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May 2022 Newsletter
curated by Shelly Tochluk
Author of Witnessing Whiteness and Living in the Tension
Member of AWARE-LA

 
Hello All! – I hope you are well. This month I offer you a challenge. Please click on at least three of the links within this newsletter. I ask this of you because this newsletter includes a few extremely important, valuable, and powerful resources, and the only way to grasp them in full is to click on the links and explore beyond the synopsis I provide. 

AWARE-LA’s Model of White Supremacy System (WSS)

 

Long-time readers know that I have been working on a book project focused on how white racial identity matters when navigating messages received from both the far-right and antiracists. That project will hopefully include AWARE-LA’s model of the White Supremacy System (WSS). The model supports white people at various phases of identity development to recognize their personal stake in fighting against injustice. Because the model derives from AWARE-LA’s theoretical foundation, an online version is now available on AWARE-LA’s website. Check it out here.

Side note: The WSS analysis includes a strong critique of capitalism. This is part of a larger trend, one recently highlighted in a Business Insider article about a flood of young people on TikTok questioning “a life that prioritizes productively over well-being.” The article notes, “Anti-capitalism is taking over TikTok as users…denounce America's glorification of the rat race. The pandemic prompted many American workers to rethink their life's purpose, and the youngest among them are questioning a life that endlessly pursues the next accomplishment.”

Democracy Alert from the Western States Center

The link to this biweekly Democracy Alert update from the Western States Center is a regular feature of this newsletter. I typically highlight at least one link from it. (The report on book bans immediately below is this month’s spotlight.) I fear too many readers never follow the main link and miss the wealth of information provided in the alert itself. Please follow this link (at least this one time) and read the overview. It will take you 5 minutes. It’s okay if you don't explore further. The overview itself will offer a broad and wide-ranging view of what is happening nationally and the trends we should be following.

Report on Book Bans from PEN

 

You may have heard a bit about this in the news. This report goes deeper. --- “The literary and free expression organization PEN America [recently] released a new Index of School Book Bans and accompanying report, Banned in the USA, that documents the alarming spike in censorship of books in school districts across the country over the past nine months, with individual books and even whole categories of books—many related to race, racism, sexual orientation and gender identity— disappearing from school library shelves and barred from classrooms and curricula. The organization said the widespread censorship was unparalleled in its intensity and frequency and represents a serious threat to free expression and students’ First Amendment rights.  This report constitutes the first detailed, book by book, district by district account of what books are being banned, where in the country, and through what procedures.”

Click here to view the topline findings. Take one minute to read the summary on the main page. It is very eye opening!

The Current: The Conspiracy Theories Issue

Click on this link and then click “explore this issue”! Even if you just skim and scroll for a few minutes, you won’t regret it. The Current produces the most beautifully-delivered information on essential topics I have ever seen. The website’s construction draws you in and allows the core information to jump out. The combination of beauty and substance is stunning.

A golden nugget within the “countermeasures” section of the Current issue (above) is perfect for teachers and parents of teens or pre-teens. It highlights, “a series of browser-based video games designed by the University of Cambridge, Gusmanson, and Drog. In one study, individuals who played Bad News, a role-playing game that casts players as online propagandists, were significantly less swayed by misinformation online, with effects lasting up to three months. These games are now in use in classrooms across Europe, the United States and in South America. --- Check out the Bad News game and Info Sheet for Educators!

 

Lucid: Threats to Democracy and Abuses of Power

A reader recently introduced me to this important outlet for discussion on rising, global authoritarianism. You can subscribe for free to receive regular updates and listen in on important conversations.

  • Click here to view some of their top stories and here for an overview of their last year’s work.

From the website: “Democracy is in decline. Over half of the world's population now lives under some form of illiberal rule. Wherever democracy deteriorates, so does support for transparency and accountability. Disinformation about current events thrives, as do versions of history that cover up authoritarian crimes.

Lucid is a solutions-oriented publication about threats to democracy and abuses of power, and how to counter them. It cuts through the noise and provides clear analysis about the consequences of democratic erosion and the toll of secrecy and corruption in government, boardrooms, and institutions. It also covers the global resistance to tyranny past and present.”

 

Inclusiveness Index 2021


Recently released data from 2021: “The Othering and Belonging Institute’s Inclusiveness Index is a holistic gauge of the degree of inclusivity experienced by marginalized groups across the globe and within the United States. [Their] index ranks states and nation-states in absolute and relative terms using a variety of indicators. [Their] instrument is unique in striving to gauge inclusivity on its own terms rather than as part of a more general assessment of group well-being, wealth or economic conditions.”

To read more of the overview, click here.

 

The Index “ranked every US state (and 133 countries) by their levels of inclusion.” Here is what they found:

  • For the fourth straight year HAWAII ranks as the most inclusive state in the country, followed by Nevada and Rhode Island.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana came in last place, followed by South Dakota and Mississippi.
  • All of these states have consistently ranked near the top or bottom since we began publishing our Inclusiveness Index in 2016.
  • Among the 133 countries ranked in this year's study, first place went to Sweden, followed by New Zealand and Norway.
  • For the first time since 2016 the Netherlands did not come in first place. Instead, it ranked fourth.
  • Yemen, a country devastated by the Saudi-led invasion launched in 2015, came in last place, followed by Iraq, itself still suffering from the US-led invasion in 2003.
  • Angola, in western Africa, ranked third from the bottom.
  • The United States, per usual, ranked mid-pack, in 72nd place.

See the full results here. They also offer “an interactive table that allows users to switch between states and countries and sort them by the levels of inclusion experienced by different social groups.”

Announcement from a Reader

Support Group for Jews Dealing with Antisemitism

"You are invited to join a grassroots, mutual support network for Jews and their allies struggling with the effects of antisemitism.  Many of us have been bullied, assaulted, silenced, gaslit, delegitimized, and belittled.  So often it happens in a way that those around us are not able or willing to see.  It happens in full view but it is not seen.  We need to make sure we see each other."


"We do not require adherence to any political ideology. We hold a space for each other to be heard and understood - in our hurt, anger & disbelief. We recently expanded to 2 meetings a week.  The aim of the group is to remain flexible so that it can respond to our members’ needs, be it more meetings, moving meeting day/time for member convenience, providing resources and learning opportunities, etc." 
 

For more information, email TriciaR1958@gmail.com

This four-day intensive, deep dive for white people working on their antiracist practice will take place via Zoom again this summer. I have co-produced this program with AWARE-LA for the last 13 years and continue to find it a unique and essential offering. Check out the information sheet for more details about the program. We currently have space available, although spots generally fill quickly. Please register soon if you’d like to attend.
 AWARE’s monthly Sunday Dialogue (SD) occurs on the 3rd Sunday of every month, 3-5PM Pacific via the Zoom online platform.  We focus on connecting, sharing, and learning from one another. If you'd like to join us to receive monthly invitations, please subscribe here: Sunday Dialogues Interest List Sign Up
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For more information, please visit:
shellytochluk.com

Contact me at:
shelly@unitybridges.org or stochluk@msmu.edu

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Shelly Tochluk · 10 Chester Place · Los Angeles, CA 90007 · USA

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