Stef Bernal-Martinez

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Stef Bernal-Martinez

Stef Bernal-Martinez is a "Teaching and Learning Specialist" for Teaching Tolerance (TT), where she publishes articles for children with titles such as "Existence Is Resistance: Supporting Student-Led Social Change".

Teaching Tolerance is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.[1],[2]

Stef Bernal-Martinez describes herself as "a queer xicana documentary artist."

Stef Bernal-Martinez lives in Montgomery, Alabama.


From her personal website:[3]

"her work contemplates themes of identity, belonging and (the destruction of) borders. her work has been in conversation at lobby call and with the ambos project.
"stef's photography has been featured in feministing, scalawag and good food jobs.
"​her commitment to documenting and sharing the narratives of queer communities of color has allowed her to support the local sanctuary movement, rapid response deportation defense work and immigrant justice organizing.
"stef's short, why did you stay, was included in MEZCLA, a group show guided by the belief that latinx artists should be the authors of their own narratives. her most recent work, MILPA, was on exhibit at the carrack in durham, north carolina."



Stef Bernal-Martinez July 7 2020·

Join Southerners On New Ground and the ACLU of Alabama in envisioning a safer and more just Montgomery.

Following the mandate from The Movement for Black Lives, SONG Montgomery and ACLU invite our communities to organize for a Montgomery that demonstrates their commitment to #BlackLivesMatter through a divestment from policing and reinvestment into authentic community safety.

Want to help organize and create this future? Start by filling out this survey:

— with Sumita Rajpurohit, Sean Champagne, Valerie Adams, Ashley Lala Edwards, Kayla Iman, Natalie Brie, Will Tucker and Dillon Nettles.

"Durham Beyond Policing Town Hall"

1104 Broad St, Durham, Tuesday 9 February 2016 "Durham Beyond Policing Town Hall" organized by Jade Brooks.

We are calling all freedom-fighters, all justice-lovers, all truth-tellers, all who can't wait to please join Southerners On New Ground and the #SayHerName crew for a community forum and visioning session. Let's speak our truths and sow the seeds of a new way forward for all our people, with those most impacted, most criminalized, at the center: black and brown people, queer, trans and gender non-conforming folks, working class and poor people, undocumented people ... Let's dream and scheme together and find out ways to throw down for campaigns and direct action that holds the cops accountable

Those indicating attendance on Wherevent included Jillian Johnson, Dante Strobino, James Cersonsky, Nikhil Umesh, Ben Wilkins, Jade Brooks, Marcus R. Bass, Joe Stapleton, Kristen Cox, Hannah Spector, Jose Romero, Nancy Caamano, China Medel, Scott Michael, Alex Biggers, Destiny Hemphill, Cat Crowe, Monique Laborde, Tobi Lippin, Amy Wang, Mitch Xia, Xander Stewart, Smiley Boyd, Mina Ezikpe, Ethan Tyler, Jess Dilday, Jonathan Henderson, Alex Chassanoff, Jacky Chan, Margaret A. Brunson, Alissa Ellis, Magdalene Slerlisk, Saba Taj, Le'Andre Demond Blakeney, Doneatha Green, Kaylan Baxter, Destiny Hemphill, D’atra Jackson, Amy Glaser, Eliza Meredith, Gregory Williams, Victoria Bouloubasis, Umar Salute Muhammad, Patricia Bass, Gen Na, Regan Downey Buchanan, Chanelle Croxton, Ben Carroll, Patrick Snipes, Jess Issacharoff, Mariah Monsanto, Alex Biggers, Jojo Moto, Zachary Faircloth, Sarah Pederson, Stef Bernal-Martinez, Bro Beasley, Ben Wilkins, Jessica Pierce, Isa Bee, Jessica Jude, Tony Hood, Mindy Isser, Rachel Alexis Storer, Moses Ochola, Ade Oh, Lisa Sorg, Blanche Amelia S. Brown, Shilpi Misra, Scott Michael, Afi Apefa Bello, Mary Alta, Anastasia Karkliņa, Lizzie Lindsey, Holly Hardin, Matilda Wormwood, Eli Viszk, Wutang McDougal, Andrew Heil, Fern Hickey, Philip Marschall, Catherine Berman, Bex Kolins, Jen Przewoznik, Equashia Mumin, Eva Panjwani, India Pierce, Sandra Korn, Risa Foster, Ngọc Loan Tran, Eli Meyerhoff, Shanna Ochola, Serena Sebring, Ajamu Dillahunt, Jr., Nagwa Nukuna, Jina Valentine.[4]


Articles from Stef Bernal-Martinez for Teaching Tolerance:[5]

  • An Intersectional Lesson From Reconstruction "A TT teaching and learning specialist explains how the lessons of Reconstruction extend beyond the history classroom."
  • Existence Is Resistance: Supporting Student-Led Social Change "As we encourage students to take action against injustice, what are we doing to support them in this work? This TT staffer offers five practical lessons she’s learned in doing just that."
  • Call to Action: All Children Deserve to Be Free "Guided by the belief that all children deserve to be free and to be in school, the organizers of Teachers Against Child Detention are calling upon fellow educators to demand the end of child immigrant detention."
  • Teachers Against Child Detention: “We’re Not Gonna Stop” "Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning talks with TT about the movement to end child detention, the upcoming Teach-In for Freedom and a Call to Action she hopes all educators will hear."
  • Unmaking “Hispanic”: Teaching the Creation of Hispanic Identity “Hispanic” heritage includes a diverse range of cultures, nationalities, histories and identities. This TT teaching and learning specialist offers recommendations for teaching students the complex histories behind Hispanic Heritage Month.

Existence Is Resistance: Supporting Student-Led Social Change


"Young people are showing us every day what we should already know—that they are capable of understanding the relationship between power and oppression in the intricacies of their lived experiences.
"Teaching in the Durham, North Carolina, community helped me recognize young people’s capacity to understand and respond to social injustice with measured, creative and nuanced strategies for change. When a Confederate monument was toppled down the street from our school, my students researched the history of racial violence in our community. When students at a neighboring school witnessed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, my students wrote letters of comfort and support for that school community. When confronted with the narrative that “all lives matter,” my students painted a mural at a community park that said, “Care About Black Lives.”
"And the recent work of students at New York’s Fieldston School for Ethical Culture reminded me again of the need to support student-led social action. After a video surfaced of white Fieldston students using racist language, students of color and white students occupied the administration office to demand the adoption of 20 necessary changes—and got them.
"The Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards build up to five action-oriented outcomes, and the Fieldston students exemplified every one of them in their work for social change. Learn about all of the standards here.
"Our responsibility as educators is to be “keepers of the tape”: We must provide our students with the necessary tools—the tape—to create their own pathways to problem-solving and to craft their own solutions. We don’t have all the answers, and our young people are inheriting a world that is inequitable and unjust. As educators, it’s vital that we share the lessons we’ve learned and then get out of the way of students’ leadership.
"When I learned that my own teaching “best practices” were better translated as choices than canon, my students were able to choose how they needed to respond to social injustice. Here’s what I’ve learned.
"Allow for a full and honest portrayal of social activism, organizing and resistance to injustice.
"Provide historical and contemporary examples of ways people solve problems in their communities—locally, nationally and globally. Avoid assigning moral value to tactics. For example, when it comes to police violence, many students are involved in or affected by protests that are characterized as inappropriate or “uncivil” responses to injustice. It’s important to make space for the many ways that young people are seeing, understanding, coping with and responding to injustice.
"Remember that many students are resisting their real-life conditions, and highlight those doing the work.
"Many young people have to resist their very real lived experiences. In Durham, Wildin Acosta, who continues to navigate his long-term path for documented status, had to advocate for his own stay of removal after being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on his way to school. And his teachers, fellow students and larger community organized and advocated for him.
"Frustrated with the lack of literature in her school that reflected her identities and tired of books about “white boys and dogs,” Marley Dias launched a campaign to collect #1000BlackGirlBooks that sparked international support. Her work inspired young people to reflect on representations of race, gender and other marginalized identities in their classrooms and libraries and propelled them to organize their own book drives.
"And students all over the country are working to end gun violence in their communities, solve the problems that contribute to mass incarceration and tear down monuments to white supremacy. Teach about these young change makers, and let your students know that they have the power to make change, too.
"Emphasize that social action is happening and can happen right now.
"There is a tendency to place social action exclusively in the past. We teach about the civil rights movement as a finality and not one of many histories of resistance. For example, teaching about Brown v. Board of Education presents an opportunity to inform our students about how the past affects their present. Student activist Asean Johnson does exactly that in his analysis of Chicago Public School closings.
"Share strategies for communicating and amplifying your message and achieving your demands.
"In the past few months, we have seen students use traditional models for communicating their needs. Sunrise Movement students visited Senator Dianne Feinstein to share their support of the Green New Deal and communicated their personal investment in the issue while navigating stern questioning with passion and sincerity.
"But we’ve also seen students use other models for enacting change throughout our history. In 1963, Birmingham students marched in the streets to highlight racist inequities and demand a meeting with the mayor. And much more recently, my own students in Durham produced The Migrant Story, a school newspaper that humanized immigrant narratives. UNC-Chapel Hill students removed a Confederate statue. And students at New York’s Bank Street College, including its School for Children, removed Columbus Day and instated Indigenous Peoples' Day.
"There are a variety of strategies outside of legislative change for communicating and amplifying your message and achieving your demands.
"Do Something
"“Do Something” student tasks ask students to demonstrate their anti-bias awareness and civic competency by applying their literacy and social justice knowledge in an authentic, real-world context. Learn more here.
"Honor the reality that existence is resistance.
"For many of our students who are directly affected by anti-black state violence, racial terrorism, class stratification and policing of bodies and identities, we must respect that their very existence—their survival—is an act of resistance. Feminist writer bell hooks details this reality powerfully in her memoir when she describes integrating white schools: “[W]e think that we will be the first to die, to lay our bodies down. We feel despair and long for the days when school was a place where we learned to love and celebrate ourselves, a place where we were number one.”
"Let us remember young people’s enduring roles as change makers—and our crucial roles in supporting them.