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Blog Posts (34)

  • Helping Kids Understand and Celebrate Juneteenth

    Preface: This blog is written by a white woman with three white children. It is intended to help support other parents who want to raise their hand to foster a more inclusive future for all of our children. 🙋🏽‍♀️ Hey there, fellow Progressive Parents! Explaining privilege and racial inequity is a tough (but very necessary) topic to approach with children. Today, we're going to embark on an exciting journey to learn about Juneteenth, a significant holiday in American history that marks a major milestone on our ongoing path to racial equity. This blog will equip you with some knowledge and tips to inform your children, show respect for the holiday, support your friends who celebrate it, and discover creative ways to celebrate as privileged white folks. Below is intended for you to read directly to or with your kids. The links can even be explored together. The "Additional Parental Notes" can be read on your own and used as you see fit. Juneteenth: A Kids Version...✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿 Juneteenth Roots Imagine this: On January 1, 1863, President Abe Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to end enslavement. The new law basically made a promise to all enslaved people in this country that they would no longer be treated like property and would begin having some of the freedoms that others in the United States already had. People are the ones that enforce laws, and some people decided to break that promise. As a result, it took over TWO YEARS for the law to come into effect in all the states. Texas was one of the last places to comply with the law (that means to do what the law says). Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when news of emancipation finally reached enslaved Black Folks in Galveston, Texas. It’s a major milestone in our country’s history and a great time to celebrate the resilience of an entire community and think about ways we can further racial equity! And yet, it is just a stepping stone on our path to racial equity. Why Was it Just a Stepping Stone? ⛰ After the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and in full effect, there was still a thing called segregation. Sometimes you will hear segregation referred to as “Jim Crow Laws.” These were crazy laws that meant black people and white people couldn’t utilize the same spaces or have the same privileges. This meant black folks had to use different (and not as nice, clean, functional, or accessible) bathrooms, water fountains, restaurants, transportation, schools and more. This went on for another 100 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed to end segregation. But just like with the other law, not everyone followed it. Many people had to fight for freedom through peaceful protest (see the image above), the law, and more. Some of those people and groups that you can do further research and googling on are: Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks (pictured below), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Freedom Riders, The Black Panthers, The Greensboro Four, and countless others. There were also white allies that fought for racial equity such as Virginia Foster Durr, J. Waties Waring, David Dogged, Viola Liuzzo, Anne McCarty Braden, Herbert R. Kohl, and other everyday people like YOU. That’s right, YOU can be an Ally too! Even today, we are still fighting racial inequity. The Black Lives Matter movement is bringing to light some of the many injustices within our law enforcement and justice systems. Together, we can work to create more equity in the world. Sometimes that looks like something as simple as speaking up for a friend who is being interrupted repeatedly or bullied, or treated differently because of the color of their skin, the way that they talk, or the way they look. And this is something YOU can do to be an Advocate or an Ally. Additional Parental Notes... Digging a Little Deeper into our History 📚 Kids are naturally curious, so let's channel their inner detectives and enlighten them about Juneteenth. Storytime, anyone? Gather the little ones around and share the stories of brave abolitionists (check out some on Epic that you can read RIGHT NOW!), resilient leaders, and the journey toward freedom. You can even include interactive activities like crafts to make learning fun and engaging. Emphasize Respect and Empathy 😌 Respect is key, and Juneteenth is no exception. Engage your children in discussions about racial equality, the importance of empathy, and the ongoing fight against discrimination. Encourage them to listen and learn from diverse perspectives, cultivating a sense of understanding and compassion. Ask them how it feels to have a promise broken and how they think we could work to repair some of the damage caused by years of enslavement against an entire group of peoples. Ask Your Kids About Their Feelings 🙁😁😡 Ask your kids about their feelings and how they think others may feel. Ask them what they think about Juneteenth and how it makes them feel that we’ve made the progress we have. Ask them how they feel about how far we still have to go. Validate their feelings and then guide when necessary (Sometimes that looks like “I can completely see how you would feel that way. Sometimes I feel that way and I also consider…). Let them know that it’s ok to have mixed feelings. We can be happy for the progress our nation has made and still be sad, frustrated, or angry that we still have major inequity in our country. Humans are complex individuals, and we can have many different feelings at once. Support Friends Who Celebrate and Encourage Others to Celebrate 🙌🏾🙌🏽 Reach out to friends who celebrate Juneteenth and wish them a Happy Juneteenth. This doesn’t just mean reaching out to our black friends. It’s a day for all to celebrate some of the progress we have made as a nation in the last 150+ years so wish EVERYONE a Happy Juneteenth! And it’s not something we can just celebrate on one day. We should be celebrating throughout the year with our actions. Volunteering with organizations dedicated to racial justice are great ways to show support. Plus, it's a chance to make new friends and build bridges across communities while teaching our kids the importance of standing together as humans for a better tomorrow. Doing More to Honor Juneteenth 🙏🏽 As white individuals, we must acknowledge our privilege while honoring Juneteenth. Let's make it a day of reflection and commitment to dismantling systemic racism. Donate to organizations fighting for racial equality or educate ourselves on the history of racial injustice. We can also support Black-owned businesses or amplify Black voices by sharing their stories on social media. You can even engage in peaceful protests to amplify the voices of marginalized peoples. Wear the message! Wear messages of support and amplification of marginalized peoples. Don't stand for acts of racism and bigotry when you come across them. Let people know that We Are Better Than This! Today is a great day to set a date today to go with your kids to the nearest Civil Rights Museum. We have Roots 101 in Louisville, KY. We have also been to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA. And once again, these are things we should be doing ALL YEAR LONG! YOU Can Celebrate Too! 🎉 Who said learning and celebration can't be a blast? Get ready for some fun ideas! Organize a backyard cookout or picnic with friends. Explore books, movies, or music by Black artists and hold a family discussion. Creating art or crafts that highlight the significance of Juneteenth and the many ways Black Culture IS American culture can also be a fantastic way to celebrate while fostering creativity. You're now armed with a little more knowledge, respect, and exciting ways to celebrate Juneteenth with your children. Remember, Juneteenth is a time to understand the past, celebrate progress, and commit to a future of equity. Let's support our friends, listen to diverse voices, and show love, not just on Juneteenth but every day. Together, we can build a more inclusive and vibrant world! So, grab your kiddos, embrace the spirit of Juneteenth, and let the celebration begin! Happy Juneteenth, everyone! *Disclaimer: This blog aims to provide guidance with respect and fun, but it's important to approach these topics with sensitivity and continued learning. Also. I am human. If you feel I’ve misspoken or could improve this blog in any way, I accept constructive criticism very well. I do NOT accept bigotry and hate very well, so please keep that to yourself. :) #juneteenth #progressiveparent #juneteenthforkids #antiracistkids #antiracisitparents #inclusivity #racialequity #blacklivesmatter

  • To Come Out or Not to Come Out

    Trigger Warnings: Spoilers from Love, Victor, Schitt’s Creek, and Genera+ion and mention of homophobic slurs. When growing up, we are presented with the idea that we can be anything that we want to be. Of course, as long as that thing is nothing different from being heterosexual. When thinking of coming out, how could you ever have these thoughts if the society you live in does not allow you to be anything different? Instead, the real question should be: “Can you come out?” As a Venezuelan, I understand how unrealistic it can be. In a study conducted in South Florida to try to understand the trend of coming out among the Hispanic community, some statements resonated with me. When LGBTQ+ scholars at the University of Miami asked twenty Latinx people about coming out, many just knew it would never be possible to do so given their families' attitudes. For example, one of the participants mentioned how his dad “used the word ‘faggot’ all the time when he was talking to his friends,” while another one addressed his family’s “religious” background. Dangers of Being Out Though cultural transgenerational microaggressions may just seem like jokes, these subtle verbal attacks build up in several cultures and communities. What we think is funny is turning its back on the truth. As reported by the Human Rights Campaign in 2019, “43% of transgender youth ha[d] been bullied on school property” and “21% of gay and lesbian youth and 22% of bisexual youth ha[d] attempted suicide.” Even though it is easy to advertise coming out, you cannot ignore the effect that negative responses can have on individuals who are just navigating their identities. Besides conservative households, academic environments can be cruel towards those who are different from the norm. Coming Out Stories in the Media When it is not that common to see an underrepresented community on TV, it is easy to be content with any type of representation. I have experienced this with almost every queer show I have watched. Part of the issue is that many are just coming-out stories with, mostly, white characters. Though you’re seeing a part of your identity on the screen, not seeing yourself fully represented is harmful. Thus, it is so important that Hulu released the series Love, Victor to fill a cultural gap. In the show, young Victor tries to understand what his sexual orientation is. As opposed to other queer protagonists, Victor’s background is half Puerto Rican and half Colombian, which stands out especially when we hear the vague reaction of Victor’s mom to his coming out: “I think, um, that we should get some rest. And we can talk about it tomorrow.” Not only that, but Victor’s mom stops talking to him because she cannot understand how his papi could ever be gay. I was able to empathize with Victor much more than with any other character because I have lived the struggle. It is true that Love, Victor is also a coming-out story. However, it adds a Hispanic lens to the conversation. Liberation from Labels in Media Besides making a big announcement, not having a label and/or not coming out is also completely valid. While one can thank the media for attempting to normalize being publicly LGBTQ+, it is key to look closely at the recent shows that have highlighted characters without labels. The iconic David Rose, in the American comedy series, Schitt’s Creek, is the perfect example. In the “Honeymoon” episode in the first season, Stevie subtly confronts David about his sexual orientation. David’s response is one that we will never forget: “I like the wine and not the label.” Since acceptance reigns in the fictional universe of Schitt’s Creek, it would have not made a difference if David had never clarified his fluid sexual orientation. However, addressing it is powerful because it sheds light on the possibility of living for yourself without fitting into a mold designated by society. Self-Discovery In addition to coming-out stories and joy-filled queer stories, narratives of self-discovery are important within the community as well. The HBO Max show Genera+tion portrays this kind of queer story through Greta’s uncertainty regarding her type of sexual attraction. In the series, she develops a connection with another girl, Riley. When it comes to getting intimate, however, Greta freaks out. Throughout the show, we follow Greta’s storyline as she tries to discover what she wants. It is not until the first season’s finale that she manages a response to Riley…and to herself: “There’s something I’ve been noticing about myself. I – I can like someone. Like, really like them. But when it comes to kissing or making out or whatever, I don’t want that.” Instead of simply labeling Greta as asexual, it is relevant for her to go through an introspective journey to end up still not finding a label. Society ingrains in us the idea that everyone must have a label. However, there are cases where some do not feel the need to share with others. Other times, you might not find one label that fits you. Sometimes, embracing the uncertain process of finding ourselves is the only thing that can bring us peace. Finding a Balance Considering it was World Mental Health Day just yesterday, let’s celebrate National Coming Out Day by putting our mental health first and start loving ourselves through the journey towards self-acceptance. Some LGBTQ+ Friendly Mental Health Resources Mental Health Resources in the LGBTQ Community Nicole Viloria is a Venezuelan and queer writer. She is a second-year student at Miami Dade College’s The Honors College, where she is majoring in English Literature. As a lover of languages, writing, and reading, she wishes to translate and write novels of her own. She has been published at Padrón Campus’ Digital Commons, Urbana Literary & Arts Magazine, and O’Miami. She is also the current president of Gamma Eta, the chapter of Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society and co-editor-in-chief of Urbana Literary & Arts magazine.

  • Sexual Education in America: Federal Mandate on Bodies Not Books

    The reality of federal mandates on American bodies, and no federal mandate on sexual education in United States classrooms TW: mentions the topic of sexual assault For 8 years, I have been honored to work for youth 6 - 18 years old, in multiple roles, for nationally renowned youth organizations. During my time as a youth development professional, I have become hyperaware of the harms that stem from having no federal mandate on sexual education in the United States. With the recent supreme court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 49-year standing court decision that federally protected bodily autonomy and access to abortion, I fear there will soon be a further dissolvement of the already limited sex ed access provided to American youth. Sex Education 15 Years Ago The bulk of what I learned about sex as a curious pre-teen came from the internet, my peers, and my friends. The internet is the primary place that I learned about topics that were bigger than my 900 people, no stop-light town such as simple coding from the OG Myspace! Unfortunately, the internet was also my primary access to self-education on sex topics; the place where I learned more about my body, others’ bodies, sexual identity, sex, porn, and what I thought was “everything”... When I entered the 7th grade, we were provided sex ed by our homeroom teacher who utilized a curriculum called The Game Plan which enforced the idea of abstinence or not engaging in sex before marriage. I, as a now 26-year-old, took this course in 2009. In 2009 the percentage of married Black adults was only 32%, with even lower figures where I lived as an Illinois youth (28%). Until 2016, gay marriage was illegal in the United States. These two factors signify that sexual education solely teaching abstinence was likely less effective to be viewed as realistic for both Black and LGBTQ youth who were taught to “save ourselves until marriage.” If my peers and I were provided realistic, comprehensive plus sex ed that was rooted in protecting kids, I likely wouldn’t have experienced some things that I have. This “game plan” left me a victim of grooming by a K-12 teacher from 6th grade – my freshman year of college, not knowing how to advocate for myself nor having a safe space to discuss my thoughts on my sexual orientation, before being outed as a 12-year-old, having to illegally obtain emergency contraceptive medication as a 14-year-old due to, now lifted, age restrictions on Plan B, contracting Chlamydia, misdiagnosed as a UTI numerous times, at an early age; and ultimately being out of touch with my body while allowing others access to it because I thought “that’s what people who want love do”. Sex Education Now Although 15 years have passed, not much has changed for American youth when it comes to where they receive sexual education, partially due to the lack of federal mandate, and quality assurance within the sexual education curriculum. Within the 50 United States, 39 states, and the District of Columbia require sexual education, though the type of education, and whether the information within this instruction must align with scientific data, differs. Of the states that do require sexual education, the laws vary from state to state, as well as throughout each state, and can even vary from school to school within the same school district. The two primary types of sexual education that are offered in America are abstinence-forward sexual education and comprehensive sexual education, neither of which teach sexual consent. Why is this relevant now more than ever? Lack of fact-based, realistic, and comprehensive plus sexual education while especially harmful for American youth, is simultaneously harmful to the adults that were likely given the same sexual education. “You don’t know what you don’t know” is true, but harmful when it comes to the reality that there is youth currently being sexually assaulted and molested by family members, leaders in their communities and classrooms, friends, and other individuals whom they love and trust. Kids are being assaulted by people that they don’t realize are harming them and are oftentimes too young to understand what is happening to them is not okay. Some kids know what is happening is not okay and are scared to tell somebody /don’t want to be perceived as “bad” or as though they “did something wrong.” Some kids may even enjoy the attention of someone else, not realizing that what is happening to them is still not okay. The current legislation surrounding sexual education allows some of our most marginalized citizens – children– left susceptible to harm from educational negligence and left even more susceptible should they have consensual sex that results in an accidental pregnancy, or even worse be impregnated as a victim of assault, within a state that does not protect their body from having to bear children whilst being a child. At a time when it is most critical to understand the need to protect what rights we have left to our bodies, we must ensure that we protect young people by empowering and educating them to better understand their bodies and bodily autonomy. Young people are going to learn about their bodies, learn about sex, and learn about dating. It is vital that we, as the adults in this nation protect our kids by advocating for them to receive quality, comprehensive plus sexual education. Education that is inclusive, engaging, and data-backed that covers human anatomy, bodily autonomy, consent, self-care, verbal and nonverbal communication, sexually transmitted infections, sex, identity, healthy relationships, grooming, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other topics that need to be delivered by realistic and forward-thinking educators, with the safety of our youth as the #1 priority, and not centered around adult’s feelings. Alexis ‘Lex’ Williams-Cavanaugh (she/her) is a professional resume writer passionate about helping clients with their job search. Lex is simultaneously passionate about connecting through written word with self and others as a poet, storyteller, song writer, copywriter, and blogger. She plans to utilize her writing and advocacy for The People to one day write policy rooted in quality of life improvement for marginalized folks. When Lex isn’t writing she is exploring St. Louis, taking photos, managing social media, binge-watching shows and movies, swiping on Tinder, spending time with family, and educating others on the lived realities of marginalized people. Find her on social media @lexshedlight or visit to connect!

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