Upcoming Event: Feminist Film Friday

By Megan Schwindler

Coming up on Friday, February 9 from 12-2 pm, the UMKC Women’s Center is sponsoring Feminist Film Friday: Until the Violence Stops. This event is co-sponsored by the Violence Prevention and Response Program. The event will be held at the UMKC Women’s Center, in 105 Haag Hall. RSVP’s are necessary for this event.

End your week enjoying a movie and some free pizza with the staff at the Women’s Center. This week’s movie is a documentary about the start and success of The Vagina Monologues and the V-Day Movement. RSVP to umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu or 816-235-1638 by February 7.

We hope to see you there!

Why Black Panther’s 16-Year-Old Sister Shuri is So Important

By Tatiahna Turner

          The new Marvel movie, Black Panther which is set to be released in theaters February 16, 2018 has what some may call an unexpected important character. Letitia Wright will be playing the role of Black Panther’s 16-year-old half-sister, Shuri. Although Shuri has been around in the comics, Black Panther will be her cinematic debut. It couldn’t have come at a better time given our society’s current climate surrounding the equality and representation of women. In this day and age the young, bright minds of women in our community need inspirational characters like Shuri to remind them that women can be intelligent and powerful. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Wright has only good things to say about Shuri, “She’s princess of Wakanda, but also she designs all of the new technology there. . . She’s so vibrant; a beautiful spirit, but also so focused on what she does. And that’s good for other people to see, especially young people to see, because it’s like, ‘Look, there’s a young black girl who loves technology and she’s from Africa.’ It’s something refreshing.” Nate Moore, Black Panther’s producer says that Shuri is, “the smartest person in the world, smarter than Tony Stark but she’s a sixteen year old girl which we thought was really interesting.” Moore goes on to say, “Again, black faces in positions of power or positions of technological know-how, that’s a rarity. So it’s something that’s a big part of the film.”

The underrepresentation of women in film of, and especially black women in positions of power, is something that is rarely talked about. It seems that society often forgets just how powerful film and television can be in our lives. It can be subconsciously defeating or discouraging for women to never see themselves portrayed in films or shows across the world as intelligent, strong, and beautiful. More often than not, we are made to seem weak-minded, powerless, and beneath our male counterparts. The representation of women as simply objects that can be controlled and taken advantage of is very degrading, and is why it is important that we begin to see more characters like Shuri on the big screen.  For a woman of color to be a centerpiece of a film and to be portrayed as “the smartest person in the world,” I would say is a great first step in the right direction.

Lupita Nyong’o and Diverse Children’s Literature

By Megan Schwindler 

Lupita Nyong’o, the Academy Award-winning actress, is currently writing her debut children’s book,  
Sulwe. According to The New York Times, the picture book is aimed for readers between the ages of 5 and 7, and tells the story of a young Kenyan girl who struggles with accepting her dark skin. During the story, Sulwe embarks on a “whimsical adventure” and receives advice from her mother, which in the end, helps her see the beauty in herself.  

Times reports, “Like Sulwe, Ms. Nyong’o struggled with her complexion and self-image as a child. Growing up, she remembers becoming more aware of herself in grade school and caring about the opinions of others. It was around that time that she also noticed the language people outside of her family used to describe her “brown and pretty,” lighter skinned sister.” This narrative is one we see again in Nyong’o’s 2014 speech, where she spoke of her struggle to find self-love. This changed, however when model Alex Wek was celebrated for her beauty. Nyong’o said, “… when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty.” The power of representation is further shown in her closing statement, where she hopes that women, “feel the validation of [their] external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.” This speech resonated with viewers and quickly went viral, which persuaded Nyong’o to write a book for a younger audience. While she recognizes that her high-profile name has garnered a lot of attention and love, she ultimately wants the book to “help all children reimagine what it means to be beautiful.”  

Why does this matter? Diverse books allow children to see themselves represented in positive ways in the stories they read (or are read to). This cultivates confidence, high self-esteem, and a sense of pride in who they are. It’s also important that children have access to stories with characters that do not look like themselves. Stories that speak of loving oneself and being strong have been on the rise in the past year, making room for a few great Feminist children’s books. This list includes, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, Princesses Wear Pants? and Rosie Revere, Engineer, among others.  

Sulwe will be published in January 2019 through Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  


The Feminists in Training of the Women’s March

By Korrien Hopkins

This past week, hundreds of thousands of people joined women’s marches across the country and the world. Men and women marched for any number of issues, from racial equality to sexism. Teens and smaller children also took to the streets carrying signs of resistance against the inequalities within our society. Although I didn’t have a chance to go to the march this year, I got to see the flood of empowering photos that hit the media. Every year, I take the time to look at the powerful and creative signs being held and see those that are holding them. My favorite to see are the young feminists and “feminists in training.” They are all photographed holding impactful signs and it is just freaking adorable. I’m sure myself and many others can agree that the kids are cute, but can we all agree that they are necessary and needed at the marches as well? Many may wonder if the Women’s March is an appropriate place for those that young. I think it’s fine, but it’s also important to give them a little background knowledge before attending.

In all reality it’s their future that we’re working for. I think participating in the Women’s March is teaching them action. It’s easy to express your disappoint with something. It’s easy to want change. But what is a goal without action? Taking them to marches and rallies shows them their power. Even at such young ages they are learning that they have power and responsibility, and most importantly, that they are not alone. The principle foundations of what the Women’s March stands for, as stated on their website, is “to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change… [and] dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance.” Grounded in the non-violent ideology of the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s March is a prime opportunity to show your children how to participate in civil, safe protest while teaching them how to stand up for what they believe in.


Women Need Pockets

By Ann Varner

I like to buy men’s clothes, especially coats and shirts. Why? Because they have pockets. And not the pockets that can barely fit your pinky finger, I’m talking about real pockets that can actually hold essential items. Unless I’m wearing jeans (which is never because I don’t like them), I am wearing some sort of sweat pant, yoga pant, or legging. But these items rarely have pockets, and when they do they can only fit one small item.

This isn’t news to women. We become excited when a piece of women’s clothing has nice, big pockets for us to stash our stuff in. In fact, throughout history women’s clothing has never had the equivalent amount of pockets to men’s clothing. Why? Because pockets are “bulky” and don’t align well with the stitching that pulls our waists in. Personally, if you gave me the chance to choose between hauling a purse around all day or having leggings with pockets, I would absolutely choose the latter.

The pocket was introduced to men’s clothing in the 18th century. However, women were only given a small slit in their dress where they could hide their purse. It is theorized that part of the reason why women’s clothing hasn’t had “real” pockets is due to idea that the less women can carry without a purse, the less freedom they have. In the late 1800’s there was a brief period after the war when women’s clothing had pockets. During that time, it stood for independence but was quickly taken away. Now, as women we have grown so accustomed to not having pockets we haven’t stopped to ask why we don’t have them. Why don’t we have breast pockets in our coats to put our most valuable items? Men’s coats have them. Why are we expected to carry our items in a purse instead of having free hands like men do?

I’ve come to the realization that men’s clothes are not only cheaper, but they have more pockets and are better quality for the price. My closet is filled with men’s tops and jackets that I love. Sure, the tag may say “M” but that is the last thing I’m worried about when it’s sub-zero temperatures and my keys, gloves, phone, and hat can all fit in my deep, manly pockets.

About our staff: Tatiahna Turner

By Tatiahna Turner

Hi everybody! My name is Tatiahna Turner and I am a freshman at UMKC. I am currently majoring in Psychology, and I am on the Pre-Med track with hopes of graduating from undergrad in 2022. I decided to choose UMKC for my undergraduate studies after a spring break trip to visit the campus in 2017. I loved the environment, the people, and the campus. I had also done some research prior to the trip on the Psychology and Pre-Med programs which helped to further spark my interest. My goal after graduating from medical school is to begin work in a hospital as a psychiatrist, and then later on in life, begin a private practice.

My interest for the Women’s Center began in the fall of 2017 when I came to visit a friend. I loved the friendly, warm, and accepting environment. Women’s issues is a topic that is very dear to me, so it pleased me to know that there was a group of people on campus advocating for women.

Long Live the Legacy of Coretta Scott King

“What most did not understand then was that I was not only married to the man that I love, but I was also married to the movement that I loved.”

By Korrien Hopkins

Martin Luther King Jr. may be the United States’ most well-known civil rights activist of all time, but there’s no denying that his wife Coretta Scott King was a hero in her own right.

Coretta, born and raised in Marion, Alabama, graduated from high school as valedictorian in 1945. She studied singing at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston when she met Dr. King. After the two married in 1953, they moved to Montgomery, Alabama and had four children.

Coretta, a classically trained musician, gave up her dream of becoming a singer and became “The First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement.” She devoted much of her time to raising their children during King’s career as a pastor and activist, though she would often speak about civil rights at churches, colleges, and other organizations.

Two months after her husband was assassinated in 1968, Coretta founded The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. She took on leadership within the movement for racial equality and fought to make her husband’s birthday a federal holiday for nearly two decades. She oversaw the first nationally observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20, 1986.

Coretta continued to make history throughout her life by working fearlessly to create the change her husband had worked so hard for. She became the first woman to deliver the annual class day address at Harvard University and the first woman to preach at a worship service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. During her remarkable life, she received over 60 honorary doctorates and helped found dozens of organizations dedicated to advancing human rights. She was a leader in the women’s movement and a fierce defender of LGBTQ rights.

Coretta Scott King died from ovarian cancer on January 30, 2006. She became the first woman and first African American to lie in honor in the Georgia state capitol’s rotunda. The “First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement” powerful legacy continues to live on today. Although there is no Coretta Scott King Day, it’s important that we acknowledge these sacrifices made by her and many women like Coretta. She, like many women, made sacrifices for the sake of the advancement of all, even when the cost was her own well-being. These sacrifices should be held to a high standard because without her legacy, the legacy of her husband would be far different. She showed the world that a person can only be as strong as their partner. She showed the power of women in the movement and is still a role model for many women today. I will always uplift her legacy and strive to be as powerful as she was.

“The woman power of this nation can be the power which makes us whole and heals the rotten community, now so shattered by war and poverty and racism. I have great faith in the power of women who will dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to the task of remaking our society.”  – Coretta Scott King




New intern hopes to work towards solutions to issue of gender-based violence on campus

By Hannah Hagan

My name is Hannah Hagan and I am a junior studying English. I grew up in a small town outside of Lawrence, KS, which is about an hour away from UMKC. I chose to attend UMKC because I wanted to leave the small-town environment that I’d grown up in without putting too much physical distance between myself and my family. So far, I’ve been pleased with the results!

This semester, I’ll be serving the Women’s Center as the Gender Violence Prevention Intern. I’m looking forward to engaging our campus community in conversations surrounding gender-based violence through programs and events, as well as meaningful face-to-face discussion. My goal is to help foster an on-campus environment that is not only aware of issues surrounding gender-based violence, but eager to work toward solutions to these issues, too.

Preparing for the Women’s March

By Zaquoya Rogers

It’s about that time of year where women from every crevice of the world gather in unison to march for legislation and policies regarding women’s issues and rights. The worldwide protest is scheduled for January 20th and 21st. You can find out where the closest one to you is on the Women’s March website. A few things to remember when safely protesting is:

1. Go with a group of friends

Not only do we need all of our soldiers to attend, we need to keep them safe as well. Stick together and try not to separate, especially in big cities.

2. Wear comfortable clothes

Any protest is a physical event. There will be walking and the weather might be cold, so wear a hat and comfortable shoes.

3. Know your rights

If you want to read more, click here

Remember soldiers, the number one goal is to stay safe while standing up for our rights as women.


New program intern at Women’s Center

By Christian Deshazo

Hey everyone! My name is Christian and I am a senior English major with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. After graduating in May, I will attend law school in the fall. I am so happy that I chose UMKC as my undergraduate university because there is an atmosphere of acceptance. Particularly, the Women’s Center is bursting with bright people who are always eager to make new friends. That is what interested me in interning at the Women’s Center. Along with that, I wanted to put my minor to use and gain experience by assisting with events and programming for the Women’s Center. My interests also include binge-watching all the shows on Netflix; Parks and Recreations, Black Mirror, and She’s Gotta Have It are just a few of my favorites.