My experience in Beyond Diversity 101 was spiritually transformational. In the social justice world we can often spend too much time in our minds over intellectualizing everything that comes at us, perhaps, to prove how “woke” or more “conscious” we are over the next person. When we do this, we forget that equity work is heart work and in order to engage in transformational change, we must be willing and able to fully put forth our mind, body, and spirit into what it is we signed up to do–which is to put to death the cycle of genocide against those of us that don’t fit the “American standard”. A horrific cycle our country was built on and continues to function under today. If you are looking to experience an in-depth training on what it means to be an agent of change, you need to check out BD101.
What does it mean to be a critically, conscious, woke “consumer” in 2016? Ok, so let’s start here, if you consider yourself critically conscious and woke then you really can’t consider yourself a consumer.
A few years back I began celebrating Kwanzaa. As an Afro Caribbean woman steeped in European Christianity, my family gave me a serious side eye about this made up “Black American Holiday.” But among the many reasons why I began to celebrate Kwanzaa, the most salient point for me was because of its movement from consumerism to creationism.
When you celebrate Kwanzaa the goal of gift giving is to ensure the positive, racial Identity development of Diasporic children. Unlike my experience with Christmas, which was just about giving and getting gifts that you’ve always wanted and couldn’t afford, Kwanzaa is about the thoughtful selection and connection to the seven principles we are to celebrate.
You would have to live under a rock to not recognize the social political context of our current world. We have a racist fascist as President Elect, an extremely conservative Republican Congress and executive branch, and the possibility of a judicial branch to follow suit.
So what are we to do, as critically conscious, woke, folk?
We are to put our money–aka our consumerism–where our mouth, values, beliefs and liberation is.
At my blog, creadnyc.org, we talked about the role economic protest plays in our liberation. And we have many calls for protest. The #notonedime boycott, the #injusticeboycott and the #BoycottTrump app. All of these initiatives are about realizing our economic power in order to wield it for our common liberation.
But, don’t fret. I’m not saying you can’t spend a dime this holiday season, or in general. What I am saying is that what you choose to spend your money on and where you choose to spend your money matters. It matters for your family’s access to generational wealth and it matters with regards to this country understanding that Black and Brown bodies, and other marginalized groups, that are being strangled under the boot of White supremacy, consumerism and state violence will no longer be tolerated and accepted.
Here’s what I urge: when you spend your money, you do what My Reflection Matters has been encouraging us to do, which is to consume products that serve and support positive racial identity for all of us, while at the same time supporting many businesses owned by People of Color (POC). And because the internet is most wonderous and full of POC magic, here are just a few links to support your woke consumerism:
- The Root has given us 50 gift ideas from 50 Black owned businesses.
- I Don’t Do Clubs recently shared 25 Holiday gift ideas from Black Owned Businesses for her.
- 1 Blessed Natural offers us 5 black businesses with products for kids.
But, wait! I have another suggestion this holiday season, which I know is closing in quickly. Provide, for the children in your life, experiences that allow them to see the humanity of people who look like them. How can we instill in our children the desire to serve? How can we instill in our children the ability to create versus only consuming? Now, I’m not the most creative person in the world, but every Kwanzaa, I commit to making one gift for my loved ones. If you don’t already, see if this year you can take this tiny shift from consumerism towards creationism. Make food, drinks, snacks with your kids and give them away. Make Kwanzaa bags for homeless people, people in shelters, visit nursing homes and deliver a little Kwanzaa joy. Have your kids put on a show, or simply explain why it’s important to celebrate Kwanzaa. Provide opportunities for the babies to talk about the power of economic boycott and cooperative economics.
We don’t know what lies ahead for our government and ourselves, but we do know the power we hold. This power starts in our pockets and in the minds of our children–and how we engage them in the creation of our wealth and the strategic use of our wealth. Being woke is more than just having knowledge, it’s about using that knowledge to build for our children and our collective liberation.
Today’s #mrmbookfave is very fitting given the events this week. I attended my first Undoing Racism workshop lead by, author, Rev. David Billings a decade ago. If you haven’t experienced this powerful workshop, you are missing out on a valuable learning experience! Check out People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond for more information and David’s recent book, Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in Unites States History and Life!
“What is this strange beast you keep hearing about? Together I think we can figure it out…” Not sure how to explain Trump to your kids? A Chld’s First Book of Trump will help get you started!
Reading with your kids everyday for about 20 mins helps them develop literacy skills for the future as well as provide an intimate bonding experience between parent and child. You don’t have to read a full 20 mins, especially for kids with a limited attention span. My husband and I will sometimes take turns reading to our boys throughout the day for various intervals.
Check out my interview in A Striving Parent, to learn more about me and why I started MRM. The author, Shannon Gaggero, is a mommy blogger who writes about social justice and activism and openly shares her journey striving to be a conscious parent.
Another #MRMbookfave for you all this lovely Friday that celebrates and affirms our melanated beauties! Check out The Brown Girl’s Club for a variety of products including party supplies that represent our kids! When you shop there, use code MRM to receive 10% off your total purchase! In addition to getting a discount, you will also be helping us to better serve you since a percentage of your payment will go to MRM! In an era where more people of color are becoming deliberate in spending money where it allows them the opportunity to contribute to the development of Black & Brown businesses, this partnership between MRM and Brown Girls Club supports #woke consumers like you. Can’t beat that!
I love using books as a tool to initiate conversations with my children about a variety of topics. Here are 7 texts you can read with your kids to explore and affirm the multitude of skin tones in your family. Sign up for our newsletter for access to other racial identity affirming resources: http://bit.ly/mrmnews.
Books pictured above: Shades of Black|Black, White, Just Right!|Black is Brown is Tan|All the Colors of the Earth|Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown|Best Best Colors/Lost Mejores Colores|All the Colors We Are/Todos Lost Colores De Nuestra Piel
For our upcoming October/November newsletter, we will be sharing resources that explore and affirm Black identity within the Latinx community.
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