Seven Masks, Seven Matches

 

By Morgan Clark

It was in 2018 when she made a big upset, beating one the greatest athletes of all the time at the age of 20. Winning the Grand Slam as the first Japanese tennis player for both men and women. Naomi Osaka, a Haitian -Japanese tennis player, has made quite a stir in the tennis community. Many did not expect her to beat Serena Williams in the first place, but absolutely no one expected the controversy that would follow Osaka’s win. During the match Serena was penalized three times, and some believe that the referee robbed her of a win. But those who watched the game know that Naomi earned that win.

Two years later the 22-year old tennis player is in the headlines again, causing another upset. But this time it’s in her activism. Because of COVID, Naomi had time to herself for the first time since her career took off. She decided to fly down to Michigan to partake in the Black Lives matter protests. Along with her boyfriend, Osaka protested police brutality disproportionately effecting people of color. Since then, Naomi has taken her activism to the US Open. During each game she wore a different mask that stated a name of an African-American who has been killed by the police. Their names were: Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice. Seven masks for seven games. Not only did she bring awareness to others about the racial injustice that is going on in America, she won the US Open. And although what she has done is truly brave, there are those who believe she should have kept the “politics out of sports”. In response to that Osaka tweeted “All the people that were telling me to “keep politics out of sports”, (which it wasn’t political at all), really insured me to win. You better believe I’m gonna try to be on your tv for as long as possible.” (Twitter 2020). As a young athlete it was not expected for her to win the US Open. Not only did she win the US Open twice she did this while spreading awareness on a mainly white platform. Fearless is what Naomi is, on and off the court. We can’t wait to see what the future will hold for her.

Congress Investigation into Fort Hood

Content Warning: Sexual Assault

By Emma Gilham

The summer of 2020 has been one of reckoning. Calls for accountability can be heard from almost all walks of life. We want answers and responsibility. Congress announced it will be opening an investigation into Fort Hood, Texas to find out if the 28 deaths at the station this year “may be symptomatic of underlying leadership, discipline, and morale deficiencies throughout the chain-of-command.” As one may recall, Fort Hood was the location of the sexual assault, disappearance, and murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen. While this action is long overdue, I can’t help but wonder what they will discover (if anything) that we don’t already know about sexual assault in the military. From the fiscal year of 2016 to the fiscal year of 2018, the rate of sexual assault and rape experienced by all Service members jumped by almost 40%, but for women the rate increased by over 50% to the highest level since 2006. The United States Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (DOD SAPRO) already claims to be providing a holistic approach to combatting this issue, while we see no significant changes. In the DOD SAPRO fiscal year report of 2019, active duty focus group members “… believe senior leaders are actively driving change in the field.” The report also claims that the climate is changing due to younger recruits with increased awareness of inappropriate behaviors: “Junior leaders are on the frontline of the fight to eradicate these problems in our units and must serve as role models in this effort.” While I agree with the need to educate young leaders in the force, problems seem to be stemming from them as well as more entrenched military personnel. The data collected by the DOD SAPRO from FY2019 and FY2018 both indicate that many sexual assaulters are at the victim’s grade or higher. “Of women who reported a penetrative sexual assault, 59% were assaulted by someone with a higher rank than them, and 24% were assaulted by someone in their chain of command” (FY2018). After reading these reports, I have several questions: What is being done to educate and hold higher ranking officers accountable? How can this specific investigation into Fort Hood improve the issues that have perpetrated and presented themselves in the military for decades? Overall, I will be pleased if this investigation helps end the apparent climate of violence in the military, yet I cannot say I am too hopeful. However, I’m tired of the lack of transparency, and I think it’s safe to say that we are all ready for answers.

COVID-19, Sex Toys and Sexual Dysfunction

By Brianna Green

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of discovery and change. People are using this time to educate themselves in social and political matters. Some are also using this time as a moment for self-reflection. Now that our world came to a stop and is now working on a slower pace, it’s easier to look inside and ask questions of “Are you happy?” “Are you satisfied?” “Where can I get a little spice in my life?”

I cannot answer those questions for everyone, but I can say that some women are reevaluating their current circumstances. Psychology Today says that an astonishing 40% of women feel sexual dysfunction. Thirty years ago, it used to be as high as 78%. Although it has gone down, how is it that almost half of the women population feels sexual dysfunction? Well, according to the Merck Manual, a medical education site, some of the causes of sexual dysfunction in women include depression and anxiety, varies forms of abuse, distractions (such as work, family, finances), and culture. To explore on that last point, a woman might feel guilty or shameful about their sexuality if they come from a society that restricts them (Merck Manual). Unfortunately, living in America is still living in a double bind; or a place where women only have two problematic choices to choose from: being a whore or being a prude.

However, in a time of discovery and change and mainly living behind our closed doors, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, the rise in sex toy sales tells me that this is a good time for women to explore their sexuality and learn more about themselves. According to The New York Times sales have gone up dramatically, up to 200% back in April, for companies like We-Vibe and Womanizer. With sex toy sales through the roof, women are taking this time to find out how to be satisfied and what’s available for them to spice up their life. We should come out of this quarantine with a better understanding of our bodies and less shame in our sexuality.

Intersectionality, Love, and Basketball

By Abbie Lewis

Being a woman is certainly no easy task. We must hold car keys between our fingers from the store to our car, carry pepper spray to go for a run, work our butts off at a job and still not get paid as much a man, and all the while be expected to “smile more”. As a woman, we’re used to our everyday injustices, but some women have it worse than others and experience intersectionality. Intersectionality is when more than one of your attributes contributes to your criticisms and injustices. For example, we experience harassment for being women but sometimes women experience it for not only their gender, but their gender and their race, or their gender and their social economic status, or race and sexual orientation. The combinations are endless and sometimes women experience bias from all the above.

The #SayHerName campaign was created in December of 2014 by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), and Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS), and its goal is to bring awareness to Black women and girls who have been victimized by racist police violence. A lot of the times, these poor women and girls’ sufferings, or even their deaths, get swept under the rug and never discussed. This campaign is to make sure that behavior ceases. The topic most known right now by this group is that of Breonna Taylor. For those of you who don’t know about Breonna, she was an emergency room technician in Louisville, Kentucky and was watching a movie in bed with her boyfriend when police busted into her home, claiming they were surveilling the apartment for a drug raid, and Breonna was shot 5 times, bleeding out and dying on the floor of her apartment. Breonna was a victim of intersectionality, doing nothing but trying to sleep in her own bed. She was murdered for being a Black woman who maybe didn’t live in the greatest part of town. Breonna is not the only victim of intersectionality in recent news, there are far more, a couple of examples being Jacob Blake and Sandra Bland. Many are rising up to take a stand and spread awareness, including the WNBA.

The WNBA has always had to fight to be recognized and respected in comparison to the much more widely known and followed NBA. They are no strangers to standing up for themselves as women and a lot of them as Black women. The WNBA has joined with the #SayHerName campaign and is using their platform to spread awareness and get people talking They are wearing shirts and jerseys with Breonna Taylor’s name on them along with ones that say Black Lives Matter. The WNBA ladies are also making sure that before their games, they hold a moment of silence for the victims along with a photo and video montage.  An article in the New York times dives deep into their cause and platform and interviews specific players with their thoughts on everything as well.

I know a lot of the time, we think that we’re just one person or we’re too insignificant to really create any change. This is not the case. Women everywhere share the same struggle and therefore can band together and fight for what is right and what we deserve. We can use our passions and talents just like the WNBA ladies have done. Let’s keep fighting and spreading awareness until they can’t ignore us any longer.

CROWN: What it is, Where is it, and What Does it Mean?

By Emma Gilham

Last month, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when an article by ACLU Missouri caught my eye. It was titled “Claiming My Crown: Justice Gatson” by Justice Gatson. In her narrative, she describes how aware she was, as a young Black child, of society’s preference for straight hair. While I knew that the Eurocentric beauty standards portrayed in media could reinforce numerous body image issues for women and men outside of those standards, I had not truly considered the real-world impact of these societal preferences. Once I realized this, I believed my privilege was behind my ignorance, and so I did a bit more research. What I found was eye opening.

A study cited in the CNN article “Black women with natural hairstyles are less likely to get job interviews” by Jack Guy, found that Black women with natural hairstyles were less likely to be considered for an interview in the job-hiring process compared to Black women with straight hair, white women with straight hair, and white women with curly hair. In another study, a gauge of professionalism also became dependent on whether a Black woman wore her hair straight or natural.  As one may guess, when she wore her hair straight, she was considered more professional.

Gatson discusses how legislation to protect against hair-based discrimination is long overdue, “It wasn’t until 2017 that the U.S. military decreed that dreadlocks and locks were acceptable hairstyles.” A national campaign to end legal hair discrimination in the workplace known as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair) act has passed in seven states so far, shown in The Official Campaign for the CROWN Act’s map. Missouri filed the CROWN Act in 2019, but it did not pass.

Finally, Gatson said it best, “Black hair is politicized, and Black people pay a price for being who we are.” It is biased and inappropriate of workplaces and schools to expect Black people to pay for and acquire potentially damaging hair alterations so that they can fit into some box labeled “acceptable”. In addition, I find the slew of diversity and inclusion initiatives used to “combat racism in the workplace” disappointing because when it truly comes down to it, we must all do more to confront our deep biases than attend a 45-minute required training.

Maya Moore: The Evolution of a Hero

 

By Morgan Clark

Maya Moore in the Olympics

Growing up I was a big college basketball fan. I liked men and women basketball. I would sit and watch the ball games every chance I got with both of my parents. There were quite of few players and teams who left an impression on me, but one of the most impactful ones was Maya Moore, who played for the University of Connecticut. Moore was a powerhouse to watch on the court in her college years. Watching her break records at her school, and seeing her win two championships back to back, was an amazing experience! She was arguably one the best basketball players of her time. She was a hero that young basketball players like me looked up to. I am not into basketball as much as I was years ago, and because of that I hadn’t really been following along as closely. So, one could imagine my shock when I learned that Maya Moore willingly sat out for two seasons of her professional basketball career, after winning two Olympic gold medals and many other awards! This is a woman who lives and breathes basketball, who was also still in her prime! But then I discovered her reason and gained a whole new-found respect for her.

Maya visited the City Correctional Center in Jefferson City, Missouri in 2007. There she met Jonathan Irons. Jonathan is a an African-American man who she believed was wrongfully convicted for a crime.  At 18, Irons was prosecuted for burglary and assault. Even though there was no DNA, footprints, fingerprints, blood or any other evidence to place him at the crime, he was still sentenced to 50 years in prison. Maya believed this to be a blasphemous injustice and in 2019, Maya announced her hold on her career to help Jonathan. It took a lot of time but finally in July 2, 2020 Jonathan Irons walked out of prison a free man, and guess who was out there waiting for him…Maya Moore.

Maya has since gone on to become a prominent activist in her community. She even has started a website called Win with Justice. There one can find information on wrongful conviction, current news and legislation, and how people can get involved in their own community. Now, even though she has taken a lot of time off from basketball, and become a huge player on the team of activism, she has not given up on her love for the sport. She claims she is in no way ready for retirement from the WMBA. The Olympic medalist will return to the court.

Maya Moore with Jonathan Irons 

As I said before, young Morgan considered Maya Moore a hero, because of her athleticism and her domination on the court. But adult Morgan considers her a hero because her activism. For her to take two years off from her career and passion, to help Jonathan, is nothing but noble. Using her platform and resource to help a man who was wrongful convicted, and to start a movement to help others like Jonathan, is something I want to see during this time of racial injustices. I hope that she can set an example for many other celebrities who have the platform, income, and resources to help those who need it most.

Kelsey Holloway Joins the Women’s Center as The New Social Media Manager!

Image previewBy Kelsey Holloway

Hello everyone! My name is Kelsey Holloway, I am currently a Junior here at UMKC and I am studying Public and Interpersonal Communications! I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri and I am so happy that I decided to stay here for college. After college I plan to go into Influencer/ Social Media Management so when I heard about this opportunity with the Women’s Center, I was very determined to reach for it!

            I have a lot of hobbies which range from spending way too much money on clothes, randomly moving halfway across the country, taking photos, and making YouTube videos. I would like to believe that I am the main character in my life and I feel like that’s the best way to view it. I have a very adventurous spirit and love to travel whenever I can; however, being a college student and living through a pandemic that is…… not happening.

            The Women’s Centers mission aligns with everything I believe in, and I love that I have this opportunity to be a part of it. As an intern here, I can’t wait to promote everything that the Women’s Center at UMKC stands for and what they do, not only for our school, but also for our community. I cannot wait to see where this semester goes, and I know that this will benefit my future career so much! It has only been one week so far and I have already learned so much! Not only about social media management, but also about women’s rights and different ways we can fight and advocate for them!

            I am so excited for this semester with the Women’s Center! I can’t wait to work with everyone at the Women’s Center on all our social media platforms so our students, and the public, can stay updated on everything we’re doing, and things that they can do during these times to stay motivated, healthy, and educated!

Welcome Morgan Clark to the Women’s Center Staff!

By Morgan Clark

Hey,

My name is Morgan Clark and I’m senior here at UMKC. I was born and raised and Kansas City. I transferred here two years ago after coming home from deployment. I was stationed in Qatar for about nine months in 2017. I am currently still in the service and have about a year left. I am majoring in Sociology. With this major I have a few options for careers. Right now, I want to work in HR for either the government or an eclectic company. I believe there needs to be more people who will speak out on the many issues in corporate America and I think being in HR is one way for me to do just that.

If I am not working or swamped with homework, I am finding new things to explore in Kansas City, especially restaurants. I love trying new food and KC has quite a few hidden gems. I also spend time walking the trails in KC with my dog Xena. Since we do not have any mountains, walking trails are the closest thing to hiking I can do. I try to stay active as much as I can, even now, during these times. I just enjoy trying new experiences, whether it’s going to a new park, or tasting new food!

I am excited to be a part of the Women’s Center. I never worked with a staff that was all women. This will be new for me and I’m excited. I also know that working here is just one of the many ways I can advocate for Women’s rights. I know that doing this will educate me on how to be a better womanist. Which I know there is always room for improvement there.

New Intern Abbie: More Than Just a Cat Lady

By Abbie Lewis

I’m so excited to be a part of the Women’s Center, to help advocate for women, and be a part of fun programs to celebrate women everywhere. As a woman living in today’s society it’s super important, now more than ever, to stand up for what you believe in and fight for your rights. I think that being an intern for the Women’s Center at UMKC is a great way to do just that. 

I’m a super outdoorsy girl who loves to travel, hike, and play with my pets! I have a blue heeler named Otis and a cat named Oprah. Reading is also a passion of mine, specifically rereading Harry Potter repeatedly until I can recite it word for word! I play tennis from time to time and you can catch me at the pool all summer when there’s not a pandemic happening. I’m into all kinds of music, currently jamming on the new Glass Animals album. If you haven’t heard it I suggest you go to Spotify right now and download it, it’s amazing!

I’m very excited to be a part of the Women’s Center and thanks for letting me share a little bit about myself with you all!

Welcome Jordan Tunks to the Women’s Center Family!

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By Jordan Tunks

Hello! My name is Jordan Tunks and I am a senior here at UMKC. I will be graduating in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Health Sciences. I came from a small town of about 5,000 people, so UMKC was a big transition for me. Coming to school in a big city has opened my eyes to how much more is out there and how much more is going on in the world. This has helped me grow as a person, and taught me that there is so much more to fight for!

As an intern at the Women’s Center I look forward to learning how to properly and effectively fight for women’s rights. I hope to be able to fight for those who do not know how to, or cannot, fight for themselves. By the completion of my internship I also hope to be able to educate those who would like to participate but do not know how or where to.

After graduation I plan to get a job helping kids and young adults develop healthy lifestyles. Learning how to educate and advocate for women’s rights will help me become a better mentor for young women.