Celebration in the face of mourning. Love in the face of pain. Connection in the face of fear. This is humanity at its richest. Sharing in that humanity together is the essence of community. The human experience is a story of trauma and tragedy, as well as one of love, connection and hope. As we face the world with our children, and engage in difficult explanations and conversations, we have the opportunity to introduce stories of joy, healing and restoration. As Fred Rodgers famously said, “Look for the helpers.” And if you look hard enough, there they are.
Our history is positively brimming with amazing women who gave their talents to help industries and our society as a whole progress and be more inclusive. Some, we are very familiar with - Harriet Tubman or Susan B. Anthony - and have learned snapshots of their contributions through school or popular culture. Many others, especially Women of Color, are all too often left out of the history books or the mainstream narrative. And that leaves us all the poorer, because we miss out on giving our kids real-life examples of women in different fields, and flourishing in those roles.
Every year, the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) sets a new theme for Black History Month and continues that theme throughout the year. 2019 is the year of reflecting on the Great Migration - the 50 years that saw over 6 million Black people leave the South for the social and economic opportunities the North had to offer. And with the opportunity to better understand the history of our past, we can also use it to help us interpret some of the important trends we are seeing today...what some are calling the “Reverse Great Migration.”
The Novel Neighbor, The College School, and We Stories welcome you to join NY Times bestselling author and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Christian Robinson ("Last Day on Market Street") as he shares his newest picture book, "Another."
Tickets are required to attend the event and include two seats, a copy of "Another," and entrance to the signing line following the author presentation. Additional copies of Mr. Robinson's books will be available for purchase at event. Additionally, attendees may bring one book from home for signing.
WHEN: March 6th - Doors will open at 6:00pm.
WHERE: The College School, 63119
Join Us for an evening of conversation with Scholar, Professor, and Author Margaret Hagerman whose landmark research on white children’s racial attitudes is chronicled in her recent book, White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America.
This is a ticketed event on April 1, 2019 @ 7pm. Price includes author discussion and a signed hardcover copy of Dr. Hagerman's book. PURCHASE YOUR TICKET TODAY!
This truly riveting book is based on two years of research involving in-depth interviews with white kids and their families, is a clear-eyed and sometimes shocking account of how white kids learn about race. In doing so, this book explores questions such as, “How do white kids learn about race when they grow up in families that do not talk openly about race or acknowledge its impact?” and “What about children growing up in families with parents who consider themselves to be ‘anti-racist’?”
Sociologist Maggie Hagerman has been documenting white kids’ racial attitudes over the last decade and is observing a shift from “I don’t see racism or think racism exists” to “I see racism but I don’t care.”
Her research on the dangers of racial apathy serves as one of the strongest calls for our work at We Stories that we’ve seen.
Psychologist Derald Wing Sue explains this same shift and introduces an important concept: instead of a “conscious desire to hurt,” racial apathy conveys a “failure to help.”
Hagerman explains “that failure is twofold: it is not just a failure of action, it’s a failure of empathy — it’s the failure to even care about the persistence and consequences of racism in the United States. This “failure to help” — this failure to concern oneself with the suffering and humanity of others — is a powerful tool, used to reproduce and perpetuate existing racial oppression.”
This underscores what we know and see and fear. Left unspoken, unpacked, and unchallenged we who are not most impacted (white people) become numb and apathetic. We create a normal that accepts, allows, and perpetuates racism. Our children notice. And they do as we do. They fail to help too.
“Look for the helpers” is a quote that is often attributed to Fred Rogers. It circulates via meme every so often on Facebook, usually in response to news that is hard to bear. We’ve always loved that quote and even incorporated it into the curriculum for our Family Learning Program.
And while it is true that Mr. Rogers spoke these words, he didn’t say them first. His mother did.
“Look for the helpers” was what Fred Roger’s mother would tell him when something tragic happened. It was her way of seeding hope for her son when things felt impossibly sad and hard. And that lesson stuck, shaping young Fred’s worldview which he later shared with the world.
The meaning of this quote has deepened as our We Stories experience has grown. You see, we tap into the very same power of parents to shape hope and possibility for the future.
October and November bring us the holidays of Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. Two moments on the calendar that require us to reckon with the way Native people have been treated historically and how we retell that history in the present day. Often times parents find these holidays as their first opportunities to reflect on how to address Native American history and learn more about tribes today. This time of year offers the chance to highlight a counter narrative that Native people are not static - confined to a time in place in history - but dynamic, and very much present and facing oppression today.
Yet confining them to October/November goes to further perpetuate Native people only being present in a specific time - instead of seeing them all around us, all of the time. (And here I am doing just that. I recognize the hypocrisy here, and also firmly believe that today is a great day to start a new pattern of noticing Native voices. #joinme!)
Because we do see Native People everywhere - we just haven’t been taught to recognize their presence. Many states and cities in the United States get their names from the tribes that used to inhabit that land, even Missouri (from the Missouria tribe, present day Ote-Missouria tribe) and Illinois (from the Illini tribe, present day Peoria tribe)! There is so much history that we can be learning about year-round.
The last few months have shown us so many inspiring examples of individual people joining together, in the name of democracy, to fight for the issues that matter to them and to push for racial equity. We’ve seen what the person-to-person, hour-by-hour, small-moment work looks like and how it adds up to big change.
We know that what we say to our kids matters - but what we DO matters more.
We Stories families are raising children who not only prioritize racial equity but who understand the importance and power of civic engagement. Who know deep in their bones that it’s their responsibility to show up and that when 1+1+1+1+1 work together, change is possible.
Because progress needs people, pressure and perseverance. If nothing else this election was marked by incredible people power. Initiatives and races that weren’t destined to succeed but captured the readiness of many individual people willing to work for the future they desire.
In some ways We Stories is about the very small. The intimate moments like bedtime stories, memories from childhood, private hopes for the future, the starting of new habits, the subtle but significant changes in language and conversation that shape a family.
And in many ways We Stories is about the very big. Interrupting systemic racism, engaging a critical mass, building towards a tipping point, disrupting the status quo, embracing the unconventional, pushing everyday in every way towards transformation.
As an organization it is part of our work to bridge these two spheres: the small and the big. To mobilize these personal shifts and shape them into waves of lasting change.
That bridging takes a tremendous amount of relationship power. Our ability to make impact, to help transform is directly related to our connectedness...to our members’ sense of belonging and being known, and our overall community cohesion.
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice was published by Magination Press in May 2018. This picture book was designed to help parents talk about race and racial injustice with children ages 4-8. As the story begins, some schoolchildren overhear news of a police shooting of an unarmed Black man. The story follows two families as they address their children's questions about this incident. WeStories had an opportunity for a virtual conversation with the authors of this unique and timely book, and we wanted to share their responses with our community.
We have less than a month to go until election day. Present in this campaign season are issues that have plagued our nation for centuries: racism, populism, immigration, inclusion and representation among others.
Embedded in every advertisement, news article, and speech are the questions - Who are we as a nation? How does our past intersect with our promise? What is the meaning of democracy?
As children, we’re taught a fairly simplistic version of democracy - a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting. This simple framework can, at an early age, help bestow the power of the vote. American children are told: your vote counts.
But our nation's history is more complicated.