Racism and Listening

I’ve spent a lot of the last year reading and listening about racism. I’ve had conversations with people I respect and whose views and perspectives on race come from personal experience.

Before the last year and a half or so, I thought I understood what my friends who have been impacted by racism were going through. I’m a liberal woman with friends of many ethnicities, gender identifications and other “I’m super not racist and totally understand what my friends are facing” categories. I question my thinking and ask other people to call me on bullshit if I say or do something that makes them feel badly or isn’t in line with how they know I want to live. I thought I got it.

And then I read a post by my friend, Amiyrah Martin that punched me in the gut. She was writing in response to the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial. I read her post and then couldn’t get it out of my head. Amiyrah and I have sons the same age. From her writing, I can tell that we are trying to raise them with an emphasis on respect, honor, empathy, good manners and laughter.

Here’s why Amiyrah’s post hit me the way others haven’t. I thought that the conversations about how to act when confronted by police were for the generations before ours. I didn’t think that a child born to a peer, born the same year as my son, would ever have to hear that warning. Because except for the respect for authority part of the conversation, I can’t imagine ever having to have that conversation with my children. The fact that someone who is so much like me in so many ways, who has a boy who could be my boy, has to teach her son how to avoid attracting the attention of police reduced me to tears. Amiyrah’s post made me connect with how big racism still is in a powerful way.

I have been listening to a lot of very smart people this last year, and I plan to continue to listen. Kelly Wickham has written so much that I’ve been listing to, but you should read this one especially. I’ve been grateful for our conversation and for the thousands of words she’s written on the topic of racism.

I’d rather talk about it here and now than to know that my friends are talking to their children about how to avoid getting harassed, arrested, or shot.

In addition to Kelly and Amiyrah, you should also listen to A’Driane Nieves who is wickedly smart and passionate about many things including racism, mental health, and access to excellent education for everyone.

I’m listening to these women, who else should I be listening to?

 

 

 

Martha Speaketh Weeketh! Talking Dogs Are the Best Dogs

We’re a PBS-loving family. We devour everything from documentaries, news programs, cooking shows, home improvement, and art to the kids programming. I love sharing favorites like Seasame Street with my kids, and discovering new-for-us shows like the Wild Krats and Martha Speaks. The week of June 16-20, 2014, is Martha Speaketh Week which culminates with Summer Learning Day on June 20th. To celebrate the week, PBS KIDS is airing three all-new episodes and launched a new online game called Martha’s Steaks!

The kids and I were excited to preview Monday’s new episodes, “Thou Callest Me a Dog,” and “Martha’s Paper Chase.”

Mom Likes

  • The thing I liked the most was that both episodes emphasized integrity even though that wasn’t the main topic of the show. In, “Thou Callest Me a Dog,” the kids rescued a really pompous actor from a locked closet (who arguably deserved to be locked in the closet for his rudeness) and in, “Martha’s Paper Chase,” the local paper didn’t print a story because it would have invaded the privacy of the story’s subject.
  • I also liked, from the adult-watching-a-kid-show point of view, that none of the lessons hit you over the head, they were just part of the story.
  • The boys, despite their almost five year age difference, could watch the show together and get different things from it.
  • Shout out to the writers of “Thou Callest Me a Dog,” for calling the actor in the episode “Burbage” after one of the original actors at and the owner of the Globe theater who performed many of Shakespeare’s plays.
  • When the boys played the game Martha’s Steaks, there were easy levels for Tobin and more advanced levels that Nicholas played.

Kids Likes

  • Tobin (4 years old): Martha is funny and smart and is nice to her friends. And she likes to tell stories.
  • Nicholas (9 years old): The stories are good, and she teaches interesting words. But she doesn’t just tell you the words over and over, she uses them throughout the story so you figure them out by what is going on during the story.

My favorite quote while watching the Shakespeare episode:

Me to boys: Is Martha talking crazy?

Nicholas: No, Mom, she’s talking Shakespeare.

Online Games

The boys both liked the online game, Martha’s Steaks; but, it was more on the level of Tobin than Nicholas. Nicholas did give Tobin pointers while they were playing, so it was a good way for them to play together. Tobin got lost in the website with all of the word games and storytelling features. In fact, he woke up the next morning asking for Martha Speaks!

Martha Speaks Goodies!

When we got the DVD for review, it came with a fun package that included the Martha Speaks book, Perfectly Martha (Tobin loved this one), a graphic novel (Nicholas loved this one), pencils, temporary tattoos, stickers, and a flip book. The boys were over the moon with excitement to read the books and play with the stickers and tattoos.

I hope you get a chance to watch these episodes and the series with your kids. And if you’re a word nerd like me, you’ll love that your kids are getting even more exposure to words they may not hear every day! Check your local listings to see when you can catch this fun show!

 

Martha Speaks was fun for the whole family (Lemmon included!)

Martha Speaks was fun for the whole family (Lemmon included!)

 Disclosure: I was not compensated for this review, but I was provided a preview DVD of the new episodes along with the books, stickers, and tattoos.

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Acrylic paint also worked well and did leave huge puddles of paint on the card

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Best Laid Plans: Postpartum Edition

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Pregnancy Update: Grow, Baby, Grow!

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Pregnancy Update: Keeping Us On Our Toes

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Cinnamon Brooms and Comas

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