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Conversations with Kids: Resistance

Updated: Feb 19

After 16 long years away, we visited the Philippines with our whole family last summer. It was one giant homecoming, filled with laughter, Uno games, silliness, trying new things, and road trips. We started making plans to go back as soon as we landed at SeaTac.

Towards the end of our three weeks, we flew down to Cebu to explore the oldest city in the Philippines. We were only going to be there for a couple days so our goals were to visit one historical site and take it easy before taking a ferry to Bohol. We decided on the nearby Mactan island to visit Lapu-Lapu City.

The city of Lapu-Lapu is renowned for the defeat and giant F NO to would-be Portuguese colonizer (serving Spain) Ferdinand Magellan. After the 1521 Battle of Mactan, chieftain Lapulapu was honored as a national hero and helped delay Spanish colonization for several decades. 

As soon as we landed, we drove to the Mactan shrine where it is believed the actual battle took place. The girls had a lot of questions and we answered them to the best of our ability, sometimes referring to the signage for more context. We didn’t censor the stories or the imagery that depicted the battle. Honestly, it was very matter of fact.

The battle is a story of resistance, a fight for liberation. 

Sometimes I hear adults talking about resistance in a very hold-hands-together-singing-kumbaya kind of way. Some adults are worried about glamorizing violence and shy away from stories that include bloodshed. It can create an idea that there is only one right way to resist.

We can’t talk about systems of oppression without talking about the realities of resistance. And while there are many ways people fight for liberation and resist systems of oppression, I feel like we can’t censor or erase the fight happening on the ground.

For Lapulapu, we told the girls it was necessary for his people to fight back to keep their freedom and their land (and the girls already know the consequences of colonization).

For Palestine, I have shown the girls clips from people like @wizard_bisan1 so they understand what resistance looks like on the ground. There is blood, there are tears, there’s pain, and there’s hope.

Talking to kids about resistance and collective liberation also decenters the oppressor. I have certainly done this — focus heavily on who and what the oppressors are. But never forget who the resistance fighters are and the on-the-ground truth tellers. Kids should be witness to the different ways people can defy oppressors and make a firm stand for their freedom.

We were grateful to tell the story of Lapulapu to the girls and our family. We felt honored to stand where our people once stood, fighting against would-be colonizers and oppressors. And we will make sure that they know resistance isn’t just part of the past, but very much part of our current story.

Whereas oppressors dehumanize people of color and will do everything to erase every fiber of their being, resistance is the act of hope. The unwillingness to let any oppressor extinguish their fire.

So make sure, when talking to kids about oppression and resistance, you never ever leave out stories about that fire raging inside and the everyday acts of hope for a liberated future.

To learn more about Palestinian liberation and resistance, follow the Instagram accounts below that @jenanmatari (Palestinian truth teller) put together, as well as @librarianswithPalestine (for books and resources for kids).


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