • “Biological sex” has to do with private parts, the ones covered by a bathing suit.  This is how a doctor assigns “male” or “female” to a baby that’s just been born.
  • A gender identity” is how someone feels inside (a person can feel like a boy or a girl, but sometimes both or neither).
  • Gender expression is how people show the world how they feel inside.  This is done through clothing, haircut, etc.
  • “When somebody tells you that they are a boy or a girl, you should believe them, even if they don’t look like what you think a boy or a girl looks like, because they know how they feel on the inside, and they know themselves the best”.  Think about someone who grows their hair out, or maybe cuts their hair very short. They’re still the same person they just like their hair long instead of short. It doesn’t change who they are inside, it just helps to match their outside with their inside.  

The teacher continues, telling students that sometimes people may have trouble believing what they say, and that might not feel good, but the important thing is to believe in yourself, and what you know is true. Emphasize to students that they will find people who believe in them, and may already be family or friends, or they may be people you meet in your life who become like your family. You might call your mom’s best friend your auntie, but she’s not related to you, but she is very good friends with your mom, so she is a part of your family. The family you choose is just as important as the family you were born into.  

These activists fought for what they believed in, and helped people looking for their “Chosen Family”.  These women helped people in many ways; having a house where lots of people lived together, everyone had enough food and was loved and accepted for who they were.  All of these activists also had to change some things about their outside appearance to match their insides, and that’s ok. What matters about a person is that they are happy.  

Wrap-up: How can you be a good friend when someone tells you something about themselves?  What might you want a friend to say to you when you tell them something important about your inner-self?  What can we do everyday to make others feel comfortable to express who they are? Where are some places we could look to help us answer any questions we may have about any of these activist women we learned about today?

 

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