Diversity Blast: Holidays

Welcome to the final diversity blast of 2013!

It’s been a delight to spend a significant chunk of time each week culling the internet for the best media pertaining to issues of diversity, equity and inclusiveness. If nothing else, I’ve been continually reminded of the many intersections of our work and other walks of life. This week’s theme is the holidays, and while it strays a bit away from past themes that have had a clear-cut impact on students and families, we’ll look more generally at the climate of this season, cultural traditions and the politics that arise during this time of year. What’s on the minds of our students and their parents? What persistent reminders of race and class pop up in the seemingly innocuous traditions of our respective cultures? What does the “holiday spirit” mean to someone who has to report to work on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas and the day after, just to get by? All these thoughts and more in this week’s blast!

Shopping and Spending

  • What’s Driving this Year’s Black Friday Mania?
    • Reverberations of the government shutdown combined with reductions in government relief programs like SNAP have resulted in depressed holiday spending. To compensate, businesses have dramatically extended shopping hours, often on the backs of their lowest-wage workers.
  • Holiday Belt-Tightening for Minimum Wage Workers
    • While this time of year is marked by plentiful meals, opulent decorations and overflowing gift bags, America’s minimum wage workers are struggling to scrape by.

 

Gifting

 

Kwanzaa: A beginner’s guide

At a recent gathering, it dawned on me and several African-American friends that we had no idea how to celebrate Kwanzaa; in fact, we could scarcely name half of the seven nights of Kwanzaa. My manager, Shani, was able to illuminate the holiday for us, especially given that she began celebrating Kwanzaa before celebrating Christmas. Here’s a few how-to guides and generally interesting information for the Kwanzaa novices out there!

 

Race and Santa

A different color of ClausRecently, Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly garnered more than a few headlines when she stated that Santa was white. Read some reactions and thoughts below!

 

 

Black Pete: harmless tradition or harmful oversight?

The longstanding Dutch tradition of Zwarte Piet or Black Pete has come into question of late, thanks in part to the UN’s formal scrutiny of the practice. For context, Black Pete is Sinterklaas’s dim-witted and clumsy helper who also happens to be black. He also happens to be beloved by the Dutch people! While some say he’s black because he’s merely covered in soot—which raises the question, why isn’t Sinterklaas also black?—others say he is black because he’s a Moor, a Muslim of African-descent who came to Europe via Spain. Dutch men and women play Black Pete in parades and festivals across the country by covering themselves in deep brown or black makeup, painting on garishly large red lips and donning curly black wigs. Protests against the tradition have gone mostly ignored in a country where upwards of 90% of people support the traditions. It’s problematic, but  Check out some of the opinions shared in the articles below!

 

I’ll end with an interesting piece that calls for a different set of gifts than one typically receives. In her queer people of color holiday survival guide, Spectra urges all people to give the gifts of empathy, storytelling and media. She writes, “Media can help us tell our stories (even when we’re not in the room).” I hope this blast can help continue to circulate the stories that might go overlooked or forgotten. With that in mind, please feel free to send me pieces you read or come across between now and the next blast so that we can tell as many stories about ourselves, our students, their families and their communities as possible.

I hope everyone travels safely, and finds deep peace in the coming gweeks of rest and restoration. Here’s to a new year, new opportunities to grow, and renewed hope for what’s to come.

 

With all my best tidings,

Brynn

 

PS: If you find yourself struggling to make it through your respective celebrations due to identity/political issues, please check out Feministing’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays!

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