Who’s In Charge Around Here?

By Carrie Basas

Image description: Hand holding an iPhone screen with the caller ID of “That Disabled Woman Who Wants to Take My Job.” You might want to accept that call.

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Carrie Basas returns to write about disability justice in employment and why we need more people with disabilities in the workforce, especially in leadership positions. Carrie and I talked about this idea last month during Disability Employment Awareness month and I’m happy we can feature it now.


Almost six months ago, I decided to leave government employment to lead a disability rights organization in Colorado. I didn’t want to leave Seattle, but I was growing weary of explaining why disability justice mattered to me. It was fine with my work team, but if I had to interact with people outside my house or Zoom room, I was exhausted. Leading a disability rights organization seemed like the solution to bathing in ableism, even if it meant moving to a city which I still find to be an ugly shade of purple. (I’m working on liking Colorado more, so feel free to convince me to get over my hating.)

In many ways, this move has lessened my anger and angst. As I’ve joked with a few people who have asked me why I went from running an agency focused on alternative dispute resolution to one focused on lawyering up, I had plenty of material to work with after seven years of being friendly and conciliatory. I was ready to sue people. Never underestimate the value of being able to threaten more than a side-eye. 

Part of my fantasy of leading a disability rights legal aid organization was that I’d be surrounded by other disabled leaders nationally who were running similar organizations in their states. Eager for mentorship, I hopped on a listserv of executive directors within the disability rights network and mentioned that I’d like to connect with other disabled executive directors. Two people replied, one of whom I had already met. I knew of another disabled leader in the network and then discovered two more. Total headcount, including me: 6 out of 57. As far as I knew, we were all White, too.

A couple of weeks ago, at a national conference of the network, I scanned the room looking for others with apparent disabilities. I noted only one other person. During a Q&A about a DEI presentation, a few directors mentioned that they focused on hiring disabled people for intake or advocate positions within their organizations. I pointed out that it was one thing to hire disabled folks into our lowest-level positions, but that we needed to be concerned about the underemployment of disabled people and build true leadership pathways. Probably not making any new friends for lunch, I emphasized that I was disappointed and surprised to be in a room with so few visibly disabled leaders. I acknowledged that I could not determine who had disabilities based on just observation alone. However, if we look at other civil rights organizations, we assume that they will be led by the people most impacted, not allies or family members. In response, someone mentioned that they just wanted to be a person, not judged based on what they looked like or a perceived disability.

It’s incredibly difficult to come out about disability when it continues to be so stigmatized, even within larger “DEI” efforts. As a professor, I had countless conversations with students about whether they should reveal their disabilities to others in a field that prized being superhuman and unflappable. I respect people’s privacy needs. No one has a right to go through someone’s medicine cabinet, medical records, or journal. However, if we continue to feel shame and discomfort as leaders of disability-focused organizations, how will anything change? If the very things that we are supposed to fight against every day– ableism, silencing, marginalization, and dehumanization– reside in our daily behaviors towards ourselves, then we are harming others, too. How can we fight against disability employment discrimination, for example, when we can’t be out ourselves as bosses with the most power in our organizations? 

Please don’t take my sadness for anger. I’m disappointed that this position didn’t come with a vast network of cranky crips (cripples)— a term I’ll continue to reclaim. I’m grateful for the work of allies, too, because they have offered mentorship when I simply can’t find people who have similar lived experiences.

My disappointment veers closer to anger when I reflect on the fact that nondisabled folks leading disability rights organizations is “normal” and acceptable. Nondisabled people are often considered most expert in disability rights and justice– everywhere from academia to government, nonprofit to medicine. Why aren’t people up in arms when nondisabled leaders speak for disability communities, yet women would take to the streets– I’d hope– if they were not leading women-identifying organizations? The answer is rooted in a charitable approach to disability that plays on this idea that nondisabled people must speak for and act on behalf of disabled people because they can’t represent themselves. This framework reinforces that it’s the right thing to do by ‘’helping’’ disabled people– knowing what’s best for them, bringing the expertise as someone outside of the experience, and fighting the good fight. Essentially, disabled people are often viewed as incapable, even child-like. That viewpoint reinforces the unemployment of people with disabilities, making it more difficult for employers to find disabled folks to hire– especially in leadership roles.

When I was in the final round of interviews for my current position, I told the recruiter that all I hoped was that they’d hire a disabled person. It didn’t have to be me, but it had to be someone from my community. That’s what I most wanted for this kind of organization because they hadn’t experienced it and it was time. That’s also what I want for organizations not focused on disability– that the crips take over a bunch of leadership roles and make them unapologetically accessible and inclusive. Zoos need us to lead their children’s programming. Intellectual property law firms don’t know what they are missing. I bet most of my medical appointments would be better if my physician was also an anxious disabled woman with a cane, mysterious autoimmune disorders, and a prescription for ADHD medication.

There are more disabled leaders out there than anyone knows. We need each other. I don’t want to force anyone to disclose their disabilities, but I’m here waiting for you. Sure, I’d love to go through a day just being Carrie, but I don’t have the choice. I’m the totality of my experiences, including the differences that others react to on the surface. I would like to be the disabled mentor that I never had. I can’t represent all disability experiences but I know how powerful it is to be 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 pays for back-end costs, research costs, 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 I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Disability Awareness Month – 2022

Fall leaves, two gold leaves on a dark background. Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

I didn’t want October to pass without highlighting Disability Employment Awareness Month and Disability history month in Washington schools. Washington law, RCW 28A.230.158 states in Washington state during October public schools, kindergarten through college, “shall conduct or promote educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of disability history and people with disabilities.” Sadly, few educators know about this requirement and even fewer teach about disabilities during the month.

In the waning days of October, please take some time to learn about disability history. If you’re a Washington educator please remember to highlight disability awareness year-round, not just in October. To get us started I’ll share some resources to help jump-start the conversation about Disability Justice and inclusion.

Blog posts

Guest Fakequity writer Carrie Basas co-authored this post with me at the start of COVID about working from home and accommodations. It is probably time for many of us to give it a review and see how we’re doing, hopefully, many of the things we wrote are not routine for your organization, such as closed captioning during Zoom meetings and providing accommodating scheduling to allow people to take care of their mental health and other needs.

Another Carrie blog post on disability, identity, and some thoughts from kids about disabilities.

Websites and Resources

Washington State Office of Education Ombuds has a really great resource for educators and parents, One Out of Five: Disability History and Pride Project. Topics include – Introduction to Disability, Intersectionality, Disability History in the US and WA, and allyship. There are additional resources for educators or others to dig into.

Disability Visibility Project is a website run by Alice Wong, a very badass disability activist. It is a great website to browse and read more about people with disabilities. It is an online community to create, share and amplify disabled people’s creations and culture.  

Rooted in Rights provides person centered storytelling and accessible digital content around disabilities. Their content has helped to spur conversations and advocacy, including around not blocking intersections.

Books

Here is a short list of a few books to help jumpstart conversations around disabilities. I’ll note the books written by people with disabilities.  

Alice Wong’s new memoir Year of the Tiger is worth reading. She opens with talk about cyborgs and makes it work. She also writes about what it means to be a person of color, Asian American, and what this means to her identity. She also has other books out including Disability Visibility and a teen version. (Author with disabilities.)

Christina Soontornvat, a young adult and children’s author, wrote about Senator Tammy Duckworth’s life, disability (wounded war veteran), and activism in the book A Life of Service: The Story of Senator Tammy Duckworth. I read this with my kid who enjoyed it and I think some of the theme have stuck with her. Senator Duckworth’s memoir is here (author with disabilities).

I haven’t read The Future Is Disabled: Prophecies, Love Notes and Mourning Songs by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha yet, but have long appreciated the author’s activism and some of their other books and work. (Author with disabilities.)

The Americans With Disability Act (ADA) turned 30 last year. Fighting for Yes!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann highlights some of that history in this children’s book.

Keah Brown’s book The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me is on my list of books to read, I hope it will join your list too. (Author with disabilities.)

Heart Berries by Therese Marie Mailhot (Seabird Island Band, First Nations Canada Indigenous) writes about her experience with bipolar II and post-traumatic stress disorder in a way that is neither look-at-me-for-overcoming nor sad to the point where you want to put the book down, instead it is open, honest, and adds an important voice to understanding mental health. [added 10/28/22]


Why I wrote this: It is important to think about and actively work to be allies with people with disabilities. Continuously learning more about disabilities and people with disabilities is important.


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 pays for back-end costs, research costs, 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 I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Nap Time

Picture of a dark black and tan puppy napping on a white pillow/background. Photo by Julia Filirovska on Pexels.com

Most likely no blog post next week. I’ll be on a short break.

It is nap time for me, metaphorically and almost literally (more like bedtime). I got my COVID booster and flu shot yesterday and it knocked me out in a good way. If you haven’t gotten your booster and flu shot, please do. The more of us that are vaccinated the safer it is for the community, and bonus you can take a nap after if you need one, just plan ahead and clear your calendar.

Today’s post is on nap time and the need to rest.

I haven’t put a lot of thought into the topic, but it came up because I know as POCs we often have to hustle and rest can feel like a luxury. Many others have written about the topic so please read or take in their creative work.

For me the topic has come up because I am at an inflection point where I get to look back over the past decade and marvel at a lot of work that was done, take a short break, then jump into a new adventure. A friend told me, begged me, to take a break before jumping into the new adventure. Amy said she recently took a hiatus from her hustle and still draws on that time when she’s feeling stressed.

I also recently talked to a friend who was a former Black Executive Director of a childcare organization. She told me how she finally feels like she can rest on vacation because the organization’s busy periods were often during the normal holiday breaks (i.e. spring break, summer, winter break). She didn’t realize how much of a toll this took on her family until after she left that job. It strikes me as for many of us with privilege our resting is often at the cost of others who work taking care of our kids or other parts of our lives so we can rest.

Other people have mentioned similar stories. Many of us pocs in the nonprofit world hustle hard. We need to rest too and not just on weekends or in short spurts. Many pocs also have outside responsibilities – families, multigenerational families to support, community ties and side projects. These all feed our souls in different ways, but resting and not thinking are good too.

There is more emphasis on resting. The BIPOC ED Coalition recently awarded stipends and respite awards to make it possible and encourage leaders of color to take much-needed breaks and invest in themselves. In looking at the list of recipients I see so many colleagues who deserve a break and this will allow them to take a long break and keep their organizations functioning while they are away. Washington Women Foundation has a Black Women Rest & Repair fund to help find Black women who are doing so much and invest in their ability to rest. Allies, please invest in these programs and find your own ways of supporting poc leaders who deserve a break.

If Naps are Not Your Thing

My not-secret secret is I’m not a nap person. I don’t like taking naps. Once in a great while I’ll nap but it is a rarity – like I got my COVID vaccine and that forces me to take a nap, but generally I’m not a napper. I do like to veg out and mindlessly do stuff and let my brain turn off. Sometimes that means watching non-thinking TV, do a jigsaw puzzle, go to a good yoga class (which I need to get back into, COVID put a stop to this). I quit pretending I’m being productive about this time — no I’m not reading books, not learning a new life skill, no I’m not writing — I’m probably doing something like watching bad TV and enjoying it.

Several years ago, I went to a fab session on mindfulness for POCs. The presenter, a Black mindfulness expert – Mindfulness for the People, talked about how many times the word mindfulness doesn’t resonate with pocs because it sounds too big and daunting – many pocs don’t have the luxury of time or money to go to spa days or fancy retreats. Instead, she offered the idea of radical self-care where we invest in smaller acts that we can embed in everyday lives that are investments in ourselves – taking a mindful walk as part of a daily commute, savoring a peach or favorite fruit, weekly movement class just for you. I hope you’ll find these moments to rest your brain and soul, take that rest.


Why I wrote this: I wanted to think about how we can invest in ourselves by not hustling, and to encourage friends and colleagues to take their well earned breaks too.


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 pays for back-end costs, research costs, 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 I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Indigenous People’s Day book list

Artwork from Amplifer art, a collage of colorful artwork, by Tracie Ching.
Thriving Peoples Thriving Places
The Thriving Peoples Thriving Places campaign was a collaboration between Nia Tero and Amplifier, and uplifts the stories of fifteen Indigenous women leaders from locales spanning from the Philippines and New Zealand to the Brazilian Amazon and the Arctic.
Updated artwork 10/10/22, replaced stock photo with this art.

In honor of Indigenous People’s Day 2022, Monday, 10 October 2022, I’ve put together a bonus blog post. Here is a short list of books for you to explore written by Indigenous authors.

The Bookshop links below are for my Bookshop affiliate; all the proceeds are used to purchase books that are donated to public schools with majority POC student bodies and ‘high poverty schools.’

Indigenous Owned Bookstores:

Please order and shop from Native owned bookstores, here are a few to check out.

Birchbark Books in Minneapolis – Owned by Ojibwe/Anishinaabe author Louise Erdrich Birchbark Books is a gem of an online bookstore.

Nā Mea Hawai’i in Honolulu, Hawai’i translates into all things Hawaiian. The store features art, books, and gifts. I missed visiting in person on my last trip to Hawai’i, but glad they have an extensive website to browse and order from as well.

Strong Nations in Canada features many Canadian Indigenous artist and authors.

I’m excited to find Red Planet Books & Comics. “The only Native owned comic shop in the world,” according to their website.

If you know of other Indigenous-owned bookstores, please let us know, fakequity@gmail.com.

Picture Books

Âmî Osâwâpikones (Dear Dandelion) is coming out soon. I read an advanced reader copy e-book (I always prefer paper children’s books when reviewing since reading is also tactile for children, I won’t comment on the binding, feel, etc.). I enjoyed this book so much, from the inclusion of Indigenous language, to the illustrations, and the connection to nature it was delightful. It also reminded me to slow down and connect with something as simple as a dandelion.

Michaela Goade is well-known for her gorgeous illustrations in other books. Berry Song is her first self-authored book and it is delightful. She tells the story about different berries and how they are gifts from the earth.

I found Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez at my local library on a shelf and picked it up. I learned so much from this book about pottery and Indigenous arts in the Southwest.

Early Reader, Graphic Novels, and Chapter Books

I was skeptical about this book because it comes from the series by Chelsea Clinton, but I’m glad to put that bias aside. She Persisted: Maria Tallchief is authored by Christine Day, a Native American author and it shows through. Pick this up if you have children in your life who are dancers.

A Native American friend in Montana posted this book on Twitter saying it was good. I got a copy from my local library and read it with my kid who loves graphic novels. We both enjoyed Thunderous. Another great graphic/comic Native authored book is Trickster.

This is such an underappreciated book. Stone River Crossing builds off of the picture book Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom. Author Tim Tingle, Oklahoma Choctaw, is a gifted storyteller and it shines through in this chapter book. Both books explore the cross-racial relationships between Black and Native peoples.

Adult Books

If you haven’t read Braiding Sweetgrass yet, please do. That is all. Author Robin Wall Kimmerer has a young adult version of the book coming out soon.

Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s book An American Sunrise Poems made me feel and think. I don’t think I fully comprehended the poetry I read, which means I should read it again. I hope you’ll join me in reading this book of poetry. Harjo and illustrator Michaela Goade (mentioned above) have a new children’s book coming out in 2023 – excited for this pair-up.

Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America is coming out in 2023; based on what I’ve seen of the project this book will be worth its shelf space.

There are so many more good books to share, but I’ll save those for a future list/blog post. Please spend Indigenous People’s Day learning more about Indigenous histories from around the world. This is a very North American, US-skewed list and there are Indigenous people around the world – please share some good titles with me about the Indigenous people where you are – Inidigenous authored or illustrated only books please, fakequity@gmail.com.


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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawai’i; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Bravery as a Word

Picture description: blue background, light skinned hand holding a blue wood sign “Home of the Brave,” red and white beads on top of sign. Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Yom Kippur was earlier this week. During this season of reflection and atonement, G’mar chatima tovah.


The word brave/bravery has been gnawing at me for a few weeks. Specifically, how different race groups use the word or don’t use the word brave. I see the word brave being thrown around a lot by white people. For POCs the word can have a very different meaning.

As an example, recently a white parent mentioned her kid was being brave by attending a sleep-away camp with other kids. I can see how for the family this was a big step for the child. The kid had to face fears and do something different, possibly new, without the comfort of her parents around. Validating her feelings and encouraging the young child was important for a successful camping trip. Or in another example, my friend who is a nurse and volunteered at a pediatric COVID vaccine clinic told me so many of the white parents would praise their kids for “being brave” by getting vaccinated. She said the word was thrown around so much at the vaccination clinic by the white families and rarely uttered by poc families.

For people of color, bravery is very different. Many Black and Brown people don’t have the same luxury of using the word bravery so passively. When pocs use the word bravery, it is often associated with something rarified, challenging on a systemic level, or where they will be in harms way often with dire personal consequences (e.g., protesting, whistleblowing where they could lose a job, facing/challenging an authority figure, etc.).

My friend Kristin, who is an English teacher and loves words, pointed out that technically the definition of brave allows for both uses – big use such as calling out inequities, and smaller uses such as recognizing personal bravery (doing something uncomfortable, i.e. getting vaccinated). She pointed out when enough people use a word a certain way language adapts to allow for the new meaning. I don’t want the word bravery to lose its hard edge in favor centering personal accomplishments such as braving traffic, getting a vaccination, or going to camp.

People of color don’t receive nor ask for the same benefit of being ‘brave’ for everyday actions. Some of the bravest acts I have witnessed have come from pocs who don’t feel they are acting with bravery. They speak up, show up, and act because they feel the urgency to right a wrong and call out injustices or there are consequences for themselves or others. Many of these pocs would not say they acted with bravery – they may say they had to work up the courage to act and recognize the need of others which propelled their bravery.

To say the word bravery is applied equally to both and we shouldn’t judge or equate the two together takes away from the bravery needed by Black and Brown people to survive.

‘That’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave.’

I remember reading that quote in the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. A Black elder Ms. Carr, in the presence of Rosa Parks, told Bryan Stevenson “That’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave” after he explained his civil rights work and taking on cases to overthrow death row convictions.

I want people to act with bravery and recognize we have to do hard things, break rules, and break conventions to end racism. Not every action needs to be labeled as ‘brave.’ Some of the actions could be recognized as courageous, challenging, hard, determined, bold, or even uncomfortable.

We do need to recognize and validate ourselves and each other when we do uncomfortable and hard things – that is part of human growth, learning, and change. My ask is we be more thoughtful with how we racialize words and use words in ways that recognize the racialization of language and be conscious of how words like bravery are not equally used.  


Why I wrote this: Language is important to understanding race and how it impacts people of color. I also wanted to explore the concept of bravery from a racialized perspective.


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 pays for back-end costs, research costs, 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 I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Fill-In the Blank Equity Statement

Picture of a brown headed dog staring, words “I forgot to laugh.” Photo credit EO.

First, sending good thoughts to everyone rebuilding and surviving post-hurricanes — including Pureto Rico and Florida. Having grown up in Hawaii, I remember the devastation that comes from hurricanes. Please find POC non-profits or mutual-aid groups and donate to them. If you’re able donate blood at your local blood bank, please do. Many blood banks are providing mutual-aid to support Florida and other locales.

Years ago Vu, fellow blogger at Nonprofit AF, told me to be funnier. I haven’t talked to Vu in a long time, but with a whole lot of nonsense happening in the world I thought we needed some funny or at least to mock things a little.

This is how NOT to write your organization’s equity statement. I hope you have some fun writing a mock statement just for funsies.

PREAMBLE

We, [INSTIUTION/ORGANIZATION – INCLUDE ACRONOMYN], commit to placing the [NOUN or TARGET GROUP] in the [CIRCLE ONE – FRONT, MIDDLE, OR END] of the [SHAPE]. We’re committed to [VERB] diversity and inclusion for the entire [NAME SECTOR or ALL OF HUMANITY], and to maintaining an inclusive [PLACE] with equitable treatment for [NAME GROUP or ALL].

[INSTITUTION] envisions a [PLACE or TIME] where the [GROUP or ANIMAL TROUPE] has the [COMMUNITY VALUE] to fulfill its purpose and create a [CIRCLE ONE: JUST, CIVICLY ENGAGED, EQUITABLE, or VERDANT] world where [CIRCLE ONE: ALL, SOME, FEW, or NONE] can thrive. We believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity is [CHOOSE: ESSENTIAL, FUNDAMENTAL, NECESSITY, or CENTRAL] to make this commitment a reality.

ACTION STEPS

We have identified [NUMBER] of top-line [CIRCLE ONE: ACTIONS, PRIORITIES, or BELIEFS] that reflect our commitment to [VALUE STATEMENT or SNARKY BUZZWORDS]:

Advancing [FILL IN] – We are committed to [ACTION STEP].

Recognizing [FILL IN] – We recognize [NAME INJUSTICE]

Addressing [FILL IN] – We must [VERB] to undo [NAME HISTORICAL WRONG]. Advocate for [FILL IN] – We will advocate for [FILL IN] with [NAME GROUP] because [VALUE STATEMENT].

[OPTIONAL – WRITE IN YOUR OWN.]

OUR COMMITMENTS

We commit to [VALUE] and [ACTIONS]. They will show up in our work by:

Providing [NOUN or FOOD] to staff, board, and partners.

Challenge our assumption [BELIEF or HISTORICAL EVENT] about what it means to be a [JOB POSITION]. We must [ACTION] and simultaneously humble ourselves to learn from [NAME GROUP or ANIMAL TROUPE].

Recognize and celebrate [ADJECTIVE, preferably ending in -ly] our wins around equity. Working to undo structural and institutional racism is [ADJECTIVE] work and we must celebrate our wins with [FOOD – no alcohol].

As a community of [NOUN] we believe in our [VALUES], our [NOUNS], and ourselves.


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 pays for back-end costs, research costs, 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 I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Break Some Rules

Picture: Scrabble game tiles spelling: RULES, on a window sill. Photo by Joshua Miranda on Pexels.com

A few truths or at least common beliefs:

  1. Rules are made to protect the institution
  2. Rules are often made to maintain the status quo
  3. Rules are often used to control, police, against one group or another, often to maintain white control or dominance

Understanding these truths, it is very hard to achieve racial equity within this framework. In order to get to racial equity we need to break some rules.

Yesterday I was listening to a friend, Katie – a white ally, talk about how she operates within a dominant culture system. Paraphrasing she said she knows in her leadership position she needed to break some rules if she wanted to see changes that promoted racial equity. Working within the current system and with the current rules, it allows racial inequities to flourish. If she wants to see different results she needs to break the rules and norms.

I asked my friend to tell me more about how she breaks rules and still has a job, cause let’s be honest, it is a skill set to know how to break rules for positive results and still maintain employment and a positive reputation. She shared the following insights, that might be helpful for all of us.

First, when I say rules, it doesn’t always have to be a defined rule. Such as within my organization, we don’t have a lot of hard and fast rules to break. What I have broken to achieve different results are practices. Some of the rule-breaking has been, testing new theories or taking on new programs to try new ways of doing thing. By doing this we broke the previous ‘rule/practice’ of inaction.

Know which rules to break and how to break them. Another friend and mentor and elder (she is a baby elder) Paola has a saying: You need to play the game to learn the rules of the game. You need to be in the game to change the game. And you need to get out of the game before it co-opts you.” Apologies to Paola for not getting her brilliance totally right. If you’re going to break some rules, you have to understand of what the rules are so you can figure out which rules have the right leverage in order to achieve the desired results. Choose carefully.

“Is that the hill you want to die on? Cause you’re gonna die on it.” – Katie

My friend Katie tells this to colleagues when coaching them on rule-breaking. Are you sure breaking that rule is the one you want to break, cause if it fails it is your job on the line. Stepping back and figuring out if breaking a particular rule is worth it is an important part of leadership. Are you willing to take a stand and say “Yes, this is the hill to die on.” Sometimes it is ok to re-analyze and say, “Nah,” sometimes following rules and playing the long game to slowly change the system is ok too.

“Are you going to have my back?”

Breaking rules or trying new things can be lonely. Going against the known and social norms is hard, but necessary to achieve different results. For leaders of color, this is even harder to do and more lonely because as a society we marginalize and don’t back leaders of color as much as we do white people. When a white leader breaks a rule and it works they are seen as trendsetting, a maverick. When it doesn’t work many people just shrug and move on. For leaders of color if they fail the consequences are higher and there isn’t as much forgiveness for bucking the system.

This is where we need white allies to have POC’s back and say, “I got you” and to validate the risk-taking with superiors. Maybe that is saying “Let’s try it together” and you put your own job on the line at the same time. Speak up and say, “I think it is worth trying.” Maybe it is being the first to volunteer to go along with the new way of doing something. And give credit where it is due, if the risk-taking works, be sure to give credit to the leader of color for trying something new and do it publicly.

As you break your rules, make sure to do it for the right reason and to achieve the right results. The rule-breaking has to benefit communities and people of color. If it doesn’t you’re promoting more of the same; just let those rules be. I remember years ago a white mom was complaining that the local public pool had a rule if you wanted to sign up for private swim lessons you needed to show up on a certain date, stand in line, and sign up in person. This white mom was upset at what she called an antiquated system of registration. A Black mom pointed out that her privilege was showing. The white mom wanted the system to break and change for her benefit so she wouldn’t have to take time off work to stand in line. The Black mom pointed out that the rules/norms developed because many of the people standing in line knew how to register for swimming in person, not online. They lived in the neighborhood and it was fairer for them to stand in queue than compete for an online spot. The white mom wasn’t having it, but the example shows how important it is to know who you’re breaking the rules for.  


Why I wrote this: Coming up with new ways of working is important to changing systems.


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 pays for back-end costs, research costs, 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 I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Fall Picture Book Recommendations

Light pink box with words: Hello fall books September in multicolor mix font letters

A few days ago, I laced up my Allbird shoes, put on my headphones, and happened to open Twitter which featured a live Twitter space with an author talking about why diversity in books is important. I wasn’t planning to listen in but did and it was interesting. It reminded me to write this part two of last week’s blog post featuring diverse books.

One of the ideas Winsome Bingham, author of the children’s book Soul Food Sunday talked about was cultivating her bookshelf. She intentionally seeks out books and authors to ensure her bookshelf and reading are balanced. As she talked about how she works to fill her bookshelf I could imagine a bright and colorful bookshelf with constantly rotating books on it.

That leads me to share more titles with you, including a few categories I saved for this week. I hope you’ll be like Winsome Bingham and work to intentionally curate your reading, book gifting, and bookshelves.

Picture Books

I LOVE picture books. A good picture book can capture you in five-ten minutes, a commitment without being a long commitment. A good picture book gives you art and opens up new worldviews. Here are a few of my new discoveries. The links in there are affiliate links to Bookshop.org, all profits generated are used to buying books to donate to schools with majority POC student bodies.

Berry Song – It is the end of berry season in many places and this book is perfect for capturing why berries are a deep part of Native and Indigenous life.

Whenever I think about berries, my friend James pops into my head. He’s Ojibwe and would bring strawberries to the office to share. He explained that in Ojibwe they are referred to as heart berries. Knowing this cultural connection and reading Berry Song gave me a deeper appreciation for berries and their cultural importance.

Kapaemahu is a top shelf book, or bottom so kids can reach it and devour it. Earlier this summer I took a trip home to Hawaii and visited the Bishop Museum which had an exhibit connected to the story of the history and past of Mahu and several large stones/boulders that captured the dual spirits of male and females. This book elaborates on the tale and legend. What makes it even better is it is written in Ni’ihau Hawaiian, a dialect of Hawaiian that has been spoken continually, which is remarkable since Hawaiian language was decimated due to colonization and white supremacy in the islands. I borrowed an e-book version from the library and it had an audio reading of the Hawaiian text which made it great to listen to. Here is a link to the PBS YouTube short movie/vid, so worth watching and listening to in Hawaiian.

Three Pockets Full: A Story of Love, Family, and Tradition is a good book for families that want to talk about family change. In the book Beto doesn’t want to wear his guayabera to the wedding. His mother gently coaxes him into a conversation about upcoming family changes. I really liked having this diverse title that brings in Mexican traditions. As I heard on the Twitter chat I mentioned earlier, there are thousands of back to school books – we need them all. We need this story about how families change and representing Mexican American culture too.

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. This isn’t a new book, but I was reminded of the importance of including books about disabilities during an author talk this afternoon. Justice Sotomayor’s book was featured on a book list for children’s books about disabilities and it reminded me of this gem of a book.

I’m often skeptical about football-authored picture books (showing a bias), but I Color Myself Different by Colin Kapernick fills an important niche. In his picture book, he shares his experience of being trans-racially adopted.  

This is an older book that popped up on my LibraryThing recommended book list. I tracked down a copy at the library (it comes with a CD). No Mirrors at Nana’s House shares a story about how a girl discovers her own Black beauty with the help of her grandmother. Intergenerational stories are so wonderful.

I’m making a general assumption many of you reading this are adults. I hope you’ll still pick up some or all of these picture books and read them. Picture books will expose you to art and new stories. The time commitment to read them is short, so invest in a few picture books, then share it with someone else maybe a child or another adult.


Why I wrote this: I love picture books and want to share diverse titles with others. When we read diverse books, we’re also investing in authors-, illustrators-, and stories of color.


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 pays for back-end cost, research costs, 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 I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Fall Book List

square light pink box with words: hello fall books September (September in multi-color font.

It’s September, and many of us are asking how did summer slip away. It feels like it’s been a long week. On Tuesday I popped on YouTube and pulled up Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends which summed up the feelings. To distract from the ugh and blah, including Seattle Storm’s GOAT Sue Bird playing her final game, here is a list of books to distract and enjoy.

Young Adult and Adult Books

Firekeepers Daughter was written by first time author Angeline Boulley. Boulley is from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Firekeepers Daughter is a thriller/mystery centered on Daunis Fontaine, who is half white and half Anishinaabe. Daunis has to untangle a mystery that is made personal and involves people close to her. It took me a while to get into the novel, but once I did I was hooked. I stayed up to 1.00 a.m. reading two nights in a row to finish it – so good!

Simu Liu’s We Were Dreamers autobiography/memoir kept me entertained on many long walks with my overeager dog. I borrowed the audio version from the library and enjoyed Liu’s narration. He shared what it was like to be the only child of immigrant Chinese parents who worked hard and saw a path to prosperity that didn’t match what he wanted for himself. Liu did not gloss over the hard stuff. There were comical moments in the book as well. After listening to the book, I promptly came home and rewatched Shang Chi with my kid and I appreciated the movie even more knowing how Liu worked to get there.

Nikki Grimes is a favorite poet of mine, and her book of poetry Legacy is just that a legacy. Written in the Golden Shovel poetic format it forces you to think. I borrowed the book from the library several times to fully appreciate it. The artwork in the book is fabulous and features full-color art by amazing Black artists.  

I admit I haven’t finished Heather McGee’s fabulous book the Sum of Us, YET— I will read it. But I’m including it because I am listening to her new podcast by the same name on Spotify. I’m so absorbed in the stories she tells from across America and about the solidarity building that takes place to recreate racial justice.

Graphic Novels

Miss Quinces is so fun. I read this with my kid and we were both absorbed in the coming-of-age story. American teen flies to Honduras for the summer and is so bummed to miss the summer with her friends, including no text, phone, or internet. Sue rebels at the thought of having a quinceañera, but learns the value of family and compromise along the way.

Invisible is another Latino/a based graphic novel. This one highlights the diversity of the Latine community. This school-based story brings together diverse Latine students who come together to help a neighbor and the racism and prejudices they face in school. There are surprise twists that show compassion along the way. There are a lot of good jumping-off points for deeper conversations with kids as you read the book.

Komi Can’t Communicate, I cringe at the title BUT sharing it because this manga series is very popular with the upper elementary school student cohort. There is a Netflix series by the same name. Komi is a student with anxiety and doesn’t speak orally or finds it very hard to interact with others. Along with a friend they are on a mission to make 100 friends. I cringe at the title because Komi DOES communicate, just not with spoken language. Saying she doesn’t over emphasizes the social norm of communicating with spoken language. I do appreciate the series is accessible to young kids and talks about anxiety and friendship.

Thunderous was recommended by a friend in Montana who is Native American. Aiyana is annoyed with constantly hearing about Lakota stories, but when she falls she draws upon her Lakota stories to bring her back to the present. A very worthy book with so many different facets to think about.

There are so many other books to include, but I think I’ll save them for another post. Stay tuned for a list of some of my fall fave picture books, a few cookbooks, and other books I ran out of room to add to this list.


Why I wrote this: Reading books by diverse authors is important to learn new ways to think about race and diversity.  


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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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Starting School – Inclusion

Picture of a darker skin tone young kid’s hands writing math numbers. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Students across the US are heading to school again. Many are groaning over having to wake up early again after a summer spent sleeping in. Some students are heading to school for the first time, hooray kindergarteners or first-time students (we shouldn’t assume they are all kindergarteners), and others returning to school or starting a new school. Here are some thoughts for educators and families as we get ready for the new school year.

Inclusion

I’ve been thinking about inclusion and belonging. These two words are so simple, but their concepts are so deep. Schools, especially public schools, are supposed to be a space where everyone is included. Yet creating that inclusion is hard, especially because of the diversity in our schools and the uniqueness of students.

Students are unique and as a teacher friend recently told me “They bring 50% of the curriculum when they walk I the door.” She works hard to recognize and create spaces for her students to bond and meet each other in different ways. My friend told me about how all of the teachers in her grade-band recently did a diversity and equity audit of the books in their classrooms and curriculum. They swapped out certain books to better match the diversity in their classrooms, they swapped out books from the curriculum that were white authored but talking about POC topics, and they weeded the classroom book collections of books that were dated or falling apart. It was a huge undertaking but one they felt good about spending time doing. It also opened up conversations between the teachers which felt good to the team.

I’m a fan of socially engineering brief introductions. Classroom small group work is a great way to introduce new students and to break up cliques. Giving students/groups something to do is a fun way to get people working together – solve a puzzle, build a structure together, play a game, etc. Even giving the students a “job” can help create a sense of inclusion. Having a task to do or a game to play gives the introverts and others a way to integrate into the group.

My kid would also want me to include that sometimes they just want to hang out with the people they are comfortable with and to create their own sense of inclusion. I respect that need for balance and finding their own way of being. As an introvert, I understand the need to relax into a space with people I already know.

Outside of Class Time Inclusion

Inclusion also needs to be felt during other times like lunch periods or recess. Lunch for teens and tweens can be super lonely if you don’t know anyone, don’t speak the dominant language, or are new. If you are a middle school or high school educator, please give some thought to how you can help socially engineer lunch periods for the first few weeks. A teen told me “You don’t know how middle school works, we just want to eat with our friends,” which is true, but that is even more of a reason adults need to intervene to create the right conditions to bring out inclusion. A dear friend and experienced educator shared this wonderful resource – Mix it Up, by Learning for Justice.

My friend Carrie reminds me when we design for everyone, we design for no one. Priya Parker also makes it clear that inclusion means we should purposefully exclude as well even if it feels hard. Public schools are about including every student part of the school community. Inclusion in this case has to be about figuring out what behaviors will not be tolerated (e.g. racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.) and working with the school community to foster different spaces within the larger community for students to find belonging.

Parents and Family Inclusion

Like my teacher friend said half of the curriculum walks through the door. Including families (I use this term broadly) into the school day is a great way to promote inclusion. COVID protocols restricted family engagement in-person at schools, but in other ways it forced the reinvention of how we can include families. Video conferences in some ways made it easier for families to meet with teachers than having to be physically present at school. Family inclusion is also about sharing good news with families, not just when things are hard.

Enjoy the school year. Sending good feels and thoughts to everyone connected to our schools.


Why I wrote this: Inclusion is important to racial equity. Inclusion and belonging foster better relationships which lead to stronger results.


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 pays for back-end cost, research costs, 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 I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.