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Hello friends, it’s the Raising Luminaries podcast again. I think this episode – I should have checked – five? I think it’s five. This is Ashia Ray.
So today we’re going to talk about making scary commitments. And why I no longer will be providing free labor or resources to white allistic people. Which is, in itself a very scary commitment to make.
And that’s all tied in with the grossness of capitalism, and how, yes, ideally, all of these resources would be free, because even for allistic people, there are intersections of wealth inequality and all these other things that make attaining my resources or resourcing my work… there might be financial barriers to that. And I struggled with that over the years.
So, the way that we started out with books for littles, which started in 2014 was I was creating free resources to help parents raise kind and courageous kids. I used children’s books as the medium because they’re accessible. You can get them for free at the library. It takes really no effort or commitment to read a picture book. It takes, you know, it could take as little as two minutes – just obtaining the book itself was a pretty low hurdle for many people and reading it becomes a little bit easier once it’s in your hands.
And then supposedly having tough conversations tied in with that book would become just a little bit easier. And with each step, self-identifying as a person who takes action and cares about these issues and models. Taking action on these issues of oppression, and smashing the kyriarchy would presumably become easier and easier.
And then from there, you put the book down, you have the conversation, you pick up more books as your kids ask more questions. And then you take action like – you donate dollars to an organization for self advocacy. You show up at a protest, you make art, you talk with your friends, you organize.
All of these things, in some ways has been successful. At some point though, I realized that we have a lot of people who are getting the books and then stopping at the books just considering reading the books enough. Rr considering just following what I do enough.
Without actually clicking through to the actions or following through and having the conversations or moving beyond bookclubs. Which is intensely frustrating. And it’s intensely frustrating mostly because I’ve been providing these resources for free as a part of my anti-capitalism work. But also we live in a capitalist society, and I still have to pay for food for my kids and I still have to take, you know, chunks of hours out of every single day. And days and days out of every single week just to provide these resources and generate them and do thorough, trustworthy research. And even leave myself vulnerable in a lot of places – be completely transparent and create transcripts and image descriptions and make sure that we’re you know, not profiting companies or makers or organizations that are actively doing harm.
And all of this takes a lot of invisible work. And I’ve provided it for free. Which is fine as part of what I was hoping would be a kind of an interdependent way of working together. And that doesn’t work that well in a capitalist society. But you know, you have to have some people who are willing to do it so we can model that for the next generation. That said, it’s expensive, and my house is falling apart and we don’t have the money to have childcare or support or someone else to do the work for us that I’m not doing because I’m working.
So capitalism sucks. And part of resisting capitalism obviously is going to be hard in a bind. But I also recognize that we need to set some boundaries. So the way books for liberals before we became Raising Luminaries was supposed to work was: people are drawn into our resources based on a topic that impacts themselves.
White women care about white feminism. Lately, white people who care about anti black racism because they don’t want to be seen as racist. They care about that. And that’s fine. There’s tons of resources on that. But I try and balance some of resources, catering to these people who are single issue advocates, or at least curious about it.
And then help everyone understand how the kyriarchy is intertwined with that. How is ableism intersected with feminism. How is non-white feminism intersected with white feminism. How does your freedom hinge on all of us being free?
And today, I got a big solid reminder that it’s not always working that way. It’s not always sinking in. I am noticing more and more there’s a lot of people who dip in just to get the resources that benefit themselves to use for their own self advocacy as otherwise privileged group. Particularly white allistic, (meaning non autistic) people.
And it’s… that’s fine. It’s just soul crushing. When they consume the resources that I have created for them, benefit from them. Use them to impress their friends or seem like they’ve done a lot of research. But then don’t take the time to read the other resources that I’ve created. Or pick up books about disability rights, or anti ageism or any of the topics that are less fancy and less glorious and don’t show up in the news. The topics where if, you know, being a disability rights advocates is not really seen as cool in many circles as say, being an anti racism advocate.
So I don’t ask people… I make it possible for people to pay me but I don’t actively put a paywall there. Because I want people to be able to access these resources. But I do ask that people keep in mind how these topics are intersected. And hope that once we learn about whatever zeitgeist… is that how you pronounce it? Whatever the zeitgeist is bringing you here, you’ll stick around long enough to learn about the smaller, less visible, not smaller, but less visible issues.
And fight those too. Particularly as an Asian person and as an Autistic person, I would hope that for people who are not supporting my work financially, who are not boosting my work, who are not doing some other way of supporting what I do, would at least do the bare minimum of self education on Asian rights and disability rights.
But whenever I see a reminder or hear a reminder that people are just ducking in to get what they need, and then not sticking around to see how they can reciprocate and learn more about supporting my rights. It’s just very soul crushing.
So I am gonna have to make the commitment that I am no longer going to be providing free education and resources and unpaid personal effort towards white allistic. People that means no longer responding to emails where people want to pick my brain for free. No longer publishing so many articles that are designed to get the attention of white allistic people so that way they can you know, benefit from that work without digging deeper.
No longer kind of centering, that single issue focus of white feminism. Which I have tried not to do, but it’s really hard not to because the whole world centers white feminism.
Aside from capitalism and feeling that urge to provide everything for free to everyone. We also have to keep in mind what are we what are we raised to believe is our responsibility?
As an Asian person assigned female at birth, as an autistic person, I was raised to believe that it was my job to make sure everyone’s needs were met. Everyone’s comfort was placed above mine. And that it was noble to sacrifice my own comfort and safety for the good of others, no matter how they treated me. No matter what kind ofsStranger they were. And a lot of that also comes from an upbringing that was culturally Irish Catholic.
So mixed in with all of these is that resistance of – do I stop charging because I want to be an anti capitalist? Do I provide things for free with radical generosity – without an expectation of reciprocation, without transactionalism.
Or do I set boundaries because I need to model for the next generation that Autistic Asian women and femmes have a right to be compensated for their time and their effort and their sharing resources that other people need to get by. Or want, which is a really hard decision to make.
Because there’s always going to be outliers, there’s always going to be a white allistic person who is otherwise targeted in some way. Where they’re going to need these resources and I am going to feel a human need to support and help them.
Which is why I’m making a commitment like that is so hard. But circumstances that have happened over the last week have reminded me that putting all of this effort is actually taking away the energy and time that I could be spending on my family. It’s taking away energy and time that I could be spending on making resources for non white autistic people. And it’s also reminding me that I can’t do everything all the time.
And I need to model that particularly for the people in our community who have been showing up who have been the white allistic people who have been so supportive and who have been paying, or if they can’t pay who have been sharing and boosting and advocating and, finding other ways to support me, to support our work and our shared freedom, I guess.
So this is a… I guess a public commitment. And also a call to action that if you use any of the resources that I create for you. If you benefit from the templates and the reading guides and my research and my curation and discussion guides and the plethora of too many things to share, I need you to do the work to actually learn about how to be an advocate for other topics that we discussed that don’t directly impact you.
If you’re not Asian and you haven’t been doing anything to support Asian rights, this is a direct ask please start educating yourself on this. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s not going to take any longer than it takes for you to play Candy Crush.
And if you’re non disabled, if you are not Autistic, particularly if you consider yourself neurodivergent but haven’t learned about Autistic rights because somehow being otherwise disabled gives you a pass on learning about destigmatizing autism. This is an active request. Which is uncomfortable. I don’t like to make requests of people.
But this is an active request to please learn how to be a better advocate. I believe in support, and intercommunity for all neurodivergence and disability rights. But there has been – and I’ve particularly noticed this over the last year – a lot of otherwise neurodivergent people who are not Autistic using their neurodivergence as an excuse to ignore the deep stigma and targeting and grooming and abuse and systemic hate towards Autistic people. And I’m gonna need you to cut that out.
Similar to the way that being Asian does not excuse me from learning about anti Black racism. having ADHD does not excuse you from you know capitalizing on being an autism mom or otherwise profiting off of ABA or anti vaccination nonsense or targeting of people like me for your own benefit.
Which is sounds… Oh, that sounds unbearably harsh, especially over voice instead of typing. But we need to recognize that this is a part of the path of raising kind and courageous humans. Retaining our spoons and our energy and setting boundaries of self care of saying what I will do and who I will do it for – is a way that we model for kids. Not just for our kids who are like us, but for the kids who will grow up to have power over people like us.
So that way when they grow up and they demand or just expect free emotional labor from targeted people, when those people say ‘no’ or ‘I need to reciprocate in some way,’ then they say ‘okay,’ as opposed to getting all huffy about it.
So what that means, in wrap up is what of Books for Littles will remain? As we move deeper into non book things for Raising Luminaries. I’ve been working really, really hard to make sure that we have at least a monthly resource roundup, which has far more resources than a family could go through in a month.
Which means even if it takes you 10 years, everyone should have at least one topic or guided sense of books and discussion questions and resources and most importantly calls to action on what you can do to take action after reading books.
At least one a month, right? You can pick something or come back to it. But there are plenty of resources to last the entirety of your children’s childhood and those are free on the Books for Littles website, in the form of monthly resource roundups.
But what I will not be doing is creating more resources or providing personal one on one attention and effort – and providing that for free.
As we move towards Raising Luminaries, parent activist incubators, I’m going to have to start thinking about how do I afford to do the work that I do? Without just hoping that people donate and without hoping that they don’t get tired of donating.
Who is going to be getting say scholarship access for free? And what limits and boundaries do we put on that? Because obviously I want to do everything for free for everybody.
Anyway, so leave a comment or respond to this on Anchor, leave a comment on Patreon. We now have a podcast part of the website right now it’s on raisingluminaries.com/podcast.
So leave comments on this episode, which I think is episode five? Or on Patreon, if you’re a Patreon supporte. Which please do be that? Um, or send me you know, like, send me a Venmo @Raising-Luminaries, and somebody $5 on Venmo and leave a comment about what you’re going to commit to.
Or respond to on Anchor What are you going to commit to for this next upcoming year that sets an example of boundary setting for your kids while also retaining some of your spoons and energy and effort so that way you can show up better for your family and for the people who you do choose to advocate for? Whether it’s self advocacy, or as an accomplice.
Okay, I really like you. I appreciate you listening to this six, seven people now? Who are subscribing. And I hope you have an Indigenous Day of Mourning that hold space for the loss – if you’re losing the upcoming holiday that many people know as Thanksgiving.
Hold space for getting together with your family if this is your only opportunity to do so. And hold space as an opportunity to show appreciation not just once a year but for the rest of the year. Find a way to support your local Indigenous nations and Indigenous activists local to you, in the place to call home. We support the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project. We have a monthly donation there. We do personal advocacy within our own city to support more indigenous voices getting into position of power.
So when you do your land acknowledgement this Indigenous Day of Mourning slash Thanksgiving. I really hope that you hold space for acknowledging the pain and the grief and the genocide and the forced assimilation and all of the hardship while also having an opportunity to connect and reaffirm your right to be here. Regardless of documentation or how you came here.
Okay. Thank you guys. Those too much, I think but thank you anyway, for listening. For so long. Bye.
Stay Curious, Stand Brave, and Support This Work
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