This Comic Book Is Here To Help Children Affected By Deportation
The U.S. is a scary place for Latinos right now. Immigrants are regularly the victims of hate speech, discrimination and crime. Laws are being proposed to strip them of their rights and undocumented immigrants are being targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation, separating them from their families. Those separations have been a major part of the national discourse, but might not be discussed at home as much.
That’s where this book comes in.
Artist, educator and activist, Vicko Alvarez, created “Rosita Gets Scared.”Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
While it’s frightening for all affected, it could all be especially scary and hard to understand for kids. That’s why Alvarez created Rosita.
The comic book comes in English and Spanish versions.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
It aims to help children who are immigrants or have immigrant parents understand and talk about deportation, and the fear and discrimination they experience as a result of it.
It centers around a little girl named Rosita.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
She comes from a place that’s “muy, muy, muuuuyyyy lejos.” Like many children that are in detention centers right now from El Salvador, Guatemala, and beyond.
Rosita has a hard time acclimating to a language.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
In the book, Rosita struggles with English, and she has to learn the cultural customs of her new country and the new environment she’s now in.
She faces teasing at schoolRosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
That’s something a lot of immigrant children have to deal with, especially now as Trump has emboldened parents to teach their kids to be hateful and racist.
Acts of bullying have increased since Trump took office and it’s no coincidence.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
So seeing a character like Rosita going through the same thing will help them feel less alone in the world, and teach them that hurting people because they’re different is wrong.
Rosita sees her neighbor taken away.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
When her neighbor Mr. Vidal, get taken away by ICE, it makes her realize the reality of the situation and world she and her family are living in.
That has a major impact on her life.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
Seeing Mr. Vidal be taken away by ICE leads Rosita’s mother to keep her from playing outside because it’s too dangerous. The danger of her being outside and being spotted makes it impossible for her to play like a normal child.
This, of course, makes Rosita incredibly frightened, confused and sad.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
These are emotions many immigrant children can relate to. Especially as the real fear of their parents being deported has come to feel like an inevitability. It’s a very scary time.
These are all important things to learn for kids like Rosita.Rosita Gets Scares/Scholar Comics
“I’m very interested in social and emotional learning. I realized there isn’t too much of that for kids of color,” says Alvarez, who’s studying to be a teacher and worked as an organizer within immigrant and refugee communities.
And teaching about fear is also vital.Rosita Gets Scares/Scholar Comics
“There’s literature out there that talks about feelings and fear, but it’s more generalized fear, like of whats under the bed, ” says Alvarez. “I feel we have to be more specific, especially with kids of color and the children of immigrants, because their fears come from different realities. We don’t address that.”
Through Rosita’s story, children and parents can open up a discussion about deportation.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
They can talk about the feelings that surround it with the aid of activities included in the comic book. That can help children understand everything that surrounds deportation, along with their parents.
It will encourage parents to have that conversation.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
As we all know, parents often choose the path of silence so as not to scare their children about things like deportation or what will happen to them if their parents are taken away.
That dialogue is absolutely necessary though.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
Not just for families that stand in danger of being separated, but for those that are privileged and don’t have to worry about this. It will teach empathy and might encourage kids to stand up for kids they see being bullied at school.
The book also includes a section on what to do if approached by ICE or other officials.Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
That’s sadly where we’re at in this country, and have been for years. But arming kids with the information they need is absolutely necessary.
These comics are here to teach something we are rarely taught.Scholar Comics
Alvarez, whose own parents came to the U.S. from Mexico in the ’80s as undocumented immigrants, thinks “Rosita Gets Scared” and her first comic book, “Scholar Gets Angry,” can be useful tools for emotional learning. The character Scholar also appears in “Rosita Gets Scared” as the friend that lends Rosita support at school.
What is emotional learning?Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
All that applies to Rosita, and other children of color.Scholar Gets Angry/Scholar Comics
Understanding their emotions, and not denying them, will help children – and adults – in their choices and how it affects them and others.
These lessons can help with mental and emotional growth, and teach emotions are ok to have.Scholar Comics
“It’s about making these emotions not just acceptable but more comfortable so kids know how to manage them in the future,” Alvarez explains.
The next step is to share “Rosita Gets Scared” with organizations.Scholar Comics
Particularly ones that work with communities and individuals facing threats of deportation so they can use it in children’s storytelling sessions.
Next, she’ll be working on a comic about a little boy with a very hard shell.Scholar Comics
Through that story, Alvarez hopes to tackle the culture of masculinity imposed on small boys, who are taught to not seek support or share when their emotions.
Through her comics, Alvarez is giving children the information they need to understand the world, how it affects them, and how to overcome obstacles. You can read the comics at scholarcomics.com or follow them on Facebook.
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