Exploring Community Justice with Unfadeable

In Unfadeable, Bella Fades is a fierce tween girl who loves her community and wants to see it thrive. Her strong belief in justice guides her as she uncovers local corruption and navigates bureaucratic hurdles.

Author Maurice Broaddus invites kids 8-12 to observe with Bella the different people and organizations that control an underserved community. Read this story together and use one or more of the following activities to launch conversations about social justice, accountability, and the diverse powers that both prevent and advocate for change. 

Community Decision-Making. Bella attends a local neighborhood meeting to propose a kids art program. When her idea meets resistance, she works hard to understand the different people and powers that influence community decision-making. Imagine that you want to propose a similar project in your area. Who would you need to talk to and what steps would you need to take to get community decision-makers to support your idea? Draw a chart that illustrates the process you would need to follow.

Community Organizers. As Bella uncovers deception and corruption, she wants to hold committee members publicly accountable. She shares information on Facebook, goes door to door to tell people what is happening, and encourages them to attend council meetings to get more information. In these ways, Bella uses some of the tools of a community organizer. Research the job of a community organizer together. Then ask children: Which community organizing skills do you already have? What other skills would you like to learn? 

Managing Emotions. Bella experiences a lot of big feelings, such as anger and frustration, as she challenges Mattea and her associates. She uses a variety of practices to help her work with her emotions: running, drawing, and talking to her favorite statues. Ask children: What do you do when you get angry or frustrated? How well do your responses work to manage your emotions? What other practices might you try? Agree to try out a new practice together. Monitor how you deal with big emotions for a week and then check in again to reflect on how well the new practice worked.

Personal Power. One of the central issues in Unfadeable is power. The council members have power because they decide where the money goes. M has power because he knows how the community works. Bella has power because she is known and trusted by many people in the neighborhood. Explore the concept of personal power with children. Ask: Where do you have power? How can you use your power to influence people to make positive changes in your community? 

Mental Well-Being. As Bella works to bring justice in her community, she also has flashbacks about her mother’s struggle with mental illness. She wants her neighborhood to be a place where anyone who is having difficulties can find help and support. Explore with children the different organizations in your community that help individuals and families dealing with mental illness (mental health hotline, local hospital, recovery houses, etc.). Create drawings or a mural that depict neighbors supporting the mental well-being of other neighbors.

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