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
  • 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 April
  • 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
  • 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 – none
  • 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.

Land Acknowledgements

Note: No blog post next week. I will be taking the week off. See you in December.

Photo of coastal beach rocks, sand, and a tiny plant popping up. Photo copyright Erin Okuno

Next week is US Thanksgiving holiday. This is a holiday that is problematic for many since it celebrates the colonist mindset and many of the Thanksgiving stories, legends, and beliefs are myths. Many consider it a National Day of Mourning, and fast on the day.

November is also Native American History month. I need to learn more about Native American and Indigenous history, customs, and ways of being. I am fortunate to have many friends who share their cultures and customs. It is always best to learn directly from people of a culture, so whatever I write next please know I am writing as a third party to share what I have learned through research and listening, and I am sharing it as a way to document my own learning not as a substitute for learning from Indigenous people. Please do not expect Indigenous people to teach you. It isn’t their job to teach just because they are Native or Indigenous. If they do share knowledge of their culture, it is a gift for us to receive.

One of the practices I’ve witnessed and participated in over the past few years is making land acknowledgements before meetings or events. This has become a more common practice over the years, especially before the start of large public events. I’ve started to do more learning on land acknowledgments, including their history, how they are put together, and how as a non-Native person I can work to be in more just relations with my Native and Indigenous colleagues when I make a land acknowledgment.

History of Land Acknowledgments

From what I learned land acknowledgments are a modern invention brought to the US via Canada. In Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation process, based on the process South Africa used to heal after apartheid, there were 94 recommendations. Many see land acknowledgments and acknowledging the Indigenous people who were forcibly removed, their land stolen, and their rights stripped away as the start of implementing many of these recommendations.

Hailey Tayathy (they/them), a member of the Quileute Nation, shared at a Town Hall presentation they traced the practice back to canoe landings and the protocols used to ask permission to land a canoe on someone else’s territory. This includes asking permission, naming who’s clan and family you are from, and an acknowledgment as a guest on someone else’s land you will act with respect. They note the practice of land acknowledgements may be different in other parts of the country/world since Indigenous people have very different practices in other places.

Earlier today a colleague, Rosemary, stayed online for a few minutes after a meeting to say how she appreciated hearing us make a land acknowledgment and as a Native person she often ties the acknowledgment with how she introduces herself. Her introduction includes sharing her tribe’s name, her clan’s name, naming her parents and elders. She shared how she sees the two intertwined – land and self – and as such acknowledging the land is a way of acknowledging her people.

How to Make a Land Acknowledgement, Especially for Non-Native People

There are many guides online on how to make a land acknowledgment. If you are like me, a non-native person, it is best you read up and really understand the practice before you read a pre-written statement someone hands you. Making a land acknowledgement shouldn’t be made to gain wokeness points or to be performative. Hailey Tayathy reminds us land acknowledgements are meant to be disruptive and to remind non-Native people we are on stolen lands. As an act of disruption a land acknowledgement should not be cheered – sit and contemplate how you have benefited from the land and Native people, give thanks to the land itself, and thank the Native people who have stewarded the land and continue to fight for the sovereignty and health of the land.

Land acknowledgements can also help to center Native and Indigenous people in a gathering. A friend recently told me that after we made a land acknowledgment at a meeting she felt more seen and understood our intentions more. As an organization centered on people of color, that is one of our goals, to put our POC relations first and working to build relationships.

My colleague Heather Miller formerly of Chicago’s American Indian Center talked about how land acknowledgments shouldn’t be pre-scripted statements your organization uses again and again. Heather and her colleagues talked about how they personalize statements and put a lot of thought into each statement they write. Felicia Garcia shared: “The statements are not just statements they are commitments to being in relationships with Native communities.”

Land acknowledgments should educate and share commitments of being in just relationship with the original people of the land, to pay respect to their history and ways of being. My friend James said when he is asked to give land acknowledgments, especially as a Native person, but guest on other Indigenous people’s land, he does so carefully. He ask that a donation be made to the Duwamish tribe (in Seattle where we are) and he ask the organization inviting him to give the land acknowledgement to provide copies of the treaties between Native tribes and the US Government. He reminds people that these treaties are our treaties and we need to work to honor the treaties.

As a non-Native person who sometimes makes land acknowledgments I try to share and model what I am learning about Native American and Indigenous culture. For me this keeps my land acknowledgments a living statement and hopefully I am reaching forward to my non-Native colleagues to be better allies as well.

Other learnings I’ve gathered about this topic:

  • Be specific about who’s land you’re on. Do your research and use the name of the tribe, even the Indigenous place name if you can learn it. To make it even easier text this number, (907) 312-5085 with the zip code or city, state (use the format city comma state) and it will text you back with who’s land you’re on (your cellphone carrier may charge for text sent and received). I’ve used it while traveling to deepen my commitment to learning and to encourage my kid’s to learn with me.
  • Land acknowledgments need to be done with respect and be respectful.
  • Do not rush through the acknowledgment.
  • Do not clap or cheer, it is about reflection and learning.
  • Customs and practices may change depending on local traditions. I am writing from the Pacific Northwest and West Coast. A land acknowledgement may look different in the Plains, or in different countries. Please research your local practices. I was raised in Hawaii, and have witnessed acknowledgments in the form of a blessing, chant, or song.
  • Give to Native organizations and people. An acknowledgement cannot just be a statement. Return land to Native communities, share your resources with others – if you something to share (e.g. space, relationships, information, monetary resources, etc.) share it with the Native communities in your neighborhood.

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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Speed of Change

Art from Amplifer Art

Saturday, the election was called for President Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris – the first women VP and first African American and Asian VP. For many it is a relief and there is a hope we can maybe advance initiatives that allow for more racial equity. While we have a lot to be hopeful for, we still need to be on the ground working and continue organizing and advancing practices that promote racial justice.

With the incoming administration there will be change, hopefully more progressive changes than during the last four year where we fought to hold onto whatever scraps we had. A friend shared the saying “change moves as fast as the people involved.” He shared this as we were advocating to support a fellow colleague who is trying to lead for change but meeting resistance.

White People and Change

I’m going to call out white people, change is hard but unless you get your shit together you’re holding others back because of your comfort level. People of color are not out to get you. It may feel that way, but this is where you can check your privilege and accept that change isn’t about you personally. It may feel like you’re giving up something, but also consider it is the system rebalancing and equalizing to be more fair to people of color.

Organizations can only move as fast as the people involved. If people are uncomfortable with the change they will do big and little things to stimize the change. My colleague who is in the organization that diversified its staff is sadly finding out the people involved in her organization weren’t ready for massive change even though they said they are. Is it fair the few, really a small handful, are holding up change for an entire organization? Do we need to cater to the few who want to maintain business as usual in the name of their comfort? The quick answers are no, but in real life we often face resistance to change in overt and covert ways.

Diversity and Resistance to Change

Earlier in the week I was on a call with several colleagues to talk through a pending amendment with a statewide organization. The white leaders of the organization tried to be cheerful about the proposed change but were clearly annoyed. Their covert and overt language, facial expressions, and general uncomfortableness made it clear they are not ready to move ahead. A few snide comments were made, most of them we allowed to pass — if we called out each one of them we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in the conversation. This is where as a POC and as allies, we take the hits, tolerate microaggressions, and suck it up in the name of the bigger prize. It is taxing to have to sit through these conversations that are not designed for POC comfort. During one point in the conversation I got so annoyed I called out the speaker for a tone-deaf comment. It didn’t go well. Their resistance to change, even if they say they are ready, will result, in cycling through people of color and allies because they aren’t comfortable giving up their white norms.

How to Embrace Change

I don’t have a magic formula for accepting change, but here are some thoughts that may help.

  • Start the conversation early with your colleagues, board, and staff, be explicit about using racialized language.
  • Require all employees participate in racial equity training, make sure it is with experienced trainers. If you are on staff somewhere embrace the training and seek to learn.
  • Practice listening.
  • Recognize there will be uncomfortable period. Recognize the change isn’t about you and your comfort. Don’t take it personally, there are a few exceptions if you are part of a group that has been historically marginalized (e.g. POC, LGTBQ, disabled, immigrant, limited English speaker, etc.).
  • Practice going through the changes, if possible – test out some of the changes through tabletop exercises and scenarios, go on site visits or interview others that have made similar shifts, work to demystify the process. The more people can see and understand the changes the easier it is to embrace it.
  • Recognize the competing interest and agendas and be clear about priorities. Have people be clear about who benefits racially from the status quo or changes.
  • If you are on the receiving end of change, be honest with yourself and others about your fears, questions, and what you need to move ahead. Talking can help everyone versus just being resistant and an ass in the process.

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.

COVID – The Next Wave, be prepared

Thank you to everyone who voted or worked to get others to vote. Not everyone has the privilege of voting, so thank you too to our relations who cannot vote but put their faith into the rest of us who voted. As I write we are waiting to learn the outcome for the presidential election. The election brought a level of disruption we hadn’t seen in a long time, which produced the positive result of more people voting – please thank yourself and others for being civically engaged. Keep that disruption going in positive ways to produce the changes we need to advance justice.


Art from Amplifier Art by Dimas Sugih Cahaya

COVID19 has been a huge disruptive force this year. I think back to February when COVID19 was just starting to show up on the front pages of newspapers. Little did I realize it would force all of us to redefine our lives. While this blog post isn’t a deep racial equity post, I’m offering it because many of us work in non-profits or in ways that impact others. We also should remember the impact of COVID19 hits communities differently because of racism in our systems. The impacts of COVID19 are different for nonprofits and government. Nonprofits and government agencies are designed to serve, and because of this we need to be prepared to keep serving in ways that keep everyone safe.

The next wave or surge of COVID19 is starting to hit. I’ve heard from colleagues and friends that people in their families and circles are testing positive for COVID19. This is scary and trying for many. This is also the time when we need to not-freak out and focus on taking care of ourselves and each other.

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about emergency planning for nonprofits. Now is a good time to review it and to start asking your staff to help plan for the next wave of COVID19. In this post I’ll share more questions and thoughts to plan for the next phase of COVID19 as it impacts our nonprofits and organizations. A colleague who worked with me in event planning once told me: “Sweat more in peacetime, bleed less during wartime.” While this isn’t war and peace, the sentiment of planning more now will help when we’re in the depth of winter and fingers crossed without a spike in cases or other natural disasters.

Questions to Help Us Plan for COVID19 Surge:

  • Does your staff NEED to meet in person? Please do not have people work in an office or together if they don’t need to. Don’t take a risk you don’t need to.
  • Do your staff and colleagues know the signs of COVID19 and flu? If not send out a memo/email with information (e.g. links) from credible sources (i.e. public health organizations, credible news sources, etc.) and translated in languages people are literate in. If there is any question about literacy, provide video links and allow staff work time to review it. 
  • Provide information about COVID19 testing centers and how to access them. If transportation is a barrier work with the person to find a way for them to get to a testing center that is safe for everyone. Provide sick leave or other paid time if necessary to get tested.
  • Provide credible information to clients and train staff on how to talk to clients in language appropriate, culturally appropriate, and age appropriate ways to understand the risk of COVID19. Build trust with families by having credible messengers deliver these messages. Please make sure you’re adequately compensating staff for their time doing this.
  • If staff and clients need personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies, provide it to them. This may mean reallocating money from other parts of your organization’s budget or seeking outside support.
  • What advocacy do you need to do NOW to keep your staff, clients, community safe, protected, and engaged? Who do you need to talk to now to enact preventatives steps?

Contingency Plans if your Staff Test Positive:

  • Does your organization have a plan for what to do if someone on your staff or their family/housemates test positive for COVID19?
    • Does your staff feel safe reporting this to their supervisors or someone in the chain of command?
    • If they don’t, what steps do you need to put into place to make sure they are safe reporting this information? What trust do you need to build?
    • Do other staff and board members know how to maintain confidentiality about the situation? (Please remember the Asian community in particular has faced harassment and bullying due to COVID19 fears. Staff, board, and those who will communicate on behalf of the organization need to be clear about how to communicate about COVID19 without stoking fear.)
    • For hourly employees, what is the plan if they test positive for COVID19? Can they work from home if they are medically able to?
  • Does your organization have a COVID19 leave policy in place and do staff know about the plans? Early during the pandemic I worked with my board, and with the help of some other executive directors that I trust, we put together a leave policy granting all employees an additional two-weeks of paid medical leave (we probably should have made it three weeks). If you would like to see a version (slightly adapted) of the policy please email fakequity@gmail.com.
  • Do employees and clients know how to apply for Paid Family Medical Leave if your state or municipality offers this?
    • Do employees and clients who are not English proficient know how to use Paid Family Medical Leave?
  • Are people within your organization cross-trained on essential functions to keep the organization running? Who knows how to run payroll, access to bank accounts to deposit and write checks, who knows where the logins and passwords are kept? As a funny, not funny story – my organization is 3.5 FTE, two people know how to run payroll – having two people trained on this was important to us during COVID19 disruptions.
  • Is the board up to date on COVID19 contingency plans, especially if the Executive Director or CEO needs to step away due to illness or caregiving responsibilities? Leadership is important during crises, including strong board leadership.
  • Have staff update their emergency contact information and make sure staff know where this information is stored, including the electronic storage of this information.
  • If a staff member test positive, is someone within the organization able to have a conversation with the person to ask what they will need to survive two-weeks of quarantine? Think about language, power dynamics, personal relationships, etc. to keep this a positive experience for everyone.
  • What is your contingency plans incase staff test positive and they have been around clients?
    • Do other staff members know how to communicate with clients in their preferred language?
    • If you close your physical offices do people know how to access services and information?
    • How will you take care of other clients who may have been exposed? Do they have access to testing facilities and medical services if needed?

Services

  • What services are communities of color needing from your organization during COVID19 and a potential surge in cases?
    • Can you meet these needs without being a savior? Who else is working on these plans?
    • What innovations can your organization bring about right now because of the COVID19 disruptions?
  • What needs might be unmet because you’re hearing mostly from the loudest people who have access? Think about immigrants, people with disabilities, foster kids, people experiencing homelessness, people involved with the justice system, families without internet access – how might you hear from them and what might their needs be and respond to their request for services? Who do you need to prioritize at this moment?
  • What core services need to continue? What services can you pause to meet COVID19 surge needs?
  • What human needs do people need from you right now?
    • Do people need to talk, vent, connect? Can you provide a productive and healthy space to do this?

Stay safe friends. We’ll get through this together.


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.

VOTE 2020 — Bonus Fakequity Post

Art from Amplifer Art by Jennifer Bloomer

Today is Election Day 2020. It is and feels like a very important day that many are anxious about. This is a bonus Fakequity blog post to remind people to turn in those ballots if you have a mail-in ballot or to get out and vote if you are eligible and able to. Stay safe as you vote – wear your facemask, give each other space (literally and figuratively), and check in on your friends and family to make sure they have a voting plan.

To bring a little levity to election day 2020, friends shared their stories of learning how to vote. I hope you’ll share your voting stories back with us, fakequity@gmail.com or post it on one of our social media sites. The more we talk-story about voting the more we create change.

School and Mock Elections

Many people shared that civics education in school is important. Several people talked about mock elections in schools where they held elections around the presidential election. My friend Stacy said she didn’t know either candidate (she was in elementary school) so she went home and asked her parents who they planned to vote for. Nisha shared how she voted in a mock election and when her candidate won in real life she was elated. Teachers and educators have incredible influence over civic participation. I hope all of my teacher-friends feel supported in talking about elections. I also hope we as parents support our teachers in talking about civics, including supporting educators if having open and honest conversations.

Family and Generational Lessons

Another friend, K.Y., shared how her first election was in 2012. As an immigrant her parents didn’t have the right to vote, but her parents still instilled a value of civic participation and patriotism. They wanted to make sure they were contributing to the community. In K.Y.’s words: “Looking back we always talked about paying taxes with the enthusiasm people talk about voting now. As the patriotic thing we do as a family to contribute to the country.” In 2012 she sat down with her mail-in ballot filled it out and mailed it back.

My friend Brooke grew up in a family where politics were always front and center. Her father was mayor of a small town. Today, one of her favorite books to hand out is One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson (young adult version).

Cady shared how her dad took her and her brother to the polling station and they had a special station set up to allow kids to “vote” on their own machine. We also shared a memory of trying to understand the Electoral College and how sometimes a vote doesn’t count. I was telling Cady I tried to explain the electoral college to my grade school kid and didn’t get very far with the explaining and understanding, especially when we also teach “every vote is important,” and “make every vote count,” but with the Electoral College the popular vote doesn’t count as much.

Differences in Politics

Sara shared how eye-opening it was to learn several of her co-workers voted for Bush, despite living in Seattle. This shattered her assumption that Republicans were confined to small towns and rural areas. Now she lives in Portland, I wonder what the update is from that part of the Northwest. Susan, a former colleague who taught me many life lessons, started voting in the 1968 election and hasn’t missed an election since then. She was tired of watching injustices against women and people of color. Linda shared how her parents were secretive about who they voted for, regardless this instilled a lesson of the importance of voting.

Community Affair and Hope

Vivian is from Australia where voting is really simple – show up, they marked your name out of the book of registered voters. It is a compulsory exercise with rank-choice voting vs. the US silly system of winner take all system (watch the Netflix Patriot Act with Hassan Minjah “We’re Doing Elections Wrong” to understand the topic). Vivian was so excited to see her first grade teacher voting at the church across from the school. 

My dear friend Arigin shared how the Obama candidacy “unearthed a feeling of hope that was then followed by a momentous surge of energy from every classmate!” Many of her generation used that election to learn how to be vocal, influence others, and learn about the voting process. Arigin said the following year she VOTED for the first time, in her words: “Then hope happened!” These early years shaped her political values and the importance of voting.

My Voting Story

My mom took me with her to the polling station at a church not too far from our house. It was a state holiday, Hawaii made presidential election days state holidays — something I wholly recommend. I was young between 4-6 years old. We stood in line, got her ballot, and walked into the booth with a a State of Hawaii cloth flag on the front. The voting machine was a punch card machine (the kind that allowed for the now infamous hanging chads). I was playing at her feet looking at everyone else’s feet. I must have nagged her to let me try so she did. I pressed the lever then she said: “You voted for the wrong person,” and had a look of panic. Who knows maybe I threw an election in Hawaii, probably not. That is how I learned how to vote.

VOTE!  

Regardless of who wins this 2020 election we have a duty to talk about voting, elections, and to influence future voters. Here is your 2020 voting action plan:

  • Vote if you can
  • If you can’t vote, explain why to someone so they can vote with your interest in mind
  • Talk about the act of voting with someone else, we need to make this a community wide activity
  • Push for voter reform to allow more people to vote (e.g. immigrants, people involved with the justice system, POCs, etc.). Work for voter reform to allow vote by mail.
  • Repeat these steps often – as the stories above show, voting is ongoing and generational. We need to keep talking about voting.

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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