Kids are selfish. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a jaded New York City nanny. Children, out of self-preservation instinct, only care about what benefits them. So how do we make politics matter to children? Make the lesson benefit them. Whether you’re a parent/guardian, cool family member, teacher, or caregiver like me, here are some ideas to cultivate politically-minded kids.
The topic of abortion is divisive for most people. Growing up in a culture where abortion is a taboo and illegal means that we don’t develop the vocabulary needed to organize. But how we approach the issue of abortion access with members of communities where speaking openly about abortion has dire consequences is key to change. It isn’t about what you and I believe. It’s about what women need.
Most of us have had a shitty job or two. But how many of us have had to support ourselves fully – let alone support a family – on a job like this? There are a lot of people out there who have to do just that. They earn the minimum wage at a thankless job that is their only form of income. And that income is extremely low. Simply put, the minimum wage is too low and has been that way for too long.
Capitalism! Love it or hate, that’s the economy we rely on in America. Capitalism affects every aspect of our lives in very unique and complicated ways. It fuels industries like film, television, print, and digital media. It fuels — well, everything, including an atmosphere of homophobia and heternormalism in the media.
You’ve seen the signs: “Pregnant? Scared? Alone? We Can Help.” Have you ever responded to one? Thousands of women have. Usually promising free services like pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and “judgment-free” counseling, these centers reach out to women in potentially vulnerable positions, claiming to offer hope and help. But what are they really like?
There is something else lurking below the surface that is making things even tougher for women to get – and stay – elected. And it’s hiding behind a friendly grin: that casual comment about the outfit she’s wearing or that mention of her hairstyle. Simply put: Discuss a female candidate’s appearance in the media, and you steal some of her political credibility.
The United States incarcerates a greater proportion of its population than any country in the world by far. When so few know the full extent of their own rights, even fewer are aware of or do not care about the rights guaranteed to the incarcerated. Despite the supposed “guarantee” of these rights, prisoners all over the U.S. are forced to serve out sentences in inhumane and torturous conditions.
It’s okay to disagree with people. It’s even okay to hold disdain for other people’s politics. But when we cross over into personal attacks, we’ve gone too far. Not only are we being rude, we’re also being unfair. So the next time you find yourself criticizing conservatives, remind yourself that what you’re critical of is their belief system – not the people themselves.
In the wake of the tragedies in Boston, we must challenge ourselves to reflect on our reactions to loss of life, violence, and tragedy. Why don’t Americans express the same outrage when similar — and far greater — tragedies occur abroad, or even in our own urban neighborhoods? Perhaps the barometer to our reactions is grounded in racism and xenophobia.
In my work, I’m regularly asked, “What can I do? I know that injustice exists, but I feel so powerless. I want to help!” Many folks of privilege struggle to figure out how to act for justice. More often than not, those who are denied access, voice, privilege, and justice in dominant culture know exactly what they need to do. So to that point, my answer to their question is always the same: “Listen.”