This Children’s Magazine Wants to Help Your Kids Engage in Anti-Racist Work
Mighty Kind is a woman of color-owned and mom-run business. Leading with the conviction that kindness, empathy and compassion are teachable skills, Mighty Kind gives children the opportunity to practice those skills. Mighty Kind helps children understand that compassion should extend beyond commonalities and that often practicing kindness doesn’t mean being “nice”. Instead being kind means being mighty — standing up in the face of injustice and working for a better world for everyone. With a gorgeous layout and engaging content, the magazine takes complicated issues adults grapple with and makes them accessible and actionable for kids.
Mighty Kind was co-founded by Nadine Fonseca, the daughter of a Guatemalan immigrant who grew up in the diverse metropolis of the San Francisco Bay Area. She is passionate about the work of impactful kindness and is anxious to get our kids engaged. Mighty Kind recently received a woman of color-owned business grant from IFundWomen. In the middle of a pandemic that is hurting BIPOC owned businesses the most, they’re also partnering with IFW to raise capital from donors like you and me to help their business become…well…mighty.
I’m inspired by Nadine’s mission and I want my kids to be mighty kind. Over the weekend, I took a moment to interview her. I think after reading her words, you’ll want your children to be Mighty Kind too.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
What challenges have you encountered in starting this magazine as a woman and woman of color?
One of the weirdest experiences of this business venture was at the very beginning opening a business bank account. The banker (a middle-aged man) asked me several times if I would be adding my husband onto the account or if we needed to wait until he could be present. I declined “sweetly” the first two times, but by the time he pushed a third time I had to get pretty assertive and insist on stopping that line of pressing or I would take my business elsewhere. I felt so small and insecure in that moment — just thrown off by the whole exchange, that it took me a minute to understand what was happening and take back my power.
As a woman of color, sometimes it can feel awkward to specifically put out into the world that part of my identity — or at least to bring it to the forefront. I’m incredibly proud of my heritage and family history. My father overcame a lot to partner with my mother and lay the foundation of the life alive today. I love that there has been a shift in our national and global community to support women and women of color, but it can feel uncomfortable to raise my hand in that conversation sometimes. Ultimately, I remind myself that the mission of what we are trying to accomplish at Mighty Kind is “the thing”. If that keeps my full focus and intentions on track, then I can power through the discomfort of putting myself out there.
Why did you start Mighty Kind?
When we moved our family and landed in an area with significantly less diversity, I felt the very real weight of responsibility to ensure my children had as many opportunities to experience and explore cultures, languages, foods, and experiences different from their own daily life. I didn’t want “different” to equal “strange” or any other negative in their internal dialogue. Perhaps this will always be an initial reaction (it is human nature to reject or protect ourselves from things we don’t yet understand, right?), but my goal is to foster cultural curiosity so they will be open to learning more and understanding better.
I also looked for some curriculum to help support these efforts, but came up short as so much focus was on finding commonalities and I want to focus on seeing differences as opportunities. Ultimately, I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and develop it myself. I wanted to know if other caregivers were looking for something along these lines, so I sent out a survey. I was able to reach over 500 parents and caregivers in 22 different countries! Overwhelmingly, the feedback was that they were seeking resources to help children develop empathy and to find service projects for younger hands to flex their muscles in community giveback. I quickly hopped on the phone with Rachel Speirs, who I knew had an incredible talent for journalism and visual storytelling, and pitched her the idea of a publication — she was co-founder and Managing Editor by the time we hung up. Thank heavens because this could have just been a weird, incoherent series of posts on my personal Facebook page otherwise. Our personalities are very yin and yang, so it has been a great partnership with lots of learning and growth. I literally could not ask for a better partner.
What does “kindness” mean to you?
To me, “kindness” means stretching ourselves in some way to engage in selfless action. It is an intentional effort to better someone else’s world, whether that’s for a moment or for generations to come. Kindness is rarely convenient. That’s why with Mighty Kind, we shy away from promoting “random acts of kindness” for kids and instead put empathy and service on the forefront of their minds so they can plan to incorporate kind acts into their daily lives. Random acts are great! But why not be proactive in addition to seizing opportunities as they present themselves. The hope is that by doing this, being kind and serving others will become second-nature as children grow up.
Does kindness have a place in anti-racist work? What does that look like?
Let me preface this by saying I am not an ABAR educator or expert, so please seek out those incredible people and their resources to deep dive into this and take action. Our entire team at Mighty Kind all recognize that we are facilitators and curators of a platform that we use to elevate own-voice stories and expert perspectives. With that being said, I do think kindness plays a role in anti-racist work. I do not think it is the end-all-be-all, nor do I think it is appropriate to use kindness as a shield to cover up one’s complicity in racism. Racist behaviors may be “unkind” in nature, but to not call them out for what they are as racist, not only misses the opportunity for correcting behavior, but also ignores and invalidates continued trauma for an entire community of people.
Since our readership is young children in their formative years, we aim to open their way of thinking before the racist rhetoric of the world shapes their narrative and closes them off to understanding. It is never too early to start having these conversations with children and engaging them in experiences that develop empathy, anti-bias learning and anti-racist activism.
How do you want Mighty Kind to be used in anti-racist work?
I hope homes and classrooms put Mighty Kind to work exposing kids to incredible cultures, traditions, stories, and people from around the world. I hope the grown-up section of the magazine lends itself to helping facilitate meaningful discussions and exercises. I hope kids lean in to the “Big Idea” topic in each issue and develop a positive sense of self and strong moral character as they focus on personal growth. But mostly, I hope engaging with Mighty Kind is just a small piece of a larger effort to learn, to grow, and to speak up and activate against racism worldwide.
What do you feel our kids need to understand in this moment?
I want our kids to know they are powerful beyond measure. They have the capacity to forge change within themselves, their families, their communities, and the world. Whether that change will be for the betterment or detriment of humanity depends on their ability to listen, learn, and care about humanity, one human being at a time. I also want kids to know that they don’t have to have all the answers to take action. It’s okay to be a little uncomfortable doing something differently. I love what Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.” It is really that simple.
What do you feel our kids already understand?
Kids have a natural capacity to love, we as parents, caregivers, and mentors need to embolden them to take action leading with that compassion. If they make a wave, the ripples will follow — rinse and repeat.
What do you hope Mighty Kind — the company and magazine — looks like in the next five years? What work would you like it to be doing?
Over the next five years, I’d love to see Mighty Kind able to continue featuring own voices and stories and growing our readership. I’d love to see Mighty Kind in traditional and homeschool libraries and homes around the world. I’d love to see a thriving online global community to exchange ideas, experiences, stories, and encouragement. I would love to see Mighty Kind the company in a position that we can incorporate regular charitable giving into our business model to support nonprofit organizations in their important work as well as to help children see their own community service project ideas come to life.
Is there anything else you want readers to know?
Our team is comprised of all moms/women spread across four time zones volunteering time and expertise to move the mission of Mighty Kind forward. We have 18 kids between us all with two more on the way!
We work with over a dozen writers and illustrators from around the world on each issue. We are always looking to expand our network and collaborate with new people.
We recently were awarded a small grant from the iFundWomen of Color initiative to help our crowdfunding efforts to keep our mission moving forward. (Their campaign can be found here.)
You can learn more about our magazine and mission online at mightykindkids.com and across all social media platforms @mightykindkids.