What is the Green New Deal, And How Does it Affect Women?

“wind mill” by blubee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Emma Gilham

As fire engulfs the West, tropical storms destroy communities, and temperatures reach unprecedented levels, climate change is on the public’s mind. The Green New Deal is something many of us have heard about from the news or from social media. Words like “expensive”, “socialist”, and “daydream” buzz around the idea. If someone was particularly interested, unbiased information on the topic is readily available. However, this takes a little more effort than turning on the television.

The Green New Deal is not a piece of legislation or even a proposal for one. It is a plan to address the climate crisis before it’s affects are irreversible. Based on the “October 2018 report entitled ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 oC’’ by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment report”, the Green New Deal considers the advice of experts in climatology. With this knowledge, comes harsh realities. The 14-page document sets the goal “to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers…” by 2050. It also acknowledges and prepares for the millions of jobs that will be lost in this process. The plan proposes reinvesting in clean energy and guaranteeing people jobs and healthcare. In contrast to the way BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities have historically been left behind when the government makes new goals, the proposal takes on intersectionality. For example, “obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect indigenous peoples and their traditional territories…”. Although the atrocities inflicted upon native tribes by the government cannot be undone, there are ways that we can improve the existing relationships. The Green New Deal also addresses the gender pay gap as a crisis related to climate change: “a gender earnings gap that results in women earning approximately 80 percent as much as men, at the median…”. Climate change and pollution disproportionately effect “frontline and vulnerable communities” such as BIPOC communities, migrant communities, women, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled, and the Deal puts forth efforts to begin remedying this. I encourage you to read through the document. Ask yourself: Is this feasible? What are the benefits and drawbacks? How would this affect my life or my children’s lives? At this time, The Green New Deal has received a lot of criticisms and praises. While it doesn’t produce any legislation, it is the only document we have that has attempted to confront the issues we face. It paints a picture of a future to work towards. In the end, climate change is not going to wait for us to finish brainstorming, it’s time to act.

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.

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.

Emma Gilham Transfers to UMKC and Joins Women’s Center Staff

By Emma Gilham

Hello! I am Emma Gilham, a new transfer student here at UMKC. As I packed up my things to move, the notion of new beginnings swept over me. Summer break, along with quarantine, changed my perspective on many things. I previously attended Missouri S&T as an environmental engineering major. I knew I wanted to help people, and I had an idea of where I wanted my career to go. I simply couldn’t place which was the best route to achieve my goals. I want to work in communities to educate and advance the health and general well-being of its residents. With this clarity, I decided engineering school would not be the place to learn the tools necessary for this goal, and I transferred to UMKC to pursue a major in public health. I’ve always liked Kansas City, and I am excited to live here!

I have special interest in social justice, and the blogs I write will hopefully reflect that. This summer, I began addressing my own white-washed, patriarchal education and started the never-ending process of unlearning/relearning. While these failings jarred me at first, I look forward to continuing to learn and sharing topics pertaining to current woman’s and gendered issues. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to expand my understanding of intersectional feminism from my supervisors and colleagues through working for the Women’s Center.