Kimberly Martin, Ph.D., Diversity Equity & Inclusion Coordinator At Royal Oak Schools Presents, Dr. Kim's Corner.
Here she will promote understanding and share dialogue and events centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion in and around our district.
Happy May everyone! Hopefully, it won’t snow this month!
May marks the start of Asian American/Pacific Islander month.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month) is an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States. The AAPI umbrella term includes cultures from the entire Asian continent—including East, Southeast, and South Asia—and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. As of 2019, there were about 22.9 million people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed significantly to many facets of American culture and society, including science and medicine, literature and art, sports and recreation, government and politics, and activism and law. In 2021, Kamala Harris became the first Asian American Vice President of the United States. In film history, AAPI people, stories, and traditions have become more visible with South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s "Parasite" winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2019 and the release of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" in 2021, debuting Marvel’s first Asian superhero.
AAPI month is celebrated in May because it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843.
AAPI month originated with Congress in 1978. Then-president Jimmy Carter started a week-long celebration in the first week of May, and over the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations sort of renewing the idea that we need to celebrate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for this week-long period.
Today, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States. AAPI Heritage Month celebrates the unique journey of all AAPI immigrants and citizens in the United States and their unique life experiences, traditions, and cultures.
Follow this link for resources regarding AAPI month, including an extensive book list that features AAPI authors and characters.
It’s April! Spring is springing. It’s a time of renewal, renewed hope, and expectations of things to come. Hopefully, Spring Break gave us all the refresher we needed.
This year, April brings with it many holy days. April 2 is the start of the Muslim holy day of Ramadan. For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a holy time full of worship, study, prayer, and fasting. During Ramadan, Muslims aim to grow spiritually. One way they do this is through fasting from all food and drink from sun up to sundown (daylight). Because Ramadan is observed based on the lunar calendar, it is not celebrated at the same time every year. This year, Ramadan will begin at sundown on Saturday, April 2nd. The conclusion of Ramadan concludes with a major celebration known as Eid al-Fitr. It starts the day after Ramadan and lasts for three days. This time includes special prayers and meals with friends and family, and gifts are often exchanged.
Also being celebrated in April is the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover begins at sundown on April 15. It is the celebration of freedom and remembrance that commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery. On the first two nights of Passover, the participants hold what is called a Seder, or Passover meal after nightfall. This meal includes wine, telling stories, and eating special foods, including Matzah, a flat dry, cracker-like bread, and bitter herbs to represent the bitter taste of slavery. It is also a time of intense prayer and reflection.
April also brings with it the celebration of Easter and also marks the end of a period of 40 days of fasting for many Christians. It also marks the spring equinox and the beginning of longer days and warmer climates. Things that have lied dormant begin to spring to life, and the smell of summer is on the horizon.
April is a time of renewal. It brings us the hope of better things, and the chance to try again. It is my hope for all of us that we will seize this time to refresh ourselves and begin anew.
Ramadan Resources: Why is my student more tired than usual?
Wow, can you believe it is March already?
March marks the beginning of Women’s History Month! Women’s History Month is a time set aside to honor and recognize the achievements of women in science, business, sports, social movements, and so much more. For centuries, American women were overlooked for their contributions in these fields. As a result, they were omitted from history. That’s why we celebrate Women’s History Month: so we have a more complete picture of our American history.
For this month, I will highlight not only a great woman but a Detroit native! Sarah Elizabeth Ray was an African American secretary who was denied a seat on the Boblo Boat SS Columbia. (For you younger folks, Google Boblo and learn about the gem that was this amusement park and island).
Much like Rosa Parks, Sarah Ray refused to back down. She took her fight for integration all the way to the United States Supreme Court. She was represented by famed NAACP lawyer and future supreme court justice Thurgood Marshall. She eventually won her case. Many scholars argue she paved the way for the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, which found that spate was inherently unequal.
If it’s February it must be…..Black History Month!
Many people joke about Black History Month (BHM) being in the shortest and coldest month of the year. In fact, the story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent. It was this group that stated Black History Week.
BHM began as Black History week in 1926. The second week of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs, and host performances and lectures.
President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Today, Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society—from activists and civil rights pioneers, to leaders in industry, politics, science, culture and more. We continue that tradition as a country today.
It is important now more than ever to recognize the impact and contribution that African Americans have had in the forming of our nation. As a part of American history, more important, because African American history is under attack, even in danger of not being told at all, if some would have their way.
America is one of the greatest nations in the world. Like most great nations, however, it has unpleasant parts. It doesn’t make us any less great. But those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it. We must look at our country, warts and all, to make it better and make the dreams Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a reality.
This year’s Black History Month theme is “Black Health and Wellness.” This theme explores "the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well. Use this link I have provided to explore this theme and more. Amandla!
Welcome MLK Day 2022!
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential figures of the American civil rights movement. His stirring speeches touched on everything from social and racial justice to nonviolence, poverty, the Vietnam War, and dismantling white supremacy. And while many have been inspired by his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, King tackled a wide range of themes and causes and inspired others to demand change. In one such speech was his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” In it, he called out his jailers for labeling the peaceful protests “unwise and untimely.” He condemned them for deploring the demonstrations but not the conditions that inspired them.
Unfortunately, we still face many of the same conditions King protested against unequal wealth distribution, access to decent housing and healthcare, and believe it or not, voting rights. King famously once said that “...anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.” This sentiment is crucial in such a time as this, where, as a country, we have vilified each other. We have treated one another as outsiders. Vilified immigrants. Certain groups have claimed America as theirs and theirs alone. Anyone else can leave if they don’t like it. As a result, we as a country currently find ourselves at sort of an impasse with each other. Claiming territory. Building fences. Vilifying those with different beliefs. The list goes on. But Dr. King realized we are all interconnected.
Now more than ever, we are better together. We must continue to fight and to fight for causes that are not necessarily our own. For women’s rights. For LGBTQ rights. For the rights of those with disabilities. For the rights of anyone that is marginalized.
“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy. Now it is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now it is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God’s children.”
Let us now, then, keep up the good fight.
Have a great MLK Day!
Happy New Year!
This phrase is one that brings with it a ton of expectations, resolutions, and hope. It is during this time that we promise to do better, look forward to actually doing better, and resolve to stick to it.
In my last message of 2021, I talked about giving ourselves grace for just showing up, and being proud of the things we have accomplished, instead of dwelling on those things we didn’t. I’m going to extend that message here a bit to add: Be gentle on yourself in 2022.
Extend yourself grace for the things you worry about: being a good parent, a good employee, a good friend, etc. For the past two years we have been living in extraordinary times that have been filled with uncertainty, and (at times) chaos. We have dealt with school being open, then having to close, then reopening. We dealt with one wave of COVID-19 only to have to battle more highly transmittable variant(s). We have dealt with shutdowns and reopenings. And we got through it. And we’ll get through this next wave, together. But you must go easy on yourself.
Taking care of our mental health is crucial during times of extraordinary stress. You can’t be a good parent if you are rundown. It’s like the oxygen mask speech given on airplanes….put your own mask on first! Then you can help others. When you are doing well mentally, you are also more likely to be more aware of your child’s emotional state and how to help them. You can start with small things: Meditations and mindfulness practices, for example, even 5-20 minutes before bed to re-center yourself can help. We also have a TON of resources available for help in this area. They can be found on our website, but here is the link: https://www.royaloakschools.org/downloads/community/emotional_and_mental_health_resources.pdf
The new year is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, and we get to write it! Just because the last chapter might have been difficult doesn’t mean this one has to be. YOU get to decide.
Greetings Royal Oak!
As the holidays come upon us, if you are like me, you face them with mixed emotions. Excited about the joy of the season, but wondering how many family members are safe to have over for a gathering. Ready to eat some good food, but missing that one family member that isn’t here anymore. And, if you are like me, you are tired. Not depressed, not sad, not down, just tired. Tired of having to juggle so many things at once….kids, COVID-19, jobs, finances, COVID-19, injustice, and more COVID-19. (Whether we think so or not, this thing isn’t over with yet).
The dictionary defines tired in several ways: 1. exhausted, as by exertion; 2. weary or bored; 3. impatient and disgusted. I believe we are facing or have faced all of these elements the past two years. The human body was not designed to exist in crisis mode. Usually, there is a crisis, then it passes, and our body retunes to normal response mode. We have been living in crisis since March 2019. We’re tired.
But you know what, everything we have faced so far in the past two years, we have survived. We may be a hot mess running, but we’re here. We may not be where we want to be, but we’re trying. We’ve been through heartbreaks, heartaches, and setbacks. We have sat in the emotions of pain, loss, and, grief, if for nothing else, our former way of life.
But, it was then that we leaned into our faith practices, our strength, and our steadfastness to not give up. It was then that we learned who we are and we are better for it.
We don’t give ourselves enough credit for just surviving when so many others have not. We don’t give ourselves enough love and grace to be gentle with ourselves and be proud of the things we have done, instead of being upset about the things that didn’t get done.
As the holidays approach, we can still be grateful. We can give thanks for still being here-Period. We can look at those around us, either in person or virtually, and be glad they are still in our lives. We can hug a little tighter, take more pictures, have more laughs, Life is short.
I have been blessed to serve as your DEI coordinator for the past 6 months. I am grateful to have been given this job, back in the state I love. And it is with much gratitude that I look forward to serving you moving forward. In the meantime, be easy on yourself. We need you here.
Thank you for all you do to make Royal Oak great.
November is National American Indian Heritage Month
On October 31, 2019, President Trump issued a proclamation designating November 2019 as National Native American Heritage Month. Congress chose the month of November to celebrate Native American culture because November concluded the traditional harvest season and was generally a time of thanksgiving and celebration for Native Americans.
For those wanting to participate, here are a few ways to honor Native Americans this month – and every month.
Visit a reservation or museum
The U.S. holds in trust 56.2 million acres of land for various Indian tribes and individuals, according to the U.S. Department of Indian Affairs, and there are approximately 326 reservations. These reservations are not tourist attractions. Many are the remnants of native tribes’ lands, while others were created by the federal government for Native Americans who were forcibly removed from their lands. They are homes for tribes and communities; it’s where many live, work and raise their families. However, some reservations welcome visitors and have even erected museums to educate the wider public about their history and culture. For example, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina, features an engaging exhibit fit for all ages. The Cherokee community also hosts cultural events and sells items nearby.
Attend or host an educational event
The Library of Congress and National Archives are two of many national institutions hosting events about Native American history and culture this month. Local institutions and organizations – including libraries, schools, and cultural groups – will also host events, ranging from webinars to dance performances and even puppet shows. If there are no events happening near you, consider hosting one. You don’t have to be a Native American to appreciate and share their history and culture with your community.
“Decolonize” your Thanksgiving dinner
The Thanksgiving story of Pilgrims and Native Americans sharing a friendly meal will be reenacted and celebrated across the country on November 28. But many Native Americans actually consider it a “Day of Mourning,” pointing out the story overlooks how the introduction of European settlers spelled tragedy for indigenous communities. For this reason, some Native American groups and their allies are calling on Americans to “decolonize” their Thanksgiving celebrations.
Some ways of doing this include putting away Native American decorations and tropes, introducing native dishes to the dinner table, and engaging in conversations about Native American history with dinner guests.
Support Native-American-owned businesses and charities
'Black Friday' is just one day after Thanksgiving, instead of spending all your money at big box stores, consider spending some at Native-American-owned businesses, or even donating to charities. It’s a great way to support native communities’ economic well-being, as well as contribute to worthwhile social causes. There’s a long list of environmental, economic, education, health, and rights groups that work to strengthen and empower native communities. Consider making a donation this National Native American Heritage Month.
Another celebration this time of year is Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which is November 1st.
This holiday is typically celebrated by persons of Latinx heritage, involves family and friends gathering to pay respects and to remember friends and family members who have died. These celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.
Think About Your Costume Choice Before You Commit To It
Halloween is upon us again, and as such it’s time to consider our costume choices and know that some may be deemed as an offensive Halloween costume.
Here are some questions to ask before dressing your kids (or yourself) this Halloween:
- Does the costume make a reference to a culture that is not my own? (a headdress, turban, or kimono).
- Does the costume include religious or spiritual symbols?
- Does the costume require you or your child to change the color of their skin to resemble someone? (You can dress as Beyoncé for example without coloring your skin).
- Does the costume represent a stereotype or generalization about a group of people (Indigenous people (Indians))?
Is the costume based on tragic historical events or violent acts that actually took place?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to consider another costume. Instead, consider fictional or imaginary characters like Cinderella, Superheroes, even the Golden Girls. Use your imagination!
And have a happy Halloween!
Dr. Kimberly Martin
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' DAY
Kimberly Martin, PhD, Diversity Equity & Inclusion Coordinator at Royal Oak Schools wants to share with you this month the meaning of Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Indigenous Peoples' Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American Peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. It began in 1992 in Berkley, California, as a way to honor Indigenous people, as well as recognize their contributions to American history. It is celebrated the same day as Columbus Day to bring attention to the controversial history of Columbus himself. Currently, about 37 states celebrate and recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day.
To find out more about it, click here. And, celebrate Indigenous Peoples' day Monday, October 11th!
Kimberly Martin, PhD, Diversity Equity & Inclusion Coordinator at Royal Oak Schools wants to share with you this month an article on how being racially diverse in school can benefit all. Here's a snippet of the article:
"Today, school integration—using new, more legally and politically palatable approaches—is getting a second look as an educational reform strategy. For one thing, policymakers and scholars across the political spectrum are beginning to realize that ignoring the social science research on the negative effects of concentrated school poverty is not working to close large achievement gaps between races and economic groups."
"Many middle-class Millennials say they find suburban life sterile and prefer walkable communities. One poll, the authors note, found that 77 percent of Millennials expressed a preference for urban life. This development raises new possibilities for integrated schooling."
Get to know Dr. Kim!
Learning for Justice
Learning for Justice is a website considered to be a great resource for families, teachers, everyone when it comes to all things diversity-related.