Turning awareness into action


When Kate Schatz (Stevenson ’03, literature and creative writing) began her career as an author, she wrote short fictional stories for an adult audience. Yet, within just a few years, Schatz would find herself in a very different context: the New York Times bestseller list for pioneering feminist children’s literature.

Schatz spent her time at UCSC focusing on women’s studies and creative writing, two majors that directly contributed to her future work as a feminist children’s author major.

“I really feel like my education at UC Santa Cruz is the foundation for a lot of the work that I do,” Schatz said.

However, the prospects of his studies did not always seem to be tied to the future. She remembers a time when much of her family – although supportive – viewed her studies with confusion. Despite her family’s questioning, Schatz knew the value of a feminist upbringing and would carry that understanding with her to understand the world as a whole.

“It was in my women’s studies class that I understood economics, and then I really thought about history in a different way. I realized that I had learned a lot about psychology. J I learned about literature in a very different way. For me, it was just that, it was an intellectual lens that covered all these different areas.

Schatz’s latest book, To do work! co-written with comedian and TV host W. Kamau Bell, focuses on bringing the lessons Schatz shared to the children’s book series Rad Women to an adult audience using an interactive medium – an activity book. Using a more interactive approach, Schatz aims to directly engage its readers in anti-racism and turn awareness into action.

“The book is called To do workand the all is you just need to do Something“Change doesn’t happen if you’re just sitting around worrying, worrying, panicking, or just posting on social media — you have to find something to do, and there’s so much different things we can do. So why not create a book where you learn this while actually doing things? »

Schatz began her foray into children’s literature as her time protesting on the streets was coming to an end, with new circumstances preventing her from participating in activism as she once did. Although she started her career with short stories after pursuing a master’s degree in creative writing, Schatz recalls always wanting to write a children’s book — and a few years into her parenthood, Schatz would find the perfect reason to fulfill that desire.

“When I had the idea of [Rad Women], my daughter was two: it was also a time when I felt my experience and identity as an activist was in a period of transition,” Schatz said. “As a new mum, I was not as able or willing to come out to protest to be on the streets, risking arrest as I had before. I had a baby at home and felt a change that I wanted to impact, but in a different way.

Schatz published his first book of the Rad Women series, Rad American Women AZ, in 2015, which would earn a spot on the New York Times bestseller list and put feminist history in the minds of children across the country. With Schatz’s transition from street activist to feminist author, she would shift her activism from the physical world to the mental world, and would publish many other works in the Rad Women series, writing about women around the world and throughout American history.

After years as an influential feminist activist, Schatz still traces the formation of her feminist understanding back to Bettina Aptheker’s “Intro to Feminism” course, which she took during her first term at UCSC. She recalls how much of her understanding of feminist theory came from that class, shaping the very lens with which she understands the world.

“I gained such a deep understanding of intersectionality at such a young age, and an understanding of a lot of the concepts that are at the heart of a lot of white women’s anxieties about race and privilege and all that stuff. that make people tense and get really defensive,” Schatz says, “I really feel like I encountered these things at such a young age in Santa Cruz, and I was able to process them, to understand them and to advance intellectually – and that formed the basis of thinking for me.”

Schatz is now spreading those same lessons around the world through her writing, teaching her wide audience the same structures of power and privilege she learned to understand at UCSC.

Kate Schatz’s latest book, “Do the job! : An anti-racism activity book,” co-written with comedian and TV host W. Kamau Bell is available to buy now.


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