Meeting 2 Takeaways

Meeting 2 Takeaways

Thanks everyone for another wonderful meeting! Here are some takeaways from today’s meeting that Faith compiled:

  • American culture being the “right” culture is ingrained into us from very early on because for many it is all we’ve been exposed to. Schools don’t teach other cultures, and when we learn our history, it is often from the eyes of Americans. This leads to us not getting an honest and comprehensive picture of such and perpetuates racism and the idea that other cultures are “inferior.” Schools not providing such is not the fault of the teachers but rather the fault of the institution because of curriculum, time constraint, and fear of coming across as too liberal or biased.
  • People are a product of their time, but thinking like your time can be stopped, and people can develop progressive mindsets. Don’t write off older generations.
  • All people, even those we typically place on pedestals (TJ, Lincoln, GW etc), are flawed and there is more to them than we will ever learn about in school. Nuances of these people matter.
  • America is an experiment and a work in progress. We are flawed in more ways than one, but there are also beauties and freedoms enjoyed here that aren’t seen elsewhere. It is perfectly okay to recognize that and feel pride for your country AND recognize its flaws and want better for it. It’s not an either/or; it can be a both/and.
  • Many fear not knowing what to say or others not wanting to listen because of being surrounded by people who are set in their beliefs when it comes to race discussions. There is a lot of speaking and not a lot of listening which prevents progress. You must be able to sit back and listen to others and hear where they are coming from if you want there to be a chance of reaching them. Even if you don’t change their mind, listening and building your argument are important skills and will only better prepare you for the next conversation.
  • Even if you don’t change anyone’s mind, keep educating and discussing within your sphere. Each conversation you have plants a seed and that can lead to future transformations. Don’t get discouraged and give up because the conversation didn’t go as planned or end in a changed mind. This is a long term project. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

GroupMe Invitation & Recap

GroupMe Invitation

One of our members, Spogmai, suggested that we make a groupchat to share thoughts or links to information that we mentioned in discussion. So, I made a groupme chat that is open. Here is the link to join:

https://groupme.com/join_group/60715323/6bKCQ0P1

Of course, this is optional, so don’t feel like you need to join if you’re uncomfortable doing so! Thank you so much for joining govreaders. Faith and I are over the moon with how the first meeting went. Here are the questions that we discussed:

Intro and the book talk a lot about policies being the cause more so than people. What are some examples of policies which are racist/disproportionately impact POC?

How do you identify and why? Do you not identify as *insert identity* as a way to separate yourself from the privilege that gives you/stereotypes that comes with it?

Who told us that we live in a democracy? And what evidence did they have to prove it? Discussion of cognitive dissonance between being told that we’re in a democracy and not actually being in one in reality.

If you have power, what/who has enabled you to have it? And why did they do that? What caused you to have power while other people don’t, and what was the reason behind this cause?

Thats all! Thanks to all for a wonderful first meeting.

Launch Day! Pre-meeting info and norms

Launch Day Pre-meeting info and norms

I know that the post titles are hard to read because they’re in black.. I’m sorry that I can’t change that no matter how hard I try. I will be re-writing the post title in the body 🙂

Hey GovReaders! Today is July 13th, the first meeting day. I’d like this blog post to be a place to come back to to look at norms.

If you’re here because it’s the day of the meeting and you can’t seem to get in, DM me or send me an email through the contact page! I will be checking them often. I’ll get you in!

Ok, Here are the norms to come back to, courtesy of Ms. Hitch:

1. Speak from your personal experience only.

2. If someone says something that is not your personal experience, ask clarifying questions but avoid telling them they are wrong. 

3. Everyone is an individual, they are not here as a representative of their community. 

4. If you get emotional, that is fine. But please turn your mic off and your camera off. We love you, we affirm you, but this is a conversation that is not necessarily about you. (Tears redirect attention from tough convos away from the convo and onto you.)

5. Share what you are comfy sharing only. If you don’t want to share, say no. If someone says no and you want them to share more, respect their decision. 

6. If this cannot be honored, or we get zoom bombed, we will abort.

Thank you everyone! See you soon! Time to go update twitter 🙂

Some additional info

Hi! This is Leeza again, here to give you some more information about the book club. Unfortunately, since I own this website, only I can make blog posts. However, If you’d like to post something on the GovReaders website, whether it’s a revelation from the book, or a discussion question you’d like to see addressed at the next meeting, you can use the “Contact” page to send me a message, and I will be sure to post for you it as soon as possible. I’m not exactly a web designer, but I was able to learn enough to make this GovReaders hub for us. Sorry if some things on the website aren’t quite working, hopefully I will learn how to use everything eventually!

I’d like to address the fact that none of the moderators for this social justice-themed book club are black. Many people, myself included, think that black voices should be at the forefront of social justice projects, because they have experienced the injustices in question firsthand. I want to make sure it’s clear that Faith and I aren’t “leaders”, we just create the space. We aren’t trying to project our voices, but rather the voices of the black authors. And using books by black authors is a perfect way to hear directly from black voices without exploiting black people for their energy and their time. In fact, we’re trying to do the exact opposite: we’d like to amplify the voices of black authors and make sure their work did not go to waste.

That leads me to my next point! Another great way to support black people during this time and to also support small business who are being hit the worst because of the pandemic is to buy books from black-owned bookstores! Here is a list of them: https://lithub.com/you-can-order-today-from-these-black-owned-independent-bookstores/

I also know that a black-owned bookstore just opened up in Minneapolis: Black Garnet Books. Personally, I’ll be buying our next book from them. Here is their website: http://BlackGarnetBooks.com And here is their twitter:

Ok! Finally, I’d like to remind our members that today is… or was… July 1st, which is our first official day of reading! As I’m writing this post, though, it’s after midnight… building this website took all day!! No worries, though, if you haven’t joined yet, you can join at any time whatsoever. It will be on you, though, to get the book and read it. How To Be An Antiracist isn’t necessarily a book with spoilers, so you can also join meetings even if you haven’t read everything yet. But, catch up for your own good! I’ll get the zoom invitation on the home page as soon as its scheduled. At our first meeting, we’ll also pick a new book to read so that people will have ample time to order it before we start reading!

Thanks so much for joining GovReaders, everyone. It’s so important for many reasons. Have a good day (or night, for me…)!

Welcome To GovReaders!

Welcome to GovReaders! We are a student-led book club that focuses on social justice and civics ed. Hopefully you met us, Faith and Leeza, on the home page through our bios. This is Leeza speaking, and I’m here to introduce you to our project.

Faith and I met through the live streams that College Board arranged in order to help students study for the AP US Government and Politics exam. Ms. Hitchcock was the teacher hosting these lessons. She was a wonderful teacher even through the screen, and she created a wonderful educational community on twitter called #APlovgov. Faith and I are aiming to rejuvenate this community by creating one of our own through a nation-wide book club for all ages.
We want this book club to be a good opportunity to work on being a better citizen in terms of civil justice. It is difficult to work on such systemic and widespread problems in the US when we haven’t learned about them in school. Recent events taught us about the importance of learning about the root causes of systemic racism and their deadly butterfly effects. The murder of George Floyd was a sort of last straw, a wake up call to people like us. Change needs to happen, but in order for us to start making it, we need to educate ourselves.

So, we are starting with How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

We are trying to make sure everyone is able to get the book in their hands, and that we as moderators are prepared to host as many people as there are signing up. So our starting date will be around July 1st. Our first meeting will be July 13, where we discuss chapters 1-6 through Zoom at 7pm EST, or 6pm CST. From then on, we will continue weekly, discussing 6 chapters at a time, until we finish all 18 chapters. At some point we will also decide as a group which book we should read next.

I’d also like to note that Faith and I are in no way leaders. We are just creating the space, and then joining the conversation. The space is open to anyone and everyone. If many people decide to join us on this, we can make separate breakout rooms in order for each person to be able to share something. If you have already read How To Be and Antiracist, feel free to join the book club anyways just to attend the meetings, because the meetings will not center on just the book but also on what we plan to do with the information that we learned from the book in order to make change in our communities.