Equal Pay Day 2021

By Mia Lukic

This year Equal Pay Day fell on March 24, 2021. This date represents how far into 2021 the average of all women must work in order to make what a man made in 2020. If this were a race, with the start line being January 1, 2020, the men’s finish line would be December 31, 2020, or 365 days (or meters for the sake of analogy).

The average of all women have to work 83 more days, or 448 days total. An intersectional perspective is essential in all evaluations so let us consider how it impacts Equal Pay Day. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is August 3, 2021, 216 days longer than men. Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day is October 21, 2021 or 294 days longer than men. Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is September 8, 2021 or 251 days longer than men. Asian and Pacific Islander Women’s Day is March 9, 2021 or 68 days longer than men. The women’s races would be much longer than the men’s as their finish lines are much further away.

Upon first glance, we can see that Asian and Pacific Islander Women’s Day is earlier in the year, coming even before the average of all women. The AAUW stresses the importance of further examining the why. “Asian women’s experiences differ greatly depending on their subgroup. A previous analysis has shown that while women who report Indian or Chinese ethnicity or ancestry earn nearly as much as white men, women who identify as Filipina, Vietnamese and Korean are paid much less and all are subjected to the model minority myth, which erases ethnic subgroups’ diverse experiences as well as racism against Asian Americans as a whole” (AAUW).

The AAUW explores many factors that contribute to the gender pay gap such as the undervaluing of women’s work and discrimination of women for being mothers. They explain that women dominated fields are generally paid less than male dominated fields that require almost the exact same education and experience. Hairdressers make less than barbers and maids less than janitors, even though they are often seemingly synonymous professions. Women are also still disproportionately the caretakers and often take time out of their careers to focus on children and/or independent seniors. Time out of the workforce greatly impacts overall salary. The COVID19 pandemic has only heightened these issues as many schools shut down, eliminating that childcare and forcing women to stay home with children.

https://www.aauw.org/app/uploads/2020/12/SimpleTruth_2.1.pdf

Women’s History Month: Sojourner Truth

By Morgan Clark

Sojourner Truth is known for her work as an abolitionist and her work in the Civil War that caught the attention of President Abraham Lincoln. Born Isabella Baumfree in 1797, she was born into slavery in New York and was sold to her first slave master at the age of 9. He was known to beat and abuse his slaves regularly. At the age of 13, she was sold again to her second slave master. Around 1815, Isabella was forced to marry a slave and bore five children, after being forced apart from the man she loved.

In 1827 she ran away to freedom, after her master did not honor his promise to free her and the other slaves. She ended up in New Paltz, New York, with her newborn daughter. There, she was taken in by the Wagenens, who eventually paid for her freedom for $20. Isabella then sued her previous slave master for illegally selling her son, Peter. She was the first black woman to sue a white man and win. In 1829, she moved her family to New York City,  where she became a Christian and became heavily involved in the Church. She worked closely with two preachers. In 1843 she renamed herself Sojourner Truth because she believed it was her religious obligation to go out and speak the truth. The year after she joined a Massachusetts abolitionist group, where she metFredrick Douglas who had a great influence on her career as an abolitionist.

In 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Right Convention Sojourner Truth gave her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” which addressed the intersection of being a woman and black in that time period. During the convention, she met women’s activists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Lady Stanton.

During the Civil War, Sojourner Truth was an advocate for young men to join the Union. She was able to organize supplies for the young men. Because of her work, she was invited to the White House and recruited to be involved with the Freedmen’s Bureau. She was able to find jobs for freed slaves. During this time, she tried to lobby against segregation and fought to give land to freed slaves. Sojourner Truth was a woman ahead of her time, speaking of intersectionality before it was a term and knowing that segregation was wrong. She died at her home on November 26, 1883. Her tombstone stating, “Is God Dead?” refers to a question she asked her colleague Fredrick Douglas to remind him to stay faithful.

Women’s History Month: Dr. Mabel Ping Hua-Lee

By Morgan Clark

When we think of women’s suffrage leaders we usually think of Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and maybe Ida B. Wells. But no one speaks about Dr. Mabel Ping Hua-Lee, who had the same amount of influence in the movement. Born in Hong Kong, Mabel Lee and her family moved to America in 1905 after she won a scholarship that provided her and her family visas. They settled in Chinatown in New York City where she attended Erasmus Hall Academy in Brooklyn.

At the age of 15, Mabel Lee was a figure in the New York City suffragist movement. She helped lead a parade for women’s rights, attended by up to ten thousand people. In 1912 she began her studies at Barnard College, an all-women’s school. She began to write essays on feminism for The Chinese Students’ Monthly.  One of her popular essays was “The Meaning of Woman Suffrage” in which she argued that suffrage would lead to a successful democracy. In 1915 Lee was invited to give a speech at the Women’s Political Union. In her speech “The Submerged Hall” she advocated for education for girls and civic participation from women in the Chinese community. The 19th Amendment passed in 1917 allowing women to vote— white women. Mabel Lee and others were not able to vote because of the color of their skin and laws that stopped women of color from voting.

After graduating from Barnard College, Lee pursued her Ph.D. in economics at the Columbia University, becoming the first Chinese woman to do so. After school Dr. Mabel Lee published her research in book form, naming it The Economic History of China. Dr. Mabel Lee became the director of the First Chinese Baptist Church of New York City after the passing of her father. She founded the Chinese Christian Center a little bit after, providing classes for English and health clinics. She dedicated her life to the Chinese Community until her death in 1966.

Angela Davis The Figurehead

By Morgan Clark

If you have looked up or read anything about the Black Panthers, then you have seen her before. Angela Davis has been an activist since she was young. She was born and raised in Brigham, Alabama. Davis knew about racism and discrimination at a young age. Her neighborhood was called “Dynamite Hill” due to the Ku Klux Klan continuously targeting their homes.  She was friends with one of the victims in the 16th Baptist Church Bombing. At the age of 15, Davis moved to New York for high school. She then studied abroad in Germany at the Frankfurt school, a school focusing on social theory and critical thinking. She came back and became active in the Communist Party and the Black Panthers

In 1970, Jonathan Jackson stormed the Marin County Courthouse taking hostages of the judge and three jurors in an attempt to demand the release of the Soledad Brothers, a group of African American inmates who were charged with killing a white prison guard. As a result, both Jackson and the judge were killed. Unfortunately, it was Davis’ shotgun that was used for the invasion. She was soon charged with first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping. She fled to New York but was caught and served 18 months in prison. She gained attention from many famous people such as Aretha Franklin who paid for her bail and the Rolling Stones who wrote a song about her, turning her into a figurehead for political activism. In 1981, she wrote her first book “Women, Race and Class”. She continues to be a champion for activism, being recently interviewed about Breonna Taylor, pointing out that it’s often unacknowledged that black women were also both victims of lynching and also activists working to end lynching.

Davis is currently at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she teaches courses on feminism and  the prison abolition movement. Davis is an inspiration for many women. She has always been a voice against oppression. Her powerful interviews have been included in documentaries. Angela Davis has made a pathway for women all around and will continue to do so.

Rising Gardens: Freedom Garden Fridays in February

By Mia Lukic

Rising Gardens is a new program for the Women’s Center, and is a part of the One Billion Rising Movement. Rising Gardens aims to connect the power of a garden to a multitude of social issues. Encouraging people to grow gardens is not only a way to start a conversation about certain issues, but to combat them.

“Gardens remind us of our enduring connection to life, to each other and to Earth, which compels us to do everything in our power to protect and nurture life and all that is sacred without doing harm. The cultivation of plant life is also a means for survival. Growing food in a garden organically – be it your own indoor garden or a community garden – allows you to feed yourself and your community. It provides autonomy and underscores the need for food security in a world where so many are denied these essential resources” (One Billion Rising).

Over the next three months we will highlight three major social issues and how they correlate to gardens, while growing our very own freedom gardens. Freedom gardens is a play on the term “victory gardens”, referring to gardens grown during World War II. The renaming comes from the association between victory gardens and anti-Asian sentiment, as a lot of Japansese-American farmland was seized by white farmers during this time (Freedom Gardens). Our freedom gardens will be grown in our homes, using household items and food scraps.

February is Black History Month and we are focusing on the connection between food and racial equity.

Leah Penniman is an amazing woman who founded Soul Fire Farm, a nonprofit organic farm devoted to training the new generation of farmers of color. She details why “food sovereignty is central in the fight for racial justice” in her book Farming While Black. A striking line from the book is spoken by a young black man stating “Look, you’re either going to die from the gun or you are going to die from bad food” (Penniman). Leah explains that a Black person in America is more likely to die from lack of access to good food than any type of violence, despite violence being the most covered by the media.  “If you look at diabetes, kidney failure and heart disease—those are all inextricably linked to what types of food a person has access to. And the last time I looked, those are the leading causes of death”(Penniman). She says this by no means to diminish the murders of Black and Brown people, but rather to bring attention to both, and the connections between them.

Penniman also rejects the popular term “food desert” and instead prefers the term “food apartheid”, explaining that a desert is natural but nothing about what is happening in these scenarios is natural. Decades of redlining and zoning have made it harder for people of color to have access to certain neighborhoods and by default, quality food.

“The existence and persistence of community gardens in food deserts and low-income neighborhoods is a testament to the resilience of the Black and Brown communities who cultivate them” (One Billion Rising). Many people are trying to combat this inaccessibility with community gardens or personal gardens like freedom gardens.

My garden consists of spring onions, romaine lettuce, celery, and a pineapple. Some nonedible plants include three cacti (Spike, Pickle, and Sunny) and a bamboo aptly named Boo. (I figured it was cruel to name the plants I planned on eating soon). My spring onions are about two months old, and have been living and growing in my window since I purchased them at Walmart. They just keep regrowing their tops and getting cut as I need them. My celery and romaine lettuce are showing slow but steady growth and are only about a week old. Unfortunately, most likely due to the snow and freezing conditions my pineapple seems to be dying, I have moved it to the kitchen and there is little left to do but keep an eye on it. All of my plants are currently in jars I repurposed from anything like olives or even candles, and all of the plants themselves are just the roots of food I had purchased and normally would throw away. So far, this process has shown me how easy it is to repurpose food scraps and how not unlike flowers many vegetables are. We keep flowers in a vase without a second thought, why not celery? I have not bought spring onions in months, simply cutting what I need off the ones on my window sill. While I couldn’t feed myself entirely with my freedom garden, it is an easy way to keep vegetables and herbs in the house at all times. Once my lettuce and celery (hopefully) grow I will be able to make a small salad or snack with them and enjoy both the benefits of healthy food and the satisfaction of having grown something from seemingly nothing. I am very happy to see the greenery everyday if nothing else, they add life and color to every room. Check out our Instagram @umkcwomenc every Friday to watch their growth each week!

Sources:

https://www.onebillionrising.org/about/campaign/

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/06/9838931/gardening-during-coronavirus-freedom-garden-movement

https://www.vogue.com/article/soul-fire-farm-leah-penniman-why-food-sovereignty-is-central-in-the-fight-for-racial-justice

 

Looking Deeper at our Phenomenal Feminist: Laverne Cox

 

By Morgan Clark

Laverne Cox caught the public’s eye in her brilliant performance as Sophia Burset in the hit Netflix TV show Orange is the New Black. Cox’s character was a trans woman in prison fighting for the right to receive her hormones medication. For many of us, that character was the first open door into learning about trans women and the obstacles that they face daily. Cox’s role as Sophia was a very important piece of popular culture that allowed people, especially young adults, to become aware of and educated on trans women. But how did Laverne Cox get to Orange is the New Black?

Laverne started as a dancer at Marymount Manhattan College, but soon turned to acting. She started her career doing plays and appearing in small films during her senior year of college. While in college, Laverne started her transition and went from being gender conforming to being more femme, eventually beginning her medical transition and identifying as female. During this time, Cox was performing in drag clubs although she never truly identified as a drag queen.

Orange is the New Black was Cox’s big break, and it was really  big.  Her role earned her 3 Emmy nominations, a first in history for transgender women. Since the beginning of the Netflix show, Cox has gone on to acquire many other firsts. Such as actually winning and Emmy award for a film she executively produced called Laverne Cox presents: The T Word. And finally in 2017 she went on to become the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on broadcast TV in her new role on CBS’s show Doubt.

But beyond TV and acting, Cox is also known for her advocacy for trans rights; speaking on the issues trans women have faced, particularly trans women of color. Cox works hard to highlight the narrative that Trans Women are systematic pushed into crime, homelessness and sex work. In 2017 Cox spoke against certain actions that the Trump administration had taken to disenfranchise trans women. Cox has also advocated for the HIV/AIDS community, making herself the first spokeswoman for Johnson and Johnson’s Band-Aid Red campaign. In an interview that Cox did with Johnson and Johnson she explains why advocating for the HIV/AIDS community and relief efforts are so important to her: “It’s about all of the friends in my life whom I have lost to HIV/AIDS over the years. It’s about the folks in my life who are currently living with HIV and the stigma they face. It’s about being in that fight, in partnership with them. It’s a tribute to them—and I love actionable things that people can do to make a difference.” Now you can find her actively on social media still speaking out against the injustice trans women face.

Learning Social Action: #Buy Black

By Mia Lukic

This fall semester UMKC offered a class entitled “Social Action” that followed the teachings of Change! A Student Guide to Social Action by Scott Myers-Lipton. The students broke out into groups and spent the semester not only learning about social issues but actively trying to address them in any capacity they could. Group topics ranged from mental health, food insecurity, indigenous rights, and much more. One group in particular focused on buying black.

UMKC Undergraduate students Devyn Eason, Hannah Pham, Lanisha Stevens, and Leah Taylor explained that they wanted to support local black businesses, through both monetary means and awareness.

The concept of buying black is nothing new, it was pushed by leaders like Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to stimulate the economies of African American communities for years. Recently it was revived in many ways and given the name and subsequent hashtag #BuyBlack.

The students decided to dedicate their semester researching the issue and thinking of ways to help. Hannah Pham explains “Black businesses aren’t receiving a lot of support, although they contribute a lot to our economy. We as citizens within our community cannot support businesses that we may not be aware of.”

The impact of buying black is best understood by considering a single dollar. That single dollar can be put into the community when someone buys an ice cream from a black owned shop. That owner could use it to buy a blouse at another black owned shop, that then gives change to someone using the dollar and they go on to buy something else somewhere else. However, according to The Undefeated, “In the black community, a dollar only circulates for six hours. Compare that to some Asian communities, where the same dollar can circulate for up to a month. When you look at it that way, it’s no wonder why we’re not getting ahead like we should.”

A shocking point they focus on is that most black owned businesses do not even have employees. Most are owner owned and operated and some have volunteers staffing the business.

BLNDED Media reports that “According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners (SBO), which is conducted every five years, over 90 percent of Latino and black firms do not have even one employee other than the owners. One new trend is the proportion of owner-only firms reaching a high of close to 98 percent for the sub-group of African American female-led businesses.” Furthermore, black female owned firms are losing revenue as the years pass. A Forbes article published that “American Express found that the gap is widening between the average revenue for businesses owned by women of color and those owned by non-minority women. For women of color, average revenue dropped from $84,000 in 2007 to $66,400 in 2018, while for non-minority businesses, revenue rose from $181,000 to $212,300.” This trend can spell disaster for women of color who own a business and who may be struggling already with the pandemic.

So what did the students choose to do? Apart from almost weekly presentations to the class, they created a list of local black businesses people can support, are visiting them personally, and vlogging their visits!

A fun, modern way of promoting the retention of the dollar in the community!

Two local Black and female owned businesses they wanted to shoutout include:

Matches Boutique on the Plaza (https://matchesboutique.com/)

UnLESHed+ (https://www.shopunleshed.com/)

To get into contact and keep up with the group email : ls2df@mail.umkc.edu

Forced Sterilizations and Targeting Marginalized Communities

By Emma Gilham

Earlier this fall, whistleblower allegations at an ICE detention center in Georgia of forced sterilizations swept news headlines. Dawn Wooten, the whistleblower and former nurse at the center, claimed consent was not obtained for these procedures, the patients were not informed of what was happening, and those that objected were placed in solitary confinement. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security has been opened into the misconduct at Irwin County Detention Center after significant urging from federal elected officials, as ethical questions such as obtaining informed consent and negligence have been raised. While the investigation is a start, it cannot be ignored that consistent complaints of misconduct have emerged from these detention centers and that the government has an unsavory history with forced sterilizations. The first eugenics law was passed in 1907 in Indiana, inspiring 31 other states to follow. In the CNN article, “In a horrifying history of forced sterilizations, some fear the US is beginning a new chapter”, “The laws, which led to officials ordering sterilizations of people they deemed ‘feeble-minded’ or ‘mentally defective,’” later became models for Nazi Germany.” Throughout the 20th century other government-backed forced sterilizations occurred, which unsurprisingly targeted BIPOC womxn. Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer had a non-consensual hysterectomy while she was having surgery for another health issue in 1961. She brought attention to the issue in her activism. Even into the 2000s, sterilizations were illegally funded by the state of California on incarcerated womxn. Time and time again vulnerable groups have been sterilized at increasing rates. To clarify, hysterectomies and tubal ligation are irreversible and valid forms of birth control. However, the aforementioned instances of forced sterilization often included preying on, coercing, or misinforming womxn into having these procedures. In the end, the investigation into the Irwin County Detention Center is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Stethoscope” by surroundsound5000 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Women Who Lead: Activism Through an Intersectional Lens – Panelist Mahreen Ansari

By Mia Lukic

Tune into the “Women Who Lead” Panel Discussion for an invigorating conversation with a panel of diverse group of local women leaders, Thursday November 5, 2020 6:00 – 7:30 pm

Use the link below to register

https://bit.ly/37Q8EMi

As the event gets closer, and even as the event passes we would like to highlight our panelist for their extraoridnary work in our community, and for their extraordinary work in this event! The first panelist we would like to highlight is Mahreen Ansari, a junior at UMKC pursuing her undergraduate degree. Mahreen is studying Political Science and International Studies with a Pre-Law emphasis. Vice President of both the Student Government Association and UMKC’s College Democrats chapter, Mahreen is passionate about climate justice and is a community organizer with Sunrise Movement Kansas City. Through her climate justice work with Sunrise Movement Kansas City, she hopes to create space within environmentalism for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and other traditionally excluded groups. We had a chance to sit down with Mahreen one on one and ask her some more in-depth questions about her work in the community. The following is that interview!

 

What motivates you to keep working towards justice in a time where the country is so divided, and many people choose to reject the realities of social issues and/or scientific fact?

For a long time, I always felt like “well someone has to do the work!” But with a global pandemic and the beginning of the uprisings this summer, I have felt so burnt out because I just have been doing and feeling a lot. So, I have shifted my thought process to “someone has to start it” and I’ve just been rolling with that. I feel like with that thought process it’s easier to recognize that work must be done and it’s important that all of us find ways to contribute to this rather than just taking it all on by ourselves. Being a part of different organizations that are dedicated to different aspects of the fight for social justice as well as having friends who are as committed to this fight as much as I am helps so much because you don’t feel alone. It’s important to recognize the importance in the work you do and having a support system for yourself. I know that, for many of us, we are living in shocking times where it feels like it can’t get any worse, but honestly, the people who came before us have survived this, and worse, and that resilience is something that we have inherited from our predecessors. I always try to think of my support system, my work, and my ancestors to keep myself motivated. I do want to remind everyone though that rest is necessary, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed for taking time for yourself.

How does your intersectional identity as a woman impact your outlook on the world and certain issues?

My femme identity gives me a broader outlook on the world, in the sense that I’m marginalized for it so it pushes me to want to build coalitions with people who are marginalized in the same or similar ways. It reminds me that all of these struggles are interconnected, and that the fight for social justice can only truly be won if we all work together. I also understand the how, where, and why women and femmes are marginalized in the ways we are because of that firsthand marginalization I experience from this identity, which helps me better recognize ways to battle it and advocate on my behalf.

What would you say to young female leaders who are just starting on their path to leadership?

I would encourage young women and femmes who are just starting on their path to leadership to stay true to who they are. We exist in a world where we’re encouraged to dilute our beliefs or practices to be more digestible for people, but that’s not why you exist. You should never have to dress a certain way to be taken seriously, or sound more polite when you speak so that people listen. We need to create and work on the world we want and that doesn’t happen through compromising who we are. Don’t be afraid to take up space in places dominated by men or masculine people because you have just as much, if not more, of a right to exist in those spaces. If you are criticized for how you react or interact within those male or masculine dominated spaces don’t let it phase you because the “criticism” that you’re facing has a large chance of being based off of negative biases.

Are there any programs/projects you are currently working on that you would like to mention?

I have two things I want to shout out. First, in my work as Vice President of Student Government Association at UMKC I have been working with the Office of Student Involvement and the Collegiate Panhellenic Council to bring in an outside organization to put together a workshop based around diversity and inclusion for students. It’ll give students the opportunity to engage in real introspection and critical reflection and explore the fluidity and ubiquity of race in American society. I’m so excited for this and I want to encourage all students to RSVP for it, the event is on RooGroups under “2020 Inclusive Student Leadership Retreat”. Second, I want to shoutout Sunrise Movement Kansas City, the climate justice organization that I organize with, for the amazing work they do. We’ve been working on pushing City Hall to pass a Green New Deal resolution for Kansas City that will not only push Kansas City to be a greener city but also to make sure that in that transition everyone in Kansas City is being accounted for and taken care of in it. I do a lot of the digital graphics for Sunrise Movement Kansas City which has pushed me to start my own series which explores a lot of race-related history and issues of Kansas City.

Where can people go to learn more about the work you do?

If you’re interested in joining or finding out more about Sunrise Movement Kansas City, you can check out our social media, all of our handles are @sunrisemvmtkc. If you’re interested in checking out the graphics I made about race-related history and issues in Kansas City, you can check out my personal Instagram @exotik.queen where I post my content.

 

Be sure to register to see Mahreen in the Women Who Lead Panel and keep checking in to learn about the other panelists!

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

By Mia Lukic

October marks both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the month of Indigenous People’s Day on October 12th, 2020. The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women reports that 4 out of 5 native women are affected by violence today. The National Institute of Justice released a study that said 55.5% of native women experience physical violence by an intimate partner. Native women are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average, and they go missing and/or are murdered at a higher rate than any other ethnic group, according to Native Women’s Society. The lack of communication between tribes, local, and federal law enforcement are often cited as the reason only around 12% of missing indigenous women are entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Person System.

Last month, Congress passed two bills, Savanna’s Act, and the Not Invisible Act, which are focused on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women, and they await the president’s signature. Harper’s Bazaar breaks them down to explain:

Savanna’s Act is named after Savanna LaFontaine, a native woman who was brutally murdered in 2017. This act requires that the Justice Department reports statistics on native people, create and train law enforcement on the protocol for missing and murdered indigenous people, and reach out to tribes and organizations focused on indigenous rights.

The Not Invisible Act demands that the Department of the Interior “designate an official within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to coordinate prevention efforts, grants, and programs related to missing Indians and the murder and human trafficking of Indians” (HB).

These bills are a good step towards justice and can only be attributed to the tireless work of activists who fought and continue to fight for indigenous women. The statistics of violence against indigenous women are horrendous, and for people to still have to fight for something to be done about it is disgraceful. Do not forget the indigenous woman during Violence Prevention Month, or any month. Take some time on the 12th to learn what land you are standing on, go to school on, work on, live on. The website https://native-land.ca/ will break down the tribes that lived on the land before you with a simple zip code input.