The MISSION of Babywearing Twin Cities:

Babywearing Twin Cities is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to to build the bond between babies and caregivers through baby carrier education and support; to provide a community education service and distribute baby carriers to individuals and other organizations for their use; and to celebrate babywearing among caregivers through online and in-person gatherings.

What does this mission statement really mean? What does it mean to you?

The phrase “social justice” isn’t in there. The phrase “diversity and inclusivity” isn’t in there. Yet it is. We cannot separate ourselves from who we are in any space we occupy, in-person or online. As representatives of Babywearing Twin Cities, our volunteers can only truly fulfill our mission by unpacking our own prejudices. This is a constant learning process and we will make mistakes. We will apologize and do better.

Know better to do better. Impact is greater than intent.

How do we serve our community genuinely?

Do you say “all are welcome!” or “all are invited!”? Maybe everyone doesn’t feel welcome and what can we do to change that? The latter is more intentional and places the emphasis on us reaching out to others. Are meeting spaces held in accessible spaces? Are meeting spaces on a bus line? Are meeting spaces safe spaces for the marginalized?

How are we addressing others and ourselves?

When introductions are done, add pronouns. For example, “Hi, my name is Sam. I go by she/her pronouns. I love a ring sling carrier for quick ups and downs with a toddler.” If you forgot what someone’s pronouns are, ask. Babywearing Twin Cities recently had name badges made to include our names and pronouns for wearing at meetings and events.

In our onlines spaces, address the entire group in an inclusive manner by using non-gendered terms. Examples of non-gendered alternatives include “caregivers” and “people.” When someone addresses the group like, “Hey Mamas, what do you think about the (insert name of carrier) for my 6 month old?” that is exclusive. We are not saying that you cannot address yourself as “Mama” if that’s how you identify yourself. We are saying to not address everyone else as such. If participating in a thread and the poster/commenter you’re responding to has not shared their pronoun/title, do not assume one. You can use “the caregiver above stated that….”

What carrier options are available at meetings for participants to try on? What does that matter?

Woven wraps come in various lengths and different meterage corresponds to a number size (ie. 5.2 meters = size 7). People can use a variety of lengths for a variety of carries but not everyone has the same “base.” The length used to do front wrap cross carry with a double knot in back is typically used to gauge someone’s base length. So when teaching someone a woven wrap carry, we say “use a base minus 2 to do ____ carry” versus saying “use a size 4 to do ____ carry” (unless it has already been determined what that person’s base size is). We use “base-size” language. Our lending libraries have a range of woven wrap lengths. Having your longest length be a size 6 may not be base for someone and that is doing a disservice to those you’re serving. This applies to recommending video tutorials for people to follow as well.

At our meetings, we have available waist belt extenders to go with soft-structured carriers. Our volunteers are familiar with which carriers have longer straps (some bei dais have longer waist and shoulder straps than others). Ring slings and pouch carriers come in different sizes so we aim to have a range of those as well.

Finding the best fit for someone means having carriers on hand to choose from. Without the options, how are we going to help someone find their best fit?

So what does this have to do with babywearing? I’m just here for the babywearing!

From an educational and mission aspect, Babywearing Twin Cities recognizes that the United States is a colonized country and most white caregivers do not have a culture of babywearing. Babywearing, as it’s seen in the United States, was revitalized a couple decades ago when it became a commercialized trend. Babywearing is not a trend. It is not a fad. It is a way of life for many people. There are many more cultures that have passed down carriers and information for generations. Their designs, patterns and styles are not to be stolen and mass produced. They can be admired as timeless pieces of history and culture. Respect that.

Does this mean I can’t wear my baby without being racist or culturally appropriative?

You can still wear and you can wear respectfully. Acknowledge the above.

I’ve been called out but I didn’t mean anything by it!

Impact is greater than intent. If you’re uncomfortable, don’t respond right away. Sit with that discomfort. Allow yourself the chance to learn something. We all mess up constantly, but we can apologize and try not to do it again. Recognize your privilege and use your voice, your words, your actions to lift up marginalized people.

Feeling helpless? Overwhelmed? Defensive?

You. Can. Do. Something.

For example, when baby carrier companies claim they’ve invented a new carrier by calling it a mish-mash name when it’s a carrier that has long been used by other cultures for generations and generations, you can do something. You can speak up. You can write them a letter. You can recommend other brands. There are many different ways to do something about it. There isn’t a generic response or action.

When someone commits a racial microaggression, you can call that person out or in. Collect your own. Don’t rely on people of color to do all the education.

Google it. Do a little searching. Not sure what a term means? Look it up. It doesn’t mean asking questions isn’t okay. It means do the work instead of expecting others to do the work for you.

When you see or learn of others wearing their babies differently because that’s how they’ve learned how to wear their babies through generations, don’t judge, don’t correct. There are people who wear non-commercial, non-safety-tested carriers who know what they’re doing.

E-mail carrier companies. Ask them what they’re doing to be size inclusive.

With that, here is our mission statement again.

The MISSION of Babywearing Twin Cities:

Babywearing Twin Cities is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to to build the bond between babies and caregivers through baby carrier education and support; to provide a community education service and distribute baby carriers to individuals and other organizations for their use; and to celebrate babywearing among caregivers through online and in-person gatherings.

Does that read any differently to you now? Do you feel any different about babywearing?

Think about it.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

MAYA ANGELOU

Resources

Ableist Language:

http://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-cohenrottenberg/doing-social-justice-thou_b_5476271.html

Ally Henny: https://www.facebook.com/allyhennypage/posts/1219318541551787?hc_location=ufi


A Resource for Ethical Babywearing: http://counterculturebabywearing.com/

“Dear (Cis) People Who Put Pronouns On Your “Hello My Name Is” Name Tags: https://medium.com/@mrsexsmith/dear-cis-people-who-put-your-pronouns-on-your-hello-my-name-is-nametags-78c047ed7af1?fbclid=IwAR0u2bcQvBG1iJtG-GkskfWFH-a3axDZkT47ACZ93Q6JrrlccO2rEkvf4E8

Image Descriptions and Hashtags: https://babywearingtwincities.org/blog/image-descriptions-and-hashtags/

Me and White Supremacy-The Workbook by Layla F. Saad:

http://laylafsaad.com/meandwhitesupremacy-workbook

A racial microaggressions reparative response model developed by Shannon Criniti, Jaymie Campbell & Kira Manser: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10157346352038216&set=p.10157346352038216&type=3&theater

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Take Back the Rebozo: http://wearingwiki.com/wp/takebacktherebozo/

Traditional East Asian Baby Carriers: https://notyourpodbutai.tumblr.com/post/154698098962/respecting-east-asian-traditional-baby-carriers

The Word “Caucasian”: https://www.sapiens.org/column/race/caucasian-terminology-origin/

“What does this have to do with babywearing?” by Onyx M.

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