Working for equity and social justice? Know what your Asian colleague is experiencing

This week we have a guest post by Diana Huynh.


When I was in my master of public administration program, there was an LGBTQ student group meeting to discuss speaker ideas for a panel they were hosting. On the agenda was how to diversify the line-up. When a member suggested an expert who was Asian, a white leader of that group dismissed the idea because “Asian people are basically white.” 

I was not there; the exchange was later shared with me by a close classmate who was present. The dismissal of Asian identity, including of Asian queer identity, made me feel incredulous at first, then angry, and then disappointed. Here we were, in a program for public servants in one of the most “progressive” cities in the country (New York), and yet such casual racism was accepted. 

That moment stuck with me throughout my decade of working in nonprofits. With the recent attacks against East and Southeast Asians in the Bay Area, New York, and elsewhere, this moment from grad school still holds as an example of how anti-Asian racism shows up in the work for equity and justice. 

What Black, Indigenous, and other people of color know all too well is that this country is practiced at finding innovative and different ways to dehumanize each of our communities. If you care about racial justice, I hope part of your learning is understanding what anti-Asian racism looks like. You can’t advance the work if you don’t, and you can’t see your Asian colleagues for who they are unless you do. 

The recent cycle of conversations on anti-Asian racism began at the start of the pandemic, when Chinatowns began to lose business and when mask-wearing was still so racialized that the Asian American Journalists Association had to ask the news media to be careful when covering it. But these examples, the attacks, and the misguided discourse that followed, are the direct result of the longtime interplay of two common and harmful perceptions about Asian people: that we are the perpetual foreigner and also the model minority.

As perpetual foreigners, Asians will never belong. Anything about us that doesn’t fit into white-dominant culture is evidence of our alien-ness. Our food is gross, smelly — or as recently described in this case — dirty. For those of us with monolid eyes, our faces are unreadable. (If you didn’t know, it was white Americans who helped popularize eyelid surgery in Asia because they couldn’t trust people with “slant eyes.”) And just look at how “Minari,” an American film about a Korean family set in Arkansas, is considered a foreign film because half of the dialogue is in a non-English language. 

Today’s nonprofits, with their stated values of diversity and inclusion, are more skilled at avoiding these more overt acts of anti-Asian racism. In fact, they are so skilled that they manage to not acknowledge Asian people and communities at all. The model minority is a convenient myth that allows others to invalidate our experiences and pit us against other people of color, especially Black people. In short: the perception is that as a racial group, we enjoy universal socioeconomic success. 

Because our sector is obsessed with measuring disparities by race and “closing gaps,” Asians barely register as worthy subjects for justice. Policymakers and practitioners look at one aggregate data point — that combines a vast continent of Asian ethnicities and experiences together — deem we are not oppressed enough, and don’t give us much thought after that. Even more egregious, as in the recent example of North Thurston Public Schools, Asian students were combined with their white peers as a racial category — in a report about education equity of all things. 

If you don’t understand how anti-Asian racism works, you will likely not know about the experiences that have molded and shaped us. A Chinese person whose family has been here for generations might have different successes with the education system than a Laotian person whose parents arrived in this country not too long ago as refugees. The broad category of Asian and the even broader Asian and Pacific Islander are not very meaningful. 

Over the last few weeks, check-ins with my East and Southeast Asian friends revealed the complexity of the moment. We are grieving, and day-to-day interactions feel worse when it’s clear others don’t register our existence as an Asian person. And it’s not limited to us in the nonprofit sector; a New York Times report about diversity and inclusion in their own newsroom showed that Asian women often felt “invisible and unseen.”

My friends and I also talked about how to show up at this moment. We are watching in frustration as narratives working to divide Asian and Black communities take hold. This is especially so when we see other Asians — some close to us and some with big platforms — play into the hands of the system by calling for more police or offering bounties. People of color have long known that cross-racial solidarity has and will continue to keep us safe. History has proven this, but we know these stories often get erased. White supremacy benefits when we are pitted against each other. Addressing anti-Asian racism does not mean resorting to anti-Black racism. 

I decided to write this piece because I recently realized what I was working through when I watched Pastor Erna Kim Hackett’s video about grief and solidarity after the Bay Area attacks. Talking specifically about Asian people’s tendency to self erase, she said “we make these choices because we feel like our story is not valid. One of the ways we might love on people and hold space for people is to go quiet and move to the back.”

This is another lie of white supremacy: That I have been made to feel that by talking about my own experiences, I am taking away from someone else’s. As Erna said, “Part of our healing and liberation is amplifying our stories.” And it’s not just amplifying my story, but the story of my community and elders. 

So this is what this post is. An amplification of our experiences. Some might be disappointed by the lack of advice on how to engage with Asian people right now. That was by design. If you have been more transactional than relational with your Asian coworkers and other colleagues of color up until this moment, then a starting point for you is to examine why that is. 


Diana Huynh is a communications professional living in Seattle. Her dad is from Bến Tre and her mom from Duyên Hải. She was born and raised in south central Pennsylvania. 


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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Lunar New Year — Food

Note: Next week is mid-winter break for the fam. I will most likely be taking the week off from writing.


This is the third week in a row I’m writing about food. My friend Shukri said I need an intervention, perhaps a sambusa intervention – pillowy little triangles filled with lentils, potatoes, or meat and veggies. The reason for another food post – LUNAR NEW YEAR! I love lunar new year. It is a time of renewal, a chance for Asians to celebrate our Asianess, and of course the food and celebrations.

Many Asian countries follow the lunar/moon calendar. Lunar new year marks the start of the new year and welcoming of spring. It is a big deal in many Asian countries – China, Viet Nam, Singapore, Korea, Tibet, and other countries. Some Asian countries, like Japan, adopted the Gregorian/imperial calendar and celebrate their new year on Jan 1.

As a quick note, I am referring to the holiday as Lunar New Year to encompass many different cultures. Each culture that celebrates Lunar New Year has their own name for the holiday — Chūn Jié in China, Tết in Viet Nam, Losar in Tibet. This is also the Year of the Ox on the Chinese zodiac.

If you want to learn more about Lunar New Year and read your Lunar New Year un-fortune check out our previous year blog posts.

Foods of Lunar New Year

Each culture has their own way of celebrating Lunar New Year. In many of the celebrations gathering together to welcome the new year take place. Due to COVID19 many of these celebrations are cancelled or drastically different this year. As an example my friend Stacy, said her church is delivering hot pot kits to their fellowship and meeting over Discord — a new way to gather and be together. Another friend and I joked about starting new traditions that are less traditional like Lunar new year donuts — very not Asian, but one can rationalize the moon is round like a donut *shrug — I might be stretching here.

Eating well during the new years celebration foretells good eating the rest of the year. In the Chinese tradition serving two fish is customary, eating one and saving one for leftovers to start the year with a surplus. My friend Kam steams her fish and serves it with ginger scallion soy sauce. A whole chicken is traditional, but she prefers duck, and a vegetarian vermicelli dish to honor Buddha.

Many Chinese new year meals also include dumplings since they look like gold coins, and spring rolls resemble gold bars – both to signal financial prosperity. Long noodles are served to welcome a long life – don’t cut the noodles as you don’t want to cut your life short. If you want to get cooking here is a good starter menu.

In Vietnamese culture bánh chưng and bánh tết are served. Wrapped in banana leaves and string, these little packages are stuffed with glutinous rice and filling, then cut and fried to deliciousness. Learn the difference between the two here.

Tteokguk (떡국) Korean rice cake soup is believed to bring good luck in the new year. The soup is made with rice cakes swimming in a delicious broth and veggies.

When I polled my friends for their Lunar New Years food the picture of Stacy and Richard’s Taiwanese beef noodle soup made me want to lick my screen. Stephanie shared this video featuring Seattle local ingredients in Taiwanese Lunar New Year celebration.

Transcending pan-Asian cultures the snack tray – a round tray filled with different number (5, 6, or 8 depending on culture) of goodies – the tray of togetherness. Megan, a friend, put oranges in the middle a traditional Lunar New Year Food.

My friend Bao said I should skip writing and just post pictures of Lunar New Years food. So I’ll stop writing now and share all the pics of the celebration food. I always listen to Bao, she’s very smart, especially when it comes to food.

May be an image of food and indoor
Tray of Togetherness — photo from Megan
May be an image of food and indoor
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup — Photo from Stacy
No photo description available.
banh chung — Photo from Diana and Sadie (the dog)
No description available.
Hot pot fixings — photo from Bao
No description available.
bánh tét fried w/ pickled veggies in fish sauce dưa món — photo from Bao

Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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Equity vs. Equality – Not the Box Graphic

February is Black History Month. Take a moment to celebrate Black joy and liberation. As an action step learn about Black history in the place you are. I’m in Seattle and plan on digging into these Black histories as a way to connect more with the Black history of my neighborhood and city. I hope you’ll look up something similar in your own town or city.


Many of us have seen the ‘Equity Box Graphic’ that depicts the basics of how to understand the difference between equity and equality. It shows the shorter kid having more boxes to stand on in order to see over a fence. The picture is easy to understand and conveys quickly what is needed to achieve fairness.

Many people see limitations in the picture — Heidi wrote a whole blog post about it. It is one of the most read post on the blog, make sure you read it.

At the risk of adding another picture and analogy to the litany of ways to understand equity vs equality, I will offer one.

Equity — My definition you need to know for the rest to make sense

When I’m asked what does equity mean to me, my answer is “Everyone has what they need to be whole — regardless of race, disability, LGBTQ, immigration, and other social constructs. Everyone has what they need to be whole, not more and not less. This may feel like taking something away from some but it is actually right sizing or balancing needs.”

The analogy I use when I’m presenting on racial equity this comes from my spending a lot of time thinking about race over food. (If you missed last week’s blog post, go back and check it out — it is another food and race themed post). I’ve shared this in a couple of other places and it seems to resonate, so I thought I’d share it here too. It isn’t perfect, but some ‘food for thought.’

Equality

Picture of a sandwich cut in half. Text: •Everyone receives the same sandwich
•Everyone receives an equal portion
•The sandwich maker has control/power over what is in the sandwich, no differentiation

Equality is like a sandwich. Cut it half or fourths and everyone gets a fair and equal portion of the same sandwich. This leads to treating everyone the same, no special services, no differentiation, no accommodations for taste, preference, culture, allergies, religion, etc.

It is easy to give everyone the same sandwich. The sandwiches can be made in bulk and on an assembly line, not a lot of extra skills are needed to make the sandwiches.

Equality is easier to understand and apply. But there are limits to equality. Giving everyone the same sandwich, or program or service, often isn’t going to make everyone feel full or whole. People who can’t or aren’t accustomed to eating bread may not want a sandwich. If the sandwich has peanut butter and someone is allergic to peanut butter the sandwich can do more harm than good. Many religions have guidance and practices about what to eat – no pork, keeping Kosher, fasting, celebration foods, etc. Giving everyone an equal portion of the sandwich doesn’t account for people who might have just had a meal and not hungry, but someone else may not have eaten all day and may need more of the sandwich.

Giving everyone the same sandwich is treating everyone the same and not recognizing the reality of situations. It isn’t taking into account systemic racism that allows for hunger in some and abundance in other places. It doesn’t take into account food desserts where some people don’t have access to fresh produce. Nor does it account for food liberation and allowing communities of color the access to spaces that allow people to create their own foods.

There are better ways to having people be whole and pushing towards justice.

Equity

Picture of different sandwiches, tortillas, salad, bowl of rice. Text: ◦People have what they need to eat a meaningful meal
◦Multiple strategies are used, not every meal is the same
◦We support the people to achieve their potential

In the food analogy, equity looks more like a menu of options. In this way people have the agency and power to create their own meal. For people who don’t eat bread, they are now able to create a meal that accommodates their cultures – rice, tortillas, or salads are now available as options. For people who are more hungry because they haven’t eaten all day they can not receive more food, while people who are not as hungry do not need to take as much.

Equity creates multiple pathways towards feeling whole and satiated. We are no longer confined to accepting the half a sandwich we would have been handed through the equality strategy. Equity also allows for people to have more control and comfort in meeting their own needs. We are no longer forced to accept what is handed to us.

Working towards equity does take more thoughtfulness and pre-planning. Creating the options of different meals takes more pre-planning (note I did not say more work, same amount of work, but it looks different). Instead of having an assembly line of sandwich makers, we now have to pre-plan to have several different options available to people. We need to do more front end work, community engagement, to learn what people may want to eat so we can have those options ready. We also need to learn more about the people we hope will benefit from the service so we can meet their needs – what are their home cultural foods so we can incorporate it into the menu, are their religious preferences or restrictions on food, how communal is an eating experience? All of these and many other questions allows us to more fully see people and create better partnerships to work towards racial equity.

Limits to the Food Analogy

This analogy isn’t perfect. There are many things it does not capture, such as historical trauma, systemic inequalities, etc. No one analogy or picture can fully capture a complex concept.

What I hope this gives you is another way to think about the complexities of equity and equality, that more fully encompasses home cultures, religious needs, and other parts of people’s identities that helps them feel whole and seen.



Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

Food, Race, and Learning/Reading

I was planning on writing about something more serious today, but through circumstances (aka procrastinating on Facebook) the topic of food, books, and race popped up. I thought “We need a BINGO card!” So now we have a learning/reading challenge in thinking about food and race.

Why this topic?

Food is an integral part of culture and life. Food helps to define different cultures and literally sustains us. Food can be an expression of love, or it can be used as a weapon against people. If you look back on people of color histories, there is ample evidence of how food shaped who and how we are in the US today. I’m from Hawaii where many Asians migrated to Hawaii to work on the sugarcane and pineapple fields. For many Native and Indigenous people they lost their homelands due to plantations or settlers who took over to farm and ‘tame’ the land. Many African American and Black people were brought against their will to America to work on plantations. For many POCs our migration or place stories are linked to food in some ways.

Food is also an expression of joy and love. During the winter break I ‘researched,’ aka watched YouTube videos, on how to make several Japanese and Okinawan desserts. I enjoyed the challenge and found joy in sharing the experience with others.

I hope this challenge helps you connect with a different part of people’s identities.

A few notes

In the BINGO boxes where it says book, you can choose to make this whatever you want. If you want to read an article go for it. If you want to watch a TED talk on the topic, please do so. My only goal is to get us thinking differently about race and food.

If you need some suggestions about books related to some of these squares here is a list in Fakequity’s Bookshop link (it is an affiliate link).

BINGO
Book featuring a soup from a different culturePicture book by an author of color about food  Cookbook by a Black author  Book about how food is colonized or weaponized against POCs  Fiction book by an author of color centered around food  
Book about noodles or breads from a culture different than your own (preferably POC cultures)Book related to food by a Middle East author  Learn about food as sovereignty or food justice for people of colorFood memoir by author of color  Young Adult book with a food scene  
Cookbook by an Indigenous author  Watch a POC based documentary related to food  FREE — Snack breakLearn about a fruit from Latin America and/or Asia  Read about food insecurity and impact on kids of color  
Food theme or titled graphic novel by author of color or illustrator of color  Read about POC farmers  Book or blog related to food by an Asian or Latinx authorRead about desserts related to ethnic celebrations (e.g. Dia de los Muertos, Tet, etc.)Food as liberation

Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

2021 Culturally Significant Dates

Culturally Significant Dates 2021 — box graphic on blue tones ombre background

Pull out your calendars – here is the Fakequity 2021 list of Culturally Significant Dates.

Even though we’re in COVID19 socially distant times, with none/few in person events, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be mindful of culturally significant dates. It is still important to note them so we can: 1) work with partners to recognize and honor important parts of people’s identities through these special dates, 2) if you are scheduling virtual or other events be sensitive to scheduling on these days, and 3) renew our commitments to learning.

Through putting together this year’s list I added a few new dates that I found through research. Sadly I had to remove a few since I couldn’t find the 2021 dates for some of them. Perhaps you’ll choose a few of these dates and learn more about the day and why it is significant to our relations who practice or celebrate on those days.

This is not an all encompassing listing of dates. Please check with your local community to ask what dates they would like you to be mindful of as you do your work. I’ve also chosen to leave off Christian holidays that show up on many Western calendars (e.g. Valentine’s, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.). While those are important dates to some people, they are easily found dates on US/Canada calendars. The purpose of my list is to highlight dates that are important to many but less highlighted on American calendars.

This list was put together with the help of friends and colleagues – thank you to everyone who contributed to the list over the past few years. There may be errors on the list since I relied on basic internet research. I do not practice many of the religions or understand the depths and nuances of the events listed, which can lead to errors. I made a best effort to get it correct, including in some cases cross referencing websites. If you have corrections please email fakequity@gmail.com.

2021 Culturally Significant Dates

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – 1/18/21
  • Inauguration Day – 1/20/21
  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day — 1/27/21 [added 1/27/21]
  • Lunar New Year (Chinese) – Year of the Ox/ Tet (Vietnamese) / Seollal (Korean) – 2/12/21
  • Mardi Gras – 2/16/21
  • Hinamatsuri – Girl’s Day (Japanese) – 3/3/21 – (annual date 3 March)
  • Maha Shivaratri (Hindu) – 3/11/21
  • Passover (Jewish) – 3/27-4/3/21 ends nightfall
  • Holi – 3/28/21 sundown, ends 3/29/21 sundown
  • Eretria Easter – 4/4/21
  • Baisakhi (Sikh New Years) – 4/13/21
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Easter – 5/2/21
  • Orthodox Easter – 5/2/21
  • Children’s / Boy’s Day (Japanese) – 5/5/21 –annual date 5 May
  • Ramadan – 4/13 (sundown) – 5/11/21 (tentative dates, dependent on the sighting of the moon)
  • Vesak / Vesākha / Vaiśākha / Buddha Jayanti / Buddha Purnima / Buddha Day (Buddhist) – 5/26/21
  • Eid ul-Fitr – 5/13/21
  • Kamehameha Day (Hawaii) – 6/11/21 (annual date 6/11)
  • Juneteenth – 6/19/21
  • Summer Solstice (northern hemisphere) – 6/20/21
  • Hajj (Islam) – 7/17/21 (starts evening) – 7/22/21
  • Eid al-Adha – 7/19/21 (starts evening) – 7/20/21 [added 1/24/21]
  • Liberation Day (Guam) – 7/21/21
  • Enkutatash – Ethiopian New Year – 9/11/21
  • Mid-Autumn Festival – 9/21/21
  • Rosh Hashanah – 9/6-8/21 (starts sundown)
  • Yom Kippur – 9/15-9/16/21 (starts sundown)
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – 9/13 – annually recognized
  • Lotu Tamaiti – White Sunday (Samoa) – 10/11/21 (Second Sunday of October)
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day – 10/11/21
  • All Saints Day – 11/1/21 (annual date 1 Nov)
  • Día de los Muertos – 11/1/21 (annual date 1 Nov)
  • All Souls Day – 11/2/21 (always 2 Nov)
  • Diwali / Deepavali / Dipavali / Bandi Chhor Divas (Sikh) – 11/4/21
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance – 11/20/21 – (annual date 20 Nov)
  • Bodhi Day (Buddhist) – 12/8/21 (annual date 8 Dec)
  • Human Rights Day – 12/10/21 (annual date 10 Dec)
  • Las Posadas and Noche Buena (Christian Latin American) – 12/16-24/21 (annual dates 16-24 Dec)
  • Simbang Gabi (Filipino) – 12/16 – 12/24/21
  • Winter Equinox (northern hemisphere) 12/21/21
  • Hanukkah / Chanukah – 11/28-12/6/21 (starts and ends at nightfall)
  • St. Nicholas Feast Day (Orthodox) — 12/19/21
  • Kwanzaa – 12/26-1/1 (annual dates 12/26-1/1)
  • Orthodox / Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas / Eritrean Orthodox Christmas (Note: Not all Orthodox celebrate Christmas on this day, many celebrate Christmas on 12/25, the 1/7/22 date follows the ‘old calendar’) – 1/7/22

New Years Dates

Western calendars have us starting the new year in January, but for many the new year can start at different points during a year.  Thinking about these new years dates is a good way for us to stretch our thinking from a linear Jan-Dec framework to a different view of time.

Note: A number of the public celebrations associated with these dates are postponed or cancelled due to COVID19. Please consult your local organizations to learn more about how the community will honor the date.

  • Orthodox New Year – 1/14/21 (including even though it passed)
  • Losar / Tibetan New Year – 2/12/21
  • Lunar New Year (Chinese) / Tet (Vietnamese) / Seollal (Korean) – 2/12/21
  • Tsagaan Sar/ White Moon (Mongolian) – 2/12/21
  • Persian Nowruz / Iranian New Year – 3/21-22/21 (According to Google, begins at 4.15 pm on 3/21 ends at 4.14 pm on 3/22) (Follows the March/vernal equinox, first day of spring)
  • Naw-Rúz / first day of the Baháʼí calendar – 3/19-20/21
  • Nyepi Bali Hindu New Year – 3/14/21
  • Ugaadhi / Telegu and Kannada New Year – 4/13/21
  • Baisakhi / Vaisakhi (Sikh) – 4/13/21
  • Thingyan (water festival) / Burmese New Year Festival – 4/13-16/21
  • Aluth Avurudda (Sinhalese New Year, Sri Lanka) – 4/13-14/21
  • Songkran (Thailand) – 4/13-15/21
  • Khmer New Year – 4/13-16/21
  • Bun Pi Mai (Lao) – 4/13-16/21
  • Bengali New Year, Pohela Boishakh – 4/14/21
  • Matariki, Maori New Year (New Zealand) – 7/2/21
  • Al-Hijra / Muharram (Islamic / Muslim) – 8/9-10/21
  • Enkutatash / Ethiopian New Year – 9/11/21
  • Rosh Hashanah – 9/6-8/21 (starts sundown 9/6)
  • Diwali / Deepavali / Dipavali / Bandi Chhor Divas (Sikh) – 11/4/21
  • Guru Nanak Jayanti (Sikh) – 11/19/21

Monthly Recognitions

  • January – none
  • February – African American History Month
  • March – Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
  • April – Arab American Heritage Month
  • May – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month
  • June – LGBT Pride Month
  • July – Disability Pride Month [added 2/3/21]
  • August – none
  • September – Hispanic Heritage Month (15 Sept – 15 Oct)
  • October – Disability Employment Awareness Month, Filipino American History Month, LGBT History Month
  • November – Native American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month
  • December – none

Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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The Children are Watching and Listening

Artwork from Amplifer Art by Rommy Torrico

Like many others I’ve been dipping in and out of reading and watching the news following the second impeachment trial of President Trump, the cleanup of the US Capitol after the terrorism and violence of last week, and the planning for the future with the incoming President and Vice President. All of this on top of the backdrop of COVID, remote school, and daily life.

For many of us being home means we’re also around our kids a lot more, including young adult or adult children who may have come home from college or otherwise since normal routines are disrupted at the moment. Tonight, I was joking with my youngest that she’s been in many of my work meetings. Because I often use an earpiece she only hears my side of the conversation, but I know she’s watching, as is my older kid who feigns interest but I know he is absorbing conversations and watching our actions.

During last week’s violence on the US Capitol, we didn’t hide the news from the kids, but I also don’t try to put it in their faces either. We turned on the TV news in short spurts to see what was happening, then turned it off. Yet even with this brief amount of exposure both kids understood and absorbed what was happening – the children are watching.

They are also learning how we respond.

How we act

A few years ago, I was at a youth soccer game and a fight broke out between the coaches. It was predictable – google youth coaches behaving badly and you’ll find videos of coaches calling each other out, getting into each others faces, and hopefully someone stops them before physical violence breaks out. I naively thought since this was 9 year olds playing soccer on a sunny chilly day we’d be spared the fighting. I heard the argument before I saw it, something in me knew to start creeping from the far side of the field where I was standing by myself to get closer to the sideline. At some point I physically got between two 5’11’ to 6’0” male coaches (I’m 5’1”) and yelled at them “The children are watching YOU! You have 9 year olds on the field – cut this shit out!” they both simmered down and the game went on. There was still tension all around.

After the game I tried to confront both coaches. The coach of the opposing team was willing to listen to me. He was physically taken aback when I called him out and said what I saw was toxic masculinity. He really couldn’t believe a women, or an Asian, was using that language with him. I wanted to say white toxic masculinity, but that would have been too much.

Writing this blog post and the violence of the past week made me think about this incident. The kids on that soccer field watched two white males get into each others faces. They also didn’t see any others who were closer than me step in to de-escalate the situation before it got to that point. I think the coaches did shake hands at the end of the game and I think the coach of our team apologized at the next practice, however my kid and I weren’t there since I needed space and was upset at how the coaches handled the situation. I told my kid it was my job to keep him safe, he didn’t see much of the fight but understood something had happened. Children learn how to handle conflict and resolution from watching those around them. I wonder what the other kids on the team learned that day. They didn’t learn the joy of sports or witness meaningful conflict resolution – that I know for sure. I wonder how many of their parents even talked about the fight with their kids and linked it to race, I doubt any of them.  

What works

This week I was also hearten to see people step up and step into roles where they could make a meaningful difference. My friend and colleague Vu wrote in his blog NonprofitAF how to be more thoughtful in our communications when responding to this or other tragic events. Kaitlin Kamalei of the Colorful Pages blog quickly put out this book list to help educators process the violence with their students. Kaitlin Kamalei did this after working a full-day as a teacher.

In my own living room, I listened to my kid tell her teacher what she knew about the violence. She also spoke with conviction about what she knew about the Black Lives Matter mural painted on the DC street and made a clear connection of how it was in opposition to Trump. Her teacher created the space for this conversation. I sent him a thank you email and as a way for me to support him offered to purchase books for his classroom about democracy – too late for this conversation but these conversations are ongoing.

If you haven’t had a conversation with a kid (doesn’t have to be your own) about what they know about race, violence, national politics, please do. Talk about it at a personal level — feeling included, caring for each other, etc. Also talk about it at a community level, make the connection to systemic changes — voting, education, health care, tax reform, etc. Kids need to learn how to care for others and the broader community and they need to do it with an awareness of race. If you’re not a parent or around kids, check in with someone who is in closer proximity of kids. They may need someone to talk this through with before talking to their own kids — we all have a responsibility here.

As someone reminded me today, we aren’t going to get there by doing one thing and saying “Ok we did one thing,” the question is where are you on this journey and what else can you do?*

(*POCs this question is more for our white colleagues and friends. As POCs we carry different burdens and there are times we can step back to rest, focus on our own, or just be still.)


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

Fakequity Pledge 2021 — Reset

Image: Box with words Reset 2021 Fakequity Pledge on ombre brown and black background

How is your 2021? A friend shared seven days in and it feels like a bad hangover from 2020.

I started thinking about this post before the violence in the US Capitol earlier this week. While many people are still processing the events, I hope this post indirectly helps us move forward.

This year I decided to give the Fakequity 2021 pledge a theme – Reset. It felt like as we closed out 2020, 2021 would be a time to reset our lives and relationships. For me the forced upon changes from COVID brought about a lot of resetting: reassess and rethink how we do meetings, reset relationships that pivoted to virtual, reset how I spend my time. This year I hope we can reset and be more intentional with how we think, behave, and act regarding race. The violence in Washington DC this week shows as a nation we need to reset how we live if we want to be in a racially just nation. It also shows the status quo and not acting cannot be the norm any longer.

This is meant to be a starter list of things to consider and act on. They aren’t meant to have to be done all at once, pick a few to try and see how it works out. My friend Kristin reminded me that neural pathways are like freeways, they are designed to keep us on a certain path. Anything we do to change them takes time to recode and rebuild – doable but it takes time and conscious effort. Choose a few, reset your ways, then build upon that with a few more pledges. Bring others along with you for some of them, for others you may need to reflect before you’re ready to talk and act – it is your journey to shape and set.

Relationships

  • Reset the expectations we have for each other about race: Are you expecting too little of coworkers, friends, and family?
  • Reset the expectations we have for each other about race: Are we expecting too much of others, especially POCs who may have a different lived experience then us? Are you expecting more work produced from POCs but allowing white people a pass? Are you expecting POCs, especially Black and Brown people to take on emotional labor or explaining race with no compensation or relationship in place (extracting expertise)?
  • Reset our relationships within meetings – Meetings are a place where people gather to problem solve and work through differences. What is it about meetings that make some easier to be in and some challenging? As we move through 2021, let’s reset meeting norms to focus on the needs of POC, especially for people who are often marginalized in meetings – Black, Indigenous, immigrants, people who are not fluent in the dominant language spoken, and people with disabilities. Reset how you facilitate your meeting to create more space for POCs.
  • Performance vs Substance – Reset your expectations of organizations and others around their words and actions, especially in social media posts. Statements condemning violence, racism, etc. are so 2015 and no longer enough — show us your actions, be explicit in how you will get to the root of racism. Reset your expectations to make changes, not just empty words. If you can’t do that then stay still and learn before going for performative actions.
  • Accountability – Reset who you are accountable to and why – think about this through a racialized lens – what POCs are you accountable to? What Communities of Color are you accountable to? Reset who you hold accountable and make that known to them – white people think about this within your white circles.
  • Reset relationships within your work, volunteer, and other professional circles – Are the organizations you’re spending your time with undoing institutional racism?
  • Reset your expectations of joy — Are you in spaces that allow for the celebration of Black and Indigenous people? I’m not just talking just during Black History Month, or the one-off events, but everyday can POCs authentically celebrate each other?
  • Work to understand disability justice and how ableism manifest. What actions can you take within your work, volunteer, and personal relationships to be an ally or supporter of people with disabilities? What resets do you have to make to be in more just relationships with people with disabilities?
  • Reset your expectation to always do things and be helpful, especially to people of color. We don’t always need your help. Reset your need to be centered, be helpful, be the leader. Sometimes the best help is to be still and listen and to reset your own behaviors.
  • White people — Reset your expectations around learning from people of color. I was once in a meeting where race-based breakout groups were used. Some of the white people were visibly disappointed to have to leave and not ‘learn’ from the POCs. We’re not here to perform for you – you can learn about race from other white people.

Place

  • 2020 was the year of staying in one place, in 2021 can we deepen our connections to home and place. Pledge to deepen our understanding of what place means to Indigenous people and communities of color.
  • Pledge to visit a new place within your community and understand its racialized history – parks, school building, etc. Every place has some tie to race, even within “white communities” understand how it became understood to be seen that way. When we do this, we reset our understanding and connections to place.

Language and Media

  • Reset norms of understanding the news – Do you follow POC voices in the news media? With the internet age of media it is easier now than a decade ago to find and follow Black, Indigenous, and POC voices in the media. Find trusted POC voices and support their journalism. The terrorist events at the US Capitol this week show how important it is to find accurate and diverse media to understand what happened more fully.
  • Stop using the word equity if you don’t mean racial equity. If you mean another form of equity be explicit. If you mean equality, say equal. Pledge to learn the difference between equality and equity.
  • Reset language norms to be clear and concise and mindful with your language. If you mean Black people say it. If you mean racial equity, use those words.
  • Reset your expectations around racist language – Racist language is overt and covert. Do you allow covert racist language to go in the sake of “keeping the peace?” Do you challenge your own thinking about white normative language and we expect others to conform to it?  
  • Think about your reading, media/TV, podcast, social media list – What are you missing – youth voices, Black and Brown voices, immigrant, body positive, authored by people with disabilities?

Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alessandra P., Alessandra Z., Aline, Alison F.P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy H., Amy P., Andrea, Angelica, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barrett, Brad, brian, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Carmen, Carol, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S., Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Dan, Daniel, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Don, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Elizabeth, emily, Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, Francis, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jaime, Jake, Janet, Jean, Jeanne, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Julia, Karen, Kari, Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie B., Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kimberly, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lyn, Lynn, Maggie, Maka, Marc, Mareeha, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Melissa, Meredith, Michael, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sarah B., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah S., Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan U., Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Titilayo, Tracy, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvette,

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

2020 – The Year that Can’t End Fast Enough

Picture taken on a December 2020 walk — overlooking Puget Sound

Note: I’ll be taking the next two weeks off from writing. There is a slim chance I might put out a blog post next week, but also reserving the right to not if I decide to catch up on Queen Sugar and the latest season of Star Trek instead. See you in 2021.

It is December 2020. The year that can’t close fast enough for many. It’s been a doozy of a year. A lot of hardships but also some gifts. One of the ‘gifts’ I got this year was the gift of time and the gift of walking sometimes running with a very energetic and active puppy. During one of these runs I started making a list of things that sucked about the year, but also a list of things that I hope will continue.

Things I can now be done with:

  • Sourdough – I’ll keep the starter going just because, but really that bread is sooo fussy.
  • White males being the first on Zoom calls to raise their hands to speak – trying to be so polite in wanting to participate.
  • White women who praise efforts as “wonderful” because they have never thought to do what pocs are doing, but then push back when we tell them they need to change. I saw this more this year than in the past, don’t know why.
  • Air pollution – remember those September days where the air was so bad we couldn’t go outside? I really hope 2020 is a reset for the way we treat the environment. I just read several books to my kid about climate migration. Indigenous people worldwide are losing their ways of life because the way those of us with economic privilege live.
  • Driving – It has been nice to not have to commute everyday but still be ‘worky productive.’ Hopefully, my carbon footprint is a little lighter this year and will stay this way in the future.
  • Alarm clocks – I haven’t set mine since late Feb. Can’t say I miss this.
  • Progressives who are only progressive when it benefits them – How many times this year have we heard arguments for something that sounds progressive but have it stalled because others aren’t ready to give it a try?
  • Zoom bombing — Tonight my kid in passing said one of his classes was Zoom bombed by a racist. It sounded like a childish prank, but still unpleasant for everyone. Along with this, can we be done with blaming technology for Zoom bombing and saying it is really racist who should be blamed. No amount of online security will thwart people who want to commit racism.
  • Toilet paper hoarding – But I have learned to keep a stock on hand and not let it run too low.

Things that should continue:

  • Black Lives Matter – The BLM movement over the summer reminded many of us we cannot stop the fight for Black liberation. I hope we haven’t already moved on because sports is now back on TV and we’re not stuck watching marble racing on ESPN. (If you haven’t watched marble racing give it a try, it is oddly fascinating.)
  • Mutual aid – The mutual aid networks of supporting each other have been heartening to watch. I’ve enjoyed hearing how people are helping each other in different ways – families cooking for each other, picking up food for others because another person is working, sharing books or other resources. These networks have always been there, but COVID brought them some sunlight.
  • Toilet paper sharing – I plan on taking a few of the rolls and placing them in Little Free Pantries around my neighborhood or donating them to the food bank. I hope you’ll join me in sharing your extras with others.
  • Following the lead of Black and Brown leaders for criminal justice reform, voting reform, and justice.
  • Get Out the Vote movements – I wrote over a 1,000 voter reminder postcards this summer and fall with MomsRising.org and a Georgia group. I didn’t set out to do that, but it was an easy way to fill time and to contribute to the 2020 Presidential and local elections. The work needs to continue towards undoing harmful laws that prevent disenfranchised people, many of them people of color, from voting.
  • Zoom meetings – Here is my rationale, online meetings allow many to participate who maybe couldn’t attend before because of time, economic burdens, child care needs, or disabilities. It does take a different skill set to facilitate and participate online, but the more we practice and the more we’re uncomfortable the better we’ll get at it.
  • Long conversations about race and the meaning of race on our lives. I’m grateful to have the time to talk to my kids and others about this in more meaningful ways because we’re not shuffling between activities or packed schedules.
  • Supporting POC owned businesses by ordering takeout, buying gift certificates, and hyping them up.
  • Connecting with the outdoors and learning more about Indigenous cultures
  • Honoring the helpers – We need to continue to honor our essential workers even after the pandemic ends. COVID19 exposed caste and class divides of who is working out of the house and who has the ability to work more safely. Honor the helpers this season and everyday.
  • Wearing a mask and staying home – I’m cool with this for as long as needed. I hope you’ll continue wearing a mask and staying home. COVID19 stats show pocs are disproportionately impacted because many pocs are essential workers, living in multigenerational households, less access to medical care, less access to internet and other forms of information. For a healthy community we need to do our part to keep our poc relations safe.
  • Long walks with the gigantic puppy – I am already fretting the day when I have to go ‘back to work’ and won’t be able to take 2-3 mile long walks with the dog everyday.

Tell me what is on your list of things to keep and things to be done with? I hope you’ll share your ideas with me and each other.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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Holiday Adopt a Family – Does it Perpetuate White Supremacy?

Christmas, Presents, Gifts, Xmas
Picture of three wrapped gifts with fir sprigs on a white background, picture from Pixabay, credit Nietjuh

A friend asked what I thought about holiday adopt or sponsor a family programs. Until she asked me the question, I hadn’t really thought about it. I asked her what she thought, especially as a white ally, she shared she thinks they perpetuate white supremacy culture. When she said that I understood what she meant. Images of the old television charity infomercials with a white person in a third world country or at a hospital asking for people to sponsor a family in need popped into my head. We’re hopefully past these white saviorism charity pieces, but some of the legacy of white saviorism in giving still continues.

Adopt/Sponsor a Family Programs

Adopt or sponsor a family programs are abundant during the holiday season. Many of us with economic privilege want to share our largess whether out of duty, guilt, wanting to feel good, or some other compelling reason to give.

The adopt or sponsor a family programs usually work with receiving a list of items a family is requesting – clothes for the kids, a few toys, maybe some household items (e.g. cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc.). Sometimes the organizers share a little about the family – first names, what the child likes, family circumstances (i.e. mom recently lost a job, family is doing well – they just moved into a new house and need XXX, child is in preschool and loves Paw Patrol, etc.). The unifying characteristics is knowing you are purchasing something and it will be given to someone directly to help them out. The direct aid aspect makes many of these programs appealing to donors. Yet, who benefits from this charity? The underlying question is this perpetuating white supremacy and who benefits? Short answer is yes, and at least for now maybe we still should participate with care.

White saviorism and giving

I am not asking everyone to stop giving to these programs. There is still an immediate need and until we can shift culture to find other ways to take care of people we shouldn’t hoard our money and leave others out from receiving items they may really need. I will advocate that we do so thoughtfully and understanding there are ways to lessen white supremacy culture in doing so.

This year I’ve given to a few different adopt a family like situations. In all of the cases I have a personal connections to the people asking and I don’t know the recipients. If I’m being honest with myself, I gave to these because it felt good to tangibly select something and to think a kid will feel good about receiving the gift. I also invited my kids to select a few items from the wishlist and to use their money to buy something for another kid. It was easy, I could do it COVID safely from the comfort of my laptop, and I was done within minutes. My self-interest of feeling good, not doing hard work of understanding issues, or having to volunteer long term, is tied within my adopt a family gifts. I don’t have to exert any additional effort to help – find the wishlist, choose a few items, hit pay, and the gift is sent to the organizers who actually do the harder work.

There are extensive articles about how giving charity versus other forms of support are not helpful. Having outsiders come in and give without understanding a problem then leaving is ripe for perpetuating cycles of poverty and white supremacy culture of leaving a mess behind. Often, adopt a family programs are a one-time holiday help – important to make sure families are taken care of especially during a time of year where we want everyone to celebrate and feel good. But remember there is need year-round and these programs don’t solve underlying problems of poverty, inadequate resources, unemployment, underfunding of critical services, etc. These problems need to be acknowledged when we give in these ways.

Cash Aid, Trust, and Systemic Reforms

One of the reasons I’m not advocating for stopping adopt/sponsor a family programs is we still need to shift culture and put programs in place that build towards more systemic reforms. If you purchase items from a wishlist or giving tree, I hope you will also consider supporting families through cash aid programs through trusted partners as the intermediary. Working through a nonprofit or an intermediary adds a layer of safety for both sides. Earlier in COVID a friend passed through money to me with the instructions to give it to others in need, no strings attached and no reporting. I worked with colleagues to make several $200-400 donations to people — no strings, I didn’t even know the names of the recipients, just trust between me and my colleague to get the money to the right place and people. Many direct service nonprofits know families who would benefit from cash aid or other similar cash aid programs such as rental assistance, utility assistance, food vouchers, gift cards, etc.

Cash is the best form of support since it allows families to have choice and self-determination in what they need. Many of us with economic privilege take the ability to choose for granted. Choice gives us flexibility to do what we feel is best and this isn’t the same across economic levels. Such as, as a gift giver how much pride do you feel when you choose the ‘just right’ gift for someone you care about? Shouldn’t a parent have that same joy in choosing a gift for their own child versus picking up gifts chosen by others and being told to feel grateful. (Many programs ask families to provide wish lists, but that is beside the point of allowing true choice.)

Many times, the cash aid can also help to boost the immediate economy around the person since the money can be used to shop at local stores and within the recipients immediate networks. This has an added bonus versus over giving a one-time toy or item that is already purchased outside of the recipient’s area.

We also need to trust the people we are giving to, whether it is through a non-profit or in the rare cases directly to a person that they will do what they feel is best. When we give, we need to give freely and trust the recipient to know how to use the money even if the decisions might not match how we envision it being used. This is very counter to the Western/paternalistic beliefs of white people knowing best and imposing the white dominate culture of directing Black and Brown or poor people how to live their lives (for more on this read the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson).

If you are adopting/sponsoring a family, I also hope you’ll take some time to learn about tax reforms (sounds boring, but is so important), direct cash aid programs, voting rights, etc. All of these, and many others, provide systemic changes impacting many more people then buying for one family can provide. These policy changes take long to pass through legislative bodies, but it is important to see them through. This is why I’m saying continue to give as you can at your local level, being aware of how privilege and potentially saviorism can play into it, and at the same time advocate for systemic changes.

Finally, if you have the means to give, please continue to be generous. Right now, especially with COVID continuing, there are many families who need support. Many POC families who were ok a year ago have had their hours cut due to the pandemic (i.e. Uber/Lyft drivers, housekeepers, etc.) and need financial relief. Find a POC led and embedded organization, contact your local public school, food bank, or ask around and I’m sure you’ll learn of the needs in your community. Once you find the need make sure you are giving in ways that support POCs and not perpetuate white supremacy.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

50 Books for 2021

Picture of mugs saying: “Read Rise Resist”

Normally this time of year I’d write a POC shopping guide. Thankfully, this year there are others who are writing those guides so I’ll defer on writing it. If you are stuck for ideas this year feel free to check last year and the previous year’s shopping guides. The Intentionalist is a great website to find POC owned businesses and Equity Matter’s POC map is also very helpful to finding POC businesses.

Instead of writing a shopping guide, I thought I’d share a list of 50 books to consider reading in 2021. The list is a mix of books, some newer releases, some older and worth revisiting. Hopefully you’ll find something on the list that might inspire or at least interest you.

If reading is a challenge for you (e.g. time, learning disability, language, etc.) feel free to use this as a jumping off point to find the author’s talks on online, the audiobook version, young adult version, or a short article – this is for you to make your own.

I’ve done my best to note the author’s race and ethnicity, and in a few cases denote if the book is about disability – these categories are what I know through research of the authors, apologies if I erred on any of the categorizations. I thought about removing it (safer route) but chose to leave it to help people see where they might want to pick up a book to help diversify their own reading.

Special thank you to friends and colleagues who contributed to this list. I asked for recommendations to provide a more diverse list of books for you to choose from, you’ll see my book biases come out below. I haven’t read all of these and look forward to diversifying my reading list through some of these suggestions. I’ve put them in Fakequity’s Bookshop store front.

Children’s

I read a lot of children’s books and thoroughly enjoy many of them. Some I borrow from the library because I think my kid would enjoy them, others I borrow because I want to preview them, and some I borrow for the illustrations. I’ve included two books about Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris, because they are timely.

It’s Shoe Time – I like this book because too often we only see Black children in books about civil rights, history, or nonfiction. Here we see a Black child in an everyday setting putting on shoes.Collier, BryanAfrican American/Black
Meet Yasmin, seriesFaruqi, SaadiaMiddle Eastern – Muslim
Kamala Harris Rooted in JusticeGrimes, NikkiAfrican American/Black
Superheroes are EverywhereHarris, KamalaMixed – African American/Asian
Imagine — poetry Herrera, Juan FelipeLatinx
Journey of the Freckled Indian: A Tlingit Culture Story — I just read this and am in love with it. The positive identity message is important for mixed-race, POC, and white children.London, AlyssaNative American – Tlingit/Indigenous
Ohana Means FamilyLoomis, IlimaPacific Islander – Native Hawaiian
Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away — Another recent gem. The prose in this book make it a delight, despite the sad topic of friends moving apart. This is a great book to have in a classroom library.Medina, MegLatinx
Be Bold! Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made US HistoryReynoso, NaibeLatinx
When We Were Alone* — This author has several new releases that look interesting, check them out tooRobertson, David A.Native American
The Most Beautiful Thing – This is an intergenerational story about an immigrant family, a lot to unpack in this picture bookYang, Kao KaliaAsian – Hmong
Malala’s Magic PencilYousafzai, MalalaMiddle Eastern – Muslim

Fiction

Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of fiction which is apparent in this short list of books. Many of these suggestions came from colleagues and friends who adore fiction the way I adore children’s books and non-fiction.

Sabrina & Corina: StoriesFajardo-Anstine, KaliLatinx
Where We Once BelongedFigiel, SiaPacific Islander – Samoan
PachinkoLee, Min JinAsian – Korean
Rolling the R’sLinmark, R. ZmaoraAsian – Filipino
The DeepSolomon, RiversAfrican American/Black
How Much of these Hills are GoldZhang, C. PamAsian

Graphic Novels and Graphic Memoirs

This past summer I re-read a lot of graphic novels with my older kid. Through this medium we were able to talk about history in ways that connected with him. Please make sure to pick up the newest from the list When Stars are Scattered. I’ve ordered multiple copies of this as gifts this year, partially because I know the recipients haven’t gotten it in the past from me since it is new.

Good TalkJacob, MiraAsian – Indian
March 1, 2, 3 — Worth revisiting since Rep. Lewis died earlier this year. I learned a lot rereading this trilogy during the summer.Lew, Rep. JohnAfrican American/Black
When Stars are ScatteredMohamed, OmarBlack – Somali refugee experience, Disability
They Called Us EnemyTakei, GeorgeAsian – Japanese
Trickster: Native American Tales, a Graphic CollectionDembicki, Matt (editor)Native American/Indigenous

Nonfiction

This list is the longest, partially because I asked friends and colleagues, including white allies for their recommendations on books to help other white people learn about race. Nonfiction came up a lot in these recommendations. I specifically said POC authors only, so hopefully this will give you some new authors to learn about race form. An asterisk (*) next to the title means this is recommended for white people as a place to begin learning more about race — consider it a white people to white people recommendation.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide*Anderson, CarolAfrican American/Black
The Undocumented AmericansCornejo Villavicencio, KarlaLatinx
Are Prisons Obsolete?Davis, Angela Y.African American/Black
Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary IranHakakian, RoyaMiddle East — Iranian
Braiding SweetgrassKimmerer, Robin WallNative American – Citizen Potawatomi /Indigenous
Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty QuestionsLuiselli, ValeriaLatinx
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies*Menakem, ResmaaAfrican American/Black
A Promised LandObama, BarakMixed – African American/Black and white
So You Want to Talk About Race*Oluo, IjeomaAfrican American/Black
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It MattersParker, PriyaAsian – Indian/White
Care Work: Dreaming Disability JusticePiepzna-Samarasinha, Leah LakshmiDisability
The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing*Singh, Annelise A.
24 Ways to Move More: Monthly Inspiration for Health and MovementTsong, NicoleAsian
Men We Reaped: A Memoir*Ward, JesmynAfrican American/Black
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration*Wilkerson, IsabelAfrican American/Black
Caste*Wilkerson, IsabelAfrican American/Black
Disability VisibilityWong, Alice (editor)Asian – Disability

Cookbooks

I love a good cookbook. The bright pictures, the short narratives about the food, people, and cooking techniques. Even if I don’t cook the food in it, I appreciate the care and stories that are interwoven between the food pictures and the recipes. Additionally, pick up Pieometry by Lauren Ko. It didn’t make the full list since I haven’t been able to look at it yet, it still on hold at the library, but I love the author’s Instagram page and many others have raved about it.

Chinese Soul FoodChou, Hsiao-ChingAsian – Chinese
The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous KitchenSherman, SeanNative American/Indigenous

Poetry

This is another category I don’t read a lot of so the list is short. Send me your recommendations for poetry by POCs.

An American Sunrise – PoemsHarjo, JoyNative American/Indigenous
Minor FeelingsHong Park, CathyAsian – Korean

Young Adult

Young adult books are a joy to read, I hope you’ll pick up all of these.

Stand Up Yumi Chung!Kim, JessicaAsian
Mulan: Before the SwordLin, GraceAsian – Chinese
Ghost Boys*Parker Rhodes, JewellAfrican American/Black
Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten BlocksReynolds, JasonAfrican American/Black
Stone River CrossingTingle, TimNative American/Indigenous

Bonus Book!

Santa’s Husband – Pickup this book to challenge all of the Santa bias’s you have. In this book Santa is Black and married to David. This is becoming the annual Christmas book I read to my kid.  


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. Please note at this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.