A Week in the Life of a Tiny Pioneer: Story Time & Black History Month Exhibit Update

Where y’at?!

Last Saturday I had much fun participating in the first Global Families Festival of 2020 organized by the International House in Davis, CA, in partnership with the always inspiring Teacher Can from the Peregrine School, the Homeless Refuge Support and Advocacy Inc., and the kids dance group Afro Mini Vibes. This is a bi-monthly themed event catering to 3–10 years old and their family, filled with music, craft activities, a story time and food. Kids and parents alike love it! I read the Coretta Scott King award-winning book Trombone Shorty, written by Grammy award-winning artist Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and illustrated by the also award-winning Bryan Collier. What a pair! I brought a trombone (had help!), and had the audience gleefully answer the “Where y’at!” greeting calls sprinkled throughout the story.

We all had fun, and I can’t wait to do it again!

A Black History Month Art Exhibit in the Making

The closer we get to the event, the more excited and joyful I am at the prospect of sharing a glimpse into the stories of so many Black geniuses. As a reminder to readers learning about this Black History Month project for the first time, it is a kid-friendly event that celebrates lesser known brilliant Black minds and bodies who changed the course of history. The exhibit would not have been possible without the early support of Scott Love, our Library Regional Manager of the West Yolo Region. Scott offered the space at the Mary L. Stephens branch in Davis, and shared about the project with the Arthur F. Turner location in West Sacramento as well. What does this means?

1 exhibit, 2 locations!

When will the exhibit take place? It will start on the 1st of February and last the entire month.

What About the Art?

The exhibit will feature portraits of selected but world-wide Voices of the African diaspora, past and present, along with non-traditional haikus inspired by their work, famous quotes, short biographies, and a map showing where each historical figure is from (so kids and adults get to learn a little bit of geography). Next to each portrait, there will be an invitation to check out the available library materials on the that person’s life or slice of history. The book recommendations will be for both kids, and adults.

Some of the Highlights of the Week:

1- We launched a GoFundMe page on Monday, to help cover the costs of printing the posters and the information cards. The fundraising is off to a soft start but is gaining steam! Everything collected will be used toward this cause and nothing else, as it will only make the event better.

2- Four amazing artists since joined the exhibit and will share their work with the audience (there will be both prints and original pieces). The fundraising page will be updated regularly throughout the week, as I add the contributors’ biography and finalize, with the help of an amazing librarian friend, further public announcements. I can already share the participation of the truly fantastic Robert Liu-Trujillo, creator of multicultural and bilingual books for kids and founder of The Trust Your Struggle Collective and Come Bien Books, among other activities.

3- The exhibit opened the doors for three different art workshops, woven with a bit of storytelling, to take place during the month of February. It is my hope to help further highlight Black creators. The details are being finalized.

Stay tuned for more exciting news next week! Don’t hesitate to help us spread the word. Thank you for reading, I wish you a fun and productive week.

PS: Tiny Pioneer. Tiny refers to the Tiny Fellowship, a program that supports projects that aim to improve the education system.

TV Show Praise: Raising Dion.

How do you raise a superhero?

I won’t bother calling this blog post a review, because I have nothing but praises for Raising Dion: from the amazing writing of the graphic novel and script (thank you, Dennis Liu!), to the performances of both children and adults, to everything that went on behind the scenes to make this TV show such an awe-inspiring and self-reflective experience.

I’ve been up all night. I can’t sleep because I’m thinking of the kids I’ll meet in a few hours, and that upcoming event made me think of all the topics, related to children and raising them, explored in Raising Dion. Without giving too much away and just to quote a few:
– struggling to make friends (at all ages)
– To fit in or not to fit in?
– How do you define friendship? (At all ages)
– How to help a child deal with loss/grief?
– Keeping one’s memory alive…
There is also the richness of the backstories, i.e. the going up against parental authority and its consequences, the pursuit of one’s dream and its cost, the tough conversations to be had… So many times the words of Nicole Warren (aka Dion’s mom, beautifully portrayed by Alisha Wainwright), transcend the screen to resonate with our realities, as in their conversation about boundaries.

It is my opinion that more diversity is (still) needed on both the big and small screens. Raising Dion surprised me by its fresh and real tone, as well as its seemingly effortless, yet original treatment of the story. It’s because of shows like this one that I’m happy to be a Netflix subscriber. It’s easy to get attached to Ja’Siah Young’s Dion ; Alisha Wainwright makes you forget that you’re watching a fiction; Jason Ritter’s convincing awkwardness provides understated comedic moments. Does Michael B Jordan need an introduction? I was excited to read that his investment in the show went beyond acting, as he is also listed as an executive producer.

Can we talk about Sammi Haney? She slayed, rocked and stole my heart from the moment she appeared on screen. I couldn’t believe she had no acting experience, she’s a natural. I’m following her on Twitter and IMDb, and as with the aforementioned actors, I hope to see her sassy, lively and charismatic self in many more movies and TV Shows. She plays Dion’s best friend, and is in a wheel chair. In real life Sammi Haney helps raise awareness about biases toward disabilities, through her t-shirt designs.

So… How do you raise a superhero? The underlying truth in this question is that regardless of the challenges that life and the world throw at them, children have superpowers of their own. Especially the marginalized ones.

Thank you, Raising Dion and everyone who brought this story to life—including those not credited on IMDb, for a sweet, exciting and moving viewing experience.

Check out “Raising Dion” on Netflix.

Photo credit: Netflix #RaisingDion

PS: At the time of the writing of this post, fans still anxiously await news regarding a season 2 of the show. Here’s hoping our wish is granted.