Revisiting Charlottesville

“…and then some of them took a knee and got out their gas masks, and at this point I was telling some of the policemen, ‘This is not necessary! What are you doing?’”

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photograph courtesy of Ézé Amos

In our most recent interview with photographer Ézé Amos, we mentioned that Ézé would be out again on August 12th, the day of another planned right-wing, white-supremacist march. That march, and its aftermath, are currently taking place.

We’re reposting our interview with Ézé to do what we can to highlight the strong grassroots community response to this horrific Nazi march. (And yes, we’ll stick with the term ‘Nazi’ so long as participants are carrying swastikas.)

Stay safe out there, all. Thank you for your courage.

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Here at Small Stones, we define education, and educators, broadly. So often, classrooms appear in the most unexpected places.

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Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

As we continue our own work of interviewing some of these educators, we wanted to share with you work from a friend of the blog. Photographer and photojournalist Eze Amos, a Charlottesville, Virginia local, has found himself in the middle of some of the larger protests and counter protests that have taken place since the 2016 election. We are featuring some of his images in this post; there are far more on his Instagram feed.

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Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

The issue at hand? A statue of Robert E. Lee, erected in 1924, that the city voted to remove earlier this year. The removal, however, is being held up by legal challenges. In May, white supremacist groups marched on the city carrying torches. This past Saturday, July 8, the KKK arrived.

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Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

We were fortunate to be able to talk with Eze about his experience at the counter-demonstration, and here’s what he had to say:

What I saw, after the KKK guys had left the city, is they drove off with police escort right in front of them, and there was a [police] car behind the convoy of KKK guys. I’ve been telling friends about this actually, they were definitely given—the only thing short of red carpet treatment was actual red carpets. What they give them that day, it was amazing. Anyhow, the police escorted the KKK out of the city. And of course, people were still agitated—KKK came to town—so there were still people out in the streets. Nobody was being violent.

The police, the state police that were all in riot gear, turned around as though they were leaving. [Then] they went back up to the park and then suddenly they turned around, and then some of them took a knee and got out their gas masks. And at this point I was telling some of the policemen, “This is not necessary! What are you doing?” But they just kept doing what they were doing, putting on their masks, so I immediately stepped a little bit away from them.

Moments later, I heard the first gas canister go off, which was without warning. They didn’t warn anybody. So of course some of the people saw that this was happening, that the police put on gas masks, so they wrapped cloaks around their faces, to prevent whatever gas they were going to deploy. Now they’re charging those people for covering their faces in a public place, which I think is ridiculous. So that was what I saw. The police deployed the gas after KKK had left. KKK had left, and twenty minutes after they had left, this whole gas thing happened, and they deployed three gas canisters.

And the craziest part of it was after they did this, the crowd, you know, people were still on the streets, and the police just turned around, got in their vans, and drove off. The state police. So they weren’t really deploying the gas to displace the people or get the people out of the street, they were just doing it for exercise, I think, because it doesn’t make sense that you’d deploy gas and then you’d turn around and just leave the people on the street and just drive off.

So basically, that is what happened. That’s what I saw. I got some photos to back that up. You can see [from] most of the photos, I didn’t get right to where the gas was deployed initially, because of course I was running away from getting the gas in my system, and I got some, I got pepper in my face and stuff, but, yeah. That is what I saw. That’s what happened.

Police ultimately used tear gas, and 23 counter-protestors were arrested. Local activists are currently preparing to oppose a planned Alt-Right March on Charlottesville. If you’re interested in helping out, you can contribute to Solidarity Cville Anti-Racist Legal Fund here. You can also use an ACLU-spearheaded form to register your thoughts with the Charlottesville City Council.

Unless the city revokes the permit for the August 12th march, we may, unfortunately, be featuring more images from the ensuing pushback.

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Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

 

Do You Have A Story To Share?

We are excellent listeners.

Small Stones publishes diverse first-person narratives related to education, civic-minded action, resistance, and anything else fascinating that falls into our laps. You can download a description of our interview process here.

Our guiding beliefs and goals for these interviews are:

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  • History is personal as well as factual. Facts and statistics are part of history, but so, too, is personal experience—otherwise known as ‘your story’ or ‘oral history.’ First-person stories are humanizing because we all have them, whether we’re famous or not.
  • Stories can be transformational. People learn about themselves and the human condition by sharing, reading, and hearing stories. They also foster connection with others. We aim to to foster a sense of agency in our narrators and ourselves via storytelling.
  • Oral history is an opportunity to honor a person. We aim to be respectful, trustworthy, and accurate as we listen to and share our narrators’ stories.

Our standard process is to record, transcribe, and edit the interview cooperatively with you. However, you remain in control: you can call off the process at any time; you can edit the interview; and we’re happy to publish the interview anonymously if that makes sense for you.

Read more about our interview process hereIf you’re interested in telling your story, please email us to discuss: smallstonesedu@gmail.com. Or reach out on Twitter. We’re at @smallstonesedu.

Small Stones Interviews: Eze Amos, Photographer

“…and then some of them took a knee and got out their gas masks, and at this point I was telling some of the policemen, ‘This is not necessary! What are you doing?'”

Here at Small Stones, we define education, and educators, broadly. So often, classrooms appear in the most unexpected places.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.00.07 PM
Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

As we continue our own work of interviewing some of these educators, we wanted to share with you work from a friend of the blog. Photographer and photojournalist Eze Amos, a Charlottesville, Virginia local, has found himself in the middle of some of the larger protests and counter protests that have taken place since the 2016 election. We are featuring some of his images in this post; there are far more on his Instagram feed.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.04.57 PM.png
Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

The issue at hand? A statue of Robert E. Lee, erected in 1924, that the city voted to remove earlier this year. The removal, however, is being held up by legal challenges. In May, white supremacist groups marched on the city carrying torches. This past Saturday, July 8, the KKK arrived. Continue reading “Small Stones Interviews: Eze Amos, Photographer”

Contact Your Reps!

There’s movement in the Senate on the repeal of the ACA. We could go over all of the reasons why this is a horrible idea, but instead we’ll just point you towards an opinion piece by David Leonhardt from the New York Times:

I realize it will be hard to pay attention to any other political story this week, but I urge you to find the extra attention span, because there is another important, disturbing story developing: The chances of the Senate taking away health insurance from millions of people seem to be rising.

Here are our resources for contacting your representatives, whether yourself or with a cohort of students.

And if you’re like us, and you can’t stay on hold today, consider Resistbot. In under five minutes, via text, send a fax to your representatives.

 

Migra Watch

Witness, Accompany, and Advocate During ICE Raids

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This is a personal post. Yesterday, I, Eva, participated in the first post-election event that made me feel potentially useful — beyond marching, phoning, or attending a meeting. I am sharing in case you want to look for similar opportunities. The event was a 2-hour training to be a witness to ICE immigration raids.

Community groups in Santa Clara County, California, are setting up a rapid response network that will have its soft launch this week: a hotline for undocumented immigrants, and their family and friends, to call if ICE shows up at the door. A dispatcher will answer the phone, guide the caller through his/her rights, and text a network of citizen-witnesses who will come to the site of the raid to document it.

Here’s how my event was advertised:

Come learn how you can be a rapid responder so that we can respond to calls from community members concerned about immediate ICE actions throughout Santa Clara County.

The Rapid Response Network aims to expand the community’s capacity to monitor and document ICE operations in real time. We will support the process of gathering evidence used to free someone from ICE custody. We will expose the intimidating and unconstitutional tactics ICE uses to detain immigrants.

Please invite others to attend to help us build the Rapid Response Network we will launch very soon with many partners and volunteers, like you!

I’ve now been trained to be a citizen-witness, with basic knowledge of how to comply with ICE directives while recording the encounter on my phone and documenting the unfolding events. How many agents? What did they say? From which agencies did they come? Badge numbers. Vehicle license plates. And more.

The attorney who helped train us recommends US citizens serve as witnesses because we’re at lower legal risk than immigrants. It’s also something white people can usefully do, with more possible roles if you speak Spanish (I don’t).

I was trained through an event organized by PACT-San José. If you live in Santa Clara County, you can go to their events calendar to sign up for a training. In the event of a raid within 2-5 miles of your address, you’ll receive a text asking if you can come document it. Even if it takes you a while to arrive, it’s helpful. We learned that raids in the Bay Area have been 3 to 6 hours long.

I’m told San Mateo, San Francisco, and Alameda Counties have similar networks. I did some online searching and found the San Francisco Rapid Response Network and another in Brooklyn, NY. The PICO website appears to be a place to hunt for more area networks (I started on their press release page).

Messages of Solidarity

Marching for hope and fellowship

A little more on Saturday’s marches: Invariably, each person marches for his/her/their own reasons. That’s okay; we don’t have to, and won’t, agree on every issue.

We were struck by the hopeful note many marchers struck at the San José, California march, with lots of statements of core values and of fellowship. Here are a few we loved:

(All pictures by Eva for .smallstones.)

The signs say:

  • Love is greater than fear.
  • Strong Together.
  • I’m marching for dignity and civil rights. No exceptions.
  • Respect existence or expect resistance.
  • Love, not hate, makes America great.
  • We all belong here. We will defend each other.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent.
  • There is nothing more urgent than freedom.
  • Peace, not prejudice (in Arabic, Russian and English). Listen. Respect. Friendship. Equality.

Re. Inauguration

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image by Shepard Fairey, available for free download

Well, it’s here. We’ve got a few things that may be useful now and in the short term.

First, get your images. Via The Amplifier Foundation, download the series of We the People protest art, for free. One of these amazing images above.

Resistance 101: A Lesson for Inauguration Day Teach-Ins and Beyond comes from Teaching for Change. This is a middle and high school lesson focused on allowing students to “meet” a variety of activists. Students conduct interviews, taking turns acting as the American activists.

There’s a wealth of information, including short biographies with photos, and the handouts are easy to use. The list of activists ranges from Ella Baker to Yuri Kochiyama to Mother Jones to Ida B. Wells. There’s also good information on other places to conduct further research.

Note: this lesson requires a name and email in order to access the download. 

The lesson is based on the format of a Rethinking Schools lesson called Unsung Heroes and draws from lessons by Teaching for Change on women’s history and the Civil Rights Movement, including Selma.

This lesson can make participants aware of how many more activists there are than just the few heroes highlighted in textbooks, children’s books, and the media. The lesson provides only a brief introduction to the lives of the people profiled. In order to facilitate learning more, we limited our list to people whose work has been well enough documented that students can find more in booksand/or online.

Teaching After the Election of Trump comes from the Zinn Education Center. This is a landing page that curates the Zinn Education Center’s resources and lesson plans that are most appropriate for this political moment, and they are grouped by subject. Categories include Environment, Civil Liberties, Economic Inequality, Muslims, Press, Immigration, and more.

Check out this website when you have a little more time to spend–there’s a wealth of information, and it’s well-organized. Each section also invites you to click a link to learn more about various topics, and there’s a lot of great material here.

No doubt, still reeling from this poisonous election, it is hard to be hopeful. But we invite you to draw on curriculum at the Zinn Education Project to help your students make sense of this new context. We include lessons—some highlighted below—that:

  • Show how social movements have made important strides even during dark times.
  • Help students explore other moments in history when elites have mobilized to roll back racial and economic progress.
  • Highlight examples of “divide and conquer” politics.
  • Help students explore aspects of Trump’s agenda—immigration, the environment, Muslims, civil liberties, the press, and economic inequality.

It’s vital that we introduce our students to the individuals and social movements that have made this country more just.

#TeachResistance is a group after our own heart, founded in the aftermath of election results to help teachers, students, and families navigate both education and resistance.

January 20th is their Inauguration Day Teach In; you can read more about this project here. We’re coming to the teach-in a little late, but fortunately it looks as though this group of NYC-based educators is going to continue putting out good material.

There’s a toolkit available for download that contains lesson plans for K-5th grade, and while it’s linked to the inauguration, it’s well worth checking out for use at any other time. Currently, they feature teachers and books on their Tumblr and link to lesson plans that those teachers have developed.

From their statement of purpose:

WHEN

  • #TeachResistance is designed to support a Teach In on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017, but the work is bigger than one day, and it is bigger than all of us. We envision it as part of the ongoing collaboration between educators, parents, and all those who want to prepare children to be an active part of our democracy.

HOW/WHAT

  • The goal of the #TeachResistance toolkit is to share stories of resistance from the past and teach strategies for resistance in the present. Students will learn about ways that young people have fought back against injustice in different times and different places.
  • Through age appropriate read alouds and suggested activities, we will introduce students to stories of communities coming together to make a difference.

Holiday Reading List

In honor of Martin Luther King Day

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Got a little bit of time over the long weekend? Here are a few things that we found fascinating, frightening, and fundamental this week.

Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: In honor of the holiday, edutopia presents seven rich resources for educators looking to integrate more material on King and the Civil Rights Movement into their classrooms, now and throughout the year.

Since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983, the holiday has provided an opportunity for Americans to honor and learn from the iconic figure. Yet teaching about King’s cultural legacy shouldn’t be limited to January and February. That legacy should be celebrated and analyzed in classrooms throughout the year. And at this moment in American history, King’s philosophy of nonviolence can help bring balance to classroom discussions.

The key, though, is ensuring that King’s ideas aren’t oversimplified, wrote Melinda D. Anderson in The Atlantic last year. Students should be encouraged to examine King through a broader lens, and to research his important ideas in areas like voting rights, housing and economic inequity, nonviolent activism, and social justice. The Dos and Don’ts of Celebrating MLK Day, from Teaching Tolerance, offers some wonderful ideas to start.

(We recently featured “The Dos and Don’ts of Celebrating MLK Day” on our Twitter account and can highly recommend it as well.)

Two from Robert Reich:

The 15 Warning Signs of Impending Tyrannya well-documented list of events that are unfortunately more than a little familiar at this point. An important, if difficult, read.

As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically:

1.  Exaggerate their mandate to govern – claiming, for example, that they won an election by a landslide even after losing the popular vote.

2.  Repeatedly claim massive voter fraud in the absence of any evidence, in order to restrict voting in subsequent elections.

3.  Call anyone who opposes them “enemies.”

and

Robert Reich’s First 100 Days Resistance Agenda, over at Alternet, a list of 14 steps we can take towards meaningful–and effective–resistance.

2. March and demonstrate—in a coordinated, well-managed way. The “1 Million Women March” is already scheduled for the Inauguration—and will be executed with real skill. See: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/11/15/counter-trump-women-are-mobilizing-massive-march-washington. There will be “sister” marches around the country—in LA and elsewhere. They need to be coordinated and orchestrated. And then? 1 Million Muslims? 1 Million Latinos? What would keep the momentum alive and keep the message going?

3. Boycott all Trump products, real estate, hotels, resorts, everything. And then boycott all stores (like Nordstrom) that carry merchandise from Trump family brands. See: http://www.racked.com/…/136239…/grabyourwallet-trump-boycott. See also this Google document on boycotting.

This Visualization Shows How Ridiculously Divided Our Congress Has Become: The title says it all. There are many paths for debate and discussion that can come out of this data, perhaps first and foremost how we got here in the first place. Check out the full set of images and a quick writeup at The Higher Learning. You can read the full study here.

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Homeless U: How You Can Help, via KQED, the San Francisco Bay Area’s local NPR affiliate, is a quick list of organizations working to help homeless college students around California. This list is a response to listener reaction to an earlier multimedia series about homeless colleges students, Homeless U, which deserves its own link.

In December, The California Report’s weekly magazine aired a radio, video, photo and text series about homeless students attending college. We were awed by an outpouring of interest in helping those students and others in their situation.

One community member set up fundraising campaigns for two San Francisco Bay Area students interviewed for our stories. At least two students interviewed have received housing due to the generosity of KQED listeners. Also, listeners from The California Report’s partner stations offered support to the new shelter for homeless students in Los Angeles featured in the story.

Pro Publica: The Trump Administration is one to bookmark, though not technically a specific story. Rather, it’s a landing page curating all of Pro Publica’s coverage of the Trump administration and their policies. If you aren’t familiar with their work on a huge range of topics, now is a good time to become acquainted with it. If you are, you already know why this page is worth a visit.

The Indivisible Guide, “a practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda,” is available in English and Spanish and contains a wealth of critical material from former congressional staffers about how to best apply pressure to our representatives. Below is the introduction in full. Download the PDF and find out about local groups in your area.

Donald Trump is the biggest popular vote loser in history to ever call himself President- Elect. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the members of Congress (MoCs) who would do his bidding. Together, we have the power to resist — and we have the power to win.

We know this because we’ve seen it before. The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism— and they won.

We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance,

and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.

To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents. The guide is intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve.

We believe that the next four years depend on Americans across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda. We believe that buying into false promises or accepting partial concessions will only further empower Trump to victimize us and our neighbors. We hope that this guide will provide those who share that belief useful tools to make Congress listen.

 

Students and Civil Disobedience: A Reading List

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image via heavy.com

The right to public protest is a cornerstone of democracy in the United States, but it’s often presented in the classroom as a historical relic–or an activity solely for adults. Here are some resources that can expose students to this type of activism, both in the past and happening here and now.

Note: resources are grouped by suggested age-level, but may well be appropriate for students of many ages.

For elementary grade students:

  • Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside, by Kenneth Braswell, as profiled at The Root. Braswell’s book deals with contemporary Black Lives Matter protests as well as previous civil rights protests. Written for kids ages 6-9.
  • From Watch the Yard, a great reading list: “10 Multi-Cultural Children’s Books about the Importance of Protesting that Every Child Should Read.” Titles cover the March on Washington, the work of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Mama Miti (Wangari Muta Maathai)–and that’s just for a start.

For middle-grade students:

Gwen Gamble had just been released from jail and didn’t want to go back. Shortly before the crusade, the teenager had been arrested for participating in a lunch-counter sit-in and jailed for five days. “We were put in with people who had actually broken the law. It was scary. They weren’t nice,” says Gamble, who was 15.

She and her two sisters were trained by the movement to be recruiters for the Children’s Crusade. On the first day of the march, they went to several schools and gave students the cue to leave. They then made their way to 16th Street Baptist.

“We left the church with our picket signs and our walking shoes,” says Gamble. “Some of us even had on our rain coats because we knew that we were going to be hosed down by the water hoses.”

  • More information on the Children’s Crusade appropriate for middle and high school students can be found at Stanford’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Encyclopedia.

For high school students:

Despite warnings from teachers that there could be consequences for ditching class, students said they were proud to stand up for their beliefs.

Yesenia Flores, 15, a sophomore at Roosevelt High, held a sign: “Trump makes us fear for our lives.”

“All I’ve wanted to do is make my parents proud,” she said. “I can’t make my parents proud if they’re not here.”

Blanca Villaseor, a sophomore at Collegiate Charter High, said she was protesting the president-elect on behalf of her parents. The sign she was holding read: “Latinos contra Trump” — Spanish for Latinos against Trump.

Suzanne Rueda, 15, a sophomore at the downtown Ramon Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, said she’d been protesting since the day after the election. As of Monday, she hadn’t been reprimanded for missing class, but she said she’d heard an announcement that morning over the school intercom that students who missed school could be suspended. She thought that was misguided.

“It feels like we’re leading ourselves,” she said. “We can’t vote. This is all we can do.”

The Civil Conversations Project

A Resource for Fostering Discussion

The public radio show “On Being” curates a series of interviews premised on the idea that people with opposing viewpoints can communicate calmly with one another. The series, called The Civil Conversations Project, aims to provide “tools and resources for renewing civic discourse at every level and nourishing common life.” It features audio, transcripts, writing, and activity guides appropriate for high school students and beyond.

Students can to listen to inspiring conversations between, say, opponents and proponents of gay marriage or abortion rights. Or they can try their hand at cultivating conversation among classmates or community members who come at issues relating to race, religion, economics, and the environment from differing or opposing perspectives.

The Civil Conversations Project (CCP) is an open, ongoing conversation offering tools and resources for renewing civic discourse at every level and nourishing common life.

In addition to the recorded interviews (podcasts), there are two guides for download. One, called Ask Three Questions, is for starting one-on-one conversations. The other is Better Conversations: A Starter Guide.

Great ideas, and the podcasts model the principles beautifully.