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Institutionalizing Racial Justice in Schools

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As you’re reflecting on 2017 and setting goals for 2018, is there a line-item for addressing institutional racism?

What will it take to spur White Americans to action? We are living during a movement for racial justice. Will you spend the movement enjoying the privilege to ignore it, or will you join it?

Lobby your teachers, principals, school board members, and legislators to mandate Ethnic Studies.

This article asks some important questions, offers a ton of links for furthering your education, and offers some concrete suggestions for how you can be more active.

Thank you Marta Alcalá-Williams for pointing me to this article.

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Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys

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Indigenous Youth Leaders & Man Camps

These indigenous youth are badass. So much important information here. Their analysis, leadership and journalism is powerful and clear. They have updates about Keystone as well as other significant things to be aware of. Worth listening to all 27 minutes.

Do you know any farmers in Nebraska?

Keystone XL Pipeline Update from the NoKXL Gathering 2017 in Kul Wicasa Territory -Lower Brule, SD.
Youth voices from:
Seeding Sovereignty
Indigenous Environmental Network
International Indigenous Youth Council – Denver Chapter

I did not know about “man camps” until these videos and their correlation with missing Native women. This is disgusting and unfortunately extremely easy to imagine a sex trafficking industry and violence surrounding temporary housing for oil workers. More about Man Camps.


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Jesus is Coming – Will you Recognize Him?

Driving through rural Georgia I passed a hand written sign in someone’s yard that said, “Jesus is coming.” I wanted to ask the people — How will you know when Jesus arrives? How will you recognize Jesus? What-if Jesus is here and because Jesus doesn’t fit your description you can’t recognize Jesus? This post about a Jesus who is saving lives and taking care of his community, while those in power want to destroy his life, made me think of the other Jesus.

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 11.53.15 PM“This young man is named Jesus Contreras. He’s a paramedic from Texas who just spent six sleepless days and nights saving lives in Houston — rescuing countless strangers from rising flood waters.

(Have you ever done that? I’ve never done that.)

This is what a hero looks like.

But there is a strong possibility that Jesus — this generous-hearted hero of a young man — will be among the 800,000 young people whom President Trump would like to deport soon from the United States.

Jesus’s family came to this country illegally when he was child, but because of DACA protections, he has been able to gain a limited legal presence in America. He has recently been able to live his life in productivity, rather than living in the shadows. He can have a driver’s liscense. He can have a legal job. He can save your life in a disaster. He’s a decent and religious young man, who prays for the President. He is GOOD. He is leader, and a positive force in his community. He is exactly the kind of person this country needs. Getting rid of him doesn’t make this country better; it makes this country dumber. This young man is no threat to you. In fact, he would happily save your life.” (more in this article)

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Our Land, Our Health, Our Economy – In the Hands of Oil Industry

This is not the water we want to give our kids to drink. It’s not the condition of the Earth we want to leave them to try and inhabit. This is greed and addiction and too many of us who are still too weak to face the oil dependencies we have and not yet courageous or creative enough to stand up to this monstrous industry and all the politicians who are being fed by its existence. I know we can do better, humans… but will we?

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A Baby’s Unconditional Trust and Love

photo by Alyssa L. Miller (no relation to people in the story)

A Baby’s Unconditional Trust and Love — A Kindness Story
–written by rettak at

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, ‘Hi.’ He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled.

His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. ‘Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,’ the man said to Erik. My husband and I exchanged looks, ‘What do we do?’ Erik continued to laugh and answer, ‘Hi.’

Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, ‘Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.’ Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. ‘Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,’ I prayed.

As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s ‘pick-me-up’ position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, ‘You take care of this baby.’ Somehow I managed, ‘I will,’ from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, ‘God bless you, ma’am, you’ve given me my Christmas gift.’ I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.

With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, ‘My God, my God, forgive me.’

I had just witnessed real love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was blind, holding a child who was not.

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Your Story Grows My Story

There are times when someone shares a story with me and it pops me open, spurting me out of the narrowness of my lived world and bursting me into an ah-ha that there are ways to experience the world that I’ve never imagined. I expect these experiences when I travel to new places or immerse myself into new cultural experiences. I love it when this happens and I’m not expecting it… which it did twice the other day. I’m so grateful to these beautiful souls who showed me something new and insightful.

One woman shared an experience of when she was in college and was in a class where part of their grade was based on class participation. She and another woman in the class were very shy and never chose to spontaneously participate. Every couple of weeks or so they would get together and intensely study the material for that class and plan for their ‘spontaneous class participation.’ She said it was always surprising to the professor that the two quiet women in this relatively small class would have something to add on the same day!

Another woman told me about her experience of being in a room filled with people that were passionately involved and invested in the work they were doing in the world. She had never experienced being surrounded by so many people that were passionate about their work. It was an eye-opening and seemingly body igniting experience for her.

There are so many different ways to live in and engage with the world. There are so many different types of people with whom to surround ourselves. In every moment we’re making a choice about how to engage, how to contribute, how to receive, what to offer, what to follow, what to be… so many choices and so many beautiful kaleidoscopic combinations of ways to live.

It humbles me to hear experiences like these, to have other people’s stories shake me awake to realities I didn’t know existed. It makes me stop and take a moment to reflect upon who I am, feel grateful for some of my ways of being and opportunities I’ve had, and recognize areas where I can grow.

I have largely taken granted my ability to jump in, ask a question and engage something or someone that interests me. This is a way of being that has come naturally to me… but doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In my narrow world, I hadn’t thought about the idea of actively planning ahead to participate in a conversation. It makes total sense and I feel such respect for this woman who recognized what she needed and wanted to do and took actions to help herself get there. In our conversation she taught me a lot about planned spontaneity and has opened my world to that pathway for growing spontaneity.

The woman in a large hall surrounded by people passionately living their calling told me, “I’ve been surrounding myself with the wrong people!” I took a moment and imagined myself in a world where people around me were going through the motions, doing what they do because it’s what they do. I felt the sparky pulse of passion and purpose ooze out of the living beings, that reflection and light around me growing dimmer. And, as you might imagine, a gushing wave of gratitude swept in and swallowed me. I was gifted the opportunity, from a new perspective, to stop and really feel my deep gratitude for all the people that I know who live their life’s passion and choose to share that with the people around them. If you’re blessed enough to be one of those people, thank you for letting others know how deeply you care about, believe in and are willing to take action to do what your body, mind, heart and soul asks of you. And if you’re one of the many people who continue to listen to yourself, trying to discover what that sparky pulse of passion and purpose is for you, please don’t give up… it’s in you and you’ll find it. And whoever you are, please share your stories with others.

I am immensely grateful to people like these two women who share little snippets of their life story with me… and thus help me live more consciously my own life story.

photo by //amy//

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