In the thousands of uprisings in the U.S. since the murder of George Floyd, you may have seen protest signs reading “White silence equals violence” or “End White Silence.” If you are a white parent who wants to end white silence in your family, here are two helpful resources. One is a picture book and the other is a board game for teens and adults. You can request a free copy of the board game, called the The Road to Racial Justice, from Kesa Kivel at her website. Anastasia Higginbotham explores big ideas like structural racism and white privilege in her book Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness. Those ideas may sound daunting for a picture book but the moving collaged imagery and handwritten text offers an accessible way in. And it would be a great activity to make collages after reading the book in relation to children’s ideas about fairness and privilege and taking action based on our values. You can purchase it here.
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The site of the concentration camp at Manzanar is haunting in its contrast of beauty and horror
Its location between two mountain ranges is astonishingly beautiful, but also quite remote and hard to get to, in the sense that “out of sight” is also “out of mind” when it came to temporarily disappearing an entire population of American citizens during the war. The exhibitions at the visitors center will convey both the violation of civil rights that Japanese internment represents in U.S. history but also the everyday acts of resistance that Japanese Americans engaged in, from the overt resistance of the No-No boys to the more subtle resistance embodied in the beautiful gardens that camp prisoners built to resist their own dehumanization. You can learn more about how to visit at https://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm and if you want some helpful listening along the drive, check out Codeswitch’s episode America’s Concentration Camps. For more in-depth reading and historical context, check out One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps. And if you are traveling with kids, here is a helpful roundup of books by the blog Pragmatic Mom. Or explore the ideas through fiction with Samira Ahmed’s dystopian children’s book imagining the internment of Muslim Americans entitled Internment. The film Farewell to Manzanar is worth a viewing. And if you want to be inspired by stories of organizing and resistance, get a copy of The Grassroots Struggle for Japanese American Redress and Reparations. An internet search on #neveragainisnow will connect you to current struggles to protect the civil liberties of vulnerable populations in the U.S. right now.
Image credit: Original watercolor by Jennifer R. Myhre ©2019
Visit the Hull House Museum
Founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr in 1889 in a working class and predominantly immigrant neighborhood in Chicago, Hull House was a radical experiment in local democracy. It offered a kindergarten, classes in art, music and culture, meeting spaces for political and labor organizations, amongst many other activities that built community and solidarity. The residents of Hull House were at the forefront of progressive political organizing from the 1890s into the 1920s. Today the museum there continues this legacy of democratic community building. It is totally worth a visit if you’re ever in Chicago!
Take the South Asian Radical History Walking Tour!
A friend of mine recently recommended this secret gem of a walking tour in Berkeley–it’s award winning! It uncovers little known stories about freedom and justice fighters from the South Asian community. Learn more about it at http://www.berkeleysouthasian.org/
Feeling ambitious? Travel to all historic sites in the U.S. in one 50K mile road trip
I recently learned about a history professor who decided to map the most efficient route to traveling all of the sites on the U.S. Historic Register. Now, that’s my kind of ambition. Read more about the map here and check out the map itself here:
Consider a trip to the Filipino American National Historical Society Museum in Stockton
As far as I know, this is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to the history of Filipino Americans. Did you know, for example, that Filipino American workers started the grape strike that the United Farm Workers took up and eventually won? Learn more about the museum here.
Came across a children’s book about the Fight for $15
It’s great to have children’s books about contemporary social movements. Often we teach social movements as if they were things that happened in the past, which disconnects us from how we might participate in collective action here and now. You can learn more about the book as well as other books that address working class stories here at Hard Ball Press.
I recently learned about this new museum in Matewan, which takes a people’s history approach to the labor struggles there. There are so few museums in the U.S. that cover the history of U.S. labor organizing, so this museum fills an important gap. Here’s a link to a film about the museum:
Came across two new children’s books about civil rights activism:
De-mythologizing Rosa Parks
There’s a classic essay by Herbert Kohl entitled “The Politics of Children’s Literature: What’s Wrong with the Rosa Parks Myth” that summarizes how most children’s stories about Rosa Parks make it seem as if her act of civil disobedience was spontaneous and unconnected to wider civic rights activism. However, Rosa Parks was a radical activist her whole life. A recent article in the Washington Post discusses what the recently opened Rosa Park Collection tells us about Rosa Parks and her long history of activism for social justice. Learn more about how she was a rebel from an early age by reading the article in its entirety.