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Dehumanizing Language Is a Tool of White Supremacy

by Brene Brown

The dehumanization of women.
The dehumanization of Asians.
The dehumanization of sex workers.
The dehumanization around class.
The dehumanization of immigrants.

Dehumanizing language is a radicalizing tool of white supremacy and white evangelical extremism (which are inextricably connected).

Combine a long history of discrimination and bias with leaders who talk about the “Kung Flu” and “grabbing them by the pussy” and you can see the very short distance between our language, our thoughts, and our actions including everything from violence and diminishing that violence with “just having a bad day” to “Well, look what kind of work they did.” 

This is why shame, humiliation, and dehumanizing make the world a more dangerous place for all of us.

We shouldn’t tolerate anyone being shamed, humiliated or dehumanized – even the people who bring out our rage. It’s easier than accountability, it’s a quick way to discharge our anger, and it can even get some “likes” and fist bumps. But, there is no question that dehumanizing makes the world a more dangerous and vicious place for all of us.

“Stand Up” Children’s Song About Speaking Up & Acting for Justice

“Racism against the AAPI community has been going on for a long, long time. But the rise of hate crimes since the start of the pandemic has been so significant, and I worry what kids might be hearing. Note: I don’t mention any specific incidents. The first 2 mins is me talking, and the last 3 is playing my song ‘Stand Up’.”- Miss Katie

 

“Eyes that Kiss in the Corners”–Affirming Asian Identity

At HFP, we stand with the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community, both in Portland and around the country. We share the grief and outrage at the racist and misogynistic murders in Atlanta, Georgia, and the recent and ongoing violence against Asian people in the United States. Violence, harassment, and xenophobia have no place in our communities. Let us speak and act against hate and teach our young ones to do the same.  (Adapted from Literary Arts’ statement of support).

Here’s one of my favorite Asian-affirming picture books to share with young ones. Mai’s read aloud version includes prompts and pauses that invite children to reflect on their own ideas and experiences. Mai includes a craft idea that relates to the book!

Portland Association of Teachers’ Statement on Anti-Asian Violence 

Check out these websites for resources and ways to support the AAPI community. 

Stop AAPI Hate 

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)

Stick Play. It’s Only Natural!

Given the recent ice storm and subsequent fallen branches, children have had easy access to some wonderful raw materials–sticks! Children can’t resist the invitation. They pick up sticks, to build, play or use in new and familiar ways.  Adults can often best support children’s joyful, creative play by geting out of their way.  

This past week, some of the richest invention, play and negotiation revolved around sticks. I got to witness children’s connection to the natural word deepen one stick at a time!

  • D and M plant sticks in HFP’s sandbox to create a forest. They invent  a rich, imaginative game in which they need to water the trees and rescue the dying Earth using magic water, magic dust, and magic apple juice. They make multiple trips to the rain barrel to scoop up water to feed the trees. At one point, a storm knocks down all the trees. A new urgent call for magic water arises. It turns out they are completely out of magic water so they try out some sacred magic apple juice instead.

 

  • In the side grassy area, K finds a long skinny branch and starts to whip it through the air. As it slices the air, it makes a satisfying swishing sound. K feels powerful. Others are interested in doing the same. As they find sticks, we experiment with whooshing and swooshing the stick-sword through the air. V. is disappointed that his thick branch doesn’t make the same sound when he moves it. K offers some words of advice, coaching V to find a narrower branch. As we experiment together, we practice giving each other lots of space so that nobody is accidentally whipped with a stick. In this way, we can honor children’s interest in trying this physical challenge while supporting both their own body awareness and spatial awareness to protect their friends.