Portland’s Mxm Bloc is Eliminating Barriers for Black Moms & Their Children

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by Rafael Otto

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06.21.2022

Guest

In this segment of The Early Link Podcast, host Rafael Otto speaks with Rashelle Chase-Miller, who is an activist and a mom. She’s authored many articles and works in early childhood curriculum development. She’s also founder of Mxm Bloc, a Black mxm led mutual-aid group that supports Black families, and Reproductive Rights PDX.

 

Summary

Children’s Institute’s CEO, Kali Thorne-Ladd starts the episode with a discussion about the Uvalde shooting, and how this event impacted Chase-Miller, specifically as a Black mother, and her community. Chase-Miller notes the way in which she has helped the community come together in healing and activism, in the two years following the murder of George Floyd.

 

Chase-Miller goes on to talk about her son who was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy at 18 months old, and how this turned her to activism. Receiving her Master’s at Portland State University has also helped her to better advocate for him. Given her personal experience and her study of early childhood, she also gives advice to teachers and providers on how to really think about transforming and strengthening the way that the education the system serves kids like her son. She also talks about her writing about trauma responsiveness and what that can look like in early childhood settings, especially given the context of the news and the events that have been happening around the country.

Transcript

[00:00:00] Rafael Otto: Welcome to the Early Link Podcast. I’m Rafael Otto. Thank you for listening. You can always catch us on the airwaves in the Portland Metro area on 99.1 FM on Sundays at 4:30 PM or you can tune in at your convenience wherever you find your podcasts. That includes iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music and as always on our website at childinst.org. I encourage you to visit.

Today I’m speaking with Rashelle Chase-Miller, who is an activist and a mom. She’s authored many articles and works in early childhood curriculum development. She’s also founder of Mxm Bloc, a Black mxm led mutual-aid group, supporting Black families and Reproductive Rights PDX.

Rashelle, welcome to the podcast today.

[00:00:44] Rashelle Chase-Miller: Thank you. Happy to be here.

[00:00:46] Rafael Otto: We’re going to start things off. My colleague has joined us today, Kali Thorne Ladd. She is going to start with a few questions for you to get us going. Kali, I’ll turn it over to you.

[00:00:55] Kali Thorne Ladd: Thank you, Rafael. Well, it’s such a pleasure to have Rashelle on the podcast, especially this week. That was a week really heavy when it comes to children. And I know you both as an education leader, early childhood leader, but also as a mom, and an activist from that place as a mother and also a Black mother.

And so, as the founder of PDX Mxm Bloc and how you engage Black moms or Black affiliating moms in the movement of Black Lives Matter, I think as a Black mother, we carry this other burden for our children around their safety. And I really want to hear from you about how this week impacted you and the people in your community, and any words of wisdom that you have to give to people.

[00:01:45] Rashelle Chase-Miller: Yeah. You know, this week was ghastly, I think, for parents. But you know, anyone who cares about children, it was a ghastly week in a series of, pretty ghastly weeks. I think that what happened in Texas and the victims being young children, the level of horror is hard to articulate with words. But of course, that also comes just a couple of weeks after the shooting in Buffalo, which was primarily black elders. And so, as someone in my forties who has young children on the one hand and older parents on the other end of the spectrum, phew, it’s just been a, you know, the experience of like, walking around with your heart in your throats just for weeks now. I think that the community response that I’ve witnessed has really just been this collective grief and anguish and feeling of, you know, I was going to say feeling of helplessness. And I do think that there’s some of that, but I also think that there has been more resistance to the idea that this is just how it is.

Then I recall seeing and feeling and experiencing in the past, and from the activism spaces that I operate in, really just seeing folks unwilling to throw their hands up, unwilling to believe that there’s nothing that we can do about this. And I’m really seeing folks lean in and engage. And whether it’s the small things like signing petitions online and writing letters, or the larger things like showing up for in-person actions or participating in general strikes. I think that there’s this collective recognition that this is intolerable and we can’t continue on this way.

I’m certainly not the one with any particular wisdom, I think in the face of just events that you just can’t understand. But I do think that these kinds of events are as preventable as they are predictable. How we care for our most vulnerable people, how we show up for our children, the kinds of climates that we foster in our schools and the kinds of supports that we give to our families have everything to do with who our young people grow to be. Whether they feel so disconnected and alienated that they turned to violence, or whether they have the skills and the resiliency to persevere through challenges and come out on the other side. So, I do not know that there is a silver lining to be found. But I do think so much of what we’re experiencing now and struggling with, we have the knowledge and the skills and the tools to combat. I think the question is do we have the will.

Please download the full transcript below.

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