Click here to read the full transcript
Jen Lumanlan 00:02
Hi, I’m Jen and I host the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. We all want our children to lead fulfilling lives, but it can be so
do you get tired of hearing the same old interests to podcast episodes? I don’t really But Jen thinks you might. I’m Jenny, a listener from Los Angeles, testing out a new way for listeners to record the introductions to podcast episodes. There’s no other resource out there quite like Your Parenting Mojo, which doesn’t just tell you about the latest scientific research on parenting and child development but puts it in context for you as well, so you can decide whether and how to use this new information. I listen because parenting can be scary and it’s reassuring to know what the experts think. If you’d like to get new episodes in your inbox, along with a free infographic on 13 reasons your child isn’t listening to you and what to do about each one. Sign up at YourParentingMojo.com/subscribe. You can also join the free Facebook group to continue the conversation. Over time you might get sick of hearing me read this intro so come and record one yourself. You can read from a script Jen provided or have some real fun with it and write your own. Just go to YourParentingMojo.com/RecordTheIntro. I can’t wait to hear yours
Jen Lumanlan 01:33
Hello and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo Podcast. Today we are going to do something I think that we’ve never done before. I don’t believe we have had Grammy-nominated people on the show before so I’m excited for that. We are welcoming Tommy Shepherd and Caitlin McGraw who are co-creators of the Grammy nominated Alphabet Rockers and they have quickly become an important voice for today’s youth curating content centered on children’s voices and social justice issues like racism and gender inclusion. Their Grammy-nominated album “Rise Shine #Woke” inspired kids to stand up to hate and they have a second Grammy-nominated album “Love” which lifts up the voices of trans-two-spirit and gender nonconforming communities. They recently received a third Grammy nomination for “Shine” (melanin remix) featured on all one tribe, which is nominated for a best children’s album. And now they’ve now written a picture book called You Are Not Alone, which empowers kids to love themselves and their identities stand up to hate, and have each other’s backs no matter what. And the book looks at how children can feel others because of their race, gender, culture, and other factors and how they can navigate discrimination, and find strengths from their friends and allies. Welcome, Tommy and Kaitlin, so great to have you here.
Thank you happy to be here.
Jen Lumanlan 02:41
All right, so I think the first thing that struck me when I was listening to your work is there are not so many intergenerational bands out there. How did you get started? And why did you choose music as your mechanism to get these ideas out into the world?
Yeah, well, we had been working in the schools independently and when we came together with alphabet rockers initially, actually, it was, you know, kind of subversive, we knew that hip hop was a cultural space for belonging, actually, and for expression. And so we were bringing hip hop into the schools in a way that we felt really served all children and quickly realized that articulating and being very specific with the adults about what inclusion is required all framework, so we shifted our mission statement, and since 2015 we have been making music intentionally that makes change. So each song holds a question that our children pose to us that we see as community agents for change and we work in community to kind of find a musical response and heart-centered space to share.
Jen Lumanlan 03:48
And so we’re here with the two of you today, but you are not the entirety of Alphabet Rockers, right? Yes, I should make that clear for folks who don’t know you.
Sure, yeah. We have a huge team who we are really about our collectivity, a lot of minds come together to conceptualize a lot of minds coming together to actually hold down the business part of things. We have a team that really is about keeping us on our toes with our affirmations and with our [unintelligible]. And we have team members that are also leading like Caitlin and I and other youngsters they lead you know, and leadership changes and leadership actually a thing that we really thrive on because we play follow the follower most of the time.
Jen Lumanlan 04:29
Yeah, and so when we’re watching an Alphabet Rockets recording, one of the things that we see most of, is children right? It’s children singing and often singing about themselves and how they show up in the world. How does that all work?
It’s a great question for each song has their own journey. So some songs do hold private conversations we’ve had with kids and families. The song you are not alone, for example, was a private conversation with a transgendered boy who shared what inclusion would look like for him in school and he had written something on a wall. We do a lot of anonymous sharing as well, whether it be now virtually actually it works really well, kids can write their ideas into songs without us even knowing who wrote it. But at the time in person, he put it up and posted it on the wall and said, “I need friends that have my back note, even when I’m not in the room.” And it really, kind of like broke us open a little bit to look at what’s the space we want to create for this child and with this child, because at that time, his family had done everything they could since he was a baby to, you know, kind of create the path forward together and they didn’t have this piece, they didn’t have the musical information that would say, “Okay, like, we know what the truth is in our hearts, we know what’s right in our heads, and we don’t have the spiritual connection, the culture to walk in where we can share with someone without articulating every piece of it.” And so that’s kind of what we did is we wrote that story with him at the center and with his family at the center, and the song that came out of it was really about the world we want to live in. It may not exist yet, but we want to be in a world where your friends have your back, no matter what. It goes right into the book as well. It’s like we just published a book by that name too, You’re Not Alone, where it’s like, “Oh, look, you know, they don’t say my name correct at school but my friend always corrects people,” and we’re looking for that, we’re looking for that bravery from any age, not just.
And the really interesting part about it is that the young people you’ve heard sing the songs are singing from their perspectives, but it’s from that perspective that Kaitlin is speaking of, they identified with these stories, and with these interviews that we had, they identify, so it almost seems like they are coming from their own perspectives, you’re gonna get some of that this year, some of them like coming from their own perspectives this year, however, they really just identified with not being alone with knowing that they’re not alone in these feelings, all of them.
Jen Lumanlan 06:55
Yeah, and I was watching last night, one of the videos on your website about the work that you’ve done in classrooms, and was just struck by how intentional the whole exercise that you go through with children to work together with them for an hour. I mean, it’s an hour. It’s a short length of time and creating a song with them in that time, and that they come out of this understanding a bit more about the importance of being heard, and having that experience of having been heard. That’s the secret sauce, right?
Yeah, there’s a lot of secret sauce happening, like some of that is just like, how are we still compadres business partners, like, 10 years still got stuff to process still in it like a quest, you know? And it’s a question and we’re still in it together. You know, that video of us writing with kids is actually from Mylan Elementary School, which is where we really started our whole initiative because, at the time, there wasn’t brave space talking about anti-racism, and we were at the front of it in terms of the tools that we had. So when kids were writing their songs, and we really listened to what does bias feel like to you what is unfair to you? And sometimes what they talked about, you know, what you think would be like a hot topic, and sometimes it was. Sometimes they would talk about how it’s not fair that people when they pollute in the ocean, it affects the world, there was a stretching for us of like, “Yeah, cause sometimes people will talk about changing the world is just about trash and animals, when we were really looking at our humanity. And so we wanted to make sure kids had a space where humanity was the why. It wasn’t the convenience of things that adults felt kids could fix, which is like, let’s recycle and pick up trash, it was like, “No,” but look at the space we hold together. And that all happened in that video you saw on our website.
And the cool part about that process, too, is that we spent probably 90% on the journey of getting to a song and 10% of actually putting the song together and making it happen and practicing with them. That’s kind of how we kind of do it, It’s really about them getting there. And then we just put it together and it happens, you know,
isn’t that kind of how we write songs? I mean, it’s like the process is the product.
Jen Lumanlan 09:08
Yeah, and I was thinking, you know, why music? why choose music to get this message out? And something that I read somewhere on your site, just made it click for me like anti-racist work is so often seen as something that happens up here and our heads, right? And you know, the whole White supremacist-based idea of anything that happens up in your head is valuable and important and good, and anything that happens in your body is sort of irrelevant at best. And you wrote about reconnecting those two, can you speak a little bit about how you use music to really connect thinking and knowing about anti-racist work?
Yes. The biggest thing. And we keep coming back to it right because we feel like kids, they’re actually, they’re thinking here actually in their hearts first, and adults are jammed up. So when people say, “Oh, these topics are too big for kids,” it’s like are they actually though because their hearts are so open, and so the weaving the music actually just creates an earworm of love of connection of validation of celebration, of advocacy, it just keeps going in and out.
It’s reminiscent of a cycle. Keeps feeding itself.
When we first started doing the racial justice music in particular, there were a lot of people who were like, “Oh, don’t do it, don’t do it, you’re gonna mess up, you’re gonna make somebody feel alienated, you’re gonna isolate people.” And you know, even trusted advisors were like, “You be careful because you have the risk of doing what White people have done with civil rights learning,” and just made it just feel yuck, you know, make somebody feel like they don’t belong with just one simple word, the word choice you use. When we talk about the 90% process, that’s where we do all of the rigor and the song is clarity. We’re not experimenting with children. We are sharing clarity.
Jen Lumanlan 10:50
And how does that come out as you’re writing a song with children? How are you sharing that clarity?
Well, they have it.
Yeah, they have it. A whole collage of words gets written on a board in the classroom and we collectively decide what’s the most important jewels of all of these words, and then we expand from there, “Well, words are rhyme with these words, and what can we say about this word that involves another word that we use,” we find out what’s important to them and then we just use that, and they become choruses, and they become verses, and then they become part of them after we’re gone.
Yeah, recently, we were in Virginia, and we were going to kick off a residency by writing a song with some children. And there was a protest at the same time of us because they were afraid of critical race theory, I believe was the guys that never use those words, and also, they’re transphobic, and there’s a bunch of things. We said, “Come in, sit down, listen, we’re not going to kick you out, we’re not here for that. We’re not going to call the police. You can sit in here and protest. This is a program for children and their parents. Now in that brainstorm the kids, we wanted to talk about power, when we know how we’re powerful. This has been a part of our journey during the COVID pandemic is let’s recenter so we really know what we do got because so much has been taken when we know our power, and we recognize each other’s power. That’s the spark. So these kids were like, they came up with probably 50 words about power, spark, energy, and the kids who didn’t want to speak could create dance moves. So like when we talk about the affirmations, the movement spaces like we don’t use one way to write a song, we don’t criticize people for spelling, for phrasing, for rhyming. I’m the worst at rhyming. I love loose rhymes we call them, so why not? Right? Why not demystify the artistic process and give everyone access that’s breaking up WHITE supremacy too.
Yeah, and there are even occasions where there’s a student who doesn’t even want to do the dance or the rap or the nothing, but they want to push the button to start the music, they want to stop it when it’s time to stop it, they want to reset it, you know what I mean? They want to do that stuff. They want to help move the chairs so we can make space, you know, they want to do that there for that too.
Jen Lumanlan 13:08
So, what happened with the protest?
What happened with it? Nothing. But we’re going back there in a couple of months, and I’m sure they will have regrouped and come harder.
We spent a little bit of time I believe, I think we both spoke it’s after it was over about spending a little bit of time like wondering like, like, “How am I gonna get you like, how am I gonna sting you?” You know what I mean? And then like, that faded after we got so engaged with the kids. Like we kind of forgot about that elephant in the room that was like ready to scrutinize us.
Yeah, we gave him a chance to share their ideas. They pass.
Yeah, every time this circle came around to their time, we were like, “Here’s another opportunity. You can do it. Oh, okay, no. Next time, we’re like, here’s your opportunity. Oh, okay.
Because that’s what happens in class too. We’re not going to hold any expectation that lingers, right? Because everybody can evolve in a moment and the culture of assigning a role to a child in the classroom is White supremacy culture, because every child is capable of shifting and growing, and it’s often the eye of the beholder and missing the clue.
Just because it didn’t happen for you last time doesn’t mean it might not this time, right?
Jen Lumanlan 14:13
Well, let’s hold out hope for those protesters, and what might shift for them next time.
Jen Lumanlan 14:20
There’s hope for all of us maybe. So your work really focuses very intentionally on centering children’s experience. Why do you think that that is so important as we work towards creating a culture of belonging?
I can say, this is for a long time I’ve really have been interested in the human experience and as a human, I have been a child before, and I’ve been in places where I’m like, “Oh, you know what? When I get older, I’m gonna do this. And when I get older, I’m gonna do that. And when I do this and that,” what I really starting to understand about being a teenager about adolescent, about being a little over 18, all those things, their experiences, their human experiences, we’re not trying to do at that age is here a bunch of all these cautionary tales, like don’t do this and don’t do that, because I’ve been there before, you know what I mean? Like, really just like, we need to be there to help guide that human experience versus dictate it or structure it or all of those things. I gotta say, I’m still like, not the strictest, but my son, he got rules, but at the same time, like letting him have his human experience and letting him have mistakes, let him make him because as a teenager, he makes them. That’s really what I’m personally interested in. I know Kaitlin is too, but she’s probably got more to say about it.
Listening sometimes when we’re together, I actually, just listen, they’re my parenting coach. So I have a two and five-year-old, and how they are coming up, I mean, I don’t want to narrate every piece of media that we share with a critical lens but sometimes I need to, because I can’t tolerate it, and can give you a million examples of what that sounds like and feels like, but what I find with the music that we’re creating that is centering children’s experience is it is an invitation to a space of belonging. And we, at times as adults, the process in the movement is like identifying what are the challenges, what are the blocks, what are the pain points, and we do that work, and then when we’re writing with our children, we also say, “Okay, well, let’s experience all that together. What would it look like on the other side of it? And how can we get there?” So that we’re not just yelling at the wall, right? How do we invite protesters into a space where, “Yeah, the energy is beautiful. The spark between children of all these different cultures matters. It’s interesting and it’s real. And that’s the thing is like, a lot of the protests and the fear is about stuff that is not real, and we are talking about stuff that is real.
Real for real
Jen Lumanlan 16:47
For real. Yeah, it’s so tempting to kind of push that away, right? Like, oh, no, they’re protesting this thing. Clearly, they’re wrong. Clearly, they have no idea what they’re talking about, let’s shut them out, and push them away. And you did exactly the opposite to that, and welcome them in multiple times.
I can recall being younger and experiencing White supremacy or experiencing something that wasn’t for me, and seven out of eight kids, and so I had a lot of older sisters and they would always say this phrase, “Oh, that’s White people stuff,” you know. And like, that was just, it wasn’t an angry thing, It was just like, “Yeah, that’s just not for you.” And I’d be like, “Okay, that’s not for me,” right? But what happened was, is I grew up and that White people’s stuff is White supremacy. And now as I get older, I’m just I’m actually involved in it, too, and now I get to teach my son about that, and I did that from preschool, yeah, you know what I mean? And so that’s also, how things are gonna change. That’s also how we’re gonna let them have the human experience.
So children’s music has typically been, I think more of a, like either learning the basics, so we believe these are basic. And not everybody has these as a basic energy or knowledge base when they’re creating for young people, so it’s not a diversity consultant that solves that, right? It’s actually probably for the most part, making space to co-write If you’re trying to create for children intentionally to disrupt White supremacist patterns because they’re thriving all the time, and as soon as you turn it off, they’re back and they’re pumping out content, and they’re interrupting your practices, so the vigilance around self-care, around even understanding the despair and the journey like all of that acceptance is a part of writing the music, right? So children’s music typically been either lullabies or ditties, or fun, and some of the stuff is doesn’t seem fun, but victory is fun, right? And abundant is glorious. So that is the energy that we come at, and when people are thinking, okay, children’s music for the car ride Alphabet Rockers, I tell you, my friend just got a car you know, there’s a supply shortage so we celebrate anyone who finally got their car, she’s like, ”Yes.” And she said, “You know what the first thing my son asked? Let’s put on Alphabet Rockers.” He’s five. First thing let’s put on that alphabet rocker song. He lives in the music in a way that affirms his identity. He’s five years old. And to have Black music for a Black boy in this world right now where he’s like, yeah, that’s mine. That is victory. And so we are in that space.
Jen Lumanlan 19:26
That’s awesome. And so you both are parents to children of somewhat different ages, it seems. I’m wondering about practices that you have intentionally brought into your family or maybe practices you have let go of in your families.
I love this question. So raw for me, I love it. It’s great. I mean, I will tell you, Tom is gonna go first on this because he is an excellent Dad and I swear to you, even when I didn’t have kids, I’d look at him and be like, “I’m gonna do it just like that.” So what did you do? Also, by the way, excellent dad and his wife is an amazing mom, so it’s not even separating them. Yeah.
Yeah, I was really trying to like trying to rope that in right now because it’s really like how we feel about how we grew up. Each of us individually, there’s some similarities to it, but there’s also some other things that we didn’t grow up like. It took us shedding all of those things that we thought we wanted to keep and that we thought we needed to keep, and that we didn’t even know we needed to keep that we kept, that we didn’t know that was there. And really do those things that we were asking my son to do, which is be kind, admit to your mistakes get over them, say please, and thank you. So it wasn’t, you know, like, we really are not about like, “Tommy, get over here! We’re like, “Tommy, what you’re doing? Please come here,” or, you know, we try to like just do those things that we are asking him to do too, and then there’s those times where you’re like, I am actually going to just have to be the parent here, out of human experience, I have to be the parent here. But we also identify those moments of like, you know what, this is not a debatable moment, this is actually just like, what it is what it’s going to be until we you know, we can figure out more nuanced conversation about it. So that’s how we’ve been doing it.
Yes. And one thing throughout the whole journey of watching and being a part of raising little Tommy who’s not living with them anymore, Is that he loves and lives with love, so when he meets somebody always looks him right in the eye and says, “Hello.” Uses pleasantries and like, you know, I think that shocks a lot of adults like, “Oh my gosh, this child wants to get to know me,” but like that’s authentic. That’s like a curiosity around like, “Yeah, Hi.” I always appreciated that. And um, okay, so I have a two and five-year-old, the biggest thing right now is restorative justice practices, letting go of control questioning it, my two-year-old is currently in a tantrum state me, and so I just have to do a lot of deep breathing, and then I just lie down next to her and I wait, that is really taxing at present, my friends. But no, but there’s a lot in there is like, okay, look at her beautiful brain, It’s firing right now, she doesn’t know how to make sense of it, she can’t control her body, what can I do that is kind right now and not controlling at first? So that’s I lie down on the ground next to her and it’s kind of waiting, sometimes I’ve held her clothes or things like that, I find that letting go of control is also letting go of being right, If letting go of being perfect, this sometimes has to happen in public where people could judge you and think you don’t know how to control your kids, which as a White parent, sometimes White people don’t take care of their families in a proper way, so I don’t want to be that White Mom, that’s just like letting things and the kids run anywhere they want to run, if not that, it’s around the boundaries but also the like, I’m not going to punish you for having not being able to control your body. I don’t want to punish you. And what is punishment, really? Why is that a part of our family structure, this is not the subject to this podcast but that is the big work of our generation of families and the one to come, is like, how do we shift the culture where sometimes punishment in certain cultures has been to protect, and so those reasons for protection still exist, but we do need to evolve and love each other’s children. I need to love your children in a way that you don’t need to protect them from me. That’s my work to do.
Wow, you said a really funny thing because you said, really what the word is, is punishment, but what we’re talking about is discipline. Discipline our kids, this is what we’re doing and that’s the word that we use, whether it’s physical or emotional, or just regular nuts and bolts of it, but what it can turn to be is punishment. Interesting.
So we’re in process on this. Yeah, you can know about that.
Jen Lumanlan 24:07
I mean, you said enough there that we could spend an entire another episode and yeah, I guess a couple points on the tantrums. Yeah, I mean, if we think about what’s happening to that child’s brain when they’re having a tantrum, they are experiencing something that they are trying to make sense of right now and they’re having a really hard time, and that happens to us as well, right? We have periods of time where somebody says something to us, and we react and it hits us all of a sudden, and we feel like we’re exploding and we’re just as dysregulated as they are when we’re having a tantrum, and yet would punishment help us in that moment? Would disconnection help us in that moment? I don’t think that it would. And so yes, so the things that you’re doing with your child are the opposite of punishment, right? They’re deeply connecting.
So, I think it’s like the rituals of timeouts like that seemed like a good enough reason. We’ve talked a lot about this, I asked Tommy and on about it, timeouts and they don’t always sit with Tommy, right?
Yeah, okay. Fine. Will timeout too.
And I think the nature of like when you really get at it, and you think about, well, this person needs a break from society or is it that they need to be pulled closer and pour it in given resources like that is like real cultural fear, and we’re all holding it. So parents who think I’m busy, and I don’t have anything to do with this system of incarceration, like every part of what we’re doing as a controller of a family is in some ways, like, connected.
Jen Lumanlan 25:32
Yeah, because this is where our kids learn, right? This is where they learn that somebody who has more power.
And when we say, that’s good, and that’s bad. That also like, I get really frustrated, like, those are the books I can’t do when it’s like, this person’s bad and this person is good. I’m like, well, actually, they may have made a bad choice, but it doesn’t inform who that person is, or that cat, you know, they’re just making a bad choice and that’s where you have to fill in the blanks. That language goes right to the playground, you get to be the bad guy, and you know, they choose the darkest skin kids to be the bad guy, still today in Berkeley, California. It’s never acceptable. So change the game.
Jen Lumanlan 26:11
Yeah, and then the other thing that I wanted to come back to that you said a minute ago that I think is super, super important is the work of loving everybody else’s children, as much as you love your own, and that particularly the work of White parents, can you say a little bit more about that?
Yeah, I’ve been feeling that for years toward the whole country talking to families and about what’s really going on under it, and a lot of times people distance themselves from the experience that is shared, so White supremacy, racism, or shared experiences, and the passivity around it around not really being curious about a family’s history, what’s going on, all of that passivity is playing into patterns of fear, and disassociation. And these are the same folks who want us to sing the songs about we’re all the same, be kind, and everything changes, but like, it’s not just be kind, it’s not just hold the door one time, it’s actually like shifting the whole system and your role in it.
I’ll spend a lot of time personally, professionally, and everything in between trying to convince White people why their kid should know about why my kid is in danger. Even if they’re the same age, they still feel like they don’t have anything to do with what my kid is dealing with, and it’s just not true. As a matter of fact, that got to a place where I was like, your kid can’t hang out with mine if you don’t know, so he’s dangerous to them, she’s dangerous to him, you know. And so, I mean, that’s the way we are now, we always, you know, of course, we get to know all of their friends, but we really, we even if their parents haven’t talked to them about being safe around our son, then we ask their parents to do it, or they can’t hang out. That’s what it is.
Jen Lumanlan 27:54
And that shouldn’t be on here, right?
Yeah, no, I shouldn’t be on us. And so like, really don’t spend that much time trying to convince people of that anymore, fortunately, I just don’t mess with them. I have other places to go and other things to do than to like, go down there. I’ll see you when you get up here.
You know, it’s funny, like the book we wrote, You Are Not Alone, because I know what brought us together is we’ve been touring this with a virtually with communities around the country, and children have come back to us, we said like, “What do you think they watch the music video? What do you think is making the child feel lonely?” And they’ve said, “Racism and Bullying.” So it’s happening whether you want it to happen or not and so when children are young, they’re kind of like is a culture of like, everyone’s kids are cute, and then they’re dangerous, at what age what eight for Black boys and girls, they start holding all of our fear. So in the book, it was really beautiful to create this with them, the illustrator Ashley Evans, and she created this illustration of a White woman shopkeeper, that’s what she looks like, she got her hands on her hips and her broom. And there’s the Black boy with his baseball hat and his bike is pushing him with his backpack, and he’s saying, “You don’t make me feel safe. I don’t feel safe here.” And when we show this picture to the kids, we talk about bias, like it’s clear that there’s a racial bias happening here. Now, this is the work we hope that happens in a family when you stop on that page, it’s like, “What’s happening here? And why does she think she’s in charge?” Like her job is to clean that you know, the stoop it’s not to judge people, but she’s taking that on as her job is I get to judge who belongs here. And this conversation is like the Karen’s, it’s the Central Park, It’s unfortunately, like moves into law enforcement, but we’re talking about it the role that we play with each other’s kids in our communities, when we play that role, nobody is safe. That is like as soon as you start judging, and what are you doing here, and all these things you’re making it an unsafe place for anyone to live and grow. So yeah, and it’s a children’s book, but you know, but that’s really it. I mean, people are gonna feel that, like, yeah, I seen the way they look at my dad, I see the way they look at me. We’re not like introducing the culture.
It’s not anything new. It’s just stories that some of the people that we know wish were told.
Jen Lumanlan 30:18
It’s happening anyway, right? Whether or not you wrote the book about it, it’s happening anyway and this is just kind of bringing into the light. So I wonder if you can tell us a little bit more about like, who’s the audience for this book? What’s the age range? So that parents who are listening can understand, okay, is this book for my child and for my family?
Totally. I love it because we just read it to middle schoolers last week, and they were all about it. That surprised me. I was like, middle schoolers. They’re just like, that’s me or this is what it makes me want to write or yeah, and I can do the kids in my school need to say my name right to, middle school. So but we wrote it for the shared experience of reading a book with your child, I would say from school aid.
Yeah, but what we’re starting to really get this messages and pings of people saying,” Oh, this is right at my kids reading level,” and is really cool for an end, they’re also saying, as an adult is really cool to read with my kid when that wasn’t our demographic, it was considered, you know what I mean. But we wanted it to be for that time of either going to sleep or it’s time to read a book, it’s actually working out the way we wanted it to, which is really dope.
Yeah, and it’s interesting, too, because as people review it, their own biases come up, “Well this is for older kids,” and so it’s like, okay, well, your kids are obviously, I mean, I don’t want to make any assumptions. That’s its own choice, you know. For me, even if my kids don’t understand all the words, I want them to see the pictures, I want them to know this is the world they’re gonna be walking in, or they already are. I really love the opportunity to reflect our community, which is the Bay Area, but also like, when we traveled to these communities, like in Virginia, like families will come up and say, you know, we’ve been waiting for you, or those grandmothers have put their babies right in front and they’re like, we just want them to be in this space. Here we are. And it’s the same thing with this book now all over the country is like, okay, it’s an opportunity for a shared conversation is not a mono-cultural experience. So you jump from a Black character to a South Asian character, there’s a non-binary character whose cultural are not shared, there’s an indigenous character who’s creed. You know, all of these we overlap, we intersect, and it’s not done of a like, we’re not trying to tick boxes, we were wanting to uphold real narratives from our community of like, this is how we show up.
Jen Lumanlan 32:37
Yeah, I would actually encourage parents who are listening and even if they have children on the younger side, but then I think you could probably read this with a five-year-old, I would say, maybe not the whole thing, it’s longer than I was expecting, actually, maybe they wouldn’t necessarily have the attention span to get all the way through it or maybe they would, but you could also dip into it, right? You don’t have to read the whole thing all at once, you could dip into it and leave it, and come back again, another time. I think there’s a richness there that would reward coming back to it multiple times. It doesn’t have to be sort of, Okay, we’re gonna sit through this book now and then we’re done kind of experience.
Yeah, I agree. We also know that there are also kids that are older that are still doing the same thing, they’re dipping back into it, and you know, reading it again.
Jen Lumanlan 33:20
Cool, awesome. So we’ll put a link to the book on the show notes page for this episode. As we wrap up, I’m just wondering if you two have any thoughts on actions that parents and children can do together related to the kinds of issues that we’ve been talking about today, because I know a lot of the work that I do on this front is sort of me doing it and less bringing her in, and there are some things that we do together as well. But I’m just curious, for those who are listening, who are embarking on this journey or are relatively new to this journey, and you’re thinking how do we do this as a family? What I do is you have to share with parents on that.
I was gonna say everybody’s at such different walks of life do you have like a typical audience member you’re thinking of because everyone’s process is different based on their cultural experience. I honestly think White parents need to do their own self-reflection and do their own work before they necessarily involve their children, but I think specifically, it’s the humility, and White, and it’s the humility of I don’t know, and it’s important for us to ask these questions together.
It’ll be okay with the guilt.
Yeah, let go of the shame, like nobody’s trying to shame you for what you don’t know or what your ancestors did, but we are here now we have the gift of life right now, so what can we do together? It’s, it’s a highly personal thing of what activism looks like for people. If your activism is supporting people, whether it be on like social media, show pictures to your kids, like, here’s somebody who inspires me like I’m sharing the story about this transgendered actor who just won the Emmy Award right? And you share them with your child and say, Isn’t that beautiful? And like obviously, the kids can’t watch post necessarily, but like this is a huge win for the culture. And so celebrating like that of it, you know, this person inspires in our community and there’s a lot of activations we have in our anti-racist curriculum, which you can get it off at Rockers.com called we got work to do. But I was just thinking for this exact moment, like how do you activate after reading a book.
I’m also picking up those White parents who are doing that like you, at some level of it, you know, there’s weight, like for Kaitlin and I, we see signals, everything we see a science, you know, and we see these signals. And I think, as a society as Americans, like, we could play that game with ourselves and see how many signals we’re catching, see in the advertisements is who are they for? Could play that game with our kids, we can be like, “Oh, okay, so who’s not here?” You can do that but you got to want to do that, right? You got to have to be in the headspace to be like, oh, yeah, there’s always gonna be someone missing this, who’s missing? And what is this for? And, you know, I mean, we do those things, and if it’s bigger than a game, it’s just, you know, we are in tune to the signals.
I think, like the work for White parents also is like getting okay with being imperfect and getting okay with your friends thinking that you’re causing trouble. So the thing with White parents is there’s an obsession with being seen a certain way, even within like the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020 like there’s a lot of like posturing, and there’s so many resources available. I’m just talking with Leila side of me and White supremacy around you know, performative activism and really just investigating, why do I need to be known for this? That’s important too, like, are you undoing a legacy in your family? There may be a reason why sharing it does the work for you, it opens up for a courageous conversation with your cousin that you can’t figure out how to talk to you about something, but if it’s not about that, it’s just about trying to get stripes like those stripes are fading.
Jen Lumanlan 36:50
Well, thank you so much for being here with us. I wonder if you could tell us where folks can find you, maybe virtually online? And also, how would we would find out about places that you’re going to be because I just learned that we were in the same place yesterday, and I missed it because I didn’t know. What is the best place to be connected with you?
We are Alphabet Rockers everywhere. Our website is AlphabetRockets.com. We’re at Alphabet Rockers on the other platforms. If you search the word Alphabet and Rockers and not rockets, then you’re gonna be good.
Our website has just recently been updated with all our upcoming events, we will be doing we’re delighted to report we’ll be doing some in-person concerts throughout the spring and fall. And we do a lot of virtual engagements too, which is a great opportunity for schools right now, if you have that PTA budget, and you’re just thinking, gosh, I want to just offer something up to connect us, I think that is the biggest gift we can offer to you is like whether you’re reading our book as a family, listening to the music, watching the music videos like you’ll feel our hearts just like right there with you. We want to connect the world together.
Jen Lumanlan 37:53
Awesome. And on that note, thank you so much for being here with us and sharing your message, and sharing the book with us. It’s been such an honor to have you here.
Thank you keep it up.
Jen Lumanlan 38:02
And so, all of the information on where to find the book You Are Not Alone, as well as all of the Alphabet Rockers songs and other resources can be found at YourParentingMojo.com/AlphabetRockers.
Hi, this is Jenny from Los Angeles. We know that you have a lot of choices about where you get information about parenting and we’re honored that you’ve chosen us as we move toward a world in which everyone’s lives and contributions are valued. If you’d like to help keep the show ad-free, please consider making a donation on the episode page that Jen just mentioned. Thanks again for listening to this episode of The Your Parenting Mojo podcast. Don’t forget to head to YourParentingMojo.com/ RecordTheIntro, to record your own messages for the show.
About the author, Jen
Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.