Workshop – Family Planning

The final workshop of our series was led by Stephanie of Masakhane. Unfortunately, we didn’t have many attendees, but those of us that were present were super interested in her learning tools and the information she had to offer. I’m definitely hoping to connect with Stephanie in the future.

Contact us if you would like to connect with us for further workshops!

familiesforequity@gmail.com

Community Exchange 2017 – “Representation Matters”

 

We had our second annual Black Breastfeeding Event. This year’s national theme was: #betonblack

We ended up with 3 nursing moms and some of their supportive family members. Although it was a small turn out, I really enjoyed our chats and really getting to know those who attend our events.

We also had Monique from Brown Skin Green Beauty join us. She opened our eyes to the concept of using green makeup to help with healing your skin. She also made some great points about how we care for our body. We can’t wait for her to join us again!

 

Additional Images

 

We really enjoyed giving away some fun items. We still have plans to give away any leftover items, once we are done with our last workshop. Stay tuned on our Facebook and Instagram pages for further details.

 

Breastfeeding Awareness!

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month! And leading up to Black Breastfeeding Week (last week in August), we have organized informational workshops for EVERY Thursday this month!!!

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month! And leading up to Black Breastfeeding Week (last week in August), we have organized informational workshops for EVERY Thursday this month!!!

We will also have a park meetup back at Watsessing Park (Bloomfield side) just like last year! August 26th!

We would LOVE to see you at all or at least one of these events!!

3rd – Babywearing & Skin to Skin* –
https://www.facebook.com/events/126057417912306/

Babywearing is a term used to describe carrying your child, using a piece of fabric. This practice has been utilized for centuries among many different cultures across the globe. Babywearing is also a useful aid when breastfeeding or providing skin to skin care.

led by: Takisha Miller of Families for Equity


10th – Nutrition & Kemetic YOGA* –https://www.facebook.com/events/2015348252035254/

Kemetic Yoga and the Yoga Skills Method both have origins in Ancient Egypt. By combining movement with breath, this style of yoga allows participants to tap into their internal energy creating balance and focus while promoting health. Benefits of Kemetic Yoga include stress management, self control and wellness to name a few. This session will give parents a few breathing techniques and movements to help manage stress. Techniques that are great for the entire families.

led by Jillian Faulks-Majuta


17th – Postpartum Care* –https://www.facebook.com/events/2002336743386183/

Postpartum care focuses on the care of the parent after the birth of the child. There are great benefits in focusing on the 4th trimester. The 4th Trimester is a term describing the first 3 months of your baby’s life where establishing that initial breastfeeding relationship is the most crucial. While caring for your newborn, it can become difficult to care for yourself. Join Takisha Miller as she shows you how to make some of the items found in Families for Equity’s 4th Trimester Care kit that will help you push through those first 12 weeks. These items are simple enough to do on your own or to delegate to someone on your support team. Attendees will be able to go home with plenty of samples.

led by Takisha Miller of Families for Equity


24th – Breastfeeding for Women of Color* –https://www.facebook.com/events/342389759527708/

led by Vicki Nizen of WIC in EO

 

 

 

 

 

26th – Community Exchange –https://www.facebook.com/events/244913045997168/

“Representation Matters”
A Community Exchange

This year’s National theme is: Bet on Black
https://www.facebook.com/BlackBreastfeedingWeek/

Black Breastfeeding Week is normally celebrated during the last week of Breastfeeding Awareness Month (August). Join us as we celebrate and spread the word about breastfeeding within the black community.

Meet us in Watsessing Park, just like last year! Bring your questions and support! And a picnic blanket.

We will meet in the section of the park on Bloomfield Ave & Conger St.
We will be highlighting the support networks in our community!
Feel free to contact us, if you’re interested in addressing our attendees. (familiesforequity@gmail.com)


31st – Family Planning* –https://www.facebook.com/events/1908595926081731/

This workshop will cover a variety of sexuality topics. Do you have questions about birth control? Healthy and unhealthy relationships? Talking to your kids about consent and sexuality? Periods? Healthy sexual development? We have (most of) the answers!

led by Stephanie of Masakhane

Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter

 


*This event is organized by The Essex County Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Project of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, the VNA Health Group, and Families for Equity in support of celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week.

 

If you would like to RSVP to these events, you are welcome to email us at familiesforequity@gmail.com

The Orange Rhino Challenge – Alternative Education Options RECAP

Thanks to a slight oversight on my part, our second public meeting didn’t go as planned. Our goal was to talk about alternative options that are available outside of public school or pretty much education as we know it. However, I had the time listed as 10:30am (my initial intended time), when the library doesn’t open until 1:00pm on Wednesdays. So, people showed up, but at the wrong time. And of course,  very few planned to return. 

We did end up having a decent discussion among those who attended. Three families in total. However, we are all homeschooling, so we just discussed what led us to homeschooling and a little about our strategies. 

As our discussion progressed, some of our parenting challenges came up. This led to the topic of discipline, mostly yelling. So, naturally, the topic of The Orange Rhino Challenge came up. The idea was that we could attempt this challenge as a group and support one another along the way. 

So, here’s the setup:

Do you find yourself yelling more often than you thought you would after becoming a parent? Do you wish your kids would just stop driving you crazy and just listen? Are you a bit more self conscious about the noises coming from your windows, now that it’s summer and all the windows are open? Have you considered The Orange Rhino Challenge?

Join us for 31 days, the whole month of July, as we take on The Orange Rhino Challenge. This event will take place in our closed Facebook group, but if you are interested in joining us, you are welcome to communicate with us on our website, via email, or on our public Facebook page

Of course you are also welcome to become a member of our community. Membership is free, but all are expected to respect our community needs; to maintain a safe space for people of color. Failure to honor this space will result in removal. (The link provided is to become a member online, but you can also request membership to the Facebook group; unfamiliar names/profiles will be screened)

Our next public event for July will focus on our parenting style and how the way we were raised shapes our parenting decisions.  We’re still looking for a location, though. 

Raising Liberated People – Exploring Our Fears & Concerns RECAP

We had our first Lunch & Learn Workshop last week. Although attendance was fairly low, the conversation was still helpful. I enjoy getting together with our close knit (small) community to discuss these topics. They usually help me find solutions to most of the parenting issues I have. Hopefully, you will join us, if you haven’t had the chance to.

Here’s some details about the event and the handout that was given. We can take this opportunity to discuss this further online with those who were unable to join us.


EVENT DESCRIPTION:

Enjoy some lunch as we discuss ways to talk to our children about every day topics. We will begin by interacting with the children through a story and activity.

This Session we will focus on exploring our own fears and concerns related to raising (or parenting) our children.

What is your greatest obstacle or challenge?

What is the most common doubt (or question) that continues to come up?

What exactly does liberation mean?

How does it apply today?

Is it possible?

We all have so many questions and we will take this time to explore them together. This journey feels much more achievable when you are surrounded with the right support and encouragement.

Attendance and participation is key to the success and growth of our community.

*Our events center the voices of families of color and children. If you are unsure of your stance on our sensitive topics, you are welcome to join us, but we encourage you come to listen and learn and not take up space during our sessions. Any questions or concerns you may have can be brought up outside of our allotted time. Disruptors will be asked to leave.


HANDOUT:

Children’s Corner

Book: Ada Twist Scientist

Activity Packet:   Maze, Thinking Chair, Finger Puppets, Science Fun!

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

― Frederick Douglass

Discussion: Exploring Our Fears

What is Liberation?

definitions:

lib·er·at·ed
ˈlibəˌrādəd/
adjective
1. (of a person) showing freedom from social conventions or traditional ideas, especially with regard to sexual roles.

~ Freed from imprisonment, slavery, or enemy occupation

Liberate – to free from domination by a foreign power

 

Exploring Liberation or Free Thinking:

What is your greatest fear?

How have you addressed that fear? Or dealt with it?

How do you feel it effects/affects your parenting?

Do others’ fears play a role in your decisions?

How do you think they impact your children?

 

Suggestions:

How to Talk so your Kids Listen, and Listen so your Kids Will Talk

Raising a Self-Reliant Child

Spare the Kids

IEP Rights and Obligations of Parents – http://www.iep.utm.edu/parentri/#SH3a

Fare of the Free Child podcast

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The Free Child Project

Youth liberation can happen in several ways:

 

  • Liberation of Mind: Actively encouraging, engaging, empowering and allowing children and youth to think what they want, how they want, when they want and where they want;
  • Liberation of Place: Allowing young people of any ages to traverse society where they want, whether it’s for public, democratic reasons or private, personal reasons;
  • Liberation of Action: Empowering children and youth with the freedom of movement, freedom of motion and freedom of activities that adults are allowed within the constraints of the law;
  • Liberation of Spirit: Providing young people with the understandings, knowledge, ideas and abilities to be who they are, how they are no matter when they choose or where they are.

on Youth Liberation

 

We tried to focus on the questions, as the kids did the activities. Here they are again. I will share them individually in our closed Facebook group to discuss. Or you can use our discussion board, if you would like to explore these question in private on our website.

What is your greatest fear?

How have you addressed that fear? Or dealt with it?

How do you feel it effects/affects your parenting?

Do others’ fears play a role in your decisions?

How do you think they impact your children?

Field trip to SICM – Latest Experience

I started writing this on my personal blog, but I felt like this was a much better conversation to have with this group, as it kind of pairs nicely with our upcoming Lunch and Learn workshop on Raising Liberated People


(Image of their Firetruck Exhibit)

If you’ve been following me, know me personally, or have browsed my blog, you might have picked up on the fact that I am on this natural journey. But, what does that really mean? Well, nothing really. Apparently my goal is to just be and for others to back the fuck off. 


Anyway, my Families for Equity group and our Homeschoolers of Color group have been jointly working together to organize several different activities. One thing that we have been fairly consistent about is a monthly trip to the Staten Island Children’s Museum. It’s an amazing building filled with quite a few interactive exhibits for the kids to play and burn some energy. We mostly go because it’s a way for the kids to get together during the cold months. Now that it is nice, I was hoping their outdoor exhibits would be open, but this last visit happened to have been on a rainy day. 

Anyway, the place is amazing, but I’m getting a little tired of getting chastised for not hovering over my children as they play. 


This is the text I sent to the other families that I was meeting up with. I think I may need to go into more detail to explain what happened and why I have so much of an issue with this. 

I will save you all of the back story and side notes as to just get the basic facts across. The above “J” references my oldest child who is almost 5. He needed to go to the bathroom (which is downstairs). So I attempted to rush him there to prevent an accident. I have 2 other children. It is virtually impossible to swoop the other 2 up in a situation like that. Though, 1 did follow me, the other chose to play. That’s the one referenced as “K” above. 

While waiting at the bottom of the stairs, I decided to walk back up to check on “K”. My oldest was taking much longer than I thought and I didn’t want “K” to get into anything. (My daughter, is with me the whole time)

So, as I’m walking to check on “K”, the elevator opens and there is a woman holding “J”, asking another parent if this was their child. I identify myself as the parent, take his hand, and comment that I was waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs. 

We proceed to catch up to “K” and all 3 children play as I sit off to the side. This is when an employee decides to check at the front desk to see if the child was returned to their family. Then, walk over to me to inform me that I need to “watch” my children! Excuse me?? I informed her that I was watching my children. He knew where to go and that I was doing the best I could alone with 3 kids in that situation. We also discussed how my almost 5 year old is not a concern in possibly running off. However, one of my younger children is a concern of mine and I try to keep tabs on him as much as I can. 

Our conversation ends, after she introduces herself to me, then tells me what days she works. (I do not remember her name, but do remember that she works Wednesdays and Fridays, days I’m now looking to avoid going on)

Then, one of the families I’m supposed to be meeting up with, arrives. Her children need to eat and decide to go downstairs. My daughter decides to go with them. After they go on the elevator, my oldest, “J” decides he wants to go with them. I tell him to go ahead and catch up. We have been to this place several times, by this point. He knows to just walk down the stairs. 

What happens as he’s going to meet up with them? I hear that same woman asking him if he knows where his mother is. I yell out “he’s fine”. But realize she may not be able to hear me. So, I walk over to tell her he’s going to meet up with friends. 

She proceeds to walk down the stairs and follow him. (There really is no need). 

I’m not sure of the sequence of events, but based on the text, right before this exchange, I had to deal with someone else “warning” me about how my younger son, “K” was playing with a structure. I informed her that I thought he was fine. (Her reaction appeared to be concern and confusion that I wouldn’t be more worried about my child’s well being)

This plank house for reference (to the right in the above image). Apparently it shook when he touched it and she was worried about it falling on him. Ok…

So, with all of that, I start to write this series of texts to my group. 

Ugh, the one downside to here is some of the intrusive staff. I let J go to the bathroom by himself. And while waiting for him by the stairs, someone brought him up the elevator. Luckily I was walking by because I needed to check on K.

Then, the other one, who attempted to scold me about it, was just trying to stop him from catching up with S. 

This is, of course, after someone else warned me about K playing with this plank house. 

OH AND WHILE IM WRITING THIS, SHE JUST COMMENTED. “Don’t lose your children”

I’m gonna get banned from here, if I end up cursing someone out


So, after that last remark about losing my children, I decided to grab my last child, “K”, who was still playing, and join the rest of the group downstairs. This is where I learn that this same woman approached the other mom, referenced as “S” in the texts, and told her that she needs to keep an eye on the kids. Luckily “S” don’t take nobody’s bs and told her that she needs to go upstairs and take that up with the mother. This makes her last comment to me even more infuriating. 

So, at this point, I am already done with this woman. The last family joins our group and we try our best to enjoy the rest of our stay. Of course, we still end up seeing her quite a few more times. 


Then, we end up upstairs. I comment that I’m going to enjoy it up there because there isn’t as much “monitoring”. We usually rarely see random employees just floating around that aren’t normally up there tending to the space. But, for some reason, she popped up and happened to become the show wrangler for my youngest son’s rainboots that he decided he didn’t want to keep on. 


Anyway, let’s talk about this last encounter. So, we finally decide to leave since most of us were just ready to call it a day. We round up all of the kids and make our way to the elevator. And what do you know, this same woman happens to be on the elevator with 2 other families when the doors open. Unfortunately, what also happens is that a few of our children decide to rush on to the elevator before anyone else could get off. 

We try our best to explain to the children that they need to wait for the others to get off first. But, this woman is trying to tell the kids that they need to get off of the elevator, so the others can get off. What type of sense does that make? It just adds to the confusion. 

Finally we are all on the elevator. Our whole group and this woman. Her back to the doors, blocking the buttons because my oldest, “J” wants to push the button. But, she doesn’t want him to push the emergency button. Why are you still on the elevator? I stand between her and my son, moving him back so that she doesn’t come in contact with him. Then I inform her that he only wants to press the floor button. She finally relaxes, then promptly gets off of the elevator, right before the doors close. I seriously can’t even express how annoyed I was at that whole interaction. Like what is the big deal with wanting control so much of what my child was doing?
I post all of this out of an annoyance that so many people in our society take great issue with letting children just be. Instead of observing what is happening or even asking questions, people are so caught up in wanting to control the situation and just get involved for no reason. Often, making the situation worse. 

Now, I have a child who is all over the place. In fact, the young, black woman that sits behind the front desk did come up to me to let me know that “K” was outside. Her tone was neutral and respectful. There was no judgement in my parenting or any need to present herself as an authority figure. I’m just tired of people thinking they need to insert themselves into everything, as if they know what’s best. 

We are definitely going back, though. We have a membership that will not go to waste. But, I am going to try to not go on days where his woman will be present. And if that isn’t an option, she is going to end up getting an earful as to why she needs to mind her own business. I’m hoping I will be able to keep it pg, as I really don’t want to get banned from the museum. 

Have any suggestions? Or similar experiences? I would love for you to share. 

Tea & Empathy

written by member Elena Sapora

It was a deliciously warm and breezy February afternoon when a small group of us met up at my home to share some Tea & Empathy. Our facilitator, Melanie Lucash, traveled down from Massachusetts for the weekend. Using a framework and tools developed by her colleague, Kate McCombs, Melanie led us in a brief exploration and practice of giving and receiving empathy.

Our time began with some delicious tea and donuts, as everyone gathered in my living room. Melanie introduced herself and had us each introduce ourselves, sharing our pronouns, what brought us to the event, and one thing that delights us. We then continued our conversation by trying to define empathy, including some of the benefits and challenges of incorporating empathy into our relationships. Melanie shared with us a very helpful working definition of empathy, something to the effect of: The state of being nonjudgmentally curious about another person’s emotional experience.

Melanie introduced the Tea & Empathy cards and demonstrated how to use them. The cards are divided equally between challenging emotions and more positive ones. Each card shows one primary emotion and is helpfully framed by three supporting emotion words to clarify the meaning of the primary emotion.

In small groups of 3, we practiced giving and receiving empathy using the Tea & Empathy cards. One by one we would share a brief story of a challenging experience, and the other two members of the small group would take turns guessing at our emotions. First we would say “Were you feeling __________?” and offer one of the challenging emotion cards. Those feelings may include Anger, Resentment, Jealousy, etc, etc. The storyteller would collect these emotion cards and begin to create a map of their experience. Once the challenging emotion cards were finished, we would ask “Would you have liked to have felt _________?” and offer one of the more positive emotion card. These feelings might include Appreciated, Fun, Empowered, etc, etc. The storyteller would add the positive emotion cards to their map for a more complete picture of their experience.

Once everyone had a chance to try out the Tea & Empathy cards, we gathered again to debrief our experience. Some people shared how it felt good to give and to receive empathy using this tool. Others described feeling surprised by the broad range of emotions that were included in their maps. We also discussed challenges and opportunities to incorporating more empathy into our daily lives.

If anyone has questions about this particular workshop, feel free to reach out to Elena.

For more information about Melanie Lucash and her work, go to her website.

For more information about Tea & Empathy, as well as a link to purchase a set of Tea & Empathy cards, go to Kate McCombs’ website.

DIY Sweets

This week, we decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day by whipping up some delicious homemade treats. We ended up making Gluten Free Animal Crackers, Vegan Fudge, and Honey/Elderberry Syrup Lollipops. 

We didn’t get a chance to take pictures, but I managed to make another attempt at the animal crackers and lollipops. Here are some pics and links to the recipes we made. And some notes. 

Gluten Free Animal Crackers 

(recipe derived from Wanna Come With)


1 – 1/3 cup Flour (replaced with oat flour)

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Sugar

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Salt

4T Butter

3T Whole Milk (I only used 2T the last time)

2T Honey (I used raw)

1T Vanilla Extract
Fudge

(Website no longer exists)


3 cups Shredded Coconut*

1/2 cup Cacao Powder

1/3 cup Raw Honey

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 cup Peanut Butter (the kids chose this over sun Butter)

*The shredded Coconut goes into a food processor to transform into a Butter (liquid). This took a really long time. 
Honey Lollipops

(Inspired from The Pistachio Project)


I basically just boiled raw honey and elderberry syrup to make these. Make sure you oil your molds. I also believe I have my heat up too high. It seems as though I end up burning them. It also takes forever to get to the idea temperature for making hard candy. 


As you can see, I don’t have lollipop sticks, so I just used paper straws and cut them in half. Oh and I placed them in the freezer to help pop them out. 

Note: These did not come out well either time. I’m going to have to rethink these. 

National Geographic’s Gender Revolution Issue

Have you seen this month’s issue of National Geographic? We decided to pick up a copy and explore some of the content with the children in our group.


The issue is meant to address “the shifting landscape of gender”. I’m still reading and exploring my copy, so I can’t speak on how well that was executed.

Anyway, judging by the cover of the issue, we felt this would still be a great topic to explore and open up the conversation with our children. Keep in mind, all children in attendance ranged in age from 2 to 6yrs old. Naturally, this calls for a little flexibility on our end as parents when addressing the heavy and extensive terms. But, you gotta start somewhere.

So, we ripped out the pages of one of the copies (done in advance), and allowed the children to explore some of the images. We ended up focusing on mainly the cover and the full spread of the group photo, National Geographic composed of 15 individuals representing a broad spectrum of gender identities and expressions. It didn’t take long for my child or children to lose interest, but luckily, we did have one kid who wanted to learn more about the spectrum of gender identity.

Gender roles as perceived by society on a white board
Our member, Shaniese, came up with a great idea to make a list of “gender roles” that our society had given to boys and girls. They then took that list and deconstructed those misconceptions, coming to the realization that boys and girls are more than capable of taking from each column and doing whatever they feel.

White board with boy girl columns listing certain attributes and circling misinformed gendered roles

We also read Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Red: A Crayon's Story

We don’t enforce any gender “rules” in our home, and my goal is to engage with my children more as to why these pre determined roles that society has set up are an issue. I’m hoping practice makes perfect and that we get better at these discussions, as they grow.

Tell us about any activities or books your family likes to engage in to deconstruct these ideals.