Struggling to find educational products that affirm the identities of your Black & Brown kids?
Don't miss out on some dope resources I've researched for you in this issue! 

Say it Loud, I'm BLACK & I'm Proud?! Affirming the Afro in Latinx
October-November 2016
Affirming the Afro in Latinx
The beauty in My Reflection Matters is that there is no need for a "special month" to remind others Black and Brown folks exist, because my goal is to validate our youth each and every day! So while many are ready to put away Hispanic History month materials until next year, MRM is just getting started with this packed issue.  

I wanted to use this opportunity to dig deeper into a realm within the Latinx context that is often ignored or vilified internally and outside the Latinx community.  I'm swinging the doors open and letting out our Abuelas from the dark, dormant, closets many of my fellow Latnix hermanas y hermanos have kept her in and I'm going to sit back in glee as I watch her dance freely her plena, bomba, capuera, or whatever other indigenous dance moves she has pulsing in her veins, to the ancestral beat of African drums.  Join me by taking some time out of your busy day to look at and read about the various resources I've collected for you this issue that serve as tools we can use to affirm the layered identities of Afro-Latinx youth.  

Designer, Keymah McEtyre, reecently said, "We celebrate ourselves when we can see ourselves."  While most Latinxs are a blend of European, Indigenous, and African blood lines, our African roots are often least talked about or acknowledged and embraced.  This MRM issue is about helping Afro-Latinx youth gaze at a part of themselves they have been taught to ignore, minimize, or be ashamed of.  Help them to see so they can and should celebrate what they carry within and externally.  

Paz y amor (Peace & Love),

Chemay Morales-James

got resources?
Email  me at myreflectionmatters@ if you have a product, service , or resource you would like me to review & consider sharing. Take a look at my criteria to see if you  meet qualifications for endorsement.  
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What has MRM been up to?
MRM In The Community
This past August, I gathered my kids, niece, and nephew to join me in sharing ideas and educational resources with parents and educators in our local community's Back to School Rally about ways to support Black and Brown youth at home and in school.  We gave away over 500 school supplies to families prepping for the new school year and received over 50 new sign ups for our newsletter! We also raffled away the three items pictured below: Planning to Change the World Plan Book for Social Justice Teachers, School Year Tee grow with you graduation shirt, and a Be Unique notebook from Innovative Supplies.
Have a product, service, or resource you think meets MRM's criteria for endorsement?

Email and tell me about it! I'd be happy to do a product review, share or give away samples, flyers, or business cards at my next event. Email to learn how we can set this up! 

MRM Gets Involved in Youth Social Change
In addition to participating in local events, MRM has partnered with Uplifitng A Life/Almost Home, an after school program lead by Erika Cooper and housed within the Neighborhood Housing Services of Waterbury, CT.  Waterbury, a small, urban city located between Hartford and New Haven, made headlines this year, when our very own, Jahana Hayes, was awarded national teacher of the year.  Soon to make front pages with her is Ms. Cooper's Youth Social Change project being offered to young people striving to be community activists.  MRM will be working with Ms. Cooper and students on developing a year long curriculum for this first of its kind project in the small Brass City. Keep an eye out for updates on this and what our students are up to!  

For families who live in the Waterbury area and are interested in the STEAM programs offered under Almost Home, see details below: 

Grades Served: 5-8                            Cost: $75                                          Dates: 10/27/16-4/2017 (3 days/week) Contact:

And Where Is Your  A buela Fro
My Fellow LATINTeachers?

In case you missed the article I wrote for CREAD NYC, you can take a look here. Keep on reading to learn more about CREAD NYC under Curriculum and Instructional Materials.

Image to the right: My great, great Titi (aunt) Pancha from Villalba, Puerto RIco.
MRM Helps Build Connections
Because MRM works closely with parents and educators on the ground, this means I am able to make the resources I share in my newsletters easily accessible to them. Keep reading to learn about what happened when I connected the Almost Home after school program with the company Brown Baby Cakes featured below under School Supplies.

Join MRM In The Injustice Boycott
Click here to learn about the Injustice Boycott, journalist, Shaun King is spearheading.  In an effort to combat police brutality and systemic injustice, this nationwide economic boycott will begin December 5th on the anniversary of the Montgomery boycotts. Sign up to join this movement and receive updates on next steps.  Look out for an email in the next few weeks from MRM on how you can partner with us to support this boycott!
School Supplies
MRM is working hard to find school supplies that speak to Black and Brown students.  Contact us at or share with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr if you find products you think our audience will love! We'll even credit your name in our newsletter or post.
Brown Girls Club
Crayons and coloring books are the basic essentials for anyone working with youth.  Studies have shown the act of coloring can, in fact, be therapeutic for young people as well as adults.  You know what else is psychologially soothing? Having coloring books that reflect authentic images of our kids. Sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunatley, finding items like this for our sun kissed babies isn't always easy.  The Brown Girls Club understands this dilemma, therefore, creating fun products such as, books (Including the coloring book to the left.), party supplies (See below.), and more that celebrate  brown girls everywhere! (Thanks, Sean James, for the share!) 
Use the coupon code below to receive 10% off when you shop at Brown Girls Club using this link!

Did you know? In addition to getting a discount when you shop at Brown Girls Club, you will also be helping me to better serve you since a percentage of your payment will be donated to MRM! In an era where more people of color are becoming deliberate in spending money where it allows them the opportunity to contribute to the development of Black & Brown businesses, this partnership between MRM and Brown Girls Club supports #woke consumers like you. Can't beat that!
 Coupon Code: MRM
Brown Baby Cakes
Brown Baby Cakes is another new company that produces products for kids of different shades of brown.  Like Innovative Supplies, which we featured in our last newsletter, Brown Baby Cakes designs fun notebooks with our kids in mind as well as hair accessories and fashion. Large orders  can receive a discount as well as the option to print your organization's name on each notepad.  

The  Youth Social Change program MRM is working with this school year ordered 200 notebooks from Brown Baby Cakes to use for fundraising purposes.  When owner,  Nicole Corbitt Harding , learned about the Youth Social Change project, she offered the program students an opportunity to enter a drawing contest for the most creative sketch reflecting the work they are doing to impact their community. The winner will get their image printed on her next batch of notebooks. Stay connected with us to find out what image makes it to the printing press!
I Am The Afro-Latino American Dream Journal
Who said Afro-Latinxs don't write too?  This journal, designed by Afro-Latino American Dream, not only serves as a visible reminder to ignant (that's ignorant for those ignant of urban talk) folks that Afro-Latinxs are writers and thinkers, but we can, "surprisingly", be American too!    
Have fun exploring the 20 plus books I've pulled together for you this month to honor Afro-Latinx identities! Just click on the images to learn about each story.
Young Readers
"Pelo malo" (Bad hair)
"Tienes que mejorar la raza" (You need to improve the race by marrying white or light.)
"Nena (girl), get out of the sun, you're getting too dark!"
"You ain't that Black!" 

Unfortunately, for many, young Afro-Latinx youth these words are not unfamiliar to them.  These mircro-agressions (subtle insults) psychologically and emotionally harm our developing kids in ways that impact them all the way up into adulthood.  Our job, as their caregivers, is to ensure we find ways to create protective factors that counter the negative images and messages they receive on a daily basis.  Books are one of many tools we use as conscoius adults to let our babies know they are brilliant and beautiful in so many ways. For our young readers, I've collected a series of books that address the various needs of our Afro-Latinx children. Stories include those that affirm African features, dismantling gender norms in Latinx homes, and celbrating Afro-Latinx artists and athletes that some of our kids may relate with or already love! 

            Storytelling With Dania!
Dania is available for storytelling in your library, school, or next event.  Contact her at .
Ninas Bellas (Beautiful Girls): Come in All Beautiful Shapes, Sizes and Colors
I'm excited to feature Afro-Latinx author, Dania Paguero, and her new book, Ninas Bellas Come in All Beautiful Shapes, Sizes, and Colors.  Dania, who is an experienced social worker and positive body image expert who works for Dove, understands the need for young girls of color to see themselves represented in positive ways. Her book and website, Negra Bella, aim to do just that!  (You can check out her apparel under the section, Affirming Swag.)                                
Max Loves Munecas (Dolls)
Grandma''s Gift
Day Of The Dead/El Dia De Los Muertos
Nina Bonita
Mature Readers
As a young girl, I was never a big reader. Chapter books like The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High never kept my attention. I could never make it past chapter one, because the story lines and cultural reference points didn't resonate with me.  My mom tried her best to find books that my three younger sisters and I could relate with, but in the 80's and 90's there wasn't much out there, or if there was, it wasn't easily accessible.  Today, my kids have way more options than I did, although, the book industry still has a lot of work to do as revealed in this campaign.  For our growing tweens and teens, I pulled together fictional and non-fictional books that I believe I would've read if they were available to me during my middle and high school years. Books I know I would have connected with culturally and would have inspired me in ways I will never know.

Edgardo  Miranda-Rodriguez is the brilliant artist and writer of the first ever Afro-Boriqua born comic, Guardians of Infinity #3! I'm not a superhero or comic book nerd, but Miranda's central character, Abuela (Yea, the one I said I'm letting out the closet? Yea, her!) just made me a fan!  Abuela drops facts to readers about Taino (Puerto Rican Natives) life while surrounded by cultural iconic symbols of Puerto Rico, such as the vejigante masks pictured above. You can check out what Miranda is up to at his Brooklyn-based production studio, Somos Arte, and learn more about his upcoming new super hero, Borinquena

Dark Dude
Parents, Educators, & Other Grown Folk
For many of us striving to teach from a liberated perspective, this often requires that we spend some time unlearning what the schools have taught us by learning what they won't teach our youth.  As an eclectic homeschooler (I use a combination of unschooling and a sprinkling of homeschooling practices with my kids.), sometimes I am reading literature like the ones listed below on my own, or researching information with my kids so that we are actually engaged in the act of learning together.  Whatever way you prefer to go about learning new information, the important take away here is that we need to acknowledge where our learning gaps exist when it comes to understanding who we and are children are.  To help you get started, I've included a mix of books that speak to Afro-Latinx identities, true histories, and current issues living in America.
Rethinking Columbus
Rethinking Columbus is a unique guide that provides educators and parents with lessons, stories, interviews, poems, and other written works that teach children the myths behind Columbus and the issues surrounding indigenous rights. The information here allows you to explore with Latinx youth the truths behind the man who lead a massive genocide of their indigenous ancestors.  This tool is good to use with students in kindergarten up through college.  

Latin Spin" Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race
Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys
Affirming Swag
Ok, so fashion is not something you typically see in a parent-teacher resource newsletter, but since you all seem to love it as much as I do, I decided to keep our a ffirming swag to add some fun!  Plus, as we all know, what we put on our bodies is a daily form of self-expression, so why not get our kids thinking consciously about what they put on their backs (or bottoms)?
Little People
Baby Buddah Bug Head Wraps
Head wraps are historically significant given they have outlived their travail from African slavery and have never gone out of fashion.   Baby Buddah Bug creates head wraps made especially for the crown's of our littlest people!                                               
Sunshine Fabric & Designs 
I love the diapers from Sunshine Fabric and Designs, because they remind me I'm not the only crazy parent conscious about what my kids wear on their bottoms! Have fun exploring their collection of eco-friendly diapers that include African prints, social justice themes, and  Black icons.                                                 
Change of Color
Change of Color  aims to increase the representation of melanated kids in fashion. Visit their site to see other fab. prints!
Big People
The African Diaspora Began Long Before The Atlantic Slave Trade,
by Khemenu Ankh
Khemenu Ankh, in Egyptian, means "the life of the great city of wisdom and the key to the grand arena of learning". KA is a "publications and media distribution company that values education and is dedicated to distributing literature, music, film, other educational media (e.g. toys and games), and cultural items (e.g. apparel, jewelry, artisanry)."
Curriculum & Instructional Materials 
For those of you that teach at home, in a school setting, or both, this section is designed to share with you resources that include unique lessons, academic content, activities, and other materials you might find helpful in designing lessons or curriculum.  These products (many of which are FREE)  MRM digs up for you are unique in that, unlike mainstream instructional resources, they centralize the cultural viewpoints and histories of Black and Brown communities and empower our youth towards greatness.  Although some resources may be new or incomplete, the idea is to give you something that you wouldn't normally find anywhere else that may spring new ideas into your head and inspire you to create something even better.  If you are a content creator (or know someone who is) and believe you have something unique to share that fits MRM's  criteria for endorsement, please email it to
Melanin Origins 
Melanin Origins is a new Afro-centric children's book provider. They believe "we do not live in a color-blind society or world, and that young minds deserve a true and accurate depiction of the greatness of people from the past who share similar cultural backgrounds and ethnicity. Young psyches must be able to identify with and believe in the greatness that lies within them."
Little Doebahyou
Little Doebayou Activities Box
FREE downloadable 7 Chidren's Activities Celebrating the African Diaspora
"Little Doebahyou is a monthly subscription activity box that explores the similarities and celebrates the differences of children within the African Diaspora. Each month the child in your life will receive a box that is filled with educational, safe, and family friendly activities that teaches them about the culture of a country in the African Diaspora through the eyes of their #DiasporaDuo travel buddies Guaye and Grear." Can't afford a box right now? Little Doebahyou has pulled together 7 activities celebrating the African diaspora that are FREE for you to download.
Que Significa AfroLatino?
Wordoku Activity
This FREE  wordoku activity  is intended to build Spanish language while providing a simplistic definition of what it means to be Afro-Latino. You can follow the creator,  The Comprehensible Classroom by Martina Bex  on  Teachers Pay Teachers  for other similar products.

68 Voces (Voices)
68 Voces is a series of animated stories told in the lost, indigenous languages of Mexico. A great tool for those trying to reclaim their ancestral tongue.

Reading Comprehension Passages: Famous Afro-Latinxs (Vol. 1)
These reading passages may seem simple and easy to use to assess comprehension, but what makes them great is that they are all centered around important  Afro-Latinos , which is not something you find in mainstream teaching materials. Created by MommyMaestra, a homeschooling mami that researches and creates bilingual instructional materials (Good if you're looking for Spanish language resources; however, most products are not Afro-Latinx centered.).
Stories for All Project, by First Book "Through the Stories for All Project, First Book strives to provide all kids with diverse books that act as mirrors and windows. Kids feel valued and validated when they see their own experiences reflected on the pages of books, and they develop curiosity and empathy when they read about experiences different from their own."  First Book is a non-profit marketplace "only available to programs and schools serving children in need as defined by First Book's eligibility requirements." 
Braiding Rhythms: The Role of Bell Patterns in West African and Afro-Caribbean Music
These comprehensive, cross-disciplinary lessons developed by Jonathon Saxon aim to "demonstrate polyrhythmic elements found throughout West African and Afro-Caribbean music. Students will listen to music from Ghana, Nigeria, Cuba, and Puerto Rico to learn how this polyrhythmic tradition followed Africans to the Caribbean as a result of the transatlantic slave trade. Students will learn the rumba clave pattern, cascara pattern, and a 6/8 bell pattern. All rhythms will be accompanied by a two-step dance pattern."
Exploring Africa Curriculum & Resources
"Exploring Africa is produced and developed by the African Studies Center (ASC) at Michigan State University in an effort to address the severe shortage of high quality African resources available to students and educators, particularly at the K-12 level."  You can access their FREE Africa curriculum with several units and play around with their map portal that allows you to research information on specific African countries.
Designing Afro-Latino Pedagogy For Self-Determination, by William Garcia
Trying to locate curriculum specific to the history and experiences of Afo-Latinxs is not an easy task. In fact, my research didn't yield any results except for this piece written by William Garcia who outlines some ideas and content educators might want to consider when when building curriculum with Afro-Latinx students in mind.  William García is an Afro-Nuyorican whose research interests include Afro-Latino history, hip-hop and reggaetón in the Caribbean and Puerto Rican diaspora. You can follow him on Twitter @webdubois2014 as well as find him on Latino Rebels.

Culturally Responsive Educators of the African Diaspora NYC
CREAD is a blog written by two woke, NYC veteran teachers who share information and ideas on how to engage in culturally responsive practices with students from the African Diaspora.  Their focus is on providing teachers with critical historical context schools don't teach students. You can subscribe here
to make sure you don't miss out on a blog post and dope ideas!
Dreamers Roadmap App
T he    DREAMers Roadmap    is an amazing, FREE app that helps undocumented immigrants locate college scholarships. Please share this important tool or donate here, if you can, as it is a non-profit start-up! Click here to read more about the brilliant woman, Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca, who created this tool, which is a must-have for librarians, guidance counselors, social workers, parents, and students!
Play Items
Today, playtime in the early elementary years has become a practice in the past.  Kindergartners spend most of their time being taught literacy and mathematical skills even though there is no  research to support this yields improved academic performance in later years.  In fact, "Reading First, the $6 billion federal program designed to help children from low-income families, greatly increased the amount of time children spent being taught discrete pre-reading skills in kindergarten and the early grades, but failed to improve reading comprehension." Unfortunately, many in education aren't aware or don't believe there are cognitive benefits to play; however, as outlined here,  science has proven the contrary. Knowing this, it is vitally important as parents & teachers, we create multiple opportunities for our children to explore, problem-solve, and investigate through imaginary play.  For woke parents of color, finding the tools or props--games, dolls, apps--that can be utilized during play can be a frustrating process when one is aware that imagery matters because it shapes the messaging children receive about themselves and others around them.  Fret no more! MRM's role is to research and find items that reflect your brown skinned little ones so that you can spend more time playing with them rather than getting bogged down trying to locate play items that speak to your kids. 

Queen Dollylama
Queen Dollylama is an activist and artist who is trying to fill in a gap in the doll industry by creating brown skinned dolls that you cannot find anywhere else. At her Etsy shop you can find handcrafted, custom made, Black dolls representing various roles--from golfer to futuristic, galactic heroines--not seen in the mainstream toy market.  Peep out this video for a glimpse at some of her other unique and creative figurines. (Thanks, Bita, for the share!)
Puzzles From CafePress
CafePress is home to over two million independent designers who create and sell one of kind products that celebrate the identities, passions, and interests of customers from all over the world. Click on the puzzle, above, that speaks to you or your kids/students to learn more about it.
Monthly Contests Go Weekly!
I'm trying to switch things up by using video to highlight products or resources I've reviewed.  This is why I'm a bit behind on my #mrmcontests! I'm old school, so this video stuff is taking me some time to learn.  However, I do appreciate your patience! The good news is that I'm receiving more items to review, which means I will be launching weekly videos or written reviews featuring one new item per week! This also means I have more dope products to give away, so make sure to open your #MRMresource of the week emails to learn about these new resources and how you might be able to try them out yourself!
Do you have a product you want us to share?
If you or someone you know has a resource or product you believe meets MRM's criteriaplease email! Each month, MRM is growing! MRM newsletters are averaging over 1,200 likes and shares, so don't miss out on an opportunity to promote your much needed product!