We’re Going Purple for Spirit Day!

Thursday, October 18th is Spirit Day this year, GLAAD’s day of solidarity against LGBTQ+ bullying, and to show our support we’re making our logo purple across the interwebs for the week, and we’d love to see you do the same! Join us in standing up for LGBTQ youth, and make your social media profiles purple, too.

Also, keep an eye out for a special Spirit Day article later this week!

National Coming Out Day 2018

Happy National Coming Out Day Collage Fam!

Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day this year. National Coming Out Day is a change for LGBTQ+ folks around the country to stand together in solidarity against bullying, bigotry, and oppression, by raising our voices loudly and declaring our queerness! It’s a big deal each year, particularly for people who are otherwise deeply marginalized (make no mistake, LGBTQ+ folks here and around the world face intense oppression every day, and it is only compounded by folks’ intersecting identities).

We take this holiday especially seriously here because LGBTQ folks make up much of the Collage Fam… in fact, both our founder and his partner Maníge outspokenly identify as queer!

Whether you’re out or not, this day is for you. If you feel or know that you cannot come out, this day is still for you. If you’re struggling to build the courage to come out, this day is definitely for you. No matter what though, stay safe. Owning your identity is liberating, but it should never be at the expense of your safety!

Even if you don’t identify on the LGBTQ spectrum, though, you can always be an ally. There are lots of ways to do this; you might:

  • Come out as straight! It might feel weird, but that feeling is nothing compared to what queer folks face coming out every day.
  • Wear a pride shirt, button, or other item to show solidarity.
  • Speak with your LGBTQ friends (if they’re comfortable, of course,) about their coming out experiences. Or just make space for them to share, if they choose.

Whatever you do, remember that this is a day for LGBTQ+ visibility; help make that a reality!

Cheers.


#WhenIBegan

As you may have seen elsewhere on the site or on social media, Collage Colorado, LLC is working to start a hashtag campaign for the hashtag #WhenIBegan. Watch the intro video above, and check out the #WhenIBegan launch page!

Revolutionary Read of the Month | October, 2018

The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson

As you may have heard, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying is something we take very seriously here at Collage Colorado, and so we thought it was appropriate that this month we feature a book about feeling different, how scary that can be, and why maybe it doesn’t have to be so scary after all.

Jacqueline Woodson’s new children’s book The Day You Begin is phenomenal – a book that manages to really capture the feeling of realizing that you’re different from your peers, and that they don’t always see that as a good thing. The books is beautifully illustrated, with rich artwork accentuating numerous – anxious – perspectives. Fear not, though, as Woodson makes sure to end on a high note. Pick it up and check for yourself!

The Details:


#WhenIBegan

See our dedicated #WhenIBegan page for more details about the Instagram campaign inspired by this book!

We Made a Thing!

The Story

As most readers know, last week was Banned Book Week, a very special “holiday” for us here at Collage Colorado. During that time, we did lots of things to celebrate, such as the fantastic guest articles we featured and our classroom discussions. We were so delighted by the wonderful response we had last week that we were inspired to design a poster, in honor of banned books and the folks who read and fight for them. We’re pretty proud of it, and we hope that you like it, too! That’s because…

We’re Going to Sell Our Posters!

That’s right – coming very soon, we will be selling our ¡Viva la Literatura! posters (and a whole lot more)! Collage Colorado, LLC is dedicated to working on a non-profit basis; proceeds from the posters will go to funding Collage Colorado’s classroom work, and expanding our Revolutionary Reader library.

The Details

We’ll have more details very soon, but for now we can tell you that posters will come in two sizes: 8″x10″ and 16″x20″. Both are high resolution and glossy, and the 16″x20″ posters are printed on durable 80lb paper.

Ordering details will be posted on a separate page, but for now, please email collagecolorado@gmail.com or send us a message through our Facebook page if you’re interested in buying one! We love commentary too (trolls aside), so feel free to tell us what you think, too! Depending on how these do, there may be other ¡Viva la Literatura! items soon, too.

Censoring White Supremacy: Building Blocks of Pride

Banned Books Week: Guest Perspectives
By M. Giles, Director of National Outreach, Birth
Doula, Sexual Health Educator

When we think of banned books, we think of books that involve something that causes a moral or ethical disturbance for the people in power. As history continues to teach us, it is always written by the oppressor, and by proxy the books we have access to are controlled by the oppressor as well. One of the most relevant examples as it relates to The United States of America is Black Boy by Richard Wright, banned purely for candidly detailing the Black experience. The act of lynching, Jim Crow, and genocide are seen as more tasteful than the experience of those most affected. Again, lynching, Jim Crow, and genocide are seen as more tasteful than the experience of those most affected. Let that sink in – it’s easier to palate a lynching, than to hear the story of a man whose community is being lynched; and while we have an entire week to to reflect and engage in this conversation, I offer that censorship has a place and that place is in my home.

Outside the four walls of my house, society will teach my children to value, covet, and conform to white normative standards of beauty, education, mores. Outside the four walls of my house my children are bombarded with images and stories of all of the ways their Blackness is dangerous and their whiteness is safe. Make no mistake, my children are Black. They will navigate their world through the lens of a person of color, regardless of the genes they carry, and will be well acquainted with that perspective by the time they reach adulthood. I cannot protect them from that (and I wouldn’t want to), but I can insulate them through censorship.

In my house, we censor as much whiteness as we can. We censor out Disney’s Cinderella in favor of Rodger and Hammerstein’s version featuring Brandy. We censor out Aileen Quinn in favor of Quvenzhané Wallis. We censor Judy Garland and replace her with Diana Ross. We avoid American Girl dolls because the narrative of the only Black doll in the history line is as a slave… as if that was the only place Black women have had in history. Of the other two Black girls offered in their other lines of dolls, one carry’s a ghetto blasting boom box and the other is a singer. Meanwhile the white girls, which outnumber them more than 2 to 1, get to be a second wave feminist (*cue eye roll*), a patriot, a journalist, and – better yet – a debutante with staff she pities.

This censorship is necessary then because children as young as two are able to identify people by the stereotypes we’ve build and by the time they are five, they have internalized the racial prejudices of society. So in raising Black children, it is my duty to build an identity that rejects white as the default, and even more disturbingly the only thing worth striving for. My job is to insulate my children from white supremacy, and since it is so pervasive, the only way to build the blocks of pride is to censor out white media until they identify the racial pride as readily as other kids can identify the stereotypes.


Maníge Giles is an active member of several intersecting communities in the Denver area and beyond, as well as a contributing member of Collage Colorado, LLC. We were so delighted to add her voice to this series!

Banned Books Matter

Happy Banned Books Week, Collage Fam!

What’s Up With Banned Books Week?

This year, Banned Books Week begins today (Sunday, September 23rd, 2018). Banned Books Week is a pretty big deal for us here at Collage, but before I explain why, maybe I should explain what exactly it is.

“We would argue that [Banned Books Week] is at its core a celebration freedom of speech and the fight for civil rights.”

First and foremost, it is a celebration each year of books that have been censored, challenged, or banned entirely from schools, libraries, and other places that gather literature. National organizations such as the American Library Association (a major supporter of Banned Books Week) keep extensive lists of what books are being challenged or kept out of libraries, and encourage discussions about why books might be banned. Banned Books Week is a chance to bring that discussion to the forefront; more than that though, we would argue that it is at its core a celebration of freedom of speech and the fight for civil rights.

How?

That goes back to why books are banned in the first place. The common perception is that books are banned for people’s “safety” – because they contain words, or topics, or ideas that some group has deemed dangerous in some way. And while it’s certainly true that there have occasionally been books that were banned because they gave dangerous information (such as how to build a bomb), the reality is that a whole lot more were banned for a far more sinister reason: censorship, and the silencing of certain people’s voices.

“It doesn’t make it any easier for a kid to come out, or to feel welcome in their skin wherever they go, if all the voices like theirs are hidden, forbidden, gone.”

If you look at the graphic above, you’ll see that although some books are challenged because they are “pervasively vulgar” (meaning they have a lot of bad language or potentially inappropriate content), still more are banned for political reasons (and not always friendly ones), and many others never see shelves simply because they portray People of Color, racism, or LGBTQ+ characters. Keeping those books away from folks is pretty darn silencing of people for whom those are daily experiences. It doesn’t make it any easier for a kid to come out, or to feel welcome in their skin wherever they go, if all the voices like theirs are hidden, forbidden, gone.

“Banning Books Silences Stories…”

By now I bet you’ve started to guess why Banned Books Week is so important to us here at Collage; it’s no secret that a big part of our mission as an organization here is to elevate the voices of as many people as we can. We believe that by doing this, we elevate the conversation, and build greater community. It’s even written in our Mission Statement.

We believe that censoring and banning books largely hurts our society and our communities, and especially marginalized communities and communities of color. It very clearly silences them. Destroying stories destroys culture, and ruins the legacy we leave for future generations. It’s up to all of us to stop that.

Join us all this week, as we celebrate Banned Books, Revolutionary Readers, and making our voices heard!


Take a look at the list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2017, courtesy of bannedbooksweek.org and the ALA. See one that looks interesting? Maybe pick it up and take a look. It might be banned, but it’s almost certainly awesome.

For Students: Becoming a Little-A Activist

The Issue…

Lately, for lots of folks, the world has seemed like a pretty crazy and volatile place. New events hit the news or social media every day – police brutality, immigrant children being imprisoned, school shootings, and more – that make us feel anxious and disempowered. It’s a hard feeling to feel, and especially for kids, who often don’t feel especially powerful anyway.

That feeling sometimes makes folks want to act – to do something to make a change or let your voice be heard; you might, for example, have heard about Colin Kaepernick and others kneeling during the national anthem. Adults and older kids frequently do this in the form of protesting, political action, or voting, all of which are important ways to make change. All of that seems pretty impressive, and it’s definitely important work! But kids can’t vote, and although in our family we all protest no matter our age, some families may not feel their kids are ready to go out and protest (let’s be real, big groups can be scary when you’re very little after all). Still, kids want to be heard.

So, what can you do?

Well, one thing to do is to become a Little-A Activist (an [a]ctivist). An [a]ctivist, or Little-A, is someone – kid or adult – who does small things to speak out or make a change. While Big-A Activists do big things like organize and attend protests, Little-A Activists do smaller things like organize fundraisers for a cause, plant gardens, write letters, and more. They’re not the big, flashy things that Big-A’s are doing, but they’re also much safer.

Little-A’s may not be doing big, risky things, but all those smaller things are just as important as the big stuff – sometimes more so. Each and every one of those Little-A things is important, too, and also part of the bigger picture. Little-A’s support the work of the Big-A’s, too; by gently shifting the paradigm – the way people think about the world – where they live, [a]ctivists can change the story, community by community, and help [A]ctivists to focus their work on areas that need BIG action.

Being an [a]ctivist…

There are lots of different ways that you can be a Little-A Activist, an [a]ctivist. Take a moment to brainstorm a few ideas of how you think you could. You can take a look at the list below for some inspiration.

Grow a garden

Grow a garden…

One way that you can be an [a]ctivist is by growing a garden. Planting your own food can save a little money, but it has so many more benefits than that. It can help feed you and your family. It makes your space a little greener, which is good for you and for the planet. And at the same time, it teaches you a little bit about how plants grow, where food comes from, and even how we connect to the world around us. Depending on how much you grow, you might even be able to share a bit with your community.

Volunteer

Volunteer!

Another way that you can be an [a]ctivist is to volunteer. Volunteering looks a lot of different ways, and comes in a lot of forms, but ultimately it means giving your time and energy to others who need it. Sometimes that means spending time preparing food for or serving it to people in need. Other times that can be helping to build something for someone. It can be big, organized volunteering, working as part of a big group, but it can also just be you, offering to do something for someone who can’t. You can (and should) always ask a parent for ideas, or for help finding places that need volunteers. You’ll find there are always lots of opportunities.

Send a message

Send a message…

Another possibility is to send a message (or even lots of messages). Is there something that you’re passionate about? Tell people! You can do this in a lot of ways, too: you could write letters to family or friends (or even politicians, with some help from your parents), explaining why an issue is so important to you; you could make posters for your school or community, illustrating a problem or solution; with help from adults, you could even make your own website or social media page.

Donate

Donate…

Donating is another fantastic way to participate in Little-A Activism, and donating can take a lot of different forms, too. Volunteering is donating time, but you can donate your old clothes, you can donate food, you could even combine your [a]ctivism and sell the food you grow in your garden to donate money to a cause. What donating looks like is up to you (and of course your parents), but it can be a really wonderful way to get involved in your community.

The Possibilities are Endless!

No matter what you decide to do, the possibilities are endless. The most important thing to remember if something is really important to you is to keep working, keep acting. [A]ctivist or [a]ctivist, you’re making a difference.

If you have ideas, suggestions, or questions about Little-A Activism, let us know in the comments below!