Transparency – Clarity – Responsibility
Books For Littles [BFL for short] supporters, readers, and contributors (including the founder of BFL and author of this statement, Ashia R.) are responsible for transparent and clearly stated missions, objectives, goals, and procedures.
Why this Statement of Accountability exists:
By maintaining foundational honesty, readers, patrons, sponsors, and featured makers (let’s just lump us all as ‘BFL’ers’) can easily identify if (and how) our actions benefit or harm them.
The three tenets of Foundational Honesty:
- Clarity helps BFL’ers who have been traditionally oppressed and targeted by similar organizations determine how trustworthy BFL resources are, and determine whether we are safe in participating in BFL online spaces.
- Transparency helps BFL’ers clearly identify if/when BFL is causing unintentional harm.
- Responsibility puts the onus on BFL’ers to solicit, acknowledge, and take action on feedback so we can feel confident that our voices make a difference.
BFL contributors (for now, that’s just me, Ashia), are responsible for letting BFL’ers know where and how to find this Statement of Accountability, as following:
- Social Media: Published on the BFL facebook group and our Patreon feed 1x/year.
- Website: Posted as a link from the BFL home page (either top bar navigation or side bar, haven’t figured out which one yet).
- Email: Published at the bottom of each email newsletter.
- Accessibility: We strive to make this document accessible for members with disabilities. Please email Ashia if any part of the booksforlittles.com website or social media channels are inaccessible for you.
As the founder of BFL, I, Ashia Ray, an responsible for making the following info available and accessible.
At some point, I’d love to have fancy separate pages for these with images and such, but for the sake of getting it done, here’s a quick summary:
What we do: Books For Littles helps parents and educators raise the next generation of kind & brilliant humans.
Who we are: BFL’ers are a community of parents, educators, and grown-ups slated with influencing and raising the next generation of humans (ages 0-7). See the Participants section for more. We are, in general, progressive-minded and liberal, with an emphasis on learning, listening, and understanding, and inclusion. We do not compete – we collaborate.
How we do: We focus on picture books for children ages 0-7 because BFL books must be vetted by real kids, and mine are in this age range. By using picture books to make hard conversations easier, and to introduce complex topics simply, we educate grown-ups, who then go on to have ongoing discussions with their littles.
The objectives of BFL, in order of priority:
- For humanity: To raise a kind and brilliant generation of leaders.
- For my family: To lead by example for my own sons. BFL is within the scope of what I can do while raising two small children, while unable to work outside the home because of my parental duties and disabilities.
- For my ego: I’ve determined BFL is the most effective method (within my personal ability) to fight injustice, mis-education, and suffering.
Goals – Long Term
FOR READERS: The BFL website will become an easy-to-search resource where parents and educators can find discussion topics, perspective, and picture books to educate young children.
FOR ASHIA: Financially, the website will provide a small passive income to sustain the costs associated with keeping the website live, and hopefully a small stipend to help support my family. I plan to keep BFL going while I still have children interested in picture books, and am not sure whether I’ll hand it off or let it hang out dormant once my kids are older.
Goals – Short Term (2018)
FOR READERS: The BFL Facebook group is where I test out topics, book suggestions, methods of education, and public interest. It is also where I solicit feedback on what challenges parents and educators face, so I can learn what needs more research and what resources they need help finding. I am spending any free time I have on adding popular archived content to the website to make it easy to search and less labor intensive to respond to popular reader requests.
FOR ASHIA: I’m dedicating 2018 to streamlining the orchestrations of BFL to absorb less than 30 hours per week (I currently spend 35-55 hours per week on BFL.) What this probably looks like is lots of content on the website, archived posts scheduled for re-publishing on social media, and less 1-on-1 personal requests. Financially, I need BFL to become self-sustaining (it’s currently funded by my family bank account) if we plan to last beyond July 2018, or I will need to get a second job to support my family, and put BFL on hiatus. I hope to do that through Patreon subscribers, web ads, and affiliate links, and am avoiding partnering with publishers and sponsors for the moment since that opens a hornets nest of ethical issues.
How we measure success
I currently track the following to gauge the success of BFL topics and concepts:
- Website traffic
- Facebook group membership and activity, newsletter subscribers, and patreon subscribers
- The reactions, posts, and shares on each Facebook post
- Daily clicks, number of orders, and affiliate income from amazon orders made after clicking one of my book links
- How many people and organizations are linking to BFL and sharing BFL posts and links.
- Comments, shares, and reactions on individual website posts
- Member feedback (challenges, book requests)
- Kind emails of solidarity
- Critical emails – both the ones that think what we do is evil, and those that agree with what we do, but think we’re doing it wrong
Who participates, what they provide, and what they get out of it:
Ashia Ray: Founder & sole contributor to BFL:
BFL was founded by and is run by me, Ashia Ray (she/her). I’m a mother of two young boys. I am a multiracial (Chinese/Irish) cishet woman. I was raised by a white single mother (lapsed Catholic) in a lower-middle-class neighborhood with a religiously, ethnically, and racially diverse population through elementary school (age 9). I had occasional contact with my father (a Chinese immigrant from Malaysia, raised in a household that practiced Ancestor Worship/Buddhism), and more contact with my Cantonese-speaking grandparents (who did not speak English) than with my father. Through early childhood, my mother and I lived with meager finances and eventually gained financial stability. My mother maintained an open home with renters, friends and family of various ethnicity, and many rescue animals.
All of my teachers, with the exception of one Black woman, were white. In my adolescence, we moved to an upper-middle-class, almost exclusively white neighborhood for middle and upper school, where we struggled financially. All of my teachers were white. I attended undergrad at Worcester PolyTech for two years, double-majoring in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering, with a minor in creative writing, then transferred to Clark University, majoring in Studio Art, with a concentration in photography and graphic design. All of my professors, with the exception of one East-Asian woman, and one East-Asian man, were white. I dropped out of engineering school because of social and learning disabilities. I can’t do group projects, can’t learn from traditional spoken lectures, and have executive functioning disabilities that make complex handwritten calculations difficult. I learned I am autistic in adulthood.
Beyond undergrad classes, I do not have any formal writing or critical literature training. I have never been formally educated on library science, early (or any) childhood education, social justice, political science, disability rights, running an organization, or website design and publishing.
All writing in BFL spaces (unless otherwise specified) is filtered through my bias and perspectives.
By the medical model of disability and traditional standards of ‘expertise’ (whatever that means), I am completely unqualified to run BFL. By the social model of disability, and the goals of the grassroots social rights movement as I understand it in terms of equity, I am sufficiently qualified because of my lived experience. Also – no one else is doing this, so you’re going to have to settle for me until someone better comes along.
Contributions: I provide 35-55 hours each week of book research in and out of the library, read-aloud screening with my two boys, conceptual research via the web, podcasts, and non-fiction books, blog writing, editing, html coding, website maintenance, email management, responses, reader consultations, social media administration, patreon updates, facebook daily reviews, book list management, personal request responses, and accounting toward the mission of BFL. I also pay for the website domain and design fees, childcare and school tuition while I’m working, electricity, library travel expenses, book expenses, software, email and newsletter costs.
Benefits: At the time of this writing, I make roughly $1.08/hour from patreon, amazon links, and eventually, ad revenue, all of which goes into the costs associated with maintaining BFL and/or contributions for nonprofit organizations whose values BFL aligns with. I plan to have a fully transparent financial document online at some point, but as you can see – I’m kinda busy right now.
Sometimes I interview a book publisher, writer, or illustrator and create a page on the website highlighting their work. These pages will disclose how I obtained the books they’ve created and whether or not they were provided to me for free, and quotes and images used by them, with permission.
Contributions: Makers submit written answers to interview questions, images for use on the BFL website, and occasionally, free books for the purposes of review. BFL does not have the funds to pay makers at this time.
Benefits: Makers get free marketing and exposure for their work.
BFL Facebook Followers:
Anyone can join the BFL Facebook group. For safety of the group, I ask questions to verify that new members applying to join the group prove they are real people and not spam-bots.
I also ask about challenges they are facing (to help me know what to focus on next), and if they would like to join the email list.
Contributions: Some readers signal-boost posts by sharing posts, commenting, or adding friends to the group.
Benefits: Readers get free daily posts, twice-monthly email newsletter digests and blog alerts, and blog collections to help them quickly and easily find books to help them deal with current challenges, and to learn about topics outside the sphere of their own social justice work. Members may also submit book suggestions, requests, and ask for advice, which is answered by me personally on the second Monday of each month. Clicking affiliate links does not change the cost of Amazon orders. Readership is free.
Benevolent Incendiaries – Email subscribers:
Anyone can subscribe to email updates.
Contributions: Readers may share or forward newsletters to signal boost the work of BFL.
Benefits: Same as the benefits for the Facebook group. Readership is free.
Insiders – Patreon Subscribers:
Anyone can subscribe to the Patreon feed starting at $1/month.
Contributions: Insiders support BFL financially with monthly funding, responses to polls when we’re determining the direction and services of BFL, and a sense of solidarity and support.
Benefits: Subscriber rewards vary based on tier of support, and this can change at any time. Benefits usually include an exclusive monthly post view-able only for supporters, sneak-previews of upcoming blog posts, priority responses on personal requests, and sometimes tangible items, like drawings of robots on postcards from Ashia.
BFL hopes to benefit the following groups of people (beyond benefits listed for participants above), who face systemic oppression and discrimination in our current kyriarchy by educating oppressors and hte wider public on injustice, history, and the cultures and lived experience of:
- Members of disabled community, inclusive of those with physical and cognitive disabilities.
- People of color
- Indigenous/Native Americans
- People of faith, particularly faiths targeted in North America, such as Sikhism, Islam & Judaism.
- Members of the LGBTQ+ community
- Femmes and nonbinary folks
- Fat folks and those with bodies and appearances erased from traditional media
- Immigrants, English-as-a-second-language speakers
- Lower and lower-middle-class families
- People who have not been provided access to a college degree
- People with mental health challenges
- Victims of abuse and violence
- Authors, illustrators, and publishers (makers) who are making progressive work featuring with a diverse range of characters – with a priority on Makers from the above list of targeted groups.
- Non-profit organizations receive financial donations (from my family, so technically the same bank account as we run BFL out of), such as ADAPT, National Bail Out, The Compassion Collective, The Massachusetts Homeless Coalition, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, The Children’s Foundation, The Tiger Lily Foundation, our local public library, and some others (again, I need to make a list for all of our finances, so that will be published in the future when I have time.)
Statement of Acknowledgement (SAA)
The SAA gives credit to those whose work we learn from and reference. Since the emotional and intellectual labor of activists and people from targeted groups is often unpaid and unacknowledged (COUGH COUGH LIKE BFL, PLEASE BECOME A PATRON), it’s our responsibility to signal-boost the work we benefit from
In 2018, BFL follows and supports the following creators on Patreon:
- Oh Joy Sex Toy (Erika Moen) for sex education
- Autistic Hoya (Lydia X. Z. Brown) for trans-racial adoption, disability, and gender education.
- ADAPT ($5/month)
- Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Library (we contributed to the crowdfunding for an upcoming Neurodivergent Narwhals book).
Organizations & people we follow currently, but do not have the funds to pay yet:
- 18 Million Rising for Asian American racial justice education
- Books on body acceptance and existing as a fat woman in America (See our Fat Liberation post)
- ASAN – Autism advocavy
- Autism Women’s Network – Autistic women and nonbinary advocacy
In 2017, we followed: (working from memory here, so this isn’t a comprehensive list)
- Ijeoma Oluo – (Supported on Patreon for a few months on my old photography account, but I’ve let lapse, due to lack of funds and I don’t follow her feed anymore.) For education on managing white readers as a woman of color
- Didi Delgado for one month – for education on the experience of Black women and radical organizing
- Kerima Cevik & Intersected (sporadically ongoing)- for education on the intersections of race and disability
- The Love Life Of An Asian Guy for Asian – for three months – Asian racial justice education
- A few articles from Ramp Your Voice! – Intersection of living as a Black woman with disabilities.
As the founder and only contributor to BFL, I take responsibility for learning and understanding:
- Who benefits from the current systems (social, financial, educational), and who is harmed by it (identifying targeted groups).
- My own power and privilege, both those I hold as an individual, and those I am associated with as a part of my group identities.
- What procedures I must take for speaking up against problematic behavior (where and when – something I need to write out in more detail at a later date. For now – a big responsibility to reflect on bigotry in children’s books, and measured responsibilities to speak up in online spaces. Somewhat less in physical spaces since I don’t leave the house and have some social disabilities parsing what’s happening in real-time. And also some local community organizations like Families Organizing for Racial Justice in my own neighborhood and school community.)
- What actions I must take when a reader identifies my own problematic behavior (another thing that needs more detail when I get the time. For now – it’s apologizing publically, doing my own research, and making an effort to add this into the body of BFL research and topics).
This document was last edited on April 16, 2018 by Ashia R.