This Comic Book Makes Deportation Less Scary For Kids

credit: Rosita Gets Scares/Scholar Comics

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.

While it’s frightening for all affected, it could all be especially scary and hard to understand for kids. So artist, educator and activist, Vicko Alvarez, created “Rosita Gets Scared.”

CREDIT: Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics

The comic book, which comes in English and Spanish versions, 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, who comes from “muy, muy, muuuuyyyy lejos.” Rosita has a hard time acclimating to the new language she has to learn, the cultural customs of her new country and the environment she now lives in. She faces teasing at school and sees her neighbor, Mr. Vidal, get taken away by ICE. This leads her mother to keep her from playing outside because it’s too dangerous.

This, of course, makes Rosita incredibly frightened, confused and sad — emotions many immigrant children can relate to.

CREDIT: Rosita Gets Scared/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. “For example, there’s literature out there that talks about feelings and fear, but it’s more generalized fear, like of whats under the bed. 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. They can talk about the feelings that surround it with the aid of activities included in the comic book.

CREDIT: Rosita Gets Scared/Scholar Comics

The book also includes a section on what to do if approached by ICE or other officials.

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.

CREDIT: Scholar Gets Angry/Scholar Comics

The next step is to share “Rosita Gets Scared” with organizations that work with communities and individuals facing threats of deportation so they can use it in children’s storytelling sessions.

“It’s about making these emotions not just acceptable but more comfortable so kids know how to manage them in the future,” Alvarez explains.

Next, she’ll be working on a comic about a little boy with a very hard shell. 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.

You can read the comics at scholarcomics.com or follow them on Facebook.

 


 

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