I rarely give parenting advice. I’d much rather doodle a superhero or share cute pics of my kid than try to tell another parent how to do their job. But hey, it’s a pandemic, and I figure us parents can use all the help we can get. So I thought I’d share some extremely helpful information from the folks at Responsibility.org, with whom I recently partnered.
We’re about a month (or is it two?) into quarantine, and I’m sure we all have stories to tell — both humorous and harrowing — about how all this has affected our families. Early on I found my son sorting through his stuffed animals, putting some into a separate pile for quarantine. And while parents of multiple kids have my undying respect, having an only child has its challenges as well — the primary one being no one to play with. And the issues my ADHD son and I have had with “distance learning” are too numerous to list.
So how in the world do we as parents respond to our kids’ struggles, questions and emotions in the midst of something none of us were even remotely prepared to deal with? Below are a few helpful parental do’s and a don’ts that might come in handy.
A little over two years ago, I wrote about the rash of violent crimes being committed against the most vulnerable people in the LGBTQ community, trans women of color. The problem has not gone away, and was in fact recently labeled an epidemic by an official from the American Medical Association. In 2018, 24 trans people were murdered in the United States. In 2019, there have already been 10 trans lives taken. Two of those — including the most recent death — are from the DC area.
Earlier today, I received this email from Ruby Corado, founder of the DC LGBTQ community center, Casa Ruby.
Last week we lost one of our own Casa Ruby youth to a senseless act of violence and hate. 23 year old Zoe was shot to death in cold blood.
Zoe wanted to be a lawyer, and help Trans people like herself. But like many Trans women of color, she found herself in the margins of a society that didn’t provide the opportunity for gainful employment.
We really want to thank you for your support through these times. The messages, cards and calls we received give us hope that people care.
Not only does Casa Ruby provide services, we advocate. And we want you to advocate too. Please help us make people aware of the employment disparities Trans people have, and if you know of an employment opportunity let us know. Awareness is just one thing you can do, to help curb the rash of hate crimes in DC, that are growing in DC.
I do wish I could write you in better times, but I do want to thank you. Just making us visible and worthy can save a life.
Join us, and the community, for a vigil against violence, on Friday, June 21. We’ll be meeting at Dupont Circle at 7pm.
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If you can’t attend the vigil (and even if you can), please take a moment to learn more about Casa Ruby. These women need us, and you can help in a meaningful way.
Casa Ruby is a multicultural community center that provides life-saving services for the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community: transgender, gender queer, and gender non-conforming GLB people. Created and directed by activist Ruby Corado, services include support groups, housing referrals, hot meals, clothing exchange, case management and legal counseling.
Our family is featured in a new spot for the ACLU! We were excited and honored to share our story with an organization we’ve long admired for their commitment to social justice. Along with Jon, Papa and I, the two-minute ACLU Voter video highlights several other families … and several examples of why it’s more important than ever to make our voices heard through voting.
Check it out…
Racial justice, travel bans, disability rights, reproductive freedom, immigration, LGBTQ rights — all of these issues have been through an upheaval under the Trump administration. And as mid-term elections loom across the country, they are in further danger .
and On March 24, 2018, hundreds of thousands of people attended March for Our Lives — a protest and call to action held in hundreds of cities in every state across the U.S. Yet even more amazing than the massive crowds were the many young speakers raising their voices in frustration, fear, anger, and mourning.
They voiced their frustration at the lack of any real change to America’s gun laws in the last decade. They voiced the fear they experienced at school or in their neighborhoods as they were terrorized at gunpoint. They voiced their anger at the NRA and its influence over Congress, local legislators, and gun owners in general. And they voiced their sorrow — mourning siblings, cousins, classmates, teachers, friends and neighbors whose lives were — and continue to be — cut short by a culture of unfettered gun violence.
Yet with all of this against them, they spoke out — bravely, with purpose, and with hope.
On February 14, 2018, the latest (at this writing) mass shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, fourteen of them students. As there’s not much new I can add to the conversation, I thought the best way to honor the silenced students was to amplify the same number of young voices from March for Our Lives.
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EMMA GONZÁLEZ – 17, Parkland FL
Watch Emma’s entire speech to get the full effect of her message. And then please (PLEASE) leave a positive comment on YouTube to counter the avalanche of hatred she’s enduring.
AN EPIDEMIC OF HATE
In 2015, nineteen transgender people were murdered in the United States. The following year, that number rose to 26, an all-time high. In 2017 there have already been 26 trans people murdered, the vast majority of them women of color.
The map below illustrates that these brutal killings occur in every region of the U.S. (23 states + DC). And bear in mind these statistics include only documented murders. Also missing are the countless acts of rape and assault against transgender people.
Click map to enlarge. Data source: Wikipedia (updated 11/20/2017)
I had the honor of participating in Listen To Your Mother – a curated show of readings about moms and motherhood. I was the only male in our cast, and I shared a bit of my journey regarding Jon’s birthmother.
I’ve not written much about this topic, for the sake of my son’s privacy as well as that of his birthmom. However, the events encapsulated in my 6-minute reading took several years in real time, and included a slew of emotions ranging from fear and resentment, to disappointment and anger.
Many adoptive parents struggle silently with guilt and confusion over how they think they should feel about their child’s biological parents, versus how they actually feel. I’m sharing this for those parents — so they won’t feel alone like I did so much of the time. So they’ll know there are no right or wrong ways to think and feel about these complicated relationships.
I may write about this more in time — particularly as it relates to being a gay dad. But for now, thank you for watching (or reading). And if you have one to share, I’d love to listen to your story, too.
The Girl Scouts turns 100 today (Congrats, ladies!) so I thought I’d share a project I did a bunch of years ago for them. I know I say this about pretty much everything I post here, but it really WAS one of my favorites. And it’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to illustrating a children’s book.
Follow the Reader was an activity book for the Daisy Scouts (K-1st grade) meant to encourage parents to read to their kids and generally take a more active role in their learning. It was chock full of word games, matching activities, and cute-as-pie illustrations (if I do say so myself). The biggest challenge was that the book was also bi-lingual (English/Spanish) which meant 2x the type in an already jam-packed layout.
Like the Girl Scout organization itself, the book was about as inclusive as you could get. There were kids of every skin tone, all shapes and sizes, a girl with leg braces, one in a wheelchair, even a couple of girls NOT in dresses!
However, after having already completed most of the illustrations, the Girl Scouts decided they wanted to add a little girl with a hearing aid. The only problem was that none of my people had ears! So, I created one little girl with an ear so it could show a hearing aid.
I remember thinking at the time (2002) that it would be cool if they showed a girl with 2 mommies or 2 daddies. Back then it seemed a bit far-fetched, but I’d like to think that if I were hired to do an update they’d include such a family.
If you’re in the DC area Saturday, February 18th, grab the whole family and go see “The Kids Are All Right” performed by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington! As a member of this chorus, I can tell you it’s not often the phrase “family-friendly” is used to describe one of our shows… but “Kids” will be a great evening of music with a message: Be who you were born to be!
The concert features songs and stories about growing up “different” — and not just surviving, but overcoming adversity to enjoy and embrace our individuality.
Two big highlights of the show will include a mini-musical based on the children’s book “Oliver Button Is A Sissy,” narrated by Candace Gingrich-Jones (half-sister of a certain soon-to-be former presidential candidate); as well as a performance by Dreams of Hope, a Pittsburgh performing arts group of LGBT youth and their allies. They will present a segment from their original show “Being In, Being Out” about the journey we all take to belong.
As part of the chorus’ GenOUT program, free tickets are available for high school students, their teachers and parents. Learn more about GMCW’s youth outreach program and request tickets at www.gmcw.org/outreach/genout
And check out this fun little animation. Not my creation (although the logos are), but darned if that first photo that appears isn’t familiar…
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Saturday, February 18, 2012
730 21st Street NW • Washington DC
INFO / TICKETS
Doug Powell designs and dads in chilly Minneapolis, and is the current president of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts, for you non-designers). I had the privilege of hearing Doug speak recently on the topic of AIGA’s Design for Good initiative, as well as his own work inspired by a very personal experience involving his daughter. Doug was kind enough to answer my DDQ&A, as well as some additional questions specific to his presentation on Design for Good.
Q&A with designer dad Doug Powell
Tell me briefly about your design business: how long in business, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
My wife, Lisa, and I founded Schwartz Powell in 1989. For most of that time we operated as a traditional graphic design studio working for a variety of clients ranging from Target and Andersen Windows to local arts organizations and schools. In 2002 our daughter, Maya, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (aka juvenile diabetes) and this caused Lisa and me to really reset our priorities around family and work. One of the outcomes of this experience was a line of products that Lisa and I designed to help families better manage life with diabetes. This grew into a bigger business vision over the subsequent years, applying this approach to a broader range of health care scenarios. In 2007 this business, called HealthSimple, was acquired by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Since then, I’ve been continuing to work with organizations in the health and nutrition space to work with design and design thinking.
One of the joys of working in DC is being exposed to the vast number of nonprofits doing dynamic and important work. While working for these organizations doesn’t always equate to dynamic paychecks, the payoff is oftentimes greater creative freedom. And it’s even more rewarding when you’re able to contribute to a cause in which you really believe.
That was the case with Family Ties Project, whose mission is “to promote and preserve the well-being of children, youth and families affected by HIV/AIDS by working with parents and caregivers to plan for the future care of their children.”