The Fight for Reproductive Justice (with Marcela Howell)

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Description

Gloria unpacks the decades-long struggle for reproductive justice in America with Marcela Howell, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. They discuss the barriers to reproductive freedom for Black people, how the Hyde Amendment makes abortion access even harder for low-income individuals, and why we need to focus on state legislative elections to ensure that even more reproductive rights aren’t taken away. Plus, Gloria talks with Daisy Han, founder and CEO of Embracing Equity, about the essential role that equity plays in early education.

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Transcript

SPEAKERS

Gloria Riviera, Marcela Howell, Daisy Han

Gloria Riviera  00:09

This is NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US, a Lemonada Media original presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. I’m your host, Gloria Rivera. Well, hi, everyone. It is good to be back with all of you this week. As I typed this, I’m feeling you know, okay, I guess. I feel like the show’s title is getting a little heavy for me, sort of like the bleakest catch all title in the history of titles, but so be it. If we were not aware that the child care crisis and the reproductive freedom crisis in this country are intertwined before the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, we should be now. But also I have found that the more you learn about one problem in America, the more other acute underlying related and very problematic issues that we have in this country come into staggeringly sharp focus. Remember, when we learned that a barrier to finding childcare is often accessibility, how far you have to drive to get there, how much it costs, how much incorporating it into your life, will compromise your ability to do your job well, or even to do your job half same? Well, all of those same questions can be directly applied to getting an abortion only now, you may have to cross state lines, sometimes multiple state lines. It’s like some kind of nightmare hamster wheel, we cannot get off. And it’s been like that in many ways, specifically for Black women, for well for all of history. Which brings me to our guest Marcela Howell is the founder, president and CEO of in our own voice National Black women’s reproductive justice agenda. I wanted to talk to her ever since Lauren Rankin, author of bodies on the line told me that White cisgender women, that’s me, have been coasting on row coasting. not all but many. The majority of Black women have never had that luxury, Never, not all, but many. It’s always been hard in some way small or large. or so has said before that quote row has always been the floor, not the ceiling, but you still had the floor. Well, now that’s gone. And what her work reveals is how abortion is kind of this horrific byproduct of a whole host of other things that are realities, whether political realities, or neighborhood realities or policing realities or childcare realities, mental health, physical health, there’s more but I need an hour at least to cover them. The choice to have an abortion can often be due to how difficult life is to live. Right? That’s one slice of this that Marcella has devoted her life’s work to for decades. She did this poll in Tennessee back in 2020. And she found that respondents told her a barrier to parenthood is among other things, access to childcare 49% of birthing people. That’s a Marcella phrase and I like it, told her that, 49%, it is thorny, it is complicated. I did a ton of research in my head was spinning, trying to understand everything she is talking about. Poverty, okay, ring a bell, hello childcare poverty, wages, food insecurity, housing insecurity, low resource schools, there is more because it is systemic. But here’s the good news. Remember, guys, I’m an optimist. Marcela is working at the state and local level to change all of it. And it makes sense. That is where we need to focus, not just on the presidential campaign, although those two, you know, the stickers that say I voted, well, Marcela doesn’t like them. She would like them to say I’m a voter, to show people, you don’t just show up every two every four years. No, you got to be in this. So you know, get ready to get in the ring and stay there. Okay, here’s my conversation with Marcela. Marcel, it’s so nice to see you. Thank you for joining us.

Marcela Howell  04:16

Well, thank you for having me.

Gloria Riviera 

Absolutely. I want to get started with a term that many of our listeners may not be familiar with detail by detail, and that’s the term reproductive justice. I know that it was coined in 1994 by 12 Black women in Chicago, why then 94′ and what does it encompass.

Marcela Howell 

these 12 Black women were at a conference in Chicago. It was a conference on health care. And most of the discussion that had gone on at the conference was a debate about pro choice versus pro-life. And these black Women decided that what these other women were talking about really did not resonate with their lived experiences. And they wanted to come up with something that really reflected their lives. And so reproductive justice, they wanted to have a human rights framework. And they wanted to incorporate Black feminist theory. And so for us, reproductive justice is the human right to control your body, your gender, your sexuality, your work, your community and your family. It basically says that everyone has the human right to make decisions about their own body. And that there should not be any kind of state sponsored interference from policy makers from others who basically want to dictate to you what you can and cannot do with your body. And part of that was when a number of white women’s organizations in the 70s were fighting for the right to have an abortion, black women were fighting for the right to have children to not be sterilized, to not have their children taken away from them because of some definition of motherhood that they might not fit, because they were low income, or they were single parents.

Gloria Riviera  06:35

He wrote in a blog in May 2022. So just recently before Roe vs. Wade was overturned, and you quoted Audrey Lorde, you said there is no such thing as a single issue struggle, because we do not live single issue lives. And that’s what I think of when I hear you describe the term reproductive justice. There was an article that said history will remember June 24, as the day the US Supreme Court decided people actually don’t have a right to choose abortion without excessive government restriction. And I pause on the word people, because I think of the Hyde Amendment. And I think about excessive government restriction being put into place almost immediately. Can you take us back to 1974, when the Hyde Amendment was first passed the first major government restriction and what it meant for Black communities.

Marcela Howell 

When Henry Hyde, who was a member of Congress, decided, you know, he was adamantly opposed to the Roe v Wade decision. And he said that he wanted to stop all abortions. But as a member of Congress, he could not do that, under Roe v. Wade, he could not restrict abortion care to all women. So he was going to go to those where he could. And what he could do was say, but if you have your insurance coverage under the government, under Medicaid, you cannot use that insurance covered because of his taxpayer insurance to actually access the full range of reproductive health care. And it passed, and it passes every single year. Remember that, that the Hyde Amendment is not the law of the land, it is an amendment that is put on funding bills. And so he went after poor wind, right, because that was the logical target. And if you think about how our country has been built, our country has always gone after poor people.

Gloria Riviera  08:49

I mean, I’m imagining there were many women who found themselves choosing an abortion who did work for a federal entity, who did have insurance through a federal entity. And where did that leave them?

Marcela Howell 

It meant that they have to use their own funding.

Gloria Riviera 

I mean, that is just crazy. That cost is up to wherever you go.

Marcela Howell 

It meant that if you had your own OB GYN, who was willing to do an abortion, you had to come up with your own funds. It meant that if you were in the military, and you were stationed overseas, and you needed an abortion, you had to fly back to the United States using your own funds, and get your abortion using your own funds. You couldn’t go to a military hospital because that was under the federal government.

Gloria Riviera 

So you wrote an op ed along with Sheree Scott at listing the barriers to reproductive freedom for black in pregnant women and it is a long list. But can you enlighten us for those who did not have this on our radar? Things so specific that affect Black women and other people of color who can become pregnant in the trans community, such as the heat index, such as pollution, these differences in communities that negatively impact people of color who become pregnant.

Marcela Howell  10:20

And keep in mind, we actually asked people this question we asked them, what are the things you take into consideration when you’re thinking about having a having a family or expanding your family?

Gloria Riviera 

And one of them was childcare. I know

Marcela Howell 

Childcare is something that you that naturally you think about having money in the bank, but there were things like having access to quality food. And you kind of think, well, yeah, I’d go to the grocery store, buy good food. Well, in a number of Black communities, you don’t have food chains. You don’t have like a giant or a Safeway, you have these small mom and pop stores, where you can’t necessarily get fresh vegetables, you can’t get fresh fruit, you get juices that are literally just a lot of sugar, they’re not […]. So you can’t read all their ingredients and say that’s not what I want. They said things like they wanted to have access to clean water. Which meant one of the things we discovered is a good 35% to 40% of Black women that we polled would say that they have brown water coming out of their faucets repeatedly in their city, where they lived. And we saw that in Flint. And it wasn’t just Flint, the idea of unclean water in Black communities is not just an anomaly, it is a consistent thing. And so they can’t afford to go and buy bottled water, because bottled water is expensive. So they drink water out of the faucet. But if you have brown water coming out, and you don’t want to get that to your kid, because you know what’s in that brown water. And even if you cook with it, you want to sterilize the water before you cook with the water. So they have things like that, they talked about over policing in their community because of fear of what could happen to their child, especially a male child growing up in that community. So there are all these different kinds of factors that come into play. They talked about stress. And that’s a big thing. When you think about Black maternal mortality, Black women die three times higher from pregnancy complications than White women do. You know, the reality is, it’s the way the health care system treats Black pregnant women. Yes, is that one of the things that happens is you go into a doctor’s office and they see you’re black, and they immediately assume you’re on Medicaid. Because this cuts across economics, it cuts across education. It is not something that you just assume women have low income, face these maternal mortality issues. No, it cuts across economic and education barriers. It cuts across whether you’re married or not married. I mean, the perfect example was when Serena Williams, who has all kinds of money, married to somebody who has […]

Gloria Riviera 

All kinds of money, yeah.

Marcela Howell 

Goes to the to the hospital to have her child and feels pain after the birth feel something’s wrong and tells there’s a nurse this, the nurse ignores her. She almost died from complications, post birth complications, and finally got somebody to pay attention to her. Now maybe the nurse didn’t know who she was, or all she saw was a Black woman complaining about pain. And that’s the other thing. There is this mentality that comes from the public health officials who seem to believe that Black women’s tolerance for pain is much higher than White women’s. So think about what happens if you instead of being someone who is used to get her way because she is an athlete, a superstar. Somebody who is low income and is in a hospital has a child and complains about a pain and then nobody does anything that woman is going to have problems or she goes home, feel something isn’t right. And calls into her doctor and the doctor, just poo poos it, or the nurse practitioner doesn’t think it’s any big thing. That is why those complications happen. And it can happen up to a year after you give birth. There’s just complications. And some of it, they’re now discovering is stress. The stress of being Back in America is a problem for Black women, and for birthing people. And so there’s all of those kinds of things to come into effect. I mean, the reality is, the public health system in and of itself is racist. Because their perceptions of White women, Black women, Hispanic women are different, right? When they shouldn’t be the same. It’s a pregnant person.

Gloria Riviera 

When you polled people in Tennessee, your question was, what do you think about when you make the decision about whether or not to parent, to become a parent? And there were all of these things on that list that were so interesting? Did people talk about over policing in their communities as one of the barriers that they had to face? So when you talk about a story in it, you know, it triggers my memory, because I’m a reporter. And I remember something about that. Does that fall under over policing, or we’re talking about over policing in the community against young Black people, members of the community there?

Marcela Howell  16:36

It’s both, it’s feeling that police are supposed to be there to protect and serve. Yes. But in black community, their definition of protect and serve is protecting white community from Back people. Not protecting and serving the people that they’re actually walking around supposedly serving. And so what you get is, there’s always the sense that if you’re driving down the street, and you see a police car behind you, and you’re Black, the nerves, the tension goes up. It’s like, why is this police car following me. I remember when I was working in Los Angeles, and I was the executive director of K-route, which was the California abortion rights action League, the California arm of […]. And we were having this big event at a hotel in Beverly Hills, a fundraising event with where we were honoring doctors, abortion doctors, and I was on my way to that event, because I was, you know, actually going to the hotel to stay that night. And then we were having the lunch the next day. And I remember on my way, driving, I got into Beverly Hills and a police guard started following me. And I was like, why is this police car and so what you do is you decide to turn places where you weren’t intending to turn to see if the car is still following you. Right? I turned different places the car was right behind me. And then I finally said, okay, well, clearly this cop is following me for some reason. And I don’t know why. I didn’t pulled into the hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, which if anybody has seen pretty woman..

Gloria Riviera 

I was just gonna say, I haven’t been there. But I saw that, yeah.

Marcela Howell 

You see the front of it. But behind where you pull up in, you know, and they actually valet your car is in the courtyard part. So I pull in there, I stopped my car, I get out. And this police officer drives right in behind me and stops. And he gets out. And he says to me now, hey, you got the Bellman coming out, because I’ve gotten luggage and stuff, and they’re coming out and, and he goes, what are you doing here? And you know, your first response is none of your bloody business, right? But you also know you’re a Black woman in Beverly Hills and everybody around you. With one exception, the guy who’s taken my car, a White, and I said, luggage, checking in. And he goes, can I see some ID? And you kind of think, okay, I could go through all kinds of stuff, or now the good thing that happened is because we were renting their ballroom and I had been in touch with the person who you know, did events at this hotel and told them when I would be arriving and they were there to meet me. The guy walked out at the same time and said hi, Ms. Howell, everything okay? And the police officer stops and looks at him. And I said, yeah, this officer wants to know why I’m here. And the man turns and he goes, she’s a guest at the hotel. And the officer goes, no problem, gets back in his car and drives away

Gloria Riviera  20:22

And that manager was White.

Marcela Howell 

Yes. And he knew and the officer clearly knew who he was. And the officer just drives away. And the manager is like, I am so sorry. And I said, well, that’s okay. He’s been following me for blocks. I just figured maybe the best thing to do was to drive to the hotel, and maybe he go away. But he wasn’t planning on going away until this man walked out of the hotel.

Gloria Riviera 

And what do you do with that Marcella? Because here you are, you’ve got this huge role […]. You’re going to this fundraising event? I’m sure it’s not the first time that something like that has happened to you. How do you live with that in yourself?

Marcela Howell 

Well, that night, I wrote an op ed piece that the Los Angeles Times published.

Gloria Riviera 

Communities, experts, we’ve all known Roe was going to be overturned. It’s still a shock. And those reverberations are still being felt. But there were plans in place there have had to have been plans in place because it’s been chipped away at for so long. Your organization has been ready. What is it doing now? And what is it always been doing? And how are those two things different? Right, once the decision came down? Did it radically change your plan?

Marcela Howell  22:03

One of the things that we had been doing is we had been concentrating on state legislatures, where most of the pro-choice groups had been concentrating on Congress and the White House and trying to keep the right people in the White House trying to keep the right people in the House of Representatives and the Senate so that bad laws were stopped and good laws could get passed.

Gloria Riviera 

You’re the first person I’ve spoken to that’s been focused on not what’s happening in DC, right? We don’t need to be in DC we need to be elsewhere. Why?

Marcela Howell 

Now we have focused on both we do policy at the federal level. But we also do policy with organizations that are state based organizations.

Gloria Riviera

And why is that work so important? Why is the state based work so important?

Marcela Howell 

Because that’s where the bad laws are really being passed. So while others were paying attention to stopping bad laws at the federal level, there were laws being passed at the state level where the state legislatures were controlled by not just conservatives, but ultra conservatives, people who use religion as a tool to pass bad laws, governors who were getting elected, who basically saw roe as something they wanted to outlaw immediately they saw voting rights as something they wanted to curtail and put barriers up in. They were the same people who at local levels. We’re doing redlining who doing all these things, and what we knew was that Black women voters turned out in large numbers for presidential elections, the numbers for withdraw drop at midterm elections, and then they started going up again, in 2016-2020. They started to you know, people started saying, Okay, well, midterm elections we need to pay attention to because those are congressional seats. Black women, we’re starting to run for stuff, we’re running for those seats.

Gloria Riviera  24:14

We’ve got Stacey Abrams, raising a whole lot of money right now.

Marcela Howell 

Yes, exactly. But what was happening is on the ballot, they weren’t necessarily paying attention to the state legislative races. And the end is, like I said, or they weren’t turning out for local races, like mayors races and, and city council races and, you know, judges and stuff. So what we started concentrating on was getting people to get educated about who actually made the laws that impacted their lives the most right, and it isn’t Congress, its state legislatures. Its mayors, because when we did Original polling and people started talking about these are the kinds of things that we are concerned about. When we’re thinking about having a family. There were things like making sure we got good city services, the streets got cleaned, the trash got picked up. People came and dealt with our sidewalks, which, you know, if you had some trees that were pushing the sidewalk up, because the roots were too big and stuff. Who takes care of that? It’s not the homeowner, it’s the city. Who’s supposed to take care of making sure that the trash gets picked up in the city. All of those kinds of services, who pays the you know, the streets so that your car doesn’t end up in a pothole. It’s the city.

Gloria Riviera

I mean, I hear you talking about this, I think all of this is about what does your life look like? And how does that impact whether you want to bring a child into it?

Marcela Howell  26:03

And even police departments budgets, that happens at the city level.

Gloria Riviera 

So you have to get people to vote on those, the people in those roles, that impact the tangible things in their lives that affect their mental health, their access to child care, their physical health.

Marcela Howell 

Who determines whether or not a hospital closes down in your community? If it’s a public hospital, it’s City Council’s the mayor, the Board of Supervisors, those are the people who determine that. So you need to know about where they stand, and that you should vote in their elections.

Gloria Riviera 

And I don’t want to let you go without asking you. You know, why are you in this work?

Marcela Howell 

It’s just, it’s one of those things where you decide to do something, and you didn’t expect to do it as long as you’re doing it. And yet, you don’t really want to be somewhere else I am going to retire. But t’s like, I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I do think it’s time to bring in new blood to do to continue this. But the reality is, this is one of those kinds of things where you say, this is needed. And you hope that you know, you can do it, and other people are going to join you. But you have to do it anyway. That’s literally what those 12 women sitting in Chicago were about. It was like, we have to do this because these people are not speaking to us.

Gloria Riviera 

They’re not representing us.

Marcela Howell

Yes, they don’t understand our lived experiences. So we need to name our lived experience. And our name is reproductive justice. And it means it has historical meaning it has present day, meaning it has future day meaning. And so we’re 20 something years later. And we’re still building this movement across generations. And it is an important thing to do. Because it really does speak to black women and other women of color. And the issue around abortion access speaks to women and birthing people. And you’ve got to just keep talking about it.

Gloria Riviera  28:30

I like the way you put that women and birthing people, right? We’ve seen attacks against people who talks about not just women who are pregnant, right, all birthing people.

Marcela Howell 

That’s, you know, that’s the attacks that state governments are doing against trans people. As far as I’m concerned, the attacks on abortion, the attacks on voting rights, the attacks on trans people are attacks on human rights, and we need to look at it that way that it is not segmented. It is an attack on human rights of American citizens specifically to maintain power.

Gloria Riviera 

And we have to start at the local level.

Marcela Howell 

And they start at the local level.

Gloria Riviera 

That is where the work is. That Beverly Wilshire story. Oh my god. I know. I know. It happens countless times a day in countless ways to countless people of color. That doesn’t make it any less horrific. I love that she said luggage checking in, mic drop. Only it didn’t achieve a Mic drop. The manager had to come do that. Which makes me mad, but it also gives me Mojo. It boosts my spirits given the new reality we all face with childcare and abortion care in the This country, I want to thank Marcella for the work she does the work she’s done for decades. And I know in some way she will continue to do it. She told me she was retiring. And I was like, I don’t want to hear that. But I know her expertise will be tapped for years to come. Coming up something else that was clear to me while talking to Marcella is just how important it is to think about equity in all things. And one of the most fundamental places we need equity is in education, we’ll dive into that topic right after this break.

Gloria Riviera  30:51

We’re back. When we don’t consider equity, we end up with a Black maternal mortality rate three times higher than it is for White people. And brown water coming out of taps. And when equity is not part of education, you get stories like this one.

Daisy Han

When I first entered school, I didn’t speak a lot of English because we spoke Korean in my house. And so I really didn’t know what was happening. But I remember still to this day, crying so hard from having to say goodbye to my mom. My teacher tried her best and came over to me making goofy faces, squinting her eyes and saying things like don’t worry my little China doll in an effort to comfort and humor me. And at five years old, I remember staring at her feeling confused and stung, and very alone, thrown by this person who is supposed to be teaching me. And so I looked for my mom. And I actually found her staring at me in the window. So I locked eyes with her like I’m going to let out the loudest scream humanly possible. But I never ended up screaming because when I saw my mom’s face, I saw she was actually crying harder than I was literally standing outside of a school that was not designed for her or her daughter’s success. And so in that kindergarten classroom, I learned English, I learned how to translate for my parents. I had the fortune of being able to navigate through the public school system as a success story. But really, at that moment, the role shifted. And I knew that it was my responsibility to kind of shepherd my parents through my education.

Gloria Riviera  32:46

That was Daisy Han. I mean my heartbreaks thinking about five year old Daisy having to experience that the horrible racist squinty eyes and China doll comment from the teacher, and also having to see her mom’s so hurt by it too, that experience never left Daisy as you’d imagine. So it’s probably not a huge surprise that Daisy created a nonprofit called Embracing Equity, which cultivates the mindsets and practices necessary to create an affirming inclusive and equitable educational ecosystem. How does your experience in preschool? How do you see it manifesting in the early education system we have today in this country.

Daisy Han 

I started embracing equity, which is a national nonprofit so that no child had to experience what I did on my first day of school. And our vision is that every child feel safe and secure at school to be able to learn and be proud of who they are, right? Not have to hide it or assimilate or sacrifice parts of their identity, but actually, that their identity is welcomed, and celebrated and affirmed in that environment.

Gloria Riviera  34:02

And what are your sort of a worst case scenarios that you’ve become aware of,  that led you in part to start embracing equity.

Daisy Han 

I was a Montessori teacher for about a decade and then an administrator, principal and teacher trainer after that. And what I found is even in my own experience, having had that traumatizing first day of school, and then working my way through the ed system. Even with all of that, I found myself ill equipped as a teacher to actually confront some of these systemic barriers and the ways in which my bias influenced my practice as a teacher. Right. So I thought there must be a way that we can come together as adults to do this preparation of self so that when we are in front of our students, were actually able to have the awareness and the tools to check our bias. And actually welcome that kind of honest dialogue with our students.

Gloria Riviera

Especially at those very young age.

Daisy Han 

Yeah, that’s when their brains are so hungry for understanding and making sense of the world around them. And so just being able to engage those young children in these real conversations, that center truth creates a lifetime, a foundation for a lifetime of curiosity rather than defensiveness, a lifetime of open mindedness, right, there are all these benefits to doing it young.

Gloria Riviera

You have written about the idea of White fragility. Can you explain to us what that is and how you see it manifesting in early education classrooms today? You were 10 years a Montessori teacher, what did you see?

Daisy Han  36:03

I’m trying to think about it. Because a little bit scoped out since this anti-critical race theory movement has been infiltrating all aspects of education, banning of books, right, banning of truth, there is so much happening in education. And so White fragility is one part of that, where a lot of times when we talk about difficult topics, racism, sexism, when we talk about difficult things, it’s uncomfortable. And so sometimes the gut reaction is avoidance, or dismissal. And that action is perpetuating harm. It’s actually preventing us from getting to reconciliation or peace, which is a very common phrase in Montessori education, peace, education is very popular. And of course, we want peace. But in order to get real peace, we have to have, as Bryan Stevenson says, truth and justice, you can’t skip over to over to peace, without having honest conversations, and having the ability to really reckon with the injustice that has happened. And then invite the collaboration into what does a just future look like? And how do we each play a role in shaping that future? So any of the ways in which the obstacles that can get in the way? Those are things that we try to combat in embracing equity by having a shame free learning zone? You know, what you know, and you don’t know what you don’t know, so come with your questions, come with an open heart. And we’re gonna be able to learn from each other together.

Gloria Riviera  38:21

Because I, as a parent feel if I’m honest, embarrassed about what I don’t know. And I’m a highly educated, I’ve got a Master’s, I’ve been a journalist, I’ve been around a lot of different communities and ethnicities, in a lot of different scenarios. And I still feel shame and embarrassment about what I don’t know, it was uncomfortable to go through. Yeah, you know, recent events in this country. So you’re saying, that’s okay. That’s a very liberating thing to hear.

Daisy Han 

That’s okay. And let’s learn together.

Gloria Riviera 

So what happens in classrooms? Like what do you see, when you were a teacher what did you observe? And where do you think the early education system is now in this country? I mean, I know we talk a lot about staff shortages, poverty level wages, doors closing, but in the places where the doors are still open. What are you seeing that’s gives you hope, and what are you seeing that really needs to change?

Daisy Han

Education is the single most powerful lever to achieve equity in our society. So our focus is on giving people an experience where often for the first time in their lives, they feel affirmed. The adult learner feels a sense of belonging. They are able to use virtual learning to be able to move their vision for adjust feature into actual daily practice and Though there’s an empowerment that happens where you, as a teacher have a sphere of influence, a very powerful lever for shaping our future world. So in terms of early childhood education, I’ve been looking for programs for my own child, and was shocked at what is currently available as childcare.

Gloria Riviera  40:30

Again, quotes around the word childcare.

Daisy Han 

Because I think when we say childcare, that term has become conflated with babysitting. And actually, what we’re doing with our youngest humans who are in their most sensitive period of brain development, is educating them. So it’s early childhood education, right? And so these teachers are professionals, they need to be treated as such, and given the professional development, to truly have this honesty, this vulnerability, and the ability to meet learners, both children and adults, where they are with curiosity, and with this open mind to push their thinking a little further.

Gloria Riviera

I understand all of that. And I think it’s so commendable. Where I worry is when I think about the interviews I’ve done in the past, on season two, and I’ve talked to early education, leaders at you know, at certain places, and they have said that their staff shortages are so acute, they might have to start looking at high schools, like graduating seniors to come in, or people during, you know, taking a year off from college.

Daisy Han 

Yeah, and, and to your point, this moment is unique. We’re in an era of compounding crises with COVID censorship, school shootings and the great resignation. So if we think about educating our children, even in the best of times, it’s a very challenging pursuit. So right now more than ever, educators need a space for their own healing, to build up their own hope, their own sense of optimism for the future, and have a community where they can restore some strengthen and fortitude. So we’re offering that through our nonprofit organization. By design, we are a nonprofit organization, because we want to be accessible to teachers. So our programs are 100%, virtual, pre COVID. Because we want teachers to be able to join, everything is on a donation basis. So it’s not cost prohibitive. And we want to rally a community of folks who want to contribute towards this shared mission, right viewing education as a lever for social transformation. What can we do as a coalition to attack some of these more systemic root problems and catalyze our creativity around ways we can shift, rebuild the systems of inequity that have been problematic for decades, exploiting women, exploiting women of color, since its creation.

Gloria Riviera 

What do you look for your own daughter? When you look out at the landscape and you know, are you looking for a full time early education experience for your own daughter and what do you see out there?

Daisy Han

I am starting a dream Montessori school for my daughter.

Gloria Riviera  44:01

That was not the answer I expected to get that is amazing. No one better to do it than you, right?

Daisy Han 

Whatever it takes. And I felt like I have a unique opportunity where I have the on the ground Montessori experience for Montessori credentials, administrative experience, and have created schools have supported the creation of schools before and so I thought, Okay, could we create an embracing equity lab school where we are actually able to demonstrate what antiracist education looks like in practice. What does the teacher need to do as they prepare their environment as they prepare their lessons as they prepare conversations with families, we want to showcase all of that learning and you can follow along on our YouTube channel and embracing equity. The idea is there’s a lot of noise and a lot of misinformation when it comes to anti-racism. And we want to cut through that with real life examples. A lot of times seeing is believing, and real life experience, but many of us haven’t had that experience ourselves. And so we’re just going off of a theoretical, maybe some books we’ve read about anti-racism education. It’s different when you actually see it in practice. And it builds even some confidence when you see the modeling of Oh, I could do that. I want that for my child. You know, how do we do? This isn’t a scary thing.

Gloria Riviera 

I mean, you sound right now hopeful and motivated in before when we were talking about what teachers need right now. We were saying they need hope, they need to be motivated.

Daisy Han

Yes, exactly. I find that when I am feeling hopeless. It helps me to go into that space of science fiction. Creating things that don’t exist. That is energizing to me because it makes me feel like I can make a difference. And my ideas are the start of that change.

Gloria Riviera  46:26

What a great thing to keep in mind. I can make a difference and my ideas are the start of that change. Thank you, Daisy. And don’t y’all want to hear more about that Montessori school she’s creating. We will have to check back in with her. That is it for today. Thank you all for joining me and I will see you back here next week.

CREDITS

NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US is a Lemonada Media original presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen. Veronica Rodriguez is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me Gloria Riviera. If you like the show, and you believe what we’re doing is important. Please help others find us by leaving us a rating and writing us a review. Do you have your own experiences and frustrations with the childcare system? Do you have ideas for what we could do to make it better? Join the No One Is Coming To Save Us Facebook group where we can continue the conversation together. You can also follow us and other Lemonada podcasts at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms. Thank you so much for listening. We will be back next week. Until then hang in there. You can do it.

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