Three Free Ways of Understanding DEI

Are you struggling with the concepts of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) without emptying your wallet? Here are three FREE resources for you:

Podcasts

Podcasts are a great resource for anything, whether for informative or entertainment purposes, and DEI is no exception for multicultural education content. My own podcast, The Cultural Curriculum Chat, is one of many podcasts that focus on the subject of DEI. Don’t be afraid to research and find BIPOC podcast hosts like me who resonate with you to give you a more whole, authentic perspective.

Journalism

Understanding your feelings and the role of DEI in anti-racism and social justice takes time, and this is where journaling is a great resource. Understanding the journey you begin in incorporating DEI and where you’re going is essential in taking up this work. So when you have an idea or a spark, remember to write it down somewhere.

My Free Workshop: 3 Massive Mistakes to Avoid When Learning About DEI

I have conducted a workshop to help those just like you who may not know where to start or struggle to understand DEI. I also understand companies’ biggest mistakes when implementing DEI efforts and provide actionable solutions to avoid them. I understand how overwhelming you may feel entering this space, but these tips are here to help you get the ball rolling and take action in ways that won’t cost you a single cent. 

If you’re looking to hear more about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, check out my YouTube channel at Mrs. Edmunds’ Cultural Corner.

Last, I have also conducted a free workshop titled  3 Massive Mistakes to Avoid When Learning about DEI. Our workshop is designed to help you understand companies’ biggest mistakes when implementing DEI efforts and provide actionable solutions to avoid them. There’s no way to be overwhelmed in this process, but I can understand how you might feel that way. These tips can help you get the ball rolling in taking action that doesn’t cost you a dime.

 

From the Podcast Archives: My Conversation with Instructional Coach Mrs. Nita Creekmore

Welcome to the Cultural Curriculum Chat, Jebeh Edmunds here, and I’m sharing my impactful conversation with Mrs. Nita Creekmore. Nita is an instructional coach who resides just outside Atlanta, Georgia. She has been in education for 18 years with a Bachelor’s in English Master’s in Elementary Education and is an educational specialist in supervision and leadership. Nita believes that relationships always come first and building relationships is foundational. She also believes in the importance of self-care and diverse reading habits, allowing students of all ages and backgrounds to transform the world. I am so excited to share this transformational chat with you all!

 

Nita’s Background in Multicultural Education

Before Nita began her teaching, as a student teacher, she collected a lot of books and at that time, multicultural education was only taught through learning history, but Nita believes that books are the gateway to helping us learn things. She read a book on dance by Debbie Allen and began to look at children’s books and literature critically. As her career went on, she began to want to learn about her students’ identities more, where they came from, and to value and celebrate them, which in turn, became a habit.

 

Nita’s Take on the Current State of the System

Even now, Nita notes that there is still a lot of work to be done in multicultural education. She says that educators must understand that “it’s not just something we add onto the plate; this is the plate. It’s the thread, it’s the threat that builds our kids’ confidence.” 

 

Nita also noticed how especially in Georgia, teaching about colonialism, dressing up the part, colonial outfits and hats and aprons, but there are still under or non-represented cultures; what about Native and Indigenous People? What was happening at that time, where were your people and ancestors at this time? Schools aren’t teaching the voices of everyone, educators are still teaching the majorities rather than the minorities of these periods. And this is where literature is the key, literature is the connection from kids to other cultures and other worlds, teaching them how to be empathetic human beings.

 

The Role of Teachers

Nita says that teachers have to get out of their comfort zone. Educators need to ask their kids the question, ‘Whose voices aren’t heard?’ despite how uncomfortable it may be. Educators are just as responsible for bringing up these issues as kids, who rely on educators like us to bring these topics to them and ask them, ‘How do you feel about this? Why is there no representation here?’

 

Nita says that teachers should also be in a constant state of learning, learning about new cultures and new worlds to bring back to their students and impact students and communities alike. That is where everyone becomes threaded and together in multiculturalism. When we thrive, our students thrive.

 

Nita also shares with us her brand, Love, Teach, Bless, with a tagline that says Inspired Educators Inspire Educators. She shares with us that after 13 years of teaching, she began sharing the things that inspired her. The tagline comes from a community standpoint, as sometimes in a journey when your spark goes dim, who is there but your community to keep that fire going? 

 

Nita’s Book Recommendations

Literacy is Liberation: Working Toward Justice Through Culturally Relevant Teaching by Kimberly Parker discusses working toward justice through culturally relevant teaching.

 

Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation by Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan which makes you reimagine how you take data and what data you take for your students and the book centers equity. Nita says she chose these books because when educators are taking data and assessing tests, they are looking at it through a singular lens. When it comes to multicultural education, it needs to be looked at through a multicultural lens to obtain multicultural data.

 

If you want to learn more about Nita, follow her and her brand on Instagram at Love, Teach, Bless.

Thank you so much for listening to this installment of the Cultural Curriculum Chat. If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, subscribe to my YouTube channel at Mrs. Edmunds’ Cultural Corner for more podcasts, videos, and other multicultural and educational content. 

 

See you next time!

 

 

You can find more information about Nita Creekmore below:
https://love-teach-bless.com/

Nita Creekmore on Instagram @loveteachbless

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1495555/11941863-season-3-episode-1-my-conversation-with-instructional-coach-mrs-nita-creekmore.mp3?download=true

 

From the Podcast Archives: A Conversation with Author Tiffaney Whyte

Here’s another podcast episode in the archives that I share with you on the blog today. Take a read, then take a listen below 🙂 
Jebeh Edmunds

Hello, everyone. This is Jebeh Edmunds, and welcome back to the Cultural Curriculum Chat podcast. I am just so excited. I have a wonderful teacher who shares her bright light with her students and infuses inclusion and multicultural educational practices that we can learn from every day. Welcome Tiffany White. I’m just going to share real quick about Tiffaney. Tiffaney Whyte is an author, an elementary special education teacher, business owner, and mother of two young adults who reside in Atlanta, Georgia. Tiffaney is originally from Brooklyn, New York. She is passionate about spreading joy and positivity in her classroom. Tiffaney created her brand, the D’Avian Blu Innovations, to empower and motivate fellow educators as they cultivate young minds. Tiffany’s motto is do what makes you happy, create joy for yourself. When you find that, keep going and don’t stop. In 2014, Tiffaney started her Teachers wear Yellow on Monday campaign. This initiative promotes joy and positivity among educators by having them wear something yellow every Monday of the school year. I’m just so honored to have you in the guest chair. Tiffaney, welcome. Welcome, welcome.

Tiffaney Whyte

Thank you for having me here.

Jebeh Edmunds

Thank you. I just have been a big fan of your work. You’ve got a wonderful book out called Nicole and the Fifth Grade Desk. I can’t wait to order it. And you have lots of strategies for educators, your T shirts. Everything you just embody is inspiration that just keeps us going, especially in this work. And can you share with our audience, Tiffaney? What is your story? I know you’re from BK, but what else that helps us learn more about you and your work?

Tiffaney Whyte

Okay. My name is Tiffaney. I am an educator, mom, sister, aunt, all of those things. My story is that I always wanted to be an educator. Growing up, I always wanted to be educated. That was my lifelong dream, and I accomplished it. My story is I have two children, two young adults, as you said, and I just love bringing joy and positivity to everyone that I meet. It’s important for me for someone to feel something when they meet me or for me to feel something when I meet them, especially the young adults and the young children that I work with.

Jebeh Edmunds

Every day. What did you observe in your formative years before you became a mother and an educator, was there something missing that you wish you had in education that reflected you?

Tiffaney Whyte

Here’s the thing. There was nothing missing in education that I didn’t have that didn’t reflect me. I went to school in Brooklyn, New York, very diverse community. All of my teachers looked like me, sound like me. They were of West Indian background. I went to a seven day Adventist elementary school from pre K to eighth grade. Every educator that I had looked like me until I went to high school. When I went to high school, I had educators of different backgrounds. My educational years were wonderful. The teachers were of Caribbean descent. One thing they would say is, Listen, your mother already told me what to do with you when you act up. I already knew that. It was like a real community. I love my elementary years. I love my high school years because they really embodied the culture.

Jebeh Edmunds

That’s amazing. Like you said, too, your educators around were a part of your community as a whole. I feel like a lot of us educators need that parental support and backing and that your teacher said, Yeah, we have your parents backing, so don’t try it.

Tiffaney Whyte

They tell me often of that.

Jebeh Edmunds

I.

Tiffaney Whyte

Do. Yes.

Jebeh Edmunds

It’s with love, too, to say, if anything, everyone is surrounding you and we’ve got you. I just love that. I love that story. That’s very positive. As a parent, what experiences have you embodied yourself and reflected as a parent and as an educator with your students now?

Tiffaney Whyte

I was a young adult parent. My daughter’s 24, so that just tells you I was a young adult parent. As a young adult parent, I had to navigate through a lot of stereotypes, and I had to navigate through what I wanted to do in my life and how I can accomplish those things. I really had to take a step back and look at my environment and look at the people around me and look at what were they doing that I didn’t do or that I can do. I teach fifth grade, but a lot of the times I have to tell my students just a little bit about my story. I have to tell them that I am an educator, but sometimes you do not make mistakes, but sometimes you do take learning curves. Even though you have those curves, you can still accomplish the things that you want to do. I did. I had learning curves. Being a young mother, first year college student, I had a lot of learning curves, but I still was able to persevere and still make my accomplishments, my greatest accomplishments. And I am super proud of myself for that.

Jebeh Edmunds
Yes, that’s amazing, Tiffaney. And I love how you reframe that mistakes. There’s a lot of shame behind the word mistake, but how you say learning curve. And as educators, we’re constantly lifelong learners. When you said fifth grade, I mean, you already have my fifth grade teacher heart because I taught fifth grade, too. It’s like, oh, we would have been awesome teammates.
Tiffaney Whyte

I love teaching fifth grade. I’ve taught kindergarten, I’ve taught first grade, second grade, third grade. I taught high school. High school one year. But it’s something about teaching fifth grade that just lights me up.

Jebeh Edmunds
I love it. Thank you so much because those fifth graders, they need to know, especially getting over that transitional period to junior high, middle school. It’s like, you’re going to have a lot of learning curves, but don’t let that deter you from your ultimate hopes and dreams. I really like that. Another thing I found on your platform that was really affirming is your affirmation cards on your mirrors and how the words, I’m droopy, I’m popping. Those are like fifth grade young people talk and that they can see themselves and stand up a little taller, sit up a little taller. The materials and the content that you’re sharing with a lot of us teachers is such a gift because a lot of us educators are thinking, Okay, what can we do? Especially halfway through the school year, how do we boost morale? You have things that are quick and easy to do, and you can do it in a minute to get things ready and going for your students. Is there anything else that you can suggest to us teachers that is specific to multicultural education and inclusion practices that they could use?
Tiffaney Whyte

I’m going to suggest very simple things. I love music. Music is like my heart and my soul. I feel like music always bridges everybody together. If you’re having a down day, a happy day, you put on a song, and everybody gets into the groove of music. You can always incorporate any cultural music and people would love it. Music brings joy, music brings sadness, music brings happiness. But I love incorporating music into my daily work. Every morning, I’m listening to music in the car, whether it’s rap music, Soca music, reggae music, track music, whatever. Then when I come to school, I’m doing the same thing, too. I’m in the hallway, so I have hallway duties. I make sure that I’m playing music, I’m singing music. I can’t sing, but the kids tell me every day that I’m a great singer, but I’m not. I love it. I try to encompass everything music. At my school, it’s not diverse in culture. When I play music, I make sure that I play a diversity of music because I want to always bring in my culture into anything I do.

Jebeh Edmunds                
I love that. You said music just brings that energy and it keeps kids engaged. I’m from Liberia originally, and I emigrated to Minnesota with my parents. And even doing some afro beats during brain breaks and things like that to keep them going. And then we’re journaling, and there’s a mandarin flute in the background or some Celtic music in between snack. You’re right. It’s a great transitional period of starting your day, keeping things going. I just love that. And yeah, you sing better than me. I’ve seen you post a post. You are singing at the top of your lungs on good 90s hits. And I can just imagine your students, oh, man, here we go. But that’s the thing I feel like as an educator, you really want to hook your students in. You kind of have to go all out, you know, to really have them remember you and how you make them feel at the end of the day. 
Tiffaney Whyte

yeah, because it’s all about relationships and how you make, you know, I read something the other day that said that education is not centered. It has to be relationship centered. And I was like, Wow, that’s important because relationships with your students is how you kind of navigate how they’re doing, what they’re doing and what they’re going to do for you. Yeah. You know.  

Jebeh Edmunds  

they show you their best when you give them that safe space and that, you know, that feeling of, Oh yeah, let’s try it. So yeah, sometimes I’ll do the Tootsie Roll in between handwriting way back in the day. But those are the things you have to try. And I just know even my students that are adults now come back and go, Oh, we used to do the birthday dance. It’s like, Yeah, things like that. You know, that relationship piece. Oh, thank you, Thank you. Yes. You have talked about music. You have talked about, you know, learning curves. Let’s share more about your work as an author. I love books and I can’t wait to read your book. I just ordered it, so I can’t wait to read it and put it on my YouTube to go, Yes, I know her. 

Tiffaney Whyte

Thank you. Thank you so much. Nicole. And the fifth grade desk was inspired by my students and my niece. Right. So my niece had the hardest time with school and my students. I feel like that transition from fifth grade to sixth grade can be a very tiresome one. So I came up with the A desk that talks to them and the desk is going to tell them about the first day and tell them all about the great things that we do in fifth grade and tell them all about the great things that your teachers are going to be and how you’re going to feel. And then it does have some educational background because we talk about figurative language, try to add some standard and some content in there figurative language. And the most important part is that desk don’t speak, right, They don’t talk right. So to have a desk talk is the epitome of figurative language, right? So it’s just an all around great book about a student that looked like me having a conversation with a desk and a teacher that looks like her. So I really I loved writing Nicole in the fifth grade. Jess It just came to me one, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but I was like, Oh, no. And then I was like, You know what, Tiffaney? This is a great story and I think everyone needs to read it. You know, despite that, it says fifth grade. It can go for any grade level because students are always scared in the beginning of the school year and middle of the school year and in the school year, because I have students start I had a student start last week, Monday, the first day of school, first day of my school. So. You can always read Nicole in the fifth grade desk.

Jebeh Edmunds  

I’m so excited. And trust me, I can’t wait to share it out. And I will definitely send the information of where you can order Tiffaney’s. Nicole in the fifth grade desk. I just love it how you’re saying we’re seniors of the building, You know, like. Yeah, yeah. Sit a little taller building. I just love that. And you’re right. Every grade level, you know, elementary school, high school, middle school, there’s always that new kid that comes in. It’s uneasy. Even if you’re all new on the first day, we all have those jitters of what to expect and what to do. And I can’t wait to share this book with the audience and any other things before we wrap up. Tiffaney, it’s just been so nice to speak with you and hang out with another fellow educator this morning and anything else, any other.  

Tiffaney Whyte

grade, fifth grade fellow educator just so thankful. This journey has been an amazing journey and it didn’t start out that way. The reason why I started this journey is because I was down about teaching and I felt like I didn’t. I felt like I wasn’t appreciated or I felt like I was being picked on and I wanted something to motivate me. And this journey motivated me. And in fact, it motivated me to motivate other people, right? So that’s why I always try to make sure that I’m positive, upbeat because I want to motivate educators because our job is very tiresome. Sometimes it can be helpless, selfless, and I want to make sure I motivate us all to appreciate and love the things that we do.

Jebeh Edmunds 

and you are a miss Queen motivator, I tell you, I look forward to every Monday going, okay, I love that shirt. Oh, I like that one. Okay. I got to just be brave one of these days and tag you. Go ahead.  

Let’s do it. Yes. Oh, thank you so much, Tiffaney. I really appreciate you on our show. And yes, cultural curriculum chat friends, I will send all of Tiffany’s information of how you can follow her and purchase her book and all of her amazing brand of Davion blue innovations and to keep us motivated because. Yes , oh thank you so much Tiffaney . I really appreciate you on our show.

And yes Cultural Curriculum Chat  friend I will send all of Tiffaney information how you can follow her and purchase her book and all of her amazing brand  the Avian Blue Innovations and to keep us motivated because yes we all are halfway to the school years alright. Thanks again

If you’d love to listen to this podcast episode. Click the link here

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1495555/11874324-season-2-episode-21-a-conversation-with-author-tiffaney-whyte.mp3?download=true  

 

 

Tiffaney created her brand “De’AvionBlu Innovations to empower and motivate fellow Educators as they cultivate young minds. 


You can purchase Tiffaney’s products on these links below:


https://deavionbluinnovations.com/


https://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Fifth-Grade-Tiffaney-Whyte/dp/B0B8BPKFZ6

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself

I’d like to reintroduce myself because I love providing so many of my clients with vetted multicultural resources and creating multicultural resources to promote positive change. Now,  when it comes to my learning style, I love to research, and I also love to connect with folks. That’s why I’ve been an educator for over 18 years. And when I connect with folks, I’m a storyteller and go through my own experiences to share situations that I have been in, in the workplace as a community member, as a wife, and as a mother.

The resources I create for my trainees and clients to continue understanding that we are black, indigenous, and other people of color who deserve to be seen, heard, and valued. Our neighbors, relatives, and friends are going through similar situations, and we need to unlearn and relearn the best strategies to make those authentic connections. Now, if you would love to learn more because I have served over 40 organizations, I’m just getting started more about my training style and to see if it’ll fit you.

Go down to the link below for more information.

https://jebehedmunds.com/jebeh/staff-development/

 

I’d love to have you on my schedule. Take care, and I’ll see you soon.

FROM THE PODCAST ARCHIVES: MY CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR SILVANA SPENCE​

From the Podcast Archives: My Conversation with Author, Illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton

 On today’s blog I share my conversation with author, illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton, I’ve been such a fan of her books, that I’ve shared in my classroom library over the years. Take a listen below.

JE: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the culture curriculum chat podcast with your host Jebeh Edmunds, I cannot wait to share with you all. An amazing author and illustrator whose energetic prose and pictures will motivate you and inspire you every day. We have with us in the guest chair Mrs.Vanessa Brantley Newton.. Welcome, Vanessa.

VBN: Jebeh It’s such a joy and pleasure to be here with all of you. Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s, it’s indeed a pleasure.

JE:Thank you. So before we get diving into it, I’m gonna share your background real quick with our audience. Vanessa was born during the Civil Rights Movement and attended school in Newark, New Jersey, being part of a diverse tight knit community. During such turbulent times, Vanessa learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment in shaping a young person’s life. When she read snowy day by Ezra Jack Keats, it was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, she includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants all children to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read. So they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader. So I loved reading your biography of Ezra Jack Keats snowy data is one of my favorite books. And can you kind of share with our audience that spark that catalyst for change that made you the author illustrator that you are?

VBN:Oh, my gosh, it’s such an awesome question. And every time I give an answer for this book, because I’m asked that question so many times, it was the 1960s when this book came out, and I actually 1963 the year I was born, and gone to predominantly white schools where I was the only black child in the classroom, and not seeing yourself. As a child, I would walk up to my mom and I would often ask her, Am I invisible? You know, something, something wrong, people can’t see me. And it was because we weren’t granted children’s books where we could actually see ourselves. Everything was if you remember, and you’re my age. I’m 60. This year. Dick and Jane? 

JE: Yes 

VBN:He dumped the magazines, Jack and Jill magazine, and all of these different magazines that came out focused on white children and their stories, you know, and so we as brown children, black children, never really got to see our hair textures, skin, what our parents look like, because I was raised with two parents and two parents who were Christian, you know, and so family was everything, whether you were Christian, Muslim, whatever. Family back then was very important. And my mom and dad would not spend their money on books that did not reflect that. Mrs. Russell, one of my favorite teachers, had one of the biggest afros I think I ever saw in my whole entire life. It was orange. She wore orange dresses that were so short that you did not want her to bend over to go go boots. And she was the coolest teachers I loved, loved love Mrs. Russell, and she wasn’t the nicest teacher in the world. But she knew children who learned different, and I learned different, I am dyslexic, I have something called synesthesia, which is the ability to see smell, feel, taste and your color. And I also am a stutterer. And so she knew that. And I remember the day Jebeh, she picked me up and put me on her lap and open up the snowy day. I am 60 years old. And I still get emotional. But it was the first time that I ever saw a black child. Beautifully painted that look like me. I even had a snowshoe. And so I thought Peter was a child that got lost in the book. That was my brother. And I just need to open that book and I could go and visit him anytime I wanted to reclaim the snow together. It was it was everything that book. As a matter of fact, I’ve cut my husband often when I leave here and go to be with the Lord put my Bible and a copy of the snowy day in my palm because I want to read it to the Lord. When I get there with what I get to have it. It’s that special to me. That book is that special to me. I love that book. 

JE:Yeah, such a beautiful written book. I read it I had the big book when my first grade class just the innocent It’s a child playing in the snow and seeing his tracks and you know and what I see how you have transformed your work. It does give you that childlike glow about it. And it’s bright it’s vibrant and just how you even you know described your teacher in the Orange throne with a golden boots

VBN:Yeah yeah Orange throne with a golden boots. Girl The fashion you have in your character. Yes, honey. Yes. Hello Jabba mascara. 

JE:It’s it’s so vibrant. You’ve got African textiles in it in some of these. You’ve gotten jeans down to the stitching, and I need your attention to detail is just perfection. And what I love about your books, Vanessa, is it does it makes you set a little taller? Because even in 2023, there is this urgency to have more I have colleagues and neighbors and people ask me, Jebeh, where are the books that don’t look like my kids? And I’m like, ooh, do I have books for you? Because we want to have all of our kids to know that Vanessa is in Jebeh’s, we exists. Yeah, existing daily themes. You know, I as an educator, I always would have, you know, my students see me out in the community. And it’s like, yeah, I exist. I do human things. For it to be in a book to open that conversation. I feel like you have done it, my dear. With your becoming Vanessa book. Everybody has their first day of school. Everybody have the jitters? Everybody wants to have their special outfit and with your feather boa and your parents saying, Oh, yes. What are you going to do that special today? And I really, when I read your book, it really took me back to my first day of school experiences. I had a different knee, you know, and how to write it down. And I just love how you juxtapose having two S’s and how you’re still writing your name. Everybody else who’s done.  Every year, we all have students like that they’re still working on their names. Other kids are at the door waiting to go to recess. You know, kids can relate to Vanessa’s story and, and what I love about how you wrote this, and I don’t want to give away too much audience, I want you to get this book, your mother sits you down and shows you and shares with you how important your name is, and why she means that. And I feel as as parents, we need to sit our kids down and say, Do you wonder why I gave you that name? You know, and I feel that gives that child that confidence. And whoa, I know my name and the meaning and why I’m named that and arrogant. eggless. Can you talk more about Yeah, becoming Vanessa. I just love that biographical feel to it.

VBN:I have to tell you and even in what we were first talking about, is I wanted to give children with Ezra Jack Keats .Yes, that that was the whole thing. If I could leave them feeling the same way as you made me feel. The day I got that book. I remember Jebeh going to the library and picking up that book, close to probably 25 times and the librarian threatened me. And he said if he take his book out one more time, she said there are other books that he’s written. Would you like to see them? I read them. And the next week went right back to snowy day. Yeah. You know, in becoming Vanessa. Name names are so important. And this is not to down Americans or America. As far as named, but concerned, this is not not about that. It is when you don’t know you continue to do the same things over and over and over again. When you do know the value starts to come. And then the worse starts to come.

VBN: And then the pride of you know what you have and that’s why naming your child. It’s something so very, very special. It’s looking at that child and it’s there’s something special special about you. And even that is because your mommy and daddy’s baby. There’s something special about you. I remember going here in low country, South Carolina, and I was in art gallery for African American art delegates. You my family’s delegates you from no country governor. Yeah. There was a woman that was in there she was beautiful, gorgeous woman had wrapping all I said, Alexa, what’s your name? And she says my name. I’m trying to remember how she said it. The thing is a great title. And I was so moved when she told them what her name cuz it’s really like a bell when she said it. She said my name is if a title I’ve said oh my god. What is that mean? She said it’s bringer of joy. As I told you, you don’t know how much joy you brought me by sharing your name with me said that name over and over, even if a title if a title. And I was like if I ever have another baby, I’m naming my baby if I type. Because if you’re naming your children names that don’t have any meaning to it, or something derogatory, that’s what you’re calling your child all the time. I lost several children, buried a daughter who would have been 23 years old. I have a 22 year old now named Zoe. VBN:And when I had Zoey, I knew that I wanted to name her Zoe. And the first thing people said to me, Jebeh was, oh, you named Chris Zoe. After Zoe on Sesame Street. I said, No. It’s a biblical name. Zoey needs the God kind of life, there was no depth in it. And I got to hold her. And now that she’s 22 years old, she has become her name. And so when I see her, I tell her constantly, baby girl, you are becoming your name, the God kind of life, there is no death in it. And so when I got my name as a child, I was in what a flight one of the one of the things that I used to do, I would go to school, and when the teacher would give me paint, I would put all the paint in the middle of the page, and then add some stuff together and then pull the page over instant butterfly, and butterfly butterflies. And my mother said neck girl, no, she loves butterflies. My mother was pregnant with my little brother, who was a stillborn as well. And I remember her going through the book and I told her I hate money. She said, You hate your name. Why do you say it it has two x’s in it? Two A’s. It is Harpy. People always ask me why your mama name up next. And I was embarrassed at the name. I remember one of my teachers, one of my teachers, white teacher told me she said that name is too big for you. And when she said that, you know when you said to a six year old that always thought something was wrong with me. And she goes NASA, what a rich name to give a child like you. And the thing to hurt me so bad. I didn’t even know I was hurt Jebeh until I got home.

VBN: And I told my mother I didn’t like my name. And my mom and dad sat me down and then I’ll never forget. They said your name is Vanessa. Do you know what Vanessa means? I had not a clue. She said what’s your favorite thing to draw? Vanessa? Butterflies. So that’s what Vanessa means. It means butterfly, the pride and the joy that I felt in my soul. I still get teary eyed when I tell the story because my self esteem was so in the toilet. I failed completely through school at Cindy’s until I got out of high school. And didn’t want people to call my day. Because I thought something was wrong. When they come by then, of course, she’s dyslexic girl. Oh, she’s a girl. That’s synesthesia now, that crazy stuff. And she started. So every reason to pick on me. So there was like, I don’t know why my parents gave me this name. But in grasping it and now learning it. I just want to empower babies, to know their names. And to know that there was worth to every single one of them. It is so planted in my heart. It is what I pray about in the morning. If God gives me a heart of Christ, where children are concerned, because I love children. I don’t want to see them abused. Don’t call them out in their names, even when it’s something that has really angered you. Take your time and breathe and say what you need to say to them soundly of course and everything. And I am a believer in spanking by. Yes, I got old school. Okay. The second thing, my desire to see children thrive and grow is from a very we’ll we’ll place because I’m five years old, I’m still

JE: And you have done it beautifully. Any time some your gift and I apologize that you felt that way as that child and I remember when I was going into education, my mother she was a teacher just retired a couple years ago and she always said it’s it’s yeah, a big blessing. My favorite teacher was my mom in it. Like, she always said, you know that one may need to see your face that you exists that you’ve done wrong in that role in two. I always thought of the words of Maya Angelou, they’ll never remember the lesson you taught them how you made them feel

VBN:that you made them feel

JE: Yes.And as an educator, and now you as an artist showing your work, you’re sending hope to those kids that felt small, you’re sending hope to those kids that sell to others. You know, what could you you know, I’m at the bookstore. I like yes, I would all the titles. Yep. And I was telling every cashier, I’m interviewing her on my podcast, like I said, Yes. You know, I want to share your work, because even back in the day when you illustrated that one love my mom. 

VBN:Yeah

JE: I had my first grade class, you know? 

VBN:Wow, wow

JE: No, you’re my fan girl moment. I’m like, Oh my gosh, but even thing. I’m just so honored and your work is just bright, and vibrant. And it’s so happy. It’s sharing, and even your solemn pictures that you have on your website. They make you think they make you get rooted down, you know, to understand your not the breadth and depth of your work. But even to switch gears on you’re just like me your book of poems. I just love how self affirming it is. And I feel like you were writing this to your younger Vanessa. Yeah. I mean, I’m just gonna quote one quick sentence from all I mean, there’s so many I love me mas wisdom it reminded me of my favorite that one and yes, oh my gosh, and yes, I am a canvas and just I even I have two you know, biracial boys and 14 and 11 and even reading it out to them you know, it’s just like yeah, there’s gonna be days where you’re not feeling it. You’re feeling you know, bluesy kind of way just to show you that yeah, it will get better you know and you have to be painted of your words is just beautiful. Warrior I mean went up in those moments I’m just like, I’m willing for a good fight to speak up and stand up for myself yeah, yeah good fight when love and oh, it’s just in Italia. I am like freaking out in a good way. Because how you have this this not just for girls only. I mean, you have a written in the girl’s voice. But all students can you know, take it every student can take away from it. Yes, every suit he can take away from it. Feelings are so many poems that teachers can write about analyze, and come up with you know, ideas of their own, you know, feelings after they’ve read it. That comfort of having your grandmother’s face to face conversations. over texting I’m Lea. And among those are the things that we need that human connection. And it brings me back to those moments with my grandma sitting on her lap and having her Sandy’s cookies, I can not go past the grocery store having Sandy’s cookies, you know, and I just love it and your paper, your paper chains is  just beautiful. Yeah, everybody needs to have that just like we’re holding each other pulling each other up. And I quote, and it’s a powerful link that we are together. It just culminates who we are as human beings, you know?

VBN: Absolutely, absolutely 

JE: I can’t get enough of your book. So please keep sharing more. Is there anything else that you would want educators to know, with your books, or anything that is in that multicultural literacy space that you would want them to know, like, strategy that they can do tomorrow?if 

VBN:Absolutely, you know, it’s important that we talk to each other? No, I’m not talking about Texan. I’m talking about really, you know, now that COVID is somewhat controlled to a degree conversation is necessary. It’s necessary for parents to really you know, I know you got in from work and you’re tired, and you don’t want to go to that school meeting or that PTA meeting. But this is where we get to talk to each other. And you get to hear the teacher, and the teacher gets to hear you. And hopefully we’re listening, where we’re not just talking at each other. But we really come in with an open heart to listen, because at the end of the day, it’s about the child. It’s about the child. We teach racism. We teach it, we teach it extensively. You know, when I hear parents say, well know where that came from. I’m walking through the supermarket. And this little boy says the N word. Mommy is that and she kind of looks at him like she Shut your mouth. You know, you don’t say things like that in public. You know and and she was in, I don’t know where he got that from none of that no wigs we got and get it from the teacher. He got it from yourself. For 25 years job as a professional phlebotomist, that’s the person who takes blood. And my specialty were children, women with cancer, people with AIDS, everything, nobody wants to be bothered. Okay, when you’re holding a premature baby in your hand, and I have tiny hands, and a baby can fit in my hands. And I’ve been when I tell you, I took care of children of every ethnicity that has walked this planet. I have, I’m taking care. Okay. The one thing that I’ve learned that’s what I want to leave with your listeners is, babies want three things, children, one of the things. Is there a clean diaper when I mess this one up? Right, or is there a bottle or breasted here with some milk in it? Are your arms in your heart strong enough to hold? Well, that’s all this other stuff? Oh, you think about slavery? Why babies were put on the black brush. But were treated like animals. Basically, the women were treated like animals. I’m doing what you should do for your own. 

JE: Yeah.

VBN: We need to break this thing of racism, and send it back to the pit of hell from once again, begin to see people as people get to know my character. Let them know who I am, before you just start jumping off with oh, they’re black. Oh, they’re white or Asian, Latino or Hispanic. So they had nothing. Oh, get to know me first. 

JE: Get to know me first. 

VBN:So the message that I want to leave them first of all is to all your educators. I appreciate every last one of you. You work so hard to put lessons together. And there are times you can’t teach your lesson. Because you got a parent. Student It takes away from you even tried to teach. But I want you all to know we appreciate there are a bunch of us that know the hard work that you all put in the late night the whole thing just wanting to see children succeed. I love you all. I thank you all I pray for you all that God would continue to cover you. When can you give me more money because you deserve it? Or that? Anywhere in where you want to go? You shouldn’t have to pay a dime.

JE: I know our educator friends are like Thank you. We feel seen because yeah, you can have the best boss, beautifully written lesson plan but something always happened. Okay, that away pivot, how do I keep it going? How do I still get my work in that my students need to achieve before they move on to the next grade. And I can tell you, they tip my hat. It’s a profession that is honored by the educators who do it every day. We just hoping that honor will be reciprocated by more people that have reciprocated it. We feel it. We love it. And we appreciate y’all because y’all keep us going in those trenches especially lovely. So I love my love. Yeah.Oh my goodness, this has been an amazing talk. Where can my listeners get your books? 

VBN:Absolutely. You can get my books at most indie bookstores. You can find it at Amazon and on Barnes and Nobles websites as well. You can always go to Penguin Books and find my books there. But I would love it if you would follow me over at Instagram at Vanessa Brantley newton.com. You can find me on Facebook at Vanessa Newton. And Vanessa Brantley Newton, I have actually two pages. And that’s about it for social media. But I also have a website of Vanessa Brantley newton.com, 

JE: I will put all of that information in our show notes too, as well. Oh, Vanessa, it’s such a blessing to get to know you and laugh with you and just cry with you and tear up with you with your most beautiful, heartwarming, inspiring stories. And you’re one of those students that you know, really did defeat and beat the odds of having someone say who you are, but you define it in your way. 

JE:Even when I went to Barnes and Noble in Duluth, Minnesota, your books are on those selves got going on last night. 

JE: I cannot thank you enough

VBN: Oh,  dear Thank you. Thank you.

JE: I’m honored to just share this chat with you today. So that’s all we have today, folks. And yes, I’ll see you next week. Bye bye. 

From the Podcast Archives: My conversation with Early Learning Coach Jamesetta Diggs

You’re listening to the cultural curriculum chat, the podcast that specializes in multicultural education and classroom strategies. I’m your host, Jebeh Edmunds, let’s get started.

Welcome cultural curriculum chat listeners, Jebeh Edmunds here, so excited to have in the guest here today, educatorJamesetta Diggs. Jamesetta is a Liberian mom of two ages nine and seven, and an early learning coach, who has enjoyed serving in the field for more than 20 years, working with families and young children in different capacities as a preschool teacher, trainer, family educator, and early childhood consultant. She also enjoys reading and teaching the concepts from children’s books. She is amazed how books has helped her discuss sensitive topics and life skills with her own children. This is the reason why she started Social Learning for littles two years ago to partner with families of young and early learning educators. Since she has started her business, social learning for littles has served more than 500 families with activities to support children’s social and emotional development. In 2021, she published her very first activity book titled passport around the world for early grades focused on exploring the world people differences and self acceptance. And in her free time, she loves to journal and enjoy nature with self care, and hanging out with her children at libraries, tools, and watching animated movies to Jamesetta. And so happy you’re on the show today. Welcome.

JD:Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here. 

JE:Oh, thank you. And I just wanted to share with you audience, Jim said and I met during the pandemic actually on the phone that my cousin introduced us shout out to Ngozi. She’s like, Oh, you’re in Minnesota as an educator, I want you to meet a dear dear friend of hers,Jamesetta Diggs. So I’m so excited to continue this chat and share with our audience, Jim Seta, you know, what is your story about education, especially with our young children?

JD:Well, I am so amazed at how children develop since I was young, I didn’t start off in education. I was actually going to school to be a counselor. So I was in Bible college and to become a Christian counselor. And I walked into the library one day, and I saw this book, child development, I’m like, and so I took it, I went home and I’d boarded. Like, I just went through the book. I was just like, wow, this is so amazing. And I’m just from that I went back home, I was studying in Ghana at the time, as a refugee, and I went back home to Liberia. And I was invited to this early childhood, like a workshop. And I was like, Okay, I went over and doing like, a group session, like a group discussion, I had an opportunity to share. And while I was sharing one of the facilitators during ROTC, she, you know, just like, and that’s how I’m here today. And since then, my journey started. And I’ve been here working with young children working with families, and it’s just been such a joy. You know, they say, Find something you love to do, and you don’t have to work a day in your life. So that’s where I’ve been in how I’m here.

JE:I love that Jamesetta Diggs. Because it is that spark, isn’t it like something that you had your path you had your mind going in one direction, and then That book changed everything, you know, for you. And so share with us tool with multicultural education. How do you tie that in with the young students with their social emotional learning needs?

JD:Being in the classroom has been so different for me, especially like coming to the US. I came to the US eight years ago with my family and it was a different like a different environment altogether. There was so many things to like, understand, it was confusing. It was like back pain that everybody’s Liberian, for a year. There’s so many different people. And so I walk into the classroom with this approach to like, take over the world like you want to bear to work with children, but then you start to see so many different things diversity, cultural languages, community, your home culture, so different in a classroom. You see how different people like living you start to understand Like, if you have to make an impact in children’s lives, you have to care enough to know where they’re coming from order to connect with them. That’s the only way they’re going to feel safe to be around you. They want to talk about the things they do at home, and you want to show them that you’re interested in what they do at home, that’s how . That’s how I begin to explore and learn and understand. And you cannot support a child, socially or emotionally if you are not connecting with them. And also understanding where they’re coming from. And supporting them socially, emotionally, even with your learning journey is based on how you connect and develop that relationship. And it has to be based on your background, and your why.

JE:Yeah, I totally agree with you, Jim said it, because it is the paramount of educators, we have to build those relationships. And I love how you talked about coming into the United States eight years ago. And it was a big learning curve, because you had to, you know, get to know your students through the various cultures of various backgrounds. Because as a student, if you don’t know my authentic self, who I am as you student, how are we going to have me feel safe enough to learn what you’re going to show me, right?

JD:Yes, that’s it. Exactly. And that’s the approach, that’s the only way we’ll be able to like those little lives and show them, they love their teachers, they love their learning environment, they also need to know that they’re safe, they’re respected for where they come from, like it, it makes a big difference in a child’s life, if they come to school, and you can say all that, or you can say olla you are you can say  something in your language that like just like something like that spark, you know, or you can ask them or show them a picture of something that is from their culture, and they can relate is so amazing.

JE:It is amazing. And also that you took the time to learn a greeting, you took the time to find that picture. And that child just sits a little taller, because they finally feel seen, they feel validated, that you see them for who they are, and where they are, you know, socially and emotionally too I think educators need to be and accept that each child, you know, needs to be accepted for who they are in where they are emotionally. I feel like some of us educators, we get so motivated and like, yes, I want to do all the things and some littles are like, oh, hold up, we just met, we met a week ago, like I’ve just first six weeks, like I’m just still trying to get to know you. But eventually you’re right, that relationship and that bond that you have with that student gets stronger throughout the year. And I love that tip that you’re sharing with our listeners that yeah, some little strategies that’s quick, actionable, you can find stuff on Google Translate to find the language that they speak at home to share as a greeting. When you do your morning meetings and stuff with your students. little simple things can go a long way.

JD:Yeah, in connecting like when children can connect like they’re exactly what we’re seeing is that they’re different children in the classroom. So like a child will, the way a family is putting their child to bed is different from how the other family is putting your child to bed. So if you see two children playing in a play area, and you see another child is king, your baby, and another one, just live them there to go to bed. And they’re like, looking at it a confused level. That’s where you connect them because you’re now in a position to teach that they’re both different. And by teaching them ,how differently they are, and but they’re also like important and so special, that’s a different way we do it, you’re helping them connect to another family. And also you’re enriching your idea of how different the world is. So like creating that opportunity for children to connect and feel safe, is such a big deal goes a long way. In this subject of diversity, the subject of equity that we’re talking about. It starts right there, those little things that we do in the classroom with our little ones.

JE:Yes. And also Jamesetta, can you share to the importance of catching our little ones with equity and multicultural education as them being little to give that foundation because I feel like a lot of us  adults that aren’t in the educational space are saying, well, we’ll get to that diversity when we get there. Right. I mean, kids are seeing people by their skin color. Very young. I remember when my oldest was three could tell you know, skin tone differences. So what can we share with those parents and girls? mumps out there, why it’s so important to have these discussions in early childhood with, like you said, how a mother cares for their babies? Like, how can we share with them how important it is to start those conversations. at that early age.

JD:One of the things I would say Java is I like to teach children to books. That’s basically what I do as an early learning coach, and books. They’re such great opportunities for children to learn, and discuss and understand, like difficult concepts. So if I come to a child and try to clean it, oh, everybody is different. What does that mean to a child. But as children learn by the books they read, by the way we interact with them, they’re in a classroom of children of different skin color, I know my son used to say Korean people. And so they’re in the classroom with different skin colors, skin tones and different languages. So as we talk about, we read books, as we read books in the see the pictures, how another friend says, Hola, how another friend says, bonjour, how another friend say Good day, or another friend, say morning, or whatever they’re seeing those things. They’re seeing the examples. And one thing I will always encourage parents to do is to talk about those things. Do not hold back, because as you create awareness for your child, there is a string, there is a line, creating awareness not only sparks all that confidence in your child, but then you extend it to the point where your child become an advocate for another child becomes an advocate for themselves, they become like the seat justice. That’s where equity comes in. Because they know that we’re different, but we’re the scene where equal array, we’re in the same classroom, we share the same books, we share the same toys, everything is available to us. So that puts our children in a place to be able to understand, oh, this is what it is, rather than just taking that big woe is diversity, we’re going to talk about it, you don’t understand what it is they do in different ways, by examples, in different ways, by everyday things that we do in the classroom, our lifestyles, the way we talk to them, we interact with them that the way we connect them to stuff. And so all of those things play a big role in your lives, in helping them understand teach diversity to them, and helping them understand that whole concept of diversity and equity.

JE:Often, Jamesetta , you nailed it, my dear. Yes, all of the things. And I feel like you said with that string of learning, they see the examples in the book, it’s a great conversation starter, you’ve got students that when they come into my classroom, you know, when I used to teach fifth grade, they had the foundation already laid in place from the beginning. And then it gives them like you said, that confidence to advocate for themselves, and to advocate for their classmates that don’t look like them speak like them, think like them, it all just comes together. When we start at the very beginning off, you are so right. And I know, because we are I know, it’s like we’re cut from the same educational multicultural educational club. So our kids have, you know, the big library at home that is very rich in diversity. My question for you, Jamesetta , as a parent, what have you experienced with your children, when it comes to multicultural educational space?

JD:There’s been a lot when I first came to the to this country, my son was almost two. So there was this preschool part of it. And there are lots of programs that I didn’t know what to do. Like, there was like Valentine. And they would have like, fall parties and all these parties. I did not know what was expected. I did things in a way like and then after, I’ll be like, Oh, that’s how it it’s done. So like, in that space, I understand how families feel like when I work in the classroom, and I started working in the classroom, I understood like if up here and like some of the African parents would come and some of our teachers we wonder like, I wonder they taught the message right? And I would explain like when I was a period in preschool, I understand what what this parent is coming from because the way we get the message is totally different. So sometimes is really important. Ask the parent after you send all those communications is important that experience did you remember I send it Do you have any questions? Are you okay? Are you with everything? Is there anything I can explain? I know sometimes you’re afraid because you’re thinking that you don’t want to sound pushy, or you don’t want to sound like you’re crossing the line. But it’s always good to check in. Specially with our culture, background families, like families that are culturally different. You have to check in with them to understand how are they receiving the message. So those are some of the things that really like, came to me as a parent when I came here. How is it done here? I knew I had to learn it. So now with my daughter, I was like, Oh, yeah. Oh, how is dark? Because I’ve experienced it. So like, I always try to be an advocate for families and African founders, until the year did you know that this is what they wanted, and can do checking to ask the teacher what they wanted. So that’s phase of checking the educators checking back, understand what they’re actually sending ads, I definitely will see. Because it happens.

JE: And you know, to the assumption as educators of well, they speak English, they’re just going to go along with what we do. And so even just take a minute or two to research, not everybody celebrates Halloween. Not everybody goes and has turkey for Thanksgiving. Not everybody has these types of Americanized rituals and traditions. So in the classroom, in a funny story, I came when I was two, and I was the guinea pig for my mom and dad. Okay, look, I did the same. You know, I remember my mom, she will never tell the stage um, Zetta get a pumpkin for Halloween, because she had the Enter Headstart, like you’re gonna have to make a Jacqueline earning, cut and do that with the pumpkin with the night. And she said, I cry, you’re killing my pumpkin. She goes to this day, I’m 42 and a half, she’s like, I will never have pumpkin in this house again, because she was like, I don’t know what to do. We’ve never had Halloween in Liberia. But that assumption, it’s Halloween, we’re gonna make our jacket lanterns. Let’s do this. And she said for her to like, feel like she’s traumatizing her child. As an educator, we just have the assumptions of hip, here’s a little sheet, a little craft, you bring home and do it with your parents or your grown up at home. And everything is good. And as an immigrant parent going, oh my gosh, I am traumatizing my child has.

JD: And I And Greg to go like what you’re saying with the holidays and everything? Just like what would it be like? If you asked children? What did you have for Thanksgiving? You know, draw what you have for Thanksgiving instead of everybody bring you home with Turkey. Like I know our family. They were so stressed over like getting a turkey. And I always tell my children, it’s a holiday, we’re making an African dish. And everybody’s so excited about having an African dish because like you don’t always get to make African there’s so there’s a holiday we’re home. That’s making African dish, making no turkey. So when you come back, my daughter said I would draw the chicken feed I say whatever. Just let them know. That’s what we have. And it’s what we do in our family.

JE: And yeah, and even you said special occasion. We’re with our families. This is our special occasion feasts that we have, you know, and I think for students to share what they have at their table and be excited that it’s not always going to be the same menu in every household. Right? And that’s what makes our classroom unique. Ah, I tell you Yeah, so I love how you shared so far,Jamesetta , greetings, getting to understand your students from all the various backgrounds and celebrating that starting those conversations with books proactively and reactively. When things come about what else I really want you to kind of share with our audience more about your business and connecting families with that social emotional cross cultural learning.

JD: I started, like I said, we always read books were educators. We got the kids making the bugs reading the books. We always read books During COVID, my daughter was like, she was so bored. And she was so like, restless, there was so much that we couldn’t do. And we started exploring the books that we had. And while we were exploring, I started like, making informations out of those stories. So like, I asked her one day, like, this book that we read, what can you say about yourself? Like, how can you affirm yourself in his book using I am, and then she went on and on and I am special I am I am. I’m like, wow, this is amazing. So then we started reading books every night. And then we will go through like the affirmations. And then I’ll ask, okay, what did we use I sentences. And then we started using I have I, am, I will, and then it started coming to me. So that’s how I develop social learning for littles with the everyday possibilities using the books. Because in every book, if we use I am, it creates that position for the child to affirm them. So that’s self awareness. That’s self care. And then I have children start to practice gratitude, what they focus on what they have, rather than what they don’t. And then we started to see, I can’t like if there’s using canned sentences, and then I will then say, well, this can help them set goals if they’re saying I will. So I developed this framework called the everyday possibilities framework with books that I use with my children. So every time we read the book, I started bringing out these statements and these questions for feedback, rather than what is the story about what did you learn from the story? What if we ask questions about how we felt about the story? What if we ask questions? If you were in the story, how would you solve the problem? Right, those kinds of questions, and then it started to go on. And with every book, I started to see more and more of these things with my children. So during difficult times, and during challenging times, and that started coming back in everyday life and everyday skills. And it started reflecting I started to see the effect of books in my children’s lives. I’m like, Well, this is important for other families, how many families can I encourage to do this with their children. So I developed that growth mindset framework. And I started to share it, and I posted it all over social media, and there was like, people were so like, interested in it. And they wanted to know, so that’s how I developed like the program for social learning for littles and then continue with the books and everything. So that’s the story behind that.

JE: Oh ,I love that you set up because I have that’s how I’ve been following your whole journey and your affirmation cards that you can frame and put up in your house. And the books you’re suggesting with the littles and just your whole philosophy. And I love that with their self affirmations, their goals, and what they want to do to keep going forward. And like you said, there will be times in our children’s lives where they’re going to be stuck, and to retell about a story that you had that with your child, and having those conversations opens up their confidence to be themselves and feel like they’re in that safe space with you. And seeing you guide them along the way. That’s just so powerful. Yeah, now that’s amazing. 

JD: And remember our whole story during the George Floyd situation, the books helped me it was a difficult time. It was not a time I could hide it from my children. My daughter was five, turning five at the time. My son was around seven at that time, how would I discuss these things with my children? So I use stories about writing stories about justice, stories about racism, like books that have been written, and I’m so grateful for the books that are out there before 10 years ago, our children wouldn’t have had access to these things. So I always encourage educators, I know we have all of these great books that we have from the past that we have in our classrooms, but they’re great books coming out. Use those books. Talk about these things with your children. Develop a study around some of these topics. Make it like fun in the classroom, to story cards, ask questions, explore tick them outside do like an exploration with the book and learn the concepts and the things that the books are teaching these children. There’s so much embedded in this. I know we’re not bookworms, my kids love so many other things, but they’re just like that part that have worked for me and I believe can work for so many families, culturally, because there are so many books that are multi cultured. There are so many diverse books. And so it’s so important that we can find these lay our hands on these and use them for our children’s bright future for their noun their development, their growth, their learning. In everything, .

JE:Yeah. Oh, yes. And like you said 10 years ago, we didn’t have half of the books that we have right now. And yes, when the George Floyd murder happened, it was we were all as parents grieving. And as black people going through that trauma again. And books were the way to have those conversations with your children in a safe setting where they can ask questions, and go through it together. Offense is awesome. And yeah, all I always wholeheartedly tell my teacher, friends, if it’s older than 15 years old, you got to do some pruning, because there’s tons of new titles out there that are waiting to be in your classroom. And a lot of things like I tell my former students to the more you know, the more you grow, and there’s some books that haven’t grown and learned some years.  So there’s some times you just might need to recycle some things and get some new titles, new characters, and new biographies of people that are in the now that are current in our students development as well. Oh, my goodness, this is awesome.Jamesetta , one more question. Before we go. You’ve given us so many great tips and tricks. Is there anything else you would like our listeners to do with your work? How can they follow you and find you?

JD:I’m on Facebook and Instagram. And I also have a website social learning for littles.com. There, I use it as a blog site where I share the books that I read with my children or with my small groups. So the books are on there. And if they’re looking to find books, the one book lists List of books or have books, they want a future let me know about it. So yes, if you look up social learning for littles, you will find me that’s me. And I love sharing my journey. I love encouraging families. I love working with families. I love working with educators. It’s been a joy in this space of learning and growth in everything that we’ve been doing so far. I just want to encourage everyone out there, just be aware of who you are. Be conscious of where you’re at. Don’t make assumptions. Everybody’s different. And just create opportunities to connect with other people and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask that you offend. If you think you’re offending somebody, you can apologize or ask them a better way still ask. You never know people say the stranger who asked never misses the way. So that’s really important. Ask questions, don’t make assumptions, and just connect with people. You never know what you know, I have so many friends from different backgrounds and different races that I love. And I enjoy spending time with. 

JE: So yeah, that is it. It’s like you said that authentic human connection that goes a long way to understanding who we really are. Yeah. Oh, goodness. And yes, listeners, I will put all of Jamesetta information in the show notes so you can continue to follow her journey because it’s an amazing one. And the books you have shown a girl I have purchased them myself to share with my nieces and nephews. And yes, I really love your book recommendations. 

JD: I have a present  for you. Actually, do I have a book that’s on its way from Liberia? Written by one of our really own good, hard work in Brenda Moore. And so I got three, she got three of her books that’s coming to me.

So I’m a huge fan of Brenda Moore. Rand is only fangirling right now, though. Yeah,

you’re getting one of her books. I will send one over to you. I have one for my library. And I’m thinking about how I can share the third one.

JE:But yes, just I didn’t want to say it. But I have to kind of cry thing here and shout it to Brenda Moore. And yeah, another amazing writer and multicultural educational guru based in Liberia. And I tell you, my grandfather used to say this was his biggest mantra was you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, she will educate her whole community. And that has been I tell you the reason why I’ve done this business and sharing as much multicultural resources that I can. And I’m just honored to be walking alongside you jamesetta carrying that charge of bringing more multicultural education on resources to all of our families. So I’m honored to speak with you today.

JD:Thank you, you inspired me every day everywhere is diverse and just teaching those concepts and those truths about it is so important so it inspires me I tell you like it really does a keep doing what you’re doing. It’s very important.

JE: Thank you oh, means a lot and yes guests thanks for listening and will see you next time on  the cultural curriculum chat. 

From the Podcast Archives: My Conversation with Author Naomi O’Brien

On today’s blog,  I share my conversation with Author & educator Naomi O’Brien whom I had on my podcast last December. She’s a great person who shares her love of literacy and her impact on all of us is a joy. Read below.

 

JE: Hello everyone, my name is Jebeh Edmunds and welcome to the Cultural Curriculum Chat! Today, we have a wonderful guest, I am just so happy to introduce to you another rockstar teacher, Mrs. Naomi O’Brien! I am seriously fangirling right now! Naomi is a wife, a mom, author, creator and presenter, an educator who currently lives in Los Angeles, California. She enjoys using her creative skills to teach students how to read and how caregivers and other educators teach important lessons to children. So, welcome to our show, Naomi!

 

Naomi: Thanks so much, I’m so excited to be here!

JE: Thank you! So, please share with our audience, you know, what’s your story and how did you grow up and perceive multicultural education?

Naomi: Yeah, so my story is that I’ve always really enjoyed my upbringing in the fact that my parents are not American, they’re from Antigua and Saint Kitts in the Caribbean. So, I always was very aware of ‘this is my culture, this is not my culture’. Because our home was very much Soca music playing, Caribbean cups, and I became very aware at an early age that that is not what was going on in my other friend’s homes.

 

             Another unique layer to that is that my dad is in the army for 20 years, so we traveled around and lived in so many different places and met so many different families from all over the world, and it was kind of this culture shock actually when he retired and we were off of an army base because it was all segregated, like I grew up with my neighbor who was from Korea, this other neighbor was from Hawaii, this neighbor was from India, this neighbor was from Germany, and then suddenly it was a very “Oh no, where did all the culture go? It’s not like this in the real world, outside of the army base?” I got to see a lot of cultures and I feel like well my education wasn’t exactly multicultural, my lived experience was just due to my family, visiting family in New York, going back to the Islands to visit people, and just living in my neighborhoods. So, I felt like I was able to see that contrast and kind of say, “I’m not represented at school”, or “my neighbors not represented at school”, and probably picked up on things that other children normally wouldn’t, for sure.

 

JE: Hmm, definitely. And, it’s kind of neat, because I grew up in a Liberian household too, so that Soca music, I remember that as a child too, and I loved that. And, also, when you talk about not having that representation in your classroom, that sparked something in you, didn’t it, to create something? Not quite knowing yet, right, but knowing that there’s something missing there. And, let’s talk more about that now, with your experience going through our school system in the United States, what were things that you observe, you know? Like, when you talked about things that were missing, did you have BIPOC teachers in your space growing up, in your childhood as well?

Naomi: I really didn’t. Something I did have though is a lot of male teachers, especially in elementary school which isn’t always everyone’s experience, but no they were largely just white educators, probably were and we lived – I was born in Texas, we lived in Germany, we lived in Louisiana, Washington State, Georgia, and then eventually Florida, and it was largely White, not until I got to high school that I got some teachers of color but even then it was a majority White experience, and that was something – like talking about like race and different cultures are something my parents are very open about, so it’s something that my mom would point out all the time and she was constantly telling us “you need to carry yourself this way, you need to speak this way, because you will be perceived this way in America by Americans”, you know. And, they have to figure that out when they came from their Island which is 100% Black people, they didn’t have those issues and then to come to the States in their early 20s and suddenly realize “Oh wow, there’s different rules here, and people treat you differently here”, where they never had to deal with that. I mean, they probably have the colorism issue going on but not just the hierarchy of colors.

 

JE: Yeah, in that, the nuances, correct? That, those underwritten rules when you come in as an immigrant, of knowing how to perceive yourself and how others will perceive you. That’s powerful.

 

      Now, as a creator and author, what tools have you used to create this space? Tell us more about your Reading Like a Rockstar platform with our audience.

 

Naomi: Yeah, so it really just started as a place to share, just straight-up regular reading ideas but as I grew in that space and as I got to explore social media and Instagram more, and I saw other teachers and like really White teachers with bigger accounts, some of the stuff they were sharing was so problematic, or it wasn’t multicultural or it wasn’t accepting or inclusive of everybody. And I was like “that’s a really big problem”, and I was always searching for that person with a really big platform that was going to do something about it, that was going to be the example. And, it wasn’t happening, and I was like – and I was really small at the time but I was like “I can be the example, I’m not seeing it, so I’ll be that” because he just would put out there “50 books you must read to your students this schoolyear”, and it wasn’t representative of everybody at all, you know? It’s like Children and Animals, and then it was like where are the students of color, where are different genders, different abilities, different body sizes, just different languages even, it just wasn’t missing? So, I was like okay, well I can step into that role and kind of like say the stuff that I wish that I saw because these people are influencing so many other people’s classrooms and not necessarily in the best way even though that wasn’t there intent, you know? So, that’s when I really started to share about and as I saw more problematic things or the way people would make fun of student’s names, and usually that’s going to be the name of the student that isn’t a typical American name, and it was like that’s just showing me that you don’t value culture and you’re not thinking about maybe that parent gave that child that name for a reason that is special in their culture, and it’s not typical for you but it is as typical and special, and an honor in their culture. So, just having to post up about that and hoping to open people’s eyes because these people are in those classrooms impacting other people’s children, you know? And I was like I have to say something, I can’t just not say anything, and it’s kind of like what I wish my teachers saw when I was little because something I always talked about with one of my best friends, is I don’t think a single teacher of mine ever even knew where I was from, they didn’t know what was going on in my house, no stories or lessons were even brought up about like where I lived except for like “Transatlantic Slave Trade, and they went to the Caribbean first before they came here” but other than that, I was never seen or represented, and I was like I can like make a difference like well in. From that, people were really hungry for that, it’s like it was kind of like they didn’t know what they didn’t know, and then once they had a place to learn from, they were excited to learn more. So, that’s really how I grew.

 

JE: I am just so proud of you because your work and even your partnership too with Teaching With an Apron, it’s just – even the biggest topic too, especially in honor of Indigenous Heritage month, the First Thanksgiving, I loved your unit “Fact-or-Fiction”, you know, and when I taught 5th grade there was a lot of those multiple lenses that I tried in my classroom to share with students. And, how you have it laid out where kids can look at pictures and decipher and ask these open-ended in-depth questions, and as educators we really want our students to think critically but how you craft it Naomi, and your partner, you take it up another level. I mean, it’s like wow! Even as an adult, and your young self, you’re self-reflective of wow, this is the stuff like what you said, what you didn’t know and now you’re hungry for. And, that’s what I’m excited of your work to share with my audience too because this is stuff that’s actionable, it’s right in real-time that teachers can download right away and share, parents can use the materials as well to have these conversations with their kids. I feel like in this multicultural space right now with education of all kids, parents are very stuck and overwhelmed and as a mother yourself – you’re a mother of two boys and so am I – as a parent, what do you want their teachers to know?

Naomi: Yeah, well thank you for saying that about the lessons because that is something we go out of our way to make sure it’s happening, like really put it back on the students, present the facts, and then put it back on the students to have these critical discussions, like we’re not here trying to change people’s minds but give them all of the information. Because, we think about the single narrative we were given growing up of this is what happened, memorize it, take it for the test, and that’s that. But, that’s like no, like history should be this debate, it should be all these thoughts and perspectives always, who is missing, is there bias going on here, is this factual to get to like arrive at your conclusions. But then, as you go along, it is definitely something – I wouldn’t say a battle with – but it’s something that is always at the forefront of my mind, what my son is going through. My oldest one is in 2nd grade right now and my youngest one is 3 but even with that, we just got a little flyer saying the 3-year-olds are going to have a Thanksgiving performance, and that immediately made me say “oh my goodness”, and I have to go and ask what are they going to be singing about, are they going to be dressed up like indigenous people because if so, we’re not going to be participating and you shouldn’t do that and here’s why, which luckily it wasn’t that, it’s just about being thankful. But, there’s this constant stuff that you’re up against that is traditional or classic, or people just think “oh, it’s just good fun” – so, there is, constantly, like that, looking through homework and making sure that stuff is accurate so that I can talk to the teacher about it or talk to my son about how “hey, your work said this but this wasn’t necessarily true.” Honestly, I haven’t had too much of that, so that’s been really good. And, I don’t know if the teachers love it but I always say “hey, I know this month is coming up, I created these resources, use if you can” I never say like “I hope you use these”, I’m like “use this if you can”, and they’ve always been appreciative in the grade level so far.

JE: Oh, definitely! And you know, being in the classroom as well, it is so fast to keep up with our pacing guides and our standards, and benchmarks that we have to achieve, and I constantly when I was in the classroom, looking for resources to still fulfill those standards and benchmarks but also have that critical eye of “who is missing?” “Why aren’t we talking about their perspective?” “Who can I invite from the community to share that perspective so the kids have that multi-faceted view?” And, I love that because as a parent, you’re seeing things and you’re knowing months are coming up, and you kind of hold your breath a little bit going in, okay, is this teacher going to be culturally responsive or am I going to have a little conversation with her or him, off on the side. And, even as a parent, I know my boys are like “oh, here we go, mom, why do you want to know, why are you asking?” It’s like “Is this play coming on again, because I remember that play in the 80s, and it didn’t go, you know”, so, those are the things –

 

Naomi: …and then I’m like “well, I can’t just stop with my son”, I was like “now I have to talk to the teacher too because what about the other kids?”

JE: Yes, because, and you know as a teacher and I know there’s going to be teachers that are excited about your help, and there will be some teachers with that push back because one, I’ve given that excuse but they’re afraid, you know, they’re used to oh, this is my bucket for this particular subject, now you’re going to have to audit my bucket now? It’s like yeah, we got to get rid of that bucket. But, I love, like I said, the big takeaways that you have with your work, your social media presence, that’s how I found you and it’s positive, and it also has those questions too of having those reflective moments. And, I really thank you for that. I love your depth and complexity, critical thinking resource because when I taught primary grades, a lot of our students that were in that middle, you know were getting what they needed but the kids that needed that extra push. You know, I had a first-grader who was reading The Hobbit – loved him you know! And, his parents were college professors, but like I wanted to give him that extra push. And, what you do for those kids in that small group that need the extra push, I have to thank you for that, because I love how you have that space for them where you’ve got the multiple perspective sunglasses icon, and the detail, and the what, and the who. You can take that resource and craft it to the stories and the literary work that they’re already doing, but you’re taking it up a notch. And so, how do you do that, that extra critical lens for your other multicultural work with your civil rights movement, and your Navajo co-talkers – is there something you could give advice to the teachers as well for those extra students that really need that push?

 

Naomi: Yeah, and so Depth and Complexity is my absolute favorite. And, I would suggest, if anyone listening has not heard about it or learned about it, to just do a quick Google search of it and just start to like really take in the questions, like there’s usually so many questions down that you can like take baby steps to dive into it, and I would suggest starting with one icon, you introduce it to your students, and over time you will see how it changes your students’ thinking. And, I post it for everybody, because what’s so great about the framework of Depth and Complexity, is that it’s fantastic for those higher students that we can sometimes miss, but it’s great for everybody as well. So, it’s like it’s pushing everybody’s thinking and is including those higher students as well, and it just shifts the thinking. And, the examples that I love to use is the Three Little Pigs, which is just the most basic book I could think of but if you apply Depth and Complexity to it and you’re thinking about the Wolf’s motive and how the characters changed over time, and how would the Wolf from The Little Red Riding Hood think about the Wolf from this story, and you’re thinking about different perspectives, and you’re adding in the ethics of it with “Is it okay for the Wolf to be hunting the Pigs”, and “Is it just predators and prey, or is it bad guy versus good guy?” It just gets them thinking in such different ways about stories, and then you truly see them over time applying that thinking to different stories, and then even bringing it outside of just literature and then like social studies, you can bring it in to social studies, the same thing – “How did this law change over time?” “How did customs and this country change over time?”, “What are the different perspectives?”, like “We think this about the Vietnam War, and what did Vietnamese people think about it? And, that’s something for me, I’m like we never learn about it from that perspective, and you never even thought to consider it because you weren’t pushed to consider it, you know? So, I just love like incorporating that in as many places as possible to like just help kids think critically and help them to start to do it on their own even when I’m not there.

 

JE: Oh. Love that, Naomi! Love, love, love that!

 

JE: So, just another quick thing – What else do you want educators, parents, to know about multicultural education for all of our kids?

Naomi: Yes, I would love for them to know, I see a lot of multicultural education accounts and people talking about it, and it’s usually only centered on books. And I would love for them to know that it can be incorporated into everything. Even just your classroom management system, to be multicultural, just taking in consideration who’s in the room, the different practices, different beliefs, different backgrounds, how do they do things in their home and how can you incorporate that into the classroom. LaNesha and I, we wrote a book “Unpack your Impact”, and in part of it we say that our students are expected to just drop their culture at the door and mold to the culture of the classroom, and if she was – and the teacher’s culture, which may or may not match the student’s culture. So, they’re at a disadvantage if the teacher doesn’t take anything about that child into consideration. And, we think about the decor in our classroom, we think about our lessons, like how can you get to know your students and then incorporate stuff from their backgrounds into your lessons and like you said, we have standards we have to teach, sometimes people have to teach curriculum with fidelity, and that’s fine but then like if you have to teach about the Gold Rush, teach about the Gold Rush and then share a different perspective. What else is going on in the world at that exact same time in this country or the state that maybe your student is found. It is bringing different types of learning with it, and just consider like all the underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, because we don’t even have people who kind of push back and say ”Well, my class is all White” – so, it’s like if you have the dominant culture, then you have an even bigger job to make sure you are exposing them to all of these different cultures because you don’t want them to be that child that grows up, has never been exposed to anybody, and then mistreats people or thinks it’s weird, or you know segregate themselves from people based on differences because they never had the chance to explore how beautiful diversity and inclusiveness is. But, just making it more than just books, and really making about it in everything. And even culture, this is something that whenever I like, well we the PD, it’s like when I talk about the culture people think about food, language, race, things like that. And it’s like culture is food but it’s also who cooked it, where did you eat it, what was it seasoned with, are you eating with your fingers, a fork, chopsticks, like it’s every single thing. So, it’s just like even broaden your thoughts and like sense of like what culture is.

JE: And Naomi, it is – it’s more than a recipe. And, I love that; who’s cooking, what utensils are being used, how is it seasoned, how is it prepared? That takes it to a whole another level. And, I really love how you say, it is! It’s more than just books, and in your day-to-day routines, classroom management strategies, how we greet each other. And, I also agree to with the majority culture in the classroom, I always say – don’t assume. That child might be with a multicultural Liberian auntie who may be blonde hair and blue-eyed like myself who had nieces and nephews that are Scandinavian, but you can’t assume that it’s that dominant culture in your class, and I love that how you have to be proactive because when they do encounter people that are from different walks of life, they might have the segregated feeling towards different groups. Oh, wonderful! Love that tip!

JE: Before we go, any other tips and tricks? I love that you can promote different cultures. I love that about, you know, going more in-depth of how things are prepared with food – what else could we do?

Naomi: Yeah, I always say with any child, with any age – start with their culture first. Because, you can get that buy-in. You can help them see ‘this is a part of your culture’, ‘you do have culture’, because some kids are like ‘I don’t have any culture’ – Yes you do, here’s what it is, here’s why it’s really important. Celebrate it, and do it early. Like, we do it the first few weeks of school now instead of like “Oh, and about me, what’s your favorite color?” We’re like “What’s your culture, what’s your background, what’s your language, how did your family dress, what’s your religion, do you go to church, do you not go to church?” And then when you learn about other cultures throughout the year, with Hispanic Heritage Month that’s coming up, and Italian-American, and Indigenous people – they can care about other cultures because they can connect it back to “well, this is important in my culture.’ So, even though that isn’t for me, I can understand why it’s important to them, and this respect can be build, and this curiosity, and this appreciation even of ‘that’s not different’, or ‘that’s not weird, it’s just different’, like ‘Oh, I do it this way, this person in my class does it that way’, and it’s really cool to learn about all these people that by the end of the year they’re just really taking in culture and appreciating it all year long.

 

JE: All year long. Oh, I love it! Naomi, before we go, where can our people find you?

Naomi: Yes, you can find me on Instagram, @readlikearockstarteaching on Instagram and then @readlikearockstar on TikTok. I’m not on TikTok as much but definitely Instagram is spot to be, and then I also have a website which is readlikearockstarteaching.com. We have lots of blogposts about culture and depth and complexity, and lots of fun resources too.

 

JE: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much, Naomi, for this talk, and thank you audience for listening to the Cultural Curriculum Chat with Jebeh Edmunds. We’ll see you next time for more fun educational resources that you can use everyday. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

DEIB Strategy #1 First Impressions are very important.

 I decided to do a five-part series. That’s all about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging strategies. I’ve heard from my clients and audience members asking for some quick tidbit strategies you can do today. And I will start with our first one right out of the box, you all. So you know, the adage of first impressions is the most lasting. We always strive to put our best selves forward. When we develop criteria for highlighting our commitment to diversity, you see that in many companies right now you see that? 

In marketing, you see that everywhere. And even as neighbors, we’re trying to, you know, show what we know, in a way. And I want to share that when you make that first impression, no matter where you are, at work or school, many of us fall back into our usual questions. Hi, I’m Jebeh. “What’s your name?” And then, when we say, “Where are you from?” You might be thinking, Okay, Jeb, yes, we’ve been in America; I’ve been here for a long time. That’s just what we do. 

How is that not being inclusive? Now, if you’re somebody like me, right? I know I have an ethnic name and I am very proud of my name and heritage. But when somebody gets to know me for the first time, they go, “Oh, where are you from?” “That’s a different name,” then I would say Yes, I’m originally from Liberia but live in northern Minnesota. But only a few people want to share that part of themselves. And when I say it that way, I mean when you ask somebody of BIPOC heritage the question, “Where are you from?” They may be local, and even though I look like I’m from a different cultural group than you doesn’t mean I wasn’t born and raised in this area. 

And so this wonderful author, writer, social justice, Guru, anti-racist, cultural competency, amazing Taiye Selasi who has an incredible TED Talk. And I’ve used her TED Talk in lots of my training. But she has a twist on this adage, the question of Where are you from? She says we must turn it in; “Where are you, a local?” So next time you encounter somebody you want to get to know either at work, either as a neighbor, or out on the baseball field, that’s where I’m going to be most about summer because my son loves baseball and playing.

 When I meet somebody, instead of asking the question, where are you from? They may say, “Oh, I’m a local Duluthian,”.or I’m a local fill-in-the-blank. It opens up to where that person you’re asking that question feels that they can share part of themselves with you in a way that’s open-ended and not interrogated. And it just makes everyone have those cross-cultural connections that we all want. So I cannot stress this enough to switch that old question from where you are from to where you are local, and you’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll receive. 

If you want to learn more about diversity and equity inclusion strategies, I’ve created a digital course that is only four weeks long, curated explicitly for busy professionals like yourself. This course will empower you to recognize your own unconscious biases, helping you have more cross-cultural connections that don’t feel interrogated, and it’ll also help you combat microaggressions and create a culture of inclusivity with you and your team. And yes, we’ll cover tons of stuff, so be sure to check out how you can enroll in my course, How to be a Culturally Competent Leader. 

Cultures of Belonging Book Review

Another great book for your professional development is titled Cultures of Belonging: Building Inclusive Organizations That Last by Alida Miranda-Wolff

When we are talking about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Belonging is the next step of sustainability. In your DEI work, Alida just really crafts this in a way where she talks and walks you through what belonging actually looks like? She even goes further into who the stakeholders in your organization are and how you can get from point “A

To point B”. No pun intended. When I’m talking about being and belonging. So one of my most important things is when you’re talking about inclusion, you really have to get to that foundational piece of what it means to include and trust me, people that look like me and other BIPOC
folks, we can see the BS from a mile away.

So make sure you have the best intentions authentically, and Ali’s book will help you walk through that. When we’re talking about cross-cultural connections and building them stronger, she talks about. To make your own onboarding team. As you can see, I’ve got things dog-eared, and I’ve referenced her work because it is so well done in my own research, and she also talks about people who could resist this movement in your organization.

Remember, there’s gonna be a lot of push. When you have some folks, but if you talk about them and the buy-in and why it’s important to have everybody feel culturally and psychologically safe, they’ll get on board. And this book is a tool to get you there. As I said, it really does showcase the leader’s work in how you.

Definitely work with her research findings with her ethos work, as well as think about the policies you already have in place and how to audit it to make them more inclusive, so people feel like they belong in your workplace. She does definitely walk the walk in this book. Be sure to order her book wherever books are sold.

I found this online. As I said, it was even printed in 2021. So this is the most cutting-edge research-based book you can find to help sustain your thriving organization. Remember that I’ll send you a new find in this multicultural educational space every week. That’s all that I have for you today. Have a great one

Everyday MAGIC Book Review

Hello everyone. I can’t wait to share another excellent book for Personal Development written by Mattie James, influencer extraordinaire. The title of her first debut book is Everyday Magic, The Joy of Not Being Everything, and Still Being More Than Enough. This is a beautiful personal development book, and in this book, I really love how she. Her message of MAGIC into her own acronym, and it means meaningful, aesthetically pleasing, goal-oriented, intentional, and consistent. How Mattie lays this book out, its efficient strategies, and the system you can do and elevate it into a new task.

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed. , even our to-do list has a to-do list. And how Maddie crafts this book makes you think about the people you’re serving daily, your family, your work, and your children. And I quote, think about the ideas that matter for herself, her family, home, life, and work.

And she says, the ideas that are meaningful to me, or someone who matters to me. And that is the goal that she’s going to take. And that’s a goal that we all can take. Maddie is a successful mother and influencer and c e o of her own business, and this book shows a culmination of her tips and tricks. On her Instagram, as well as all of her other social media platforms of practical strategies from fashion and how you dress in your go-to Blazer.

I even have my go-to Blazer and even meal planning for the week. So many of us have these big ideas and what we’re gonna do, and then we end up getting stuck by our fridge, right? So what I really want you to do is think about your prior. While you’re reading alongside this book, think about what you can do to make those magical changes.

See my little pun there and also contribute to it. Finding things to get rid of. Start to find prune things that are just taking up space. Taking up space in your mind, closet, or home life.

When you’re starting off a new year and starting a new plan, think about those things that matter. And I really love that. Mattie talks about her family life, her husband and beautiful children, her traditions with her parents, and their rituals. Saturday evenings with their family traditions and how she ties that into her new generation.

I can’t tell you enough. This book is such a great read. Anybody can read this book and put this book into practice, and she lets you take that breath. 

Thank you, Maddy. Girl, you let us take that breath because sometimes when we’re in the thick of it, you know, me as a brand new entrepreneur, working, you know, on my own, raising a family as a wife, and trying to deliver and do all the things, this book maps it out just perfectly. I’m going to have to buy a new charcuterie board. 

. So remember, get this wherever books are sold. I found this book in my tiny little town in Duluth, Minnesota. So you can see this book wherever books are sold. 

You can learn more about Mattie James’ work here:

https://mattiejames.com/about/

5 Tips to Engage Employees During Black History Month

Thinking about Black History Month,  I was reflecting on how to help you, to continue to be more engaged in this month with your Black colleagues, employees, and staff. Black History Month — also known as African American History Month — is a month-long celebration of the lives and achievements of African Americans. Every February, teachers, students, and families gather to learn about diverse historical figures who helped shape society.

The month began in 1926 as Negro History Week, an initiative by writer and historian Carter G. Woodson. Over the years, the excitement around Negro History Week programming grew too large to ignore, so many states started participating in Black History Month too! Even today, people are still striving to learn and understand the Black culture and the many contributors to our nation’s history as well as our contributors to our present society. Here are some constructive tips to keep you engaged authentically with your Black colleagues at work.

5 Tips To Keep Your Employees Engaged During Black History Month

1) Bring Speakers from your community and create a safe space for them to share and listen. Like Melody Hobson said, “You can purposefully invite diverse people into your life, and hopefully they will challenge you, and give you new insights into life. Be purposeful and respectful with your community members, you could learn a lot from them.

2) Highlight Black voices within your organization. We have wonderful resources that deserve to be recognized. You can do this in a way of recognizing their work and not their worth, clothes, hairstyle, or physical features (we’re not here to tokenize people, ugh).

3) Volunteer in your community. Take the time to be out in your community where Black people are and get to know your Black neighbors in an authentic way.

4) Support Black Owned Businesses. Black people are also small business owners. Your economic support helps them and their families thrive in our economy. Here’s a link to my favorite businesses here that you can support.

➡️ https://www.northlandbipoc.com/

5) Host a workshop by yours truly to teach you about Implicit Bias and Inclusive Workplace Strategies. If Implicit Bias & Inclusive Workplace Strategies is something that has been of interest to you, then this is your opportunity to learn ways you can help others maintain their identity while also interacting effectively with teammates and customers. Fill out my potential client questionnaire right here ➡️https://forms.gle/Eb7NpH6TewmBG8Bq6

Inclusive Workplace Environment: The Best Way To Create It And Maintain It

“Another thing I want you to remember when you are trying to be more culturally inclusive is that your colleagues of color are not hired to do the work for you.”

When we talk about an inclusive workplace environment, many words are thrown out to intimidate you. But that’s not what the process is about. When working with my business clients, my most significant push for them is to find ways of holding themselves accountable and sustaining this protocol when we move forward. Now, I will give you a taste of what I have proposed to my clients. I’m a big fan of Dr. Brene Brown, especially her hard work on vulnerability and shame and understanding us as humans. And I really love when she says, “I’m here to get it right. Not to be right.”

And that quote resonates with me to teach businesses and organizations how to get it right. And not to be correct. When we are working together, I feel that I don’t want to offend anybody or make it work. I want to make it right, which is excellent. But we know that, as human beings, it takes time. It takes a lot of self-reflection. And when we go through these practices, we must remember that we are all human beings. We will stumble. We need to give ourselves some grace. But then we also need to correct our behavior. So we’re not causing more harm to the people we work with. An excellent thing I want you to focus on when we’re talking about an inclusive workplace. It would be best if you thought about your own implicit biases in your own actions. How Let’s get inclusive at work.

Did your life experiences shape you into the person you are now? How have the attitudes you have perceived about different groups of people affected you in your workplace? So those are some questions I want you to take with you on doing your own self-work and understand that you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is a tricky subject. This is a difficult way of getting those further deeper connections with people. You also have to take into account your actions and be responsible for what you have done to move forward in the future.

Another thing I want you to remember when you are trying to be more culturally inclusive is that your colleagues of color are not hired to do the work for you. When it comes to being an ethnic month, it comes to being a particular subject in your staff meetings. It is not your employee or colleague of color that is supposed to take the reins and do the work for your office. Now, many people say, well, we’re trying to collaborate. We’re trying to get our people of color involved and have that voice. But there’s an emotional tax that people of color like myself face every day. It’s a lot of mental work. It’s a lot of mental energy; we have to put on that brave coat of armor when talking about subjects that come to intercultural relations when dealing with employees and customers. We can only bear that burden for so long and for so much. So it is up to businesses. It is up to school districts and administrators to hire out that work of someone who is not exclusively tied to your business. Who is not solely tied to your school organization? I can hear my colleagues of color around the world going. Thank you, Jeb. Yes, said what we have always been saying. I have been in those situations where we’re talking about these instances. And they’re quick to ask me. So Jeb, what do you have for us? What resources do you have for us? I am not usually the one that handles providing those resources.

If I’m a staff member and hired as a cultural consultant, I’d be happy to give you all the resources I have. When doing this work as an organization and as a business, do not expect your colleagues of color, your colleagues of those diverse backgrounds, to do the work for you, for you to go back and check. We got that done, and we aren’t usually the ones that handle that. And less we have been hired specifically to do that particular job. And I know, nine times out of 10, we are not.

We are not compensated extra for bringing up subject matter or resources, and we aren’t usually the ones that handle it. So moving forward, when you want to build that inclusive workplace setting for your business or your school organization, it is up to you to do your research, hire a different voice, and do additional research to come into your setting to do the work. I was hoping you could work on getting into this inclusive model to hire and recruit people who don’t look like you by getting those multiple perspectives. Those life experiences that we all have will lead to more innovation and more credibility. And there is research about having those multiple voices, those multiple representations in your workplace, moving many things forward.

I love when we get together. And we have our measured goals we are we got Oh, I love a good plan. You know, I’m a teacher at heart. And writing down the measurable goals I want to accomplish is all fine and dandy. But the thing is, you need to hold yourself accountable to those set goals, and you have your plans in place. It would help if you thought about, okay, these are the goals that I want for my organization or my school. But I also need to take it further and hold myself and my employees accountable for these set goals. It’s all beautiful on paper, but it doesn’t move the needle further to inclusiveness. If you’re not checking yourself periodically if you need to check your colleagues and your employees periodically on these set goals. With my business, I have an excellent format for businesses and school organizations with this model already in place.

It’s all well and good when you have a list of goals for getting your business or school organization up and running. I will walk you through those steps to make those goals actionable and hold you guys and gals accountable. And when we are talking about having that inclusive workplace environment, that your leadership is there, they are also saving themselves accountable. The employees feel like they have a space to go to their leadership if things are not working. You also need to ensure that when you are working together, you recruit people from all walks of life in your business.

No excuse anymore if we’re just not that diverse, Jeb. We don’t have these people you’re talking about. Here’s the thing. We do exist. We are everywhere. I come from a remarkable, proud immigrant Liberian family who grew up in the suburbs of Minnesota. We exist. There is no excuse for, “I don’t know, I don’t know where to begin,” or “I don’t know where to start, Jeb.” And that’s where I’m here, for I am here to get you started. I am here to set this model up for your business to get the ball rolling for your school setting.

There are many people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds in every facet of every career you can think of. We are innovators, doctors, and scientists. We are in the political field, and there are so many of us in these avenues that you can actively recruit all of us. We need to dig deeper to see where people are going and feel valuable for their time. They need to think that their voice will be heard if there is a concern. And our all begins with leadership. So, leaders must step up to the plate and open their doors for everyone to come in. Because the more you have a better representation of everyone, the more your clientele will go and be discerning of Wow, they are including everybody, wow, I see me in their ad. Wow, I actually see myself behind the desk working alongside. So it is up to us to move that needle forward and get going. And if you’re stuck, I’m here to help. So make sure we have our leadership holding themselves accountable. We have our measured goals. We have our recruitment in place. And we also have an evaluative piece to evaluate our business and our organization as a whole to become more inclusive. If you want more information, I am so proud to share my Let’s get inclusive at work. If you would love more information, you can visit my website at JebehEdmunds.com.

10 Steps for an Inclusive Workforce

Today’s blog post will focus on my top 10 steps to create a more inclusive workplace environment. One of my biggest pushes in life is to help people gain more cultural understanding of each other. We need to self-audit ourselves and self-audit the places where we work. Much of our transformative work starts from looking within with our own unconscious biases, which turned into more micro and macro aggression. Many of us can’t prevent the harm that we see today.

Step number one is your job description. The usual sentence and phrase we all are too familiar with are we are an equal opportunity employer, and that phrase just isn’t cutting it anymore. Your team needs to go back and check out the language that you’ve posted.

I want you to look at your job descriptions. See if the vocabulary that you have written is welcoming for all. But when you have that welcoming for all, make sure your workforce mirrors what you’re putting out there. And let’s say this if your ideal crew to have more BIPOC employees isn’t there yet. Put that in your statement. We are looking to diversify our Staff to be more accommodating to the people we serve. There. There you go. Free little information for you right there.

I want you to think about looking deeper into your job description. The second thing I want you to do is check where you are posting said job descriptions, okay. Are you going outside of the box and posting job sites that are in allyship with our BIPOC job applicants, alright, a lot of us are in our default, and we are doing the same traditional things that we did 25 years ago.

If COVID had taught us anything, it could tell us now that we can step outside the box people can work from home and do a fantastic job at what they do. So that also means you, as the employer, need to step outside the box and see where you are posting these job descriptions and these job postings.


Please make sure you meet them where they are, go to your community’s multicultural centers, and go to the universities with international student departments. Go to those universities. There are so many multifaceted groups on many college campuses that you need to step into those places and show us what you have to offer. Step three is to audit your website. Yes, I’m a solopreneur. And I am constantly checking and correcting my website. Does my language portray the message I want for my audience? Those are the questions you also need to ask yourself, business owners. Does my speech on my website provide a more inclusive allyship?


Step number four, language matters. And interviews. I can’t tell you how many job interviews I walked in, in did myself growing in my own as a grown Liberian American woman, and going through the interview process, having a great time feeling that I’m clicking with that potential employer. And before we leave, that individual shakes, my hand says to me that dreaded fate phrase. Oh, you are so articulate. I’d tell you that phrase still makes my toes curl. Oh, it’s so so wrong. It’s like,  nails screeching on a chalkboard. And the famous one that we always hear. I know, a lot of my BIPOC friends and people in a family can relate to that sentence that, uh, we don’t see color in our office? Oh, that’s a second double whammy. You know, these things. When the employer, future employer, the future colleague is saying these statements. They think that this is a compliment. But as the exact opposite is a huge insult to people of color. And of all groups. You know, when you’re thinking about me and my shoes and my perspective, I’m doing this interview. I feel like I have a good collaboration good energy with this prospective employer. when that prospective employer tells me that I speak so well, it gives a signal to me by saying, “wow, they have such low expectations of you, Jebeh, even looking at your resume, that the only compliment they could give you is how well you speak or write.”

When I am communicating with another human, speaking should be so not even in the stratosphere of your thoughts. Like, of course, I’m speaking, you understand what I’m saying. So telling me that I talk so well makes me feel that no matter what I show you of my accomplishments and accolades, the best thing you can say to me is how well I speak. Yeah, I don’t want to work for this organization. Okay. As I told you, the second point is that we don’t see color in this office, right? That is dehumanizing. When I say, dehumanizing is when you are a person of color. We take our identity as a badge of honor. I am a proud black woman, okay. You see me as a black woman. You don’t know me as a Liberian American because the first person you see first and foremost is a black woman in front of you.

So when you tell me you don’t see my skin tone, you don’t know who I am. That means that you don’t see all of me. For example, get this phrase out of your brain-“you are so articulate.” Okay? Phrases like this. Oh, what a wonderful conversation we had. Thank you for your in-depth analysis of data, data data, or thank you for contributing to this beautiful conversation on data, data data. Alright, those are the types of things you’re setting starters. See, as a teacher, I got my sentence starters right there for you.
Now, when it talks about that phrase that we all can’t stand, we don’t see color in this office, I was hoping you could change that sprays to we are welcoming to all people in this office, okay. I value my ethnicity and my heritage, my blackness. So when somebody thinks that they are giving me comfort by saying that it doesn’t have any value, that does not want me to be motivated to work for a business that doesn’t see all of me. So language matters. So very much.

Number five, retention through mentorship is vital. All too well, we know the ceiling of achievement for BIPOC Staff. Okay, more opportunities for advancement through mentorship from our upper management will lead to higher retention rates. Now, if your work culture is negative, your BIPOC Staff will feel like there isn’t any room for advancement, so they’ll go. So when you have these mentorships in place, it will give us more feelings of Wow, this company has confidence that they want me to move up. They don’t want me to stay in this lane. They want me to advance by giving me more mentors to see what it’s like to be at this next level. That is what I mean by mentorship is essential.


Step six set the right DEI goals. If you’re not sure about it, D is diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals. So many times, we get the motivation to write these goals out. But then we leave to revisit it on a particular month, and you all know that month. Yep. February, you do your work. In February, you have your one diversity training, and then you’re done. No, no, no, not working today. As I said, we are in a movement, not in a moment. Alright, for cultural understanding. So what I want you to do business owners, even you solopreneur I’m a solopreneur. And I do this to make sure when you’re working on your DEI goals that you revisit them quarterly. We are already reviewing our budgetary goals quarterly. We are already revisiting our use O’s quarterly and our other plans. Add that to your list because the more we can check and correct our practices, the better off we are will be for more positive

 

. Step seven is provide more training opportunities for advancement that goes hand in hand with our mentorship opportunities.
The old saying of Jeb, we can’t find any. That means we can’t find any individuals of color who will cut it anymore. We’re here. We exist. I always tell people that my Liberian parents did not move to the states for the weather. Okay, they did not come to America to see snow. We are at your football fields with our kids screaming and shouting because our kids are on the same team. We’re at your places of worship. We are literally in your neighborhood. There’s no excuse you can’t find us. We are here. To provide more training opportunities for your Staff to continue learning how different groups are and their distinct cultural differences and getting more opportunities of your existing BIPOC staff.

Your ideal future workforce will provide them the skills needed for advancement because as small business owners, even big organizations, it is way more economical to retain your Staff of color than going through the systems and processes of hiring out a right. So we need to focus on that.

 

Step eight, survey your organization and your public. If you want to know how your business is faring with cultural competency, you got to look within survey your Staff with Google Forms, anonymously, please. There have been so many Google surveys out there for our organizations that expect you to have your email address and name. Suppose you want that authentic, straight-to-the-point opinion where your staff members and employees feel that they’re in a safe space. Leave that anonymous. Make sure they feel comfortable sharing what they think will be best to help your business move forward. Also, survey your client and consumer base. I know we have a lot of feedback forms and things.

See if you can add some culturally specific questions to understand what your consumers need at this time. And to keep moving forward.

Step nine-Show and Tell. I know you’re thinking, it’s like hiding behind that cloak of disappointment. You might think, “Jeb, we don’t have enough women in our workforce,” or “Jeb, we don’t have enough LGBTQ people in our workforce, or We don’t have enough BIPOC Staff .”I get it, but you need to show and tell us where you are because we’ve got to go and start moving somewhere. Don’t feel that your vulnerability and guiding us and telling us your demographic numbers will hinder; it will be more positive. Because you’re telling me as a consumer, you’re telling me as that future business partner, that this is where you are. And that’s okay. I want you also to recognize that share who you are as an individual because that also speaks volumes of who you identify. And that will also gain more cultural understanding and acceptance.

And step number 10. Prove it. It will hold your organization accountable to get it to the number that reflects your goals. And also, it will show us, the consumer, the employee, the future collaborator, that you know what you need to do to be that beacon to be that authentically for your workforce and show us what your organization represents