Mycroft Masada is a trans and queer faith leader who moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland (Montgomery County near Washington DC) from their lifelong home of Boston in 2014. A TransFaith National Council member, TransEpiscopal Steering Committee member and former Congregation Am Tikva board member, Mycroft is particularly called to pursue LGBTQI+ and fat justice, and is an advocate, organizer, consultant, educator, trainer, writer and artist. They are married to Julia McCrossin, the massculine fatshion blogger, and with her they co-parent a dogter. Their central online home is MasadArts.blogspot.com.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

My partner's in the newspaper "Street Sense"!

My partner Julia McCrossin volunteers as an adult literacy tutor at the Washington Literacy Council (Washington DC). Last week a photo of her and her student was included in the Street Sense newspaper's article "Adult Literacy: A Silent Crisis".

Street Sense is a Washington, D.C.-based 16-page biweekly street newspaper that was founded in 2003. Its mission is to offer economic opportunities for people experiencing homelessness in our community through a newspaper that elevates voices and encourages debate on poverty and injustice. (Similar to Boston, MA's "Spare Change".)

Here is the article on their website:
And it's copied and pasted below my signature.

Julia is in the first of the two photos.

: - ) Mycroft

*******
Mycroft Masada Holmes
Chair, Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality
Chair, Training Committee, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
Emeritus Founding Chair, Transgender Working Group (TWiG), Keshet

13 OCT

By Shadaye Hunnicutt, intern

In a small classroom a teacher prepares for class surrounded by covered walls with posters labeled with the parts of speech, vowel teams and vowel options. In the corner of the room sits a globe, next to it a spelling game. In the front of the classroom, the teacher writes “A, E, I, O, U.”

Suddenly, the room is filled with laughter and joking as the students pile in and take their seats. The youngest student is 25.

“It’s something we don’t like to talk about,” said Terry Algire, executive director of the Washington Literacy Council, whose mission is to increase adult literacy in the District. “If you talk about children who are struggling with reading, you have these wonderful pictures of adults reading with them. It makes you feel good. If you look at a class of adults who are having trouble with reading, it doesn’t have the same impact.”

One in seven adults in the United States have below basic reading and writing skills, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“Illiteracy among adults is a quiet crisis…our nation needs to do better,” said Senator Thomas Harkin of Iowa in his award acceptance letter at the annual Pro-Literacy award ceremony.

In September, pro-literacy organizations gathered at the Rayburn house in D.C. for their annual literacy leadership award ceremony and formation of the first-ever house adult literacy caucus. Together several organizations are working to help provide adults with these basic skills and more.

“Literacy is essential,” said Algire. “If you cant read you have nowhere to go, the bar for literacy keeps going up and more and more people keep falling behind.”

Many adults are afraid to enter into adult literacy programs because they are ashamed and afraid to let their friends and families know they have a problem, said Benson.

“Shame is the major impediment…it makes it hard to identify adults who have below basic literacy skills,” said Barry Benson, vice president of ProLiteracy, the world’s largest non-profit advocacy organization offering literacy programs.

“Literacy is a lever, it raises all boats,” said Heidi Silver-Pacuilla, who will be taking over as president of National Coalition for Literacy at the end of the year.

Adult learners who enter into a literacy program learn to read and are equipped with the skills necessary to get by in a technology driven world, according to Benson.

“Students learn work related skills to be brought up to date on how to read and use a computer, as well as learning financial literacy” said Benson.

At WLC, students go through three stages of small group classes, Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced, each three semesters long.

In the Intermediate class, students learn lessons such as six syllable types, five rules for dividing syllables, vowel spelling variations, grammar, the basics of composition and vocabulary expansion.

Just like in a typical grade school class the students take turns spelling a word on the board.

“Let me do another one,” yells out one student. “I used to run from this.”

The students take a spelling test, and then end class with the game ‘Password,’ where one student picks a random word from a bag and has to say a word related to that word so their team mate can guess the original word.

“Classes are set up so that students can be successful, we take students from where they are and help them to move forward”, said Algire.

Currently, ProLiteracy is working with members of congress to pass policies that will raise awareness of the need for adult literacy programs.

“We want to help our members suffering budget cuts be as efficient as possible when accommodating learners coming in with fewer dollars,” said Benson.

These policies will ultimately lead to more government funding for adult literacy programs. The Adult Education budget for D.C. programs is 5 million dollars.

Children should arrive at school with basics of pre-literacy skills. If they’re in a home where no one is reading, their skills may be so far behind entering Kindergarten, that it can be almost impossible for them to catch up, according to Algire.

“There’s a continuum,” said Algire. “If we put all our subjects on one end of the continuum, we don’t make anything any better. We have to reach across the continuum, not just reach out to the child, but make sure in their family unit, and in their communities there are adults reading and literate as well.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Popular & American Culture Associations conference - Fat Studies area - call for papers

My partner Julia McCrossin co-chairs the Fat Studies area of the Popular & American Culture Associations with Lesleigh Owen. Here's their CFP (call for papers) for next year's conference (April 2011, Texas).

CFP: 2011 Fat Studies Area Popular Culture/American Culture Associations National Conference (San Antonio,TX)

PCA/ACA Fat Studies 2011 Call for Papers
Fat Studies is becoming an interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary field of study that confronts and critiques cultural constraints against notions of “fatness” and “the fat body”; explores fat bodies as they live in, are shaped by, and remake the world; and creates paradigms for the development of fat acceptance or celebration within mass culture.

Fat Studies uses body size as the starting part for a wide-ranging theorization and explication of how societies and cultures, past and present, have conceptualized all bodies and the political/cultural meanings ascribed to every body. Fat Studies reminds us that all bodies are inscribed with the fears and hopes of the particular culture they reside in, and these emotions often are mislabeled as objective “facts” of health and biology. More importantly, perhaps, Fat Studies insists on the recognition that fat identity can be as fundamental and world-shaping as other identity constructs analyzed within the academy and represented in media.
Proposals in the area of Fat Studies are being accepted for the 2011 PCA /ACA (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association) National Conference in San Antonio, TX (April 20-23, 2011, meeting with the Southwest/Texas regional at both the Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk Hotels). We welcome papers and performances from academics, researchers, intellectuals, activists, and artists, in any field of study, and at any stage in their career.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
  • representations of fat people in literature, film, music, nonfiction, and the visual arts
  • cross-cultural or global constructions of fatness and fat bodies
  • cultural, historical, inter/intrapersonal, or philosophical meanings of fat and fat bodies
  • the geography and lived experience of fatness and fat bodies
  • portrayals of fat individuals and groups in news, media, magazines
  • fatness as a social or political identity
  • fat acceptance, activism, and/or pride movements and tactics
  • approaches to fat and body image in philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology
  • fat children in literature, media, and/or pedagogy
  • fat as it intersects with race, ethnicity, class, religion, ability, gender, and/or sexuality
  • history and/or critique of diet books and scams
  • functions of fatphobia or fat oppression in economic and political systems
By December 15, 2010, please send an abstract of 100 - 250 words or a completed paper to Fat Studies Area Co-Chairs Julia McCrossin (jmccross@gwmail.gwu.edu) and Lesleigh Owen
(goddess_les@yahoo.com).

Please include your complete contact information and a CV and/or 50 word bio, along with anticipated A/V needs. All submissions are welcome, but please use the information above to ensure your paper fits within the academic and political scopes of Fat Studies. Please also be mindful that Fat Studies is a political project and not merely an umbrella term for all discussions of larger bodies. Also, we encourage submitters to rethink using words like “obesity” and “overweight” in their presentations unless they are used ironically, within quotes, or accompanied by a political analysis.
Presenters must become members of the Popular Culture Association. Find more information on the conference and organization at http://pcaaca.org/conference/national.php.