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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!

Hello Kidogo Friends!


TODAY is my birthday, wuh?????? My birthday (in my mind) marks the end of the summer season. After today, there are a few days left in August that pitter away as we wait for the grand month of September. With next month comes new beginnings for most in New England-- the start of school, the start of lessons, and the start of a regular routine.


My family found time to have a few excursions: family trips to Hudson Valley (Marc and Amara), NYC, and the Hamptons, and a couples trip to Cabo, Mexico (Marc and I discovered a love of adventure!). These much-needed breaks fueled our souls.




On a ferry to the Hamptons!










We bother drove a side-by-side ATV on a Mexico beach!







On to business......


READ N' WIN:

We finished our Read N' Win-- a summer reading marathon on August 10th. We had a kick-off event, two storytimes, and an awards ceremony. Thank you SO MUCH to our sponsors, promoters, prize contributors, children's book authors, and community partners: Frugal Bookstore, Live Like a Local Tours, Purple Produce, Zahirah Nur Truth Arts, Black Baby Books, Fusion Dolls, Boston Children's Museum, Museum of Science Boston, Boing toy Shop, the Boston Red Sox, John Xavier, Brittney Dias, Sean George, Kelly Michele, Joy Yvette, and Amelia Aubourg.


Lessons Learned: 22 children signed up, but we had multiple groups of less than 22 at our events, prompting us to examine how we can do the event better next year (e.g. a sprint instead of a marathon, more in-person meet-ups, promoting to schools).


Overall, it was a great experience! Parents were pleased that their children read MORE than they normally would have. THIS WAS THE ENTIRE POINT!!




Read N' Win's Kick-off Event










Storytime/Check-ins


Read N' Win's Award Ceremony. The kids loved picking out their prizes! Most prizes and winners not shown.


SPECIAL THANKS: My niece Ajahmure Clovis is the creative juice behind the summer reading marathon. I appreciate the energy she’s brought to Kidogo! Love it! Mwah!!


READ N' DO IS TOMORROW:

We have one last summer event! Following Brittney Dias' event during the marathon, we started talking about when she would be able to read her second book, Ava & Mae Own a Lemonade Stand. The next thing you know, we're planning another event for THIS SUMMER! Consistent with our Read N' ____series (i.e. Read N' Game, Read N' Win), this will be a Read N' Do! TOMORROW, Saturday, August 26th at 1pm-2:30pm, we will read the book and then bring the book to life by selling lemonade at our own stand in the Parkman Playground in Jamaica Plain. If you have littles, bring them and they will have so much fun! We need buyers as well! Please come out and support our little budding entrepreneurs!! The forecast shows SUN during our event, BTW, lol!



BIG WIN:

I have received a $25K investment from Pipeline Angels! If you recall, I began pitching this phenomenal organization in December 2022! Some things are definitely worth the wait!! Coincidentally, last month, I was invited to pitch at the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL)'s Women of Color Conference Roadshow. That evening, I found out that IFEL had acquired Pipeline Angels! I am now in one big happy family!

At the IFEL Women of Color Conference Road Show 2023


The focus of this investment will be CREATING ORIGINAL CONTENT for kidogo.tv! Stay tuned!


CONTENT CORNER:

I’m trying a new thing: the whole reason why I started Kidogo was because I was so critical of the content my daughter was consuming (maybe it’s because I’m a Virgo??). And since I even did a TEDxTalk about my criticism, I’m leaning into that here.





My daughter and I watched Moon Girl on Disney+. I have watched several episodes, even episode 1 twice. Amara has watched all of the episodes twice :-) This animated series comes from a Marvel comic and since I’m not a Marvel nerd, I won’t go into much background on that. Laurence Fishburne is the show’s Executive Producer. The show features a 13 year-old Black girl named Lunella from the Lower East Side (L.E.S.) of Manhattan. She is a STEM genius who decides to become a superhero to help her community. Her sidekick is a dinosaur named Devil (I had to get past my Christian sensibilities to watch the show because of this name!). She also has a friend named Casey, a Latina classmate who helps her with fashion and social media.


Lunella is a 360-degree character. You see, understand, and empathize with her. You see her in school, at home with her family, at her family’s business, and in her city. You see her culture— it’s all lovely and fun. You see her quirks and awkward moments, along with her moments of brilliance, innovation, and bravery. You hear her thought processes as she is deciding and debating. You see her in weak moments when she is not making the best decisions and you see her mature right before your eyes as she learns life lessons. Though there is a great episode about affirming curly/kinky hair, the messages about her worth go beyond her physical features. I remember a line that went something like, “my brain IS my superpower.” I’m here for this affirmation!!


The language is appropriate for an early elementary child and older. The dialogue is a little quick, so perhaps a younger child would miss some of it. The action can also be really fast for the eyes. I haven’t heard any harsh or mean-girl language. I haven’t heard cringe-prompting jokes or remarks.


The animators used the colors black and purple for a bad character in episode 1 (for the character’s clothes, not skin), however, I see those same colors used a little bit on the good characters, too. The Devil dinosaur is red, but it is a good character, reversing this common color symbol (though I believe the dinosaur’s color is what reminded Lunella of a devil so that’s one of the reasons she named him that… anyway….).


I would say this content is WORTH IT.






While in the Hamptons, I accompanied six kids to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I walked away shaking my head, to be honest. While it contained scenes that showed hip-hop nostalgia and diverse representation (I liked April’s character), I didn’t appreciate the messaging. The movie revives a 1980’s and ’90s franchise, which features 4 turltes, which got slimed with a chemical turning them into mutants. This movie flashes back to their beginnings and summarizes what they’ve been up to since then. They’ve been living underground and stealing food to survive (like many movies, it uses hip-hop music as the soundtrack to bad behavior). When they appeared above ground, they were feared, hated, and jeered.


What I honestly can’t stand about this movie is the message that if you’re different than the mainstream (read “white”) you have to be a hero to be accepted. Think, “Rudolph, the Red-nose Reindeer.” Rudolph‘s fellow reindeer excluded and made fun of him because of his shiny nose. Santa didn’t do anything about it, didn’t protect him. But then Rudolph saved Santa’s whole job on a foggy Christmas Eve and all of a sudden, Rudolph is likable. [insert eye roll emoji]


Children’s book author, Marcia Fishman copied this messaging in “Rudolph’s Nose Knows” (Amara received this book from her school). In this book, a blind dog was not accepted by other dogs, that is, until it used its acute sense of smell to help save a chick, which had fallen down a hole (long sigh).


It is NOT OK that a person/animal/character be excluded, feared or harmed just because they are different. They shouldn’t have to prove they’re worth by doing something heroic. They shouldn’t have to do anything at all. I am very tired of this overused, lazy and discriminatory message. Sure, storylines need tension, conflict, and problems, but they should not be resolved by always making the othered do the work while the mainstream sits back as passive witnesses, changing their minds only when they see enough evidence/proof that the othered is loyal to them (and not to themselves or their kind). This kind of othering Is not only annoying, but also destructive to the equal, equitable, and just society we should all desire. Children should be taught that all beings should be accepted and allowed to BE without having to prove a thing.


Some of the dialogue, language, and behavior was crass, gross, and otherwise inappropriate for children.


The mutant nemesis darkened as the animators tried to make it look more scary, so scary that one of the children ended up in my lap and covering her eyes— par for the mainstream course.


For the aforementioned reasons…..


I would say this content is NOT WORTH IT.


Alright my Kidogo friends, I’m about to chow down on my friend’s Cupcake Therapy cupcakes she just dropped off. Byeeeee.


For the Kids, for the Culture,

Keeana


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