Tag Archives: truth

IntersectionAllies: we make room for all

750w

Written by: Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi

Illustrated by: Ashley Seil Smith

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Intersectionality (as you may have already guessed), diversity, solidarity, activism, identity, activism, disability, protest.

Summary: 

This book is incredible! Written in an accessible way, the reader is introduced to a group of friends that have unique intersections of identity without it feeling like they were manifested to teach us a lesson about diversity.  There is not only a forward by Kimberlé Crenshaw herself (who coined the term ‘intersectionality’) but a letter to grownups about how to introduce concepts to kids like empathy.  Having this book address presumably the adult reader of the book prepares them for how to talk in-depth about the topics within the book, and frame them in a helpful way for the younger readers/listeners.  The letter emphasizes the importance of teaching solidarity and intersectionality to children from a young age, which is something we couldn’t agree more with.

When reading the story, we meet characters like Allie, the basketball fiend who also uses a wheelchair, and Kate who is non-binary and likes to wear a cape.  Adilah is an avid dancer and hijabi, taking ballet classes with some of her friends.  Nia participates in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the reader learns about protesting.  The kids featured in the book are dynamic and friendly, with bilingual identities reflected as well.

In the back are more resources and a vocabulary guide that mentions specific page numbers, giving valuable and robust information for further discussion.  It is refreshing to have such care taken, thoroughly underscoring the learning that this book provides for all who open its covers.  We cannot say enough good things about it, this book should have a space on every bookshelf and it’s praise shouted from the rooftops.

About the Authors & the Illustrator In their Own Words:

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Dr. Chelsea Johnson

“As a kid, I was often the only Black girl in my classrooms. Growing up as an “outsider within” my mostly white schools piqued my interest in how race, class, and gender shape social life. I gained the tools to understand my experiences as an undergraduate at Spelman College, an Historically Black College for women in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was at Spelman that I became a feminist. I went on to earn a PhD in sociology at the University of Southern California. My dissertation explored how fashion, politics, and culture relate. I traveled around the world, interviewing women with African roots in South Africa, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States about their lives. I now use research to help companies design products with underrepresented groups in mind. When I’m not researching or writing, I enjoy watercolor painting, reading fiction, and eating my way through new cities.”

 

LaToya Council

photo_1056258“I was raised in a single-parent mother-headed home. I would often stare at my mother in awe of her super-shero abilities to manage so many family demands while holding multiple jobs to make ends meet. These memories inspired my vision for a more inclusive world and drove me toward studying sociology at Spelman College, where I first learned about the concept of intersectionality. After graduating from Spelman, I studied the inequalities in love and how race, gender, and class intersect to inform relationship experiences for my master’s at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. I am currently working on my dissertation at the University of Southern California, which examines time use and self-care among Black middle-class couples. Intersectionality and the power of love frame how I do allyship and research. When not researching, I enjoy practicing meditation, cooking, and hanging with my cat Mimi.”

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Carolyn Choi

The Los Angeles Riots were a defining moment in my childhood that shaped my identity as a person of color and brought me to feminism later in life. My interests in gender, culture, and immigration led me to study sociology and Korean literature at UCLA. After graduating from college, I began community-based organizing and advocacy work as an intern at Koreatown Immigrant Workers’ Alliance, a non-profit civil rights organization in Los Angeles. I earned my master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2009. A few years later, I began doctoral study in sociology at the University of Southern California. My research tackles issues around migrant labor, human trafficking, and international education and has taken me across the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. In my spare time, I enjoy spreading greater awareness about the Korean arts through performing pansori, a form of traditional folk music.”

Ashley Seil-Smith

lighter“I grew up one of five girls (and a twin!) in Southern California and Texas. My conservative roots prompted questions about privilege and feminism, which led me to study cultural anthropology as an undergraduate, including ethnographic research on women’s health in South India. I eventually moved to New York City and helped launch The Period Store as a vehicle to educate women about all of their options for period management, while also earning my MFA from the School of Visual Arts. When I’m not drawing, painting, or print making, you can find me outside being active or caring for my menagerie of adopted senior animals with the help of my husband, Nate.”

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.

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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.

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(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!