Brooke and Carla talk about parenting as radicals and youth autonomy, but more importantly, they talk about adult supremacy, the history of it, the ways it influences all of our lives and strategies for confronting it as parents and non parents. They breakdown childism, and talk about how the most important thing you can do is listen to the youth and how community is once again the answer to many societal woes.
Carla Joy Bergman (She/they) is a writer, producer, podcaster, schemer and causer of trouble. Their book Trust Kids! is out from AK Press and can be ordered here. You can find Grounded Futures at GroundedFutures.com or @GroundedFutures on Twitter and Instagram. You can find Listening House Media here. She also cohosts the Grounded Futures podcast with their son Uilliam.
Brooke can be found at Strangers helping up keep our finances intact and on Twitter and Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.
Carla on Adult Supremacy
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m Brooke Jackson, your host for this episode. Today we have the honor of talking with author Carla Bergman. We’re going to discuss parenting here in the end times. But first, we’d like to honor our membership and the Channel Zero network of anarchist podcasts by playing a little jingle from one of the other podcasts on the network. Jingle jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle jingle here. And we’re back. Carla, thank you for joining us today to talk about parenting. Would you please introduce yourself? Let us know what you do, your pronouns, share where you’re from if you’re comfortable disclosing that.
Great. Hi, Brooke. Thanks for having me here. I love this podcast. It’s a real honor. Yeah, I’m Carla Joy Bergman. I use she/her, they/them pronouns. I’m calling in from Musqueam. Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh lands, also known as Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest, across the border in Canada. Yeah, I, well, I do a lot of things. I’m a bit of a autonomous scholar, writer, producer, a podcaster or schemer, causer of trouble. I don’t know, that’s always hard to put yourself on there. Like what do you do? Yeah, I’m a mom, friend. I’m a white settler with Irish and Welsh ancestry. Yeah.
Yeah, well, we’re really glad that you are here and taking the time to talk about this topic with us today. I know that you just released a book back in November called “Trust Kids”, which looks like you can get from AK Press. And they have print ebook and audiobook available. There’s probably other sources to get it as well. So I’d love to talk about your book a little bit. And then you know, if that leads into some broader conversations about parenting in general, and especially, you know, parenting here in the end times and how we support each other as leftists, you know, I think that would be great to talk about too. But let’s, let’s start with your book. I’m curious why you wanted to write the book, like what inspired you to write it?
It’s like, intergenerational? It’s a project that comes across many, many timelines. Yeah, so it’s called “Trust Kids Confronting Adult Supremacy” and while stories on youth autonomy and confronting adult supremacy, oh, boy, it’s really hard to pinpoint a moment. It’s so it’s so cool to have the privilege to reflect back in your past and you get to evoke where you are today on the past.
Yeah, feel free to talk about all of the things that inspired you in the process.
Thanks. Yeah, I mean, I’ve always had a problem with hierarchy and with authority, which goes way back to when I was a little kid. I was definitely the kid who stood up to teachers who bullied kids and other parents or other adults who bullied kids, including my own, and obviously, it was meant with not always a lot of kindness, and often a lot of violence. So it’s something that’s always been kind of in me to be aware of adult supremacy. But really, it wasn’t until I had my own child, that I had to really put the practice of youth autonomy and thinking through adult supremacy in the everyday and every night.
I’m curious if you feel comfortable sharing the age of your child or children?
Yeah. So my oldest is 28. And my youngest is 18, the oldest is Zach, and the youngest is Uilliam, and Uilliam and I do a podcast, that’s part of the Channels Zero network as well called Grounded Futures. And yeah, and Zach. Both of them wrote for the book, Uilliam did it their own chapter, their own section, and then Zach and I co wrote a piece together. Yeah, so..
Man, that’s great.
Yeah. So, you know, Zack, and I got….and my partner, we got involved in alternative education and youth liberation kind of worlds. We were like, really fortunate because we were working class family and, and I got diagnosed with lupus, like there was all these things that were making it like, well, how am I going to not send my kid to regular school. But I was fortunate to live in a city where there’s a dem… that was…it was like, almost 48 years, it ran…ademocratic preschool that was publicly funded. So that meant it was free to attend, as well as a free school, and there was parent participatory, and it was, you know, it went through all different kinds of renditions, and tried all different kinds of models, and but really, at the center was and at the center was this idea of youth liberation and children, self directed sort of education styles, I, you know, through that, at the core of all my work is this notion of solidarity, like how to think about this conversation of youth autonomy and undoing adult supremacy, amidst and alongside all the other horrors of, of empire, whether it be ableism, racism, classism, and whatnot. And I really noticed that a lot of kids, you know, they don’t a lot of families can opt out of school, and they can’t actually do this. So, I really wanted to move the conversation away from ‘school or not school,’ because it just marginalizes the, the work and because it becomes siloed. And really, adult supremacy is in it’s always in the room. It’s, it’s it is like at the core, it’s at the center of all other oppressions. You know, we just keep replicating this horrible system by raising kids with internalized adults supremacy. And so yeah.
That part of the subtitle really stuck out to me, the adult supremacy part, which, you know, sorry to interrupt you, please keep going. But I definitely want to dive more into adult supremacy discussion. But…
I mean, I think that this conversation, so I’m just gonna really get really to the heart of it. So about 12=13 years ago, I was co director of a youth run arts and activism space in Vancouver that was at the center was youth autonomy and radical politics and this intersectional praxis of working alongside other struggles and being in solidarity with them. And I was really noticing from other radicals that you know, youth liberation, youth autonomy, children’s rights, all that stuff was almost always left off of the the oppression chart or pie. And so I would bring it up, and it would be like an afterthought. And they’d be like, oh, yeah, right, of course. And slowly, you know, we’ve seen that grow. However, what I noticed was I faced a lot of vitriol from a lot of radicals that I was privileged, that I was privileging kids and like that, all this stuff, and I was like, “Wait a minute, like, you know who’s privileged is like the middle class family who moves across town to the rich neighborhood to put their kid in the better school like,” no, no, no, like that’s nuanced this a little bit like. So I came up with the phrase “Solidarity begins at home,” which was really the orientation of this book to begin with. And if you follow it on AK Press, they often post about it calling it, “Solidarity Begins at Home,” because I was really noticing that anti authority, anti authority folks particularly were like, “Except for with my children, I’m an authority.” Or, you know, “Oh, Carla and her weirdness being friends with our kids,” or whatever, like it just was just marginalizing the conversation, when really the issue is adult supremacy and, and, you know, I’m just a curious person. So I’m like, “Why doesn’t that resonate?” Like it’s something we’ve all experienced at different degrees. Absolutely. This is a really uneven white supremacist, colonial, racist, ableist world. But we’ve all experiencedi it. It’s actually a place where we could connect and have a more generative conversation. And yet it just keeps getting marginalized. And so I just really had to think about how to center it more. And so, on the one hand, I’m saying “Solidarity Begins at Home.” But I’m also decentering parenting in the conversation, because I think like this is just so much bigger and beyond like, parenting. It’s everywhere that a young person encounters an adult, the adult supremacy world, and it’s everywhere, like Malika Radway, who wrote for the book, like, and she does, “Raising Rebels” podcasts with our kids. Like they said, you know, “Adult supremacy is in every single room you’re in,” you can’t…it’s just like whiteness, you can’t, right? So yeah, so I didn’t feel ready to write it. I always had a kind of what’s the word like, I guess it’s about consent, like, I really needed it to have my kids full consent to talk about our life. And to talk about this in a way that I wanted to, especially that framing of ‘solidarity begins at home.’ So that’s, that’s the reason why I held off until I had their, you know, really, they’re full consent. And, you know, different people, different adults, different parents, different radical parents write about their kids in different ways. This isn’t a judgment, this was just my own ethos with my kids, right? So that’s why it took 12 years. I just actually found a new Google Doc from 2012. That said, new book “Solidarity begins at home. “Listen, Adults,” or something I was going to call it.
Yeah, it sounds like you not only have their consent, but kind of their enthusiastic consent. And they both, you know, wrote for it and participated in that which, you know, what a joy to be able to do that with them.
Yeah. And my son, the oldest one did the audio book, which is really special
Oh, wow, that’s really cool. I, my daughter is 11. And we’re firmly in that tween phase right now where there’s both the child and the budding teenager that, that show up in her and it’s a interesting age, for sure. And I just have the one. But I want to rewind slightly back to adult supremacy, to get us on the same page here. And we, you know, what does that phrase mean to you? How do you define that? How do you see that in the world?
Right? I mean, it’s really, it’s always evolving and changing, the more I like, learn, and like, explore and research and talk to people who are real nerds and researchers. Two of the folks who wrote for the book, Toby Rollo and Stacy Patton, really do a deep, deep look at the history, the roots of adult supremacy. And so it’s, it’s hard for me not to start there, because it’s like, my mind is just kind of blown. You know, it really goes back to early colonization in the….in Europe. You know, we hear this from indigenous folks on, you know, on the lands we’re both on that, you know, this is not how people do kinship. This is not like the…kind of like patriarchal, heteronormative hierarchical family. It’s not, you know, and that, that that’s not how it is. And so, way, like it goes way back, this kind of I don’t even, I can’t even pinpoint it, but it definitely predates capitalism, although like it, you know, it got more entrenched during capitalism to have the house set up the way that the patriarchal family, the way it was set up, like kids had to be subjugated from their parents and the patriarchal parent was being subjugated by, you know, the whole system of capitalism, right, yeah. But it actually predates all that in it. And it goes back to early colonization. And it was by design. It was to sow seeds of control, distrust, and this idea that, I think Toby calls it protocitizenship, that children aren’t fully human. They don’t have any rights. You know, there’s 13 states that still have paddles that can, people can still paddle in schools in the US, I don’t know if you know, that and spent, you know, like, you, you will you get fined and go to jail if you beat your dog, but you won’t if you beat your kid, as long as they can’t see any bruises. You know, so this is like, it’s ongoing, this idea that childhood is just a phase, you know, this kind of just creation of this thing that’s like less than, was by design. And it’s become, you know, it got more entrenched through psychology, the whole, you know, we don’t even need to go into that. But even eugenics, like early eugenics was practiced on children…kind of way where children who were street involved and didn’t have parents or were, you know, out of care kind of kids. They were sterilized first. Stacy Patton is a doing a book right now on the history of lynching children in the south. she had to actually go to Europe to get to the root of it. And it was practiced first on children there. So…
Emotionally, I don’t think I could handle that kind of research.
Yeah, me neither. I just want to get…this is what I said, like, I didn’t have all this information like a couple of years ago. And so this isn’t where I would have started the conversation. However, I used to say like that this is a Western…Euro Western colonial way of being in the world, and like the hatred of children, they have childhood and, and the violence against children is a construct within colonization. I did know that, but I didn’t realize how severe it was. And so alongside the other horrific systems within colonization, I like to call it Empire because it’s like a hydra, all of it, capitalism, ableism, ageism. We’re still we’re fighting all those battles still in use. The problem with adult supremacy is that it just keeps reenscribing itself because, yes, yeah, yes, you can see how it just, it’s not that’s why I’m not really I’m not a proponent of youth liberation as such. And why I talk about autonomy instead is because it’s it needs to be intersectional, it needs to be intergenerational, it needs to be…we have to undo adult supremacy, we can’t just focus on doing youth liberation siloed over here, because they grow into adults, and then they become adults supremacists. Right. And like, do you know what I mean? it’s kind of like…it is one of…it has mobility, in terms of getting out of being the oppressed to becoming the oppressor. Not unlike class…
So if I’m understanding it, then adult supremacy….
I could give you a definition.
Well, let’s see if, well let’s see if I picked it up from that. It’s the idea that adults are all and always supreme to children, who are just going through a phase and to some degree, it’s acceptable to enforce that adult supremacy through violence? That’s kind of from all those things.
Yeah. And so, if I get it correctly, parental supremacy is like within the bigger circle of adult supremacy, right? Like…
Yeah, and psychological violence, physical…like all kinds of…it is a violent act. It’s a colonizing of the mind and soul and body. And yeah, like, you know, the whole, the whole idea is to prepare your kid for adulthood, which is just ridiculous. Like, they are a full human already, that things need to be discovered. And they, you know, like, all of us, guidance is important. mentorships are important skill sharing is important. Presence is important. Love is important, and ultimately care, right? Yeah, but they….and they are fully human already. They are no less, no more, you know, some maybe, you know, whatever, it’s, you know, it’s relational. But, the idea adult supremacy is children are under developed, they’re not fully human, they need to prepare for ultimate adulthood. And that is the supreme holding of what it means to be fully human, is to be an adult.
Yeah, I mean, I’ve always liked Bell Hooks’ thing she called, she called it the patriarchal family, like, it didn’t matter what gender you were, or how you configurated your family, where if there’s adults, taking care of children it was a patriarchal family. And I really liked that phrasing, because I think that’s a way to maybe push back against some of the what happens with some of the feminists ideas around parenting that, you know, like a woman, you know, like, I’m talking more like, I’m probably aging myself, but I’m doing more like this second, third wave of feminism where it was, you know more about their rights than it was their children’s because they were so oppressed under the patriarch of the family or whatever. And yes, and you know, Bell Hooks came along and was like, you’re a patriarch too within that adult supremacy. Yeah, yeah.
So, um, we talked about the, you know, physical psychological abuse factor of that adult supremacy. I’m curious what other ways you would point out that it manifests itself in society…families and, you know, adults in general, and maybe there’s some, you know, insidious ways that we don’t even think of, you know, that wouldn’t immediately come to mind that you could teach us about here.
I mean, it’s everywhere. You know, I, I’m not on the socials at all. I left fully back in the spring, but when I was, I was constantly asking my fellow podcasters, and journalists and thinkers and opinionerrs, to please stop calling the most vile human beings on this earth childish, and children and toddlers. It’s right there. You know, that is where it’s at. Can you… and people would be like, “What do you mean?” And I would be like “Change ‘child’ to any other group. Woman…” and then their eyes, they’re like, “Oh, my God, I’d be canceled. If I called Trump a whiny woman,” or whatever. Put any group in there. Right. I don’t really want to go down that road. But, you see what I mean. So that’s a one that I have to…We just actually, Grounded Futures, just re-released it because it’s not stopping. Right? Because so, that’s a really, really huge way. It’s all those biases, right, those social biases. So, like I mentioned earlier, I was the co director of a youth run arts and activism space, that was free to use, it had a lot of anarchist kind of ethos running around it. It was co founded. It was founded by six youth and Matt Hearn, back in 2001. And my son was on the collective and we did a whole lot of cool stuff. But it was incredible how many adult organizers would email me and ask if they could come in and give a workshop on how to run a space. Or how to run a collective. I’d be like, I think you all could come down and learn something from this youth collective, but that’s pretty like a bias, right? Like, I was like, this is the most functional club I’ve ever worked with, like I’ve, you know, been in a lot of collectives like, I don’t think age has anything to do with it. It’s about like some other things going on around power. You know, like, I…Yeah, so there’s this idea that they were…it was flaky, and that they didn’t know what they were doing. And so that was just another bias, an ageist….it’s, it’s just terrible. Yeah, I watched it just go down all the time. Another storieas an anecdote…I’m sure you have many….My kid when they were really, my youngest, when they were really little, and we’d go grocery shopping. And they were really good at picking out avocados and fruit. And one of the people working in the store, like slapped their hand and said, “No, you’re not allowed to touch fruit.” I was like, first of all, don’t ever touch my kid. Second of all, they’re better at it than me. You know, like I just, you know, like, it’s that kind of that kind of like, they just….the person couldn’t even…it was just so reflexive. Like, they couldn’t even imagine that this five year old knew what they were doing. Stuff like that. It’s just constant. It’s just everywhere. And I’m sure you you can, you know….and I do it myself. And I want to say, because I know I when I talk about this, it can come off like I have it figured out. I confront my adult supremacy and particularly my power every single day in my relationship with my youngest, like, every single day it comes up in subtle and overt ways because of maybe I’m tired or and the more we get, the more we uncover it, the more we see. The more we get into the like, the nuance of power, like the nuance of like persuasion that you know, like that I hold, the more I’m like, “Dang it!” Yeah, yeah.
There’s another example I just thought of, too, that I think often crops up around this time of year with people visiting family so often. The hugging example. You know, not making your kid go hug somebody because he’s “Oh, you know, hug me.” Even if it’s you, the parent, like “Hug me goodbye.” You know, don’t make don’t make your kids have that physical interaction with another human being.
Thanks for bringing that up. It’s like it’s so true. Like kids live…like especially little kids…live a extremely nonconsensual life. From bedtime, to food, to like touch right, and every thing in between. And parents, you know, there’s a lot of nuance in that conversation around parents and parenting, and but it’s real. All right. And, you know, people are always trying to do workshops on teaching consent, and I’m always like, just gonna fail if you’re not living with your kids.
It’s just gonna fail. Like it’s so embodied, like, children just live such a nonconsensual life in lots and lots of ways because of this, because of adult supremacy. So yeah, thanks for bringing up…getting right to the right to the point. And, you know, it’s interesting because thinking of parenting like my…sorry, my, my youngest is Uilliam, but we often call him Liam, that I do the podcast with, so he does a lot of the social media for Grounded Futures. And he often feels a bit gaslit by like, kind of the algorithm that comes through that one around like radical parenting and anarchists and stuff around, like on so called holidays on how cool it’s going with their kids in that and because then they go on theirs where it’s very much mostly trans and LGBTQ+ youth, ranging from 16 to like 25. And all his friends and all his mutual’s are in trauma on that day because of nonconsensual hugs, from having to mask, from having from being misgendered, from not being believed that they’re trans or I can even be, are non binary, or whatever, the whole gamut, right? And, and I hadn’t even really thought about, like how algorithms work. And I was like, well, that’s really hard. And he’s saying, “I’m not saying that those radical things aren’t happening that I’m seeing on Grounded Futures. It’s just like, you can get in your bubble and think everything’s better. And then you go to this other thing, and you’re like, “Ah, the youth are actually not doing well, right now. Overall.” Yeah.
Yeah, I’ve often been told as a parent that I have raised a very rude child, because, and I’m not going to try and pretend that I’ve been some sort of perfect, you know, no supremacy, children autonomy kind of thing. I’m human. I’m not, I’m still working on it. But, that was something that I noticed and chose to do differently early on in her life about not making her hug people or touch people kissing people goodbye. And even, you know, not necessarily forcing her to say goodbye to somebody. You know, I did a lot of giving her the option, you know, “We’re going to leave now, would you like to say goodbye to Grandma?” or what have you. And so as she’s gotten older, you know, some of those things that I didn’t force her to do, she kind of didn’t learn, and now she’s old enough to where she understands politeness. You know, and I can suggest, you know, it’s more polite in this situation, to say goodbye to this person, you know, and she can still choose then how she wants to do it. She can understand the social dynamic of why she’s making that choice.
You get accused of being a bad parent, or a rude parent or, or whatever it is, because you don’t force your kids do these social things.
I can’t believe how many adults came through the Thistle that would say, “Oh, the Thistle youth are rude. And I was like, “You really have a hard time with like sharing your power, hey?” Like, I just would call it what I saw. Like, actually, what I saw was like, you actually want to come in and have kids, like, passively listen to you. And be polite, so called, you know, nice. But, they’re like, they’re not buying what you’re selling. And they’re like, “I don’t want to do this.” And you’re thinking they’re rude and entitled. I was like, This is what youth autonomy looks like. This is what sharing power looks like. This is what getting out of young people’s way looks like. Yeah, I have a really similar thing with my kids. And I, my youngest, like really cared about relationships to the point where like, we’ve been unpacking this, where it was all overt, but they they took the social niceties on really young, but they had it all figured out. They’re like, “At so and so’s house, I have to like say ‘please,’ and ‘thank you.’ At so and so’s house, I get to eat whatever I want, but I’m not allowed to swear. And I just listen because I want to have these friendships.” I was like, wow, that’s really cool. And also please don’t mask. [emotions]
Isn’t that so challenging?
Yeah, it’s a hard one.
Yeah, and mine lives in two households that are you know, very extreme opposites.
So, the things she’s allowed to say and do in this household are much more, you know, open and she’s got a lot more autonomy and authority to do things and then she has to, you know, in that house, in order to fit in and not you know, not make waves, she feels like she has to you know, dial it back and behave in certain ways. And that’s hard to see.
It’s also practice for life. I mean, you know, until we deal with this, I mean, you know? It’s a hard one.
Yeah. Yeah. At Least for the world that we currently live in.
But yeah, while we’re talking about like the liberation of children, I am curious if you would like vision with me, what would relationships look like between parents and children, or society and children if we were treating them in ways that were autonomous, and, you know, honoring them as the human beings that they are?
Oh, I’d be dreaming. And here’s why. Because everything would slow the F down, like so much, like, first and foremost, because there’d have to be a lot more or listening, a lot of questions. And that…I used to, I used to call it the friendship bar, how I trained myself, like, supported myself in my learning and making mistakes with my youngest was like, and I think, John Holt, this a John Holt quote, like never, you know, “Never say to a young person, what you wouldn’t say to the person you hold in highest regard.” It’s a really good bar, it really, it really is. I can’t…you know, it seems, you know, a lot of people throw quotes and people go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” but I can’t express it enough how much it has helped a lot of other fellow co conspirators who want to undo adult supremacy when I share this with them, and they’re like, “Right!” You know, and I think we can do this with some of our closest friends too. Or some of our, you know, maybe if we have some hard times with a partner, like we can be a little bit more snarky with them than we would with somebody we hold in high regard. So like, I mean, I think it’s just a good practice across the board to like, figure out what is the most generative, you know, responsible, trusting way to come into relationship with anybody? And yeah, and one of the things we really strive for in our house is this notion of solidarity. My oldest said this on a talk about the book the other night, I hadn’t really…it was really nice to hear the feedback, but he’s like, you know, “it was always really transparent, that this was the goal at our house, that we were in solidarity with each other.” And this is why I use the term solidarity because and, you know, this changes based on their age because they can, you know, they’re littler bodies, they have littler nervous systems and stuff, right? But like, it’s not…I’m not a child centered home, either. I think that’s when we can get into some weird reinscribing individualism. We’re very much a relationship centered home no matter what the configuration is, even when we’ve had roommates and whatnot. And like, it’s like, just everything’s transparent and slows down. Like, you know, like, food, all the conversations, bedtime, sleeping, care. I had, I had a chronic illness for the big chunk of my children’s lives, that’s pretty much healed, but that that involved a lot of solidarity and a lot of care going in all directions, right. Like I I used to joke that I parented from bed. Ha ha ha But it was true, right? So yeah, I would like to hear some of your dreams, but like, I just right away, there’d be a lot of listening, a lot of curiosity, a lot of play, a lot of tantrums. But we’d got to have them too. You know?
Yeah. Yeah, the thing that stands out to me the most, there is the thing about slowing down, because that is definitely such a huge difference I notice, you know, between the way I would sometimes do things, and my friends with children of the same age, or what I see, you know, now when I’m looking around at different parents and what they’re doing that, yeah,you have to engage more with the child. It’s not….there’s the the jacket debate, right, That you have with little kids, because they never want to put on a frickin jacket. And you have some parents that are like, “Well, they need this jacket, and I’m just going to shove their little bodies into it.” And, you know, they have the debate once and they’re like, “I’m not gonna fight with a three year old about this jacket.” And then they just force it onto their kid every time. Whereas, I mean, you can sit down and talk about that more, you know, “I think you should put on the jacket because this” or you know, “Let’s step outside and feel the cold outside and see if you change your mind,” and, and then ultimately, also having to honor what they land on, you know? The kid says, “No, I’m not gonna put on a jacket.” That’s, you know, it’s a slower process and then at the end, letting go of that final bit of, you know, authority or autonomy. Like maybe you still take the jacket to school with them, you know, they have to carry it perhaps, but you don’t force them to put it on, but it is slower. So your life has to allow for time for that. And you know, of course under capitalism, the the empires you say that we are in, it makes it so hard to do that and then especially if you have multiple children that are maybe all small at the same time, you know, you’ve got three of them arguing with you about maybe three different things all at once. It’s tough.
Yeah. I mean, and this is why like “Trust Kids”, I just want to go on the record isn’t a parenting handbook at all. Like if…the essays are stories on youth autonomy, people…youths have written for it. Adults have written about their experience growing up in youth liberation environment, to more theoretical pieces, but and then a lot about confronting adult supremacy. So, it’s a book for adults, for sure, and about us doing this work together. But it’s not a parenting handbook, because at the core for me, Liam always says this on the podcast, like he’s like, you know, “People often ask my mom for advice. And she’s always like, “I can’t give you advice, because I don’t know your child, and they don’t know what they need. Like, if you asked them? Like, it’s just like, you know, that’s my advice. Ask your kid.”” I love the coat example. Because it’s so you know, like, you’re late, you have to pick up your, you know, you have to do the thing, you got to do all the things. And my kids are like the opposite. My oldest, always over dresses, and I used to always have to carry his coat halfway, and then the other ones the other way. So, I just, you know, it’s back to like, I think what my Zack said the other night on that call, or that show, the episode, or whatever we did, the public, the book launch at Firestorm was that it was always just really transparent. Like, he never felt like, confused, but what was happening, so I was just always really real, I’d be like, “Dude, you always are hot within 10 minutes, like, can you not wear like 50 coats, oh my God, and because I don’t…physically can’t carry it, like, I don’t have enough strength. So we need to like figure,” but that took time, like that kind of negotiating conversation and being in solidarity with my physical body and not being able to carry the coat in 10 minutes in the walk. And him like wanting to like pile on the three sweaters and the coat. He’s still like that. You know, like, it was like, yeah…
Yeah, as you just pointed out, there are times when, like, you’re running late, so you don’t necessarily have the time to take to do that. And then, you know, you need to know for yourself as a parent, you know, what, what you want to do in that situation. How you want to handle that. Do you want to be later and take the time to do it? You know, if you want to honor your principles to never shove this child into the jacket, you know, it’s it’s again, it’s not it’s not easy. It takes some practice and some forethought.
Or let them go without a jacket, you know, let them experience it.
Right. That’s what I did.
She got cold sometimes.
I mean, yeah. And even me as a kid like, my you know, so called autonomy was also known as that word ‘neglect,’ you know, so like, no one around ever, so I was like, I often in the winter would have like no socks on and I’d be running around and like a tank top and..because I early years and northern Alberta, and then down here in the Pacific Northwest, I had like thought it was like balmy, warm you know, and so when my youngest was like, “I don’t like wearing like, big coats, and like, as a kid, he would run into the ocean at five in December. And I was like, right, I was like that, you know, also, it’s back to that, believing that when they tell you, you know. That’s what trust really is, is believing people’s experience and perspective. And when they say “I don’t…I get hot, I get really hot.” And you’re like looking at the temperature like, I feel like you’re gonna get cold, but you just gotta let go.
Yeah, that’s a really difficult component. I’m curious, you know, how you would respond to somebody who, you know, maybe wants to point out that, well, you know, kids, they aren’t good at looking that far ahead, right? Because their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed. They are going to be good at seeing that they are going to need this jacket down the line or, you know, whatever the the thing is, that they, you know, maybe haven’t developed the capacity to comprehend. And that would mean maybe their argument for why you ‘have to’ have to in air quotes force them into the jacket.
I mean, again, just Yeah, I mean, again, just being I mean, it’s, I like this, I like this example, because it’s not life and death. But, you know, like, you know, the compromises is that I need you to like, throw an extra coat in your backpack, or I’m going to carry one. Well, I you know, this is what care looks like. I’m going you know, we’re going to be together so I’m going to throw an extra coat in the in the car. You don’t have to wear it, or whatever. Like I just think just being real like. Back to what I said earlier about, like, how would I…How would I talk to my partner about this? Who was, who’s being ridiculous, in my opinion, and like, it’d be like, “What are you doing? Like it’s like snowing and super cold and you are wearing just like a hoodie,” um, Yeah, we would just have a real conversation about maybe some…infuse it with some humor. But yeah, when they’re really, really little like, I mean, you know, I definitely when you have like two kids, like, I would have to pick up my oldest from wherever he was, you know, at 11 years old across town and then the youngest at 2 doesn’t want to like, leave where…they didn’t like transitions, so didn’t want to leave the park and whatever. It’s like this….Yeah, there’s a there’s a, there’s a lot of tears. And it’s just like, what I got good at was realizing that, oh, he needs like, really clear messaging, like 10 minutes before, eight minutes before, five minutes before, and then they stopped like the the tears he…like he just…I had to like, cipher, it decipher it, you know, it could be like, “Oh, okay. Right.” Because, you know, he was just so in the moment, so present, which is also what I think the world would be like if we had less adult supremacy, or none. Would be, we’d all be way more present with each other. And maybe wouldn’t worry so much about wearing an extra coat because life wouldn’t be so serious.
Yeah, that makes sense. Another thing I was curious about is, you know, we’re in the end times now, sort of, you know, we’re seeing the the collapse of capitalism, a rerise of fascism, you know, societal crumbles, there’s kind of a lot going on. And, do you feel like, I mean, this topic of adult supremacy is, is probably always important. But is it more important now that we’re in these, you know, sort of end times? Does it? Do we need that even more as society collapses? Or? I’m just curious what you… you see them saying?
Yeah, no, no, I think like, I think I would pivot just a little slight pivot. Because what I’m…I mean the book, people who have read the book, really do notice that the book has an intergenerational scope throughout it, is that yeah, we need like, we need to recover, reimagine, and grow what it means to be in family and kinship together, like we need larger family, like, we wouldn’t be…even like the story about the coat and that would be so much more manageable if we lived in a more multi generational, larger community, right, in the way we’re meant to live, so and that is connected to adult supremacy because the nuclear family, it’s all connected around, like controlling, subjugating majority of the population so that people could profit more, right, that or have more land whether, you know, predates really does predate capitalism. So, yes, I think that, you know, to quote Donna Haraway, “Making kin is the single most important thing we need to be doing right now.” But we need to think about that cross species, across bloodline, beyond bloodlines, and way beyond borders. And for it’s like it, we need it for our survival, and ultimately, to thrive more. I thrive way more when there’s way more other humans around all ages sharing the load of whatever it is, like nerding out together, doing a puzzle playing, cooking, cleaning, doing work, making income, you know, sharing, sharing the load sharing the joys, I think it’s really connected to the end times that it’s more urgent than ever, but it’s a reclaiming, you know, it’s a recovery. It’s not a…we don’t have to imagine it, we know how to do it. You know, it’s connected to mutual aid and webs of care and all that good stuff. But it’s, you know, like, I live in a city so I don’t have to prep prep, you know, I don’t have…I don’t live off in the boonies, you know, I don’t have to worry about having a generator and stuff and I think like it was, you know, I’d like to think of myself more like mycelium like if a disaster strikes, I’m going to be like mycelium, I’m just gonna go and offer support and care and there’s going to be plenty and people are going to show up because we know that in disasters, right? But if we had more, just more multi generational, multi species kin and families, that would even be better. I don’t know If that answered your question, but, yes, you know, I want I want to abolish adults supremacy. From day one, I think it’s always been a terrible thing. It’s definitely had times when it was worse for some kids more than others still is worse for some kids more than others. But yes, it’s connected to webs…
Yeah, how that ties into what we need with the collapse of society here, the collectivism in the broader webs of kinship are unimportant. And eliminating muddled supremacy is going to be happy to be part of that. I really liked the way you frame that there that it’s, we’re not building this new thing, we’re going back to, you know, what we used to do. And really, I think, fundamentally, how we’re wired as well, you know, the research indicates we are very wired for community and kinship and connection and all of that. So it’s getting back to our truer selves to be to be together in those ways. And then that does lead me into kind of the last broad topic that I wanted to consider with you, which is, you know, you and I are both parents, so we can talk about our experiences and what we need and so forth. But for people who aren’t parents, don’t have kids of their own that want to support their friends who are parents and, you know, help, you know, revolutionize parenting here in this adult supremacy and build the kinship, what, you know, what kind of things would you say to them? That would be? What can they do to help? What can they do to to learn more? And to help build that as the non parent?
Yeah, I think if you feel…well, first of all, do your own work on undoing your adult supremacy and like really go deep into like, all the places like you’re probably really…every adult out there has dealt with it. And so you will probably have some internalized adult supremacy and some trauma and hurt around it and different degrees varying degrees. So first and foremost, like, just look at it, look at it. Notice how you show up for young people if if you are in young people’s lives. And you know, listen more, just listen more, listen way, way more to young people. I think like, you know, when parents write about this topic, there’s this like paradox of centering ourselves. It’s like, you know, but this is, this is one of the reasons why I didn’t want to do the book for a long time. But I was up for it. I was up for it, because it’s important. And I intentionally invited in a lot of lot of people who aren’t parents to write for the book, because I think it’s really crucial. We cannot do this alone as the parents, like we just can’t, like we need everybody, we need everybody on this, to undo this like massive, massive like bias. It is still one of the largest ones that’s ignored. I am really rare. We are really rare. I’m not talking about radical parenting. I’m talking about people who notice adult supremacy, and like point it out. Like, it’s a small, isolating community. I often feel really alone, I feel really gaslit. I have a crew of people we talk, live globally think, unfortunately. But it’s just how it is. Like I’m talking about this nuance of like noticing adult supremacy. I have a lot of people who do radical parenting. I know a lot of people who are into revolutionary mothering. I know a lot of people who are into like school abolition and radical education and pedagogy stuff and use liberation, but not all of them connect to this larger systemic piece.
Yeah, it’s kind of a Venn diagram that some of those overlap into it, but they’re not fully…
Yeah. And so, I just ask more people to really tune into it. Notice it. Call it out when you see it. It’s all the frickin time. Like, you know, the other you know, disability justice activists and organizers and their allies have done a such a great job of changing the use of those words in media to describe the horrors and the vile people. But, there’s two that still really are used constantly and one is saneism. Like so calling someone like Trump insane is just an insult to anybody who has madness.
And because like, I don’t know about you, but the mad folks in my life are nothing like Trump. And the like, yeah, some pathos going on for sure. But, like, you know. And then the other one is, you know, the childish toddler and just call it you know, just call up ask people to stop, to not do it. And comedians are the worst and you know, the other one is, I guess, you know, I mean, it’s still okay for comedians to make…to not be so great about body politics, especially fat politics, like fat body stuff shaming, like that one still can pass a little bit, but it’s it’s also getting more people are you know, due to organizers and activists and those of us who push back against that, but the children one is the big one. Sanism and childism and are the two. So, if you’re a fellow adult out there, a person who is not a young person and you’re on the socials and you have a platform, join, join, join, join us in inviting folks to stop doing that. Because, you know, my kid, like, he was like, four…I don’t know what it was, like 15 or something when Trump was first on the presidency stuff, and he was noticing it all the time. He’s like those…every adult who calls him a child in front of their kids, their kids must like internalize some hatred. Like they must look at Trump. Look at their parent. Look at Trump. Look at the parent and go “Wow, my parents claim this really awful evil person that they clearly hate a child. They must hate me too.” Yeah, I was like, Thank you for saying that. Like, my, my brain went, “Right?” Like that is like, oh, like I cried. It was so hard to hear that, like, you know, he was 14 at the time. And he that’s what he saw, or 12 or something. And I was like, “Right. You’re right.” Yeah. I don’t think it’s intentional. I don’t think the parent doing that is thinking they’re doing that.
Oh, of course. Of course. Yeah. If someone were to replace it with a word like immature, do you think that still has the same connotation and problem?
Yeah, I have a list. I have, I can share I we we put it up. I was telling you, we put it up. I used to….I have it’s called “Trying to find a way to describe a billionaire, a politician, a fascist: Here’s a list of words to use instead of calling them a child toddler or childish.” And because we really worked on not using sanist language as well. So, careless, mean, rash, hot headed, imput. I have a speech impediment. So sometimes I can’t say words. Manipulative. I have speech apraxia. Manipulative, entitled, jerk, foolish, impulsive, irresponsible, imprudent, ill advised, greedy, violent, liar, asshole, shitbag, racist, fascist, reckless, ridiculous. And there’s so many more. You know, like, Just say what you mean? What do you know, I had friends go, “But you know, I don’t know what to say.” I’m like, “Well, what are you trying to get at?” “Like, oh, I’m trying to say that they’re like a jerk.” I’m like, “Just call them a jerk.”
Yeah, that’s a good one. Shitbag is a pretty good one.
Yeah, it’s my favorite. Yeah, it’s like, it’s a good one. Let’s try that.
You know, there’s an activist here in town where I live that is very conscious of ableist language, and including, like mental health things. So like the word ‘sane’ or ‘insane,’ for instance, but also, some of the ones that go along with that, like ‘crazy,’ I think maybe ‘foolish’ might be in there. And I was in a, I think, a Facebook group with them. And if someone would use one of those words, they would, they had kind of a little template that they would say is, you know, you know, “Here’s this word that you chose to use. Here’s a little bit of like, where it comes from, or like, what, you know, the, the sort of negative history of it. And then here’s a list of like, antonyms that are not, you know, ableist or sexist, or, you know, body shaming, or et cetera, et cetera, that you could use instead of that word.” Yeah.
Did they also point out childism?
Yeah, and I don’t I don’t remember that one. But this, what you were just saying that, like, I hadn’t thought about childish as being one of those words. I don’t think I use it a lot in general. But, you know, I’m gonna add that to my vocabulary.
Yeah, like so or they’re like, “the sniffling little baby?” Like they do that a lot, right? Like, comedians and sort of YouTubers and stuff that are talking about, you know, the ruling class. So they, you know…
You can call them whiny without having to say, ‘whiny baby,’ you can just like so they’re like whiny.
They’re punching up and punching down at the exact same time with that, you know, definitely go after those who are horrible, fascist and racist, you know, but stop calling them ‘children’ and ‘toddlers’ and yeah, yeah.
No, I really like that, you know. The fellow that, you know, did all the work. Does all the work to point out the ableist language, you know, definitely had got me thinking in the last couple of years about other words that you know, maybe tie back to something like that and so I’m glad that you shared you know, this additional language that then I can work on and be aware of and improve.
Yeah, it’s, it’s always we’re always working on it and learning and you know, like I the ableist language off, you know, I remember, it really came into the fore around 2009–2010. Like it really, you know, in radical communities like we were really aware of first, the more physical ableist the stuff and then it moved into body mind, but I still saw the sanism stuff like, you know, it still was okay to call someone like Trump insane. Like, maybe not ‘crazy,’ but you could call him insane. So I’ve been also being loud about that one as well.
Interesting. Yeah, yeah. And that’s kind of where my question came from about, you know, well could I just call them immature instead? I figured that was going to be a ‘no,’ but I’m really glad you have that list to share. And I might see, maybe, could email that list and I can see if we can get that posted up.
Sure and it’s at on Grounded Futures. We’re on both Twitter and Instagram, just at Grounded Futures. It’s a platform, multi art platform created by youth and women and gender nonconforming folks.
Cool. Well, while you’re plugging things, are there other things that you want to plug, obviously your book, you got to replug that for us.
Yeah, you can get “Trust Kids” over at AK Press or wherever you buy books. There’s an audio book and a Kindle or whatever it is. And I also have a project called Listening House Media, where we do we do mostly audiobooks, but we also publish political pamphlets called Lowercase. You can check that out listeninghousemedia.com. I’m doing the audio book for my other book called “Joyful Militancy” right now, which is really exciting. I just want to put that out there. Because I know people wanted it to be an audio book, since it came out five years ago. And so that’s really exciting.
Is that also available from AK?
Yeah, it won’t probably be out until like, January or February. But yeah, and then GoundedFutures.com is where you can find a lot of my other works. Yeah.
Great, well, Carla, I really appreciate you being on the pod today and talking with us about parenting and ending adult supremacy. To our listeners, thanks so much for listening. If you enjoy our podcast, please give it a like, drop a comment or a review. Subscribe to us if you haven’t already. These things make the algorithms that rule our world offer our show to more people. This podcast is produced by the anarchist publishing collective Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can connect with us on Twitter @TangledWild and also on Instagram. If you check out our website tangledwilderness.org you’ll discover we have a new book available for preorder. It’s called “Escape from Incel Island” written by the one and only Margaret Killjoy. If you preorder it nowj, you get a color poster with your copy when they ship in February. The work of Strangers is made entirely possible by our Patreon supporters. Honestly, we couldn’t do any of it without your help. So if you want to become a supporter, check out patreon.com/strangersInatangledwilderness. Yes, it’s a long one that’s patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. There are cool benefits at various support tiers. For instance, if you support the collective at $10 a month, one of your benefits is getting 40% off of everything on our website, including if you want to preorder Margaret’s new book, and we’d like to give a specific shout out to some of our most supportive Patreon supporters, including Hoss dog, Michaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Kat J., Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Melissia, Paparouna, and Aly, thanks so much for listening
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