Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thankful for Diversity

by Gregg Chadwick

Hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We touched base with many of you during the past week and got a good dose of holiday cheer. 
When asked what I am thankful for - I of course start with family and friends but just as importantly I am thankful for the wonderful diversity found in my home state of California and across the US.
Childhood memories are entwined in our holiday traditions. Often, I think of my Dad's parents and the time we took a road trip deep into the South during the Civil Rights era. At a road stop somewhere along I95, in Georgia I think, my Grandma Chadwick saw me staring at a crude racist, epithet scrawled on a sign. She put her arm around me and said to me "Don't mind about those words. Those words aren't true. God loves everyone one of us - equally."
It was one of the first and one of the best lessons about civil rights and equality that I have ever learned. 

Watch The Snowy Day

1. The holiday season often brings a sense of nostalgia. For me the Caldecott Medal winning book by Ezra Jack Keats, "The Snowy Day", seems to illustrate my childhood visits to my Grandma Chadwick’s house. My Aunt Margaret and her daughter Barbara called her Nana. Reading Keats, "The Snowy Day", at my Nana's house in Montclair, New Jersey felt like a walk through that multicultural neighborhood on a wintry day. Ezra Jack Keats passed away in 1983, but his art continues to speak to us today. The most recent offering is the Amazon released animated production inspired by Ezra Jack Keats' book. In this wonderfully illuminated world, the young Peter ventures to his Nana's house to help her deliver presents and Mac and Cheese for the extended family's Christmas Eve dinner. Adventures beckon. Plans are sidetracked. Tears are shed. But in the end, as in all good holiday stories, joy prevails. "The Snowy Day" is a new animated holiday classic. A must watch production. Link here:

For more on Keats and his work please visit the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation online at

Post Election Thoughts from the Keats Foundation:
"It’s more important than ever to keep on doing what we do.

• Creating, and promoting, diverse children’s books.
• Teaching the value of the many cultures and differences in our country and world.
• Instilling a love of reading and a desire to learn in our children.
• Raising our boys to respect girls and one another.
• Raising our girls to believe in themselves and what they can achieve.
• Supporting programs that encourage writers and illustrators, teachers and librarians, to give children the tools and opportunity to find their own voices.

We are nurturing each new generation to contribute to a more literate, inclusive and just society. That is what makes America great."

Stand Up for Others

2. I was heartened to hear of the proud Texan holding a sign up in support of the Islamic Community in Irving Texas. It made me thankful for my brother Kent and sister in law Cathy who last year created a similar love action in Bremerton, Washington. Full article at:

Below is Justin Normand’s Facebook Post About His Action

I have had the most extraordinary weekend.
Like most everyone I know, I have been in a malaise and at a loss since Election Day. What to do? With myself? With my time? To make things better, or even just to slog through?
I manage a sign shop, and so I had had the urge for a week or so to do this. Friday, I had a couple of spare hours in the afternoon, so I did.
I made a sign, and I drove to the nearest mosque and stood out on the public sidewalk to share the peace with my neighbors. My marginalized, fearful, decent, targeted, Muslim neighbors.
Someone took a picture and posted it, and as of today it’s been viewed millions of times, and shared across various platforms many hundreds of thousands of times.
This is extraordinary and humbling; mainly because what I did isn’t (or shouldn’t be) all that extraordinary.
For me, this wasn’t about expressing agreement; I remain Presbyterian, not Muslim.
It wasn’t about demonstrating my outrage to right-wing drivers driving down Esters Road in front of the mosque. I can never, and will never, change any of the haters. It’s not about them. Not this time, and not here.
This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us. Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother’s feet.
This was about my religion, not theirs.
And, it was about what I think I must do as an American when our way of life is threatened. Targeting people for their religion not only threatens our way of life, it is the polar opposite of our way of life.
Find a group marginalized by the haters in this current era we find ourselves in. Then, find a way to express your acceptance to that group in a physically present way, as opposed to a digital one.
I can assure you, from their outpouring of smiles, hugs, tears, hospitality, messages extending God’s love, and a bouquet of flowers, it will mean a lot.
My own religious tradition ascribes these words to my deity:
I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.
It is also in this vein that the words on the Statue of Liberty embrace, with eagerness and mercy, all who come to join us:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
These words bespeak the America we all remember, know, love, and are still called upon to be. Especially now.
Lastly, it worked. I felt better for the impact it had on my neighbors. They genuinely needed this encouragement. They need us.
They need all of us. They need you.
We ARE one America.

Stop the Harassment

3. Cassiel and I had a recent conversation on how to safely intervene in an episode of targeted harassment. 
The illustrated graphic by the artist Maeril is quite good. This is what she recommends:

Graphic by @itsmaeril

Hi everyone! 
This is an illustrated guide I made as part of my co-admining work at The Middle Eastern Feminist on Facebook! It will be published there shortly. The technique that is displayed here is a genuine one used in psychology - I forgot the name and couldn’t find it again so if you know about it, feel free to tell me!Some could say: “Yes but you can use that technique for instances of harassment other than Islamophobic attacks!”, and my reply is: Sure! Please do so, it also works for other “types” of harassment of a lone person in a public space!! However I’m focusing on protecting Muslims here, as they have been very specific targets lately, and as a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes - that way one cannot say they “didn’t know what to do”! I’d like to insist on two things: 1) Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked! 2) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over - call one of their friends, or one of yours, of if they want to, the police. It all depends on how they feel! 
For my fellow French-speakers: I will translate it in French and post it on my page as soon as I can :)
Please don’t hesitate to share this guide as it could push a lot of people to overcome bystander syndrome!!
Lots of love and stay safe!
PS: I you repost this cartoon of mine on twitter or instagram, please add me in the post so I can see it, with @itsmaeril :)

We remain hopeful in this dark moment and send healing thoughts your way.

Thank you for your love and support!


PS - Major thanks to those in our community working tirelessly on the Wisconsin recount. Thank You!!!

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