Collage Continues, Despite Stapleton Racists

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Hey Collage Fam,

I hope everyone’s summer was absolutely wonderful, and full of bright and beautiful experiences to carry with you as we move into a new school year!

Before I dig into what Collage will look like this year, I want to take a moment to discuss a matter that may have led you to this site (rather than our coursework!) Specifically, I need to address what has been going on in the neighborhood of Stapleton, in the city of Denver, Colorado. If you are not aware, that community has been in a multi-year fight around changing the name, given its affiliation with a well-known historic Klan leader here in the Denver area. During this fight, racist and biogted individuals – including numerous members of the Stapleton leadership – amped up their hate speech, using private and semi-private community groups as meeting places to discuss and promote their hate. Clearly, a large swath of the community was in agreement with their bigoted views, because the community yesterday (Monday, August 19th, 2019) voted 2:1 to retain their association with Klansman Stapleton.

One of our founders, Cameron Grant, has spent the last many weeks fighting back against that racist push. The result has been multifold, including community members purchasing his information, and numerous threats against his family. Ultimately scared bigots in that community managed to have his Facebook account permanently disabled, while they continue to operate their hate groups. As a result, they have in effect disabled the Collage Facebook Page as well.

Collage stands in full solidarity with our members, our parents, and our anti-racist communities.

Despite the uptick in hate in the Denver area, we are determined to push forward! We have been invited to build and deliver curricula for two Denver metro schools this year! We are so delighted for this incredible opportunity. Keep an eye out for more details, coming soon!

As always, we love you, and thank you for your care and support.

In Solidarity Always,

Cameron and Maníge Grant-Giles

Collage Colorado on the Denver Teacher Strike

Collage Colorado supports the DCTA/Denver Teachers’ Strike! As readers may know, negotiations between Denver teachers and the district regarding fair and adequate wages have reached an impasse. On Friday, January 25th, after 93% of DCTA members voted to authorize a strike, DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova petitioned the State of Colorado to block a strike for up to six months! This move would render a strike meaningless. Denver teachers responded by officially requesting that the State not step in, but we’re awaiting the decision.

We are… dedicated to an unshakeable belief that… financial burden should never be a barrier to quality education.

Although Collage is a private entity, and despite the fact that our classes are presently hosted at a DPS school, we stand with teachers. From our mission, “We are… dedicated to an unshakeable belief that… financial burden should never be a barrier to quality education.” That conviction goes in both directions; money should not be a factor for students or teachers! Teaching is a science and an art, and in the world today more (perhaps) than ever before, a quality education is a basic necessity for life. With it, anyone’s odds of livable pay, adequate health care, and a quality end of life go up tremendously. All that said, we may have to modify some plans depending on if the strike happens, as Collage will not cross picket lines.

We are encouraging all of our supporters to email DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova and tell her that you support Denver teachers, and believe they deserve a fair and living wage for their work.

La Frontera: Immigration and Education in Trump’s America

It’s cool outside, the leaves here in Denver, Colorado have all fallen, and kids are out of school on Thanksgiving Break. Given how cozy and quiet this season is supposed to be, it might seem like an odd time to talk about education, immigration, and human rights.

In fact, all three are tremendously important issues, and there isn’t any better time than now to talk about all three and how they intersect – not in spite of the holiday, but because of it. Let me explain.

A Little History

A lot could be said about the Thanksgiving Story, and a lot has over the years – most of it horribly untrue (warning – there is one bad word at the end of the video). The version of the story taught in schools for most parents today was at best horribly culturally insensitive; schools now do marginally better, though they often still gloss over the colonial overtones. Quaint or not, though, every version of the story has a few things in common: people whose lives were threatened in their homeland were forced to leave to find safety, and they arrived in a new place, only to discover that their new home wasn’t especially hospitable either.

Now, as we approach this Thanksgiving in the United States, another group of refugees is approaching the borders of this country. The difference, this time, is that these pilgrims are not colonizers seeking to take someone else’s home for their own, they are colleagues called by the promise of safety, opportunity, and the dignity of basic human rights – ostensibly the promise our nation makes to the world.

pilgrim noun
pil·​grim | \ˈpil-grəm \
Definition of pilgrim
1 : one who journeys in foreign lands : WAYFARER

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pilgrim 

Human Rights are for… Whom?

There are lots of things we could discuss when it comes to human rights – for example, what’s a right, and what’s a privilege? Does cultural heritage take priority over human rights? How do we protect them?

Nearly every nation in the world has some document that defines the rights that country protects within its borders. Similarly, the United Nations has a Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an outline for a basic quality of life and security for all people, that is theoretically supported by all the member nations. In reality, there are sometimes huge discrepancies between words and actions… and that leads us to the issue today.

human rights plural noun
\ˈhyü-mən \ˈrīts
Definition of human rights
: rights (such as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/human%20rights 

Education is a Right… Right?

One of the things we take for granted in this country is access to an education. In fact, education in the United States is compulsory, meaning that at least basic education is expected for everyone, and the legal systems here can take action to compel people to offer or receive it. Besides that, we argue about it, we spend more or less fantastical sums of money on it (mostly less, lately, but still – it’s a big industry)

Given all of that, one would assume that education was a basic human right in the United States… but it’s not!

It’s true… although education is essentially mandatory here in the USA, it is not protected in the US Bill of Rights or any other document here. And while education is the entire focus of Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as it stands the US has no intention of changing that. But education is protected here, and in fact, the United States protects education in a way many others do not: in the USA, education cannot be restricted based on immigration status.

asylee noun
asy·​lee | \ə-ˌsī-ˈlē \
plural asylees
Definition of asylee
law
: someone who is seeking asylum (see ASYLUM sense 3b) or who has been granted asylum

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/asylee 

Where Immigration and Education Meet: The Case of Plyler v. Doe

While the nation debates what other protections, services, and (upsettingly) consequences the caravans of asylees might face upon arrival, one issue that was settled long ago is that of all children among the caravans are entitled to an education once they are on US soil. How?

The Not-Quite-Right to education for all, regardless of immigration status, was established in the United States Supreme Court Case Plyler v. Doe. The case, originally brought by families in Texas whose undocumented children were being forced to attend schools other than their local public schools, and pay exorbitant and prohibitive tuition. The Supreme Court decided that this was unconstitutional, and in 1982 decided in favor of the plaintiffs (the person suing – in this case the parents). 

So, whatever Trump (or any administrations) thinks of those seeking life, safety, and security by making their pilgrimage to the United States, and whatever else happens, we owe the children coming here the sanctuary of school, not the fear of imprisonment.

Happy Thanksgiving

All The Updates!

Our first ever Fall for All Sale! #FALL4ALL

Good Morning Collage Fam!

Last week may have seemed a little quiet around here, but behind the scenes, a lot was happening to gear up for this week and beyond! We can’t tell you all the details yet, but a few things to look out for this week include…

  • La Frontera: Immigration and Education in Trump’s America – Did you think education was a human right? In the USA it’s not, but it is protected. This Wednesday, find out how, and what that means for us as a country, in our special report about the complex intersection between immigration in the United States today, and the theoretical right to education.
  • Fall for All Sale – Who needs the stress of Black Friday or Cyber Monday? From Monday, November 19th to Tuesday, November 26th, type in the discount code FALL4ALL at checkout for $10 off any order of $40 or more! Head over to our Facebook shop and check it out. Cheers!
  • Early Registration for Collage @ Odyssey Spring Session – Collage @ Odyssey’s Fall 2018 course is close to wrapping up, and winter break is fast approaching, and that means that it’s almost time to start registering for the Spring! More details will be posted soon, but if you’re a Denver-area parent, you can take a look at our course overview in the meantime.
  • Big Black Friday Reveal – We can’t say any more that that right now, but suffice it to say, there’s something big coming at the end of the week. Stay tuned!
  • Much, Much More!

We can’t wait to share all the things with you; keep an eye out here and on our social media as the week progresses!

 

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!

Consent is for Everyone

Let’s Talk About Consent…

So, I suppose we were always going to get to this post eventually, because consent is a major part of being part of a home, classroom, or community. It’s something really basic to being a person who interacts with other people.

This post is happening today, though, because the topic has become so utterly and painfully immediate that it clearly needs to be addressed; from the #MeToo movement, to accusations against numerous respected figures, to the Kavanaugh hearings… our own President has even mocked assaults against women. Our children and students hear these things on the radio and online, see them on TV, and know we’re talking about the issue. If we are, so are they, and that makes this an incredibly important time to have this conversation with them.

[RESOURCES FOR DISCUSSING CONSENT ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE!]

So, What Can I Do?

This is obviously a really serious and delicate issue, and we understand that it can be nerve wracking to think about bringing this stuff up, but evidence shows that beginning discussions about consent at a young age keeps kids safer, and eases the more mature conversations later on. Besides, there are lots of great tools that can help – the conversation is important, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating!

Before I start, let me explain that we at Collage Colorado are not therapists, and that these suggestions come from our combined years of experience teaching and parenting. You are welcome to disagree about anything we say here, and we welcome discussion! That only helps everybody keep everyone safer, and more respected.

REMEMBER! If you feel you or someone you know is being bullied or their consent is not being respected, tell a trusted adult.

First off, remember to talk to your kids at their level. This might seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering, because many educators’ and parents’ first fear in talking about consent is the belief that they’ll have to talk about “mature subjects”. You don’t! Not unless your students are ready, and if they are they’ll let you know (by asking questions, and because you likely already have a gauge on their maturity level to begin with). Start small… You can always add more detail later, as they need it.

Next, let your kids lead the conversation. Kids get consent at a basic level already. We all do; we all know when something doesn’t make us feel right, or makes us feel like our trust, our space, or our bodies, haven’t been respected. Once you’ve given kids a few prompts (ex. “How does it feel when somebody touches your hair when you don’t want it?”, “How do you feel when you don’t want a hug, and someone gives you one anyway?”), they will likely take off with it, which leads us to…

Now, on to making some agreements! Whether at school or at home, one very good way to reinforce the ideas that you and your kids or students have discussed is to write them down. Get a piece of paper or a board, and record 3-5 agreements about bodies, boundaries, and consent. Make sure your kids or students guide this step, too. Then have everyone (including you) sign the agreement.

After that, let kids ask questions. Really, this is true always, but for tough conversations like this, it’s especially important to check in one last time before the conversation is over. This makes sure there aren’t any hanging problems, misunderstandings, or uncertainties (at least as much as we can manage).

Finally, check in again later. Explicitly talking about consent should be a regular practice… when appropriate. It’s important to check in periodically to make sure that our kids still get it. It can take many times repeating a concept for kids to fully integrate it, and that goes for this concept, too. Making consent a regular check in also makes the conversation infinitely easier than having to have it as a reaction to something later. How often you check in is up to you, but whether parent, educator -whoever – make this conversation a habit.

Talking About The News

Talking about consent is a fantastic time to talk about what’s going on in the news, too, and vice versa, and all the same “rules” apply here, too. Talk about the Supreme Court hearings or #MeToo at your children’s level. And don’t worry about the details; ultimately, they matter far less that the overall concept, that all people have a right to determine what happens with their own bodies, and furthermore a right to stop others from violating or impeding that in any way.

Final Thoughts

Of course there’s so much more to consent than all of this, and the discussions each of us has will look different every time, depending on our kids, depending on what’s going on in the world, and so on. It’s important to know that for children of color, immigrants, and refugees here in the US, consent is an even more tenuous and potentially triggering topic; people’s race and religion can further change the impact of both the consequences and conversations around consent, and it’s our responsibility to be aware of this.

At the end of the day the most important thing is to keep talking. Destigmatizing conversations about consent make the world a safer and happier place for everybody.


Resources:

Although no resource is perfect, there are a few good tools that can help you to discuss consent with your kids or students (or colleagues!), including some fantastic videos.

  • “Consent for Kids” – This video talks about consent at the most basic level, and we believe it is appropriate for children starting around 6 years old.
  • “Consent: It’s as Simple as Tea” – This is consent for adults (and possibly teens). This video contains “bad” language, however it remains one of the best – and most concise – explanations of the importance of consent that you’re going to find. Our own Maníge Giles uses this video and the video above for her OWL classes; both are fantastic introductions to the idea.
  • “The Day You Begin”, by Jacqueline Woodson – This book is not actually about consent, but it is about racism and feeling othered, which is a major issue in addition to consent.

There are lots more resources out there, and you can be sure that as we find them, we’ll share them here on the blog, but in the meantime, if there are other good resources that you’ve found helpful, let us know in the comments!