Hello & welcome back! This post will touch on themes explored through my Winter quarter class on the Cultural Nature of Human Development. First, I invite you to take a look at my presentation for my Developmental Inquiry Project for the aforementioned class and then come back to my post. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…


A slide from Nova’s presentation about the work of African Community Housing & Development for our winter Child & Youth Development class.


What did you think? 


Are you curious about becoming a co-conspirator for freedom through education and the outdoors? Oh, I hope so! There is so much value in understanding the reality of inequities in education, and that it impacts everyone – those who are will become inevitable for you as it is for me, especially after learning about the incredible work of African Community Housing & Development and their dedication to advancing equity for the African Refugee and Immigrant community in SeaTac. The presentation was a joy to create, as it shows the connection between many of my interests- community based learning, BIPOC centered and led curriculum, a whole child approach to teaching, and a staggering approach to the outdoor education programming that brings challenging curriculum that also meets the current needs of where the students are at. The African Refugee & Immigrant community is definitely doing transformational education AND there’s an Islandwood graduate working there. We love these connections! If you’re interested in taking action for racial equity, join me in donating to African Community Housing & Development today!


Students from one of Nova’s IslandWood School Overnight Program groups standing outside of Mac’s Pond

And for those of you who want to grow intellectually and emotionally as co-conspirators for equity, please continue reading to learn about resources available to you. I decided to put some of the resources that I utilize to both unlearn white supremacy and re-learn and/or affirm the other ways of knowing rooted in community, with the purpose of helping other educators especially the white ones in my community. If you’d like to peek and join me on this journey of anti racist work, you can view it here. You will notice that I put some opportunities local to Bainbridge at the top, which I have left despite the date of some having passed, such as the events put on by the new Race Equity Committee. But, stay tuned for future opportunities because things are brewing on the island!


If you’ve been watching the news or are reading from one of the many states where books are being banned because they “have characters of color or those that identify as LGBT, and deal with issues of race or discrimination,” (Source: World Population Review), then you understand how there is a quickening attack on the history, reality, the mere existence of people who share some of my identities. And this attack is jeopardizing the safety of children and youth in schools, which also means lack of safety outside of schools. We know that voting repression that happened during the 2020 national elections could have benefited from a close study of Critical Race Theory, namely how the exclusion of African Americans and women from voting allowed a racist and sexist government to thrive, with white men creating laws and policies that exploited, discriminated, and caused immense harm to these communities, including physical violence. The bans of books authored by African/ Black and LGBTQIA authors are impactful books, important for the visibility and affirmation of these communities to prevent harm that I’ve detailed through examples at the beginning of this post. You can read some examples of books being banned compiled by Pen America here.


Image of the many books that have been banned, side by side with words at the bottom that read Pen America Banned Books Week 2023 #FreeTheBooks


We know that education and law are closely tied. What we read, what we know and become curious about, whether it is different from our reality, or affirms our existence and reality, is transformational. And being in denial of these truths is what has helped sustain the inequities we live through today. This is why we see the book bans happening alongside the proposal of bills against healthcare for Trans people like the Mississippi’s Transgender Healthcare Ban and Tennessee’s House Bill 9 that outlaws appearing in Drag on public property, while there are also elementary schools to colleges and universities pulling Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs and Critical Race Theory studies out of their schools. This is all happening after we saw an increase in the representation of these communities in books and on the screen (television, films, music videos), including Trans authors reading to children in public libraries during Drag Queen Story Hour and a surge of inclusion of African/Black and LGBTQIA authored books that focus on identities of race, gender, sexuality amongst other themes of growing up and daily life, in curriculums, book stores and public libraries.


Selfie that Nova took sitting on Islandwood’s infamous Suspension Bridge

We are now at a pivotal point in history; and as educators, parents and guardians, students, school administrators, and workers in informal educational programs and non-profits, we must take action in support of freedom for everyone  And if you need encouragement, I suggest you read Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, where he addresses “the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” This letter is an essential part of political education for educators because it communicates an urgency and provocation of many people who have been privileged enough to avoid taking action, while not getting impacted at all.


If IslandWood was in one of these states banning books by African/Black and LGBTQIA + authors or the study of Critical Race Theory and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, our programing for the School Overnight Program and the graduate classes would have been threatened or closed by now. So how can we sit and watch as life continues to become more and more dangerous for us and others, and as we as a nation get further and further away from the truth of what freedom truly is? Trans people might have protections in Washington state now, but as we’ve seen with the swift wave of bills across the country, things can change quickly during elections. And because there are parents, guardians, communities calling for these bans, it is essential we dialogue with our communities about this– we must discuss this with our family and neighbors, complicating the narrative that we see in the news because there is so much at stake if we don’t stand up for justice and if we don’t take action now. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, to quote the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. again.


I learned of thirty-four states that have banned books about race and/or gender and sexuality in the last year at the time of writing this article, in addition to the 37 states that have introduced anti Trans bills that limit rights of some kind for Trans people. Join me in learning about this issue! If you’ve reached this point, thank you! I will stop here and leave you with the following books that will rock your world! You can see the full list on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website here.

Happy Reading!


Remember, African/Black & Trans Lives Matter!


In solidarity,

nova k lucero


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