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.

The 2019 Vagina Monologues

By Mackinzie Aulgur

“…find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us, but from what dissolves, reveals, and expands us.”- Eve Ensler

We all deserve to be ourselves, stand up for what we believe in, and voice our opinions; each and everyone one of us. This Thursday and Friday, February 21st-22nd, UMKC will be presenting the Vagina Monologues! Doors open at 7pm and performances will take place at 7:30pm. This year the monologues will have 18 presenters, all of which play vital parts. The Vagina Monologues are personal monologues read by a diverse group of women in our community. Their stories will touch on subjects such as sex, sex work, body image, love, rape, menstruation, female genital mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, and various names for the vagina. The main theme in the play is redefining the vagina to be seen as a symbol of female empowerment and the embodiment of our individuality (Mission, 2019).

In collaboration with V-Day, we will be selling our famous vagina pops (milk and dark chocolate), t-shirts, feminist mugs, Trailblazers’ blend coffee, and a variety unique of buttons before and after the performances. For those who may not know, V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. In fact, according to the United Nations, one of every three women on the planet will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime (Mission, 2019). While we cannot change the past, we have the opportunity to come together as a community, to show support and raise awareness for a better future. Please join us at this years Vagina Monologues as we all reflect on what unifies us in our fight for this goal.

Mission. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.vday.org/mission.html

Thursday, February 21. UMKC Student Union Theater, 5100 Cherry St. 

  • Advance tickets: $10 for students, $25 for non-students, $5 each for groups of 5 or more students
  • At the door: $15 for students, $30 for non-students

Friday, February 22. UMKC Spencer Theater, James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St. 

  • Advance tickets: $10 for students, $35 for non-students, $5 each for groups of 5 or more students
  • At the door: $15 for students, $40 for non-students

Tickets may be purchased through Central Ticket Office. Proceeds from all activities benefit the UMKC’s Women’s Center, Violence Prevention and Response Program and V-Day’s 2019 spotlight campaign.

 

Midterm Results: 5 Firsts for Women in Congress

By Samantha Anthony

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

As election results came pouring in on Tuesday and the days after, one observation soon became clear: it’s a year of firsts for women in Congress. Over 100 women were elected to the House of Representatives, crushing the previous record. According to The Washington Post, “Women have never held more than 84 of the 435 seats in the House. With votes still being counted Thursday, 100 women had officially been declared winners.” The women elected include veterans, teachers, and more. 

Among the groundbreaking victories this week, several women have achieved cultural and religious firsts in Congress. A Vox article claims that two Muslim women were elected to the House of Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Tlaib won in Michigan and Omar in Minnesota. On Tuesday evening, Omar mentioned Tlaib on Twitter: “I cannot wait to serve with you, inshallah,” she said. 

Sharice Davids

In New York, one woman became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. At 29 years old, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be representing New York’s 14th District. Cortez has been open about her struggles – and triumphs – as an adult. She shared on Wednesday that just last year, she was working as a bartender. Soon she’ll be hunting for apartments in Washington, D.C., but for now she’s focused on bringing attention to housing affordability, something that has impacted her personally.

Women have yet another reason to celebrate firsts: in New Mexico and Kansas, two Native American women were elected to Congress for the first time. “The projected victories for the two Native American women mark a milestone in the US political system,” CNN said in an article this week. Deb Haaland will serve in New Mexico, and Sharice Davids in Kansas. What could be better? We’ll tell you: Davids is also the first openly LGBT+ member of Congress to be elected in Kansas. Intersectionality for the win!

Ayanna Pressley

Victory and equality were celebrated in Massachusetts on Tuesday. According to CNBC, Ayanna Pressley, is the first black woman to be elected to the House of Representatives from the state. In September, Pressley made headlines when an emotional video was released of her finding out that she had won the primary election. Her victory speech was equally charging: “In Congress, I will be focused on lifting up the voices of those in community, partnering with activists and residents, and ensuring that those closest to the pain are closest to the power, driving and informing the policy-making,” Pressley said. 

Regardless of party affiliation, this year’s midterm election results prove that women are ready for equal representation in government.

Your New Favorite Feminist Anthems

By Nina Cherry

Musician Joni Mitchell

Check out the Women’s Center’s new Spotify account and listen to our Fall 2018 Woman Power Playlist! Click here to jam out to this mix and support these women and the fall of the patriarchy!

Celebrate your womanhood with these empowering anthems this fall.

“Woman” – Kesha After a long, bitter battle to get out of a record deal with a sexually and emotionally abusive producer, Kesha made a strong comeback in 2017 with her most recent album, Rainbow. This is my favorite track from this album, and I especially enjoy the first verse: I buy my own things, I pay my own bills/ These diamond rings, my automobiles/ Everything I got, I bought it/ Boys can’t buy my love.”

“Seashore” – The Regrettes This song defines mansplaining with the opening lyrics, You’re talkin’ to me like a child/Hey I’ve got news, I’m not a little girl.” Although all women can relate to this, I think young women can especially relate to this as we are frequently questioned because of our age and “inexperience.”

“A Case of You” – Joni Mitchell Aside from being an amazing musician and lyricist, Joni Mitchell is a feminist committed to social justice. She has paved the way for many female artists, and has helped make female sexuality not taboo. She takes control of her sexuality so poetically, and inspires women to free their sexuality and take pride in it to this day, and I believe this song is a great representation of this.

“Pins and Needles” – Margaret Glaspy I like to describe this song as unfiltered feminist rage, and Glaspy’s gravelly voice definitely adds to this idea. When the song ends, the chorus still sticks with me: But I don’t wanna watch my mouth/ No, I don’t wanna act like/ I can’t figure it out/ I don’t wanna hold you till I’m good and ready to.”

Understanding Intersectionality

By Samantha Anthony

I have always been fascinated by individuality. Who am I? What do I like? Simple questions like these can be difficult for young women like myself to answer, since many of us are still navigating our own personality. Discovering your passions and determining how to present yourself is no simple task. There are many aspects of one’s identity: hobbies, friendships and relationships, careers, appearance and style. I’ve always been aware of this, but finding out who you are isn’t a destination – it’s more of a journey.

Before coming to UMKC, I had never heard the term “intersectionality.” This word is used at conventions and workshops to help people embrace every facet of their identity: sexuality, race, religion, gender, and personal experiences are all combined to form you. Although I could immediately grasp this much, I found myself wondering about the term and its significance, especially in marginalized communities.

I learned that a law professor named Kimberlé Crenshaw first coined the term “intersectionality” back in 1989, but it was not popularized until almost twenty years later, when many black women found themselves struggling to relate to the mainstream (and primarily white) feminist movement. The Oxford Dictionary defines intersectionality as “The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and independent systems of discrimination and disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise.” If that seems confusing, think about it like this: even though you may share a small portion of your identity with someone else, like gender or religion, you don’t share all of the same traits. For example, a white man who identifies as gay has experienced different forms of oppression than a black man who is gay, or a white woman who is a lesbian. Even though all of these people belong to the LGBTQ+ community, they most likely do not share all of the same beliefs. According to YW Boston, which published an article exploring the concept of intersectionality in 2017, “Understanding intersectionality is essential to combatting the interwoven prejudices people face in their daily lives.”

Intersectionality may just be a term, but it should be used to help further awareness of privilege and disadvantage (including your own). YW Boston recommends avoiding language that blankets large groups of people: instead of saying “all women feel that _______,” try to avoid assumptions and focus on individual beliefs and experiences. The best way to encourage intersectionality, however, is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to see things from their point of view. How might their experiences have shaped their beliefs and values? By starting here, we can certainly find some common ground.

Long Live Marielle Franco, the Queer, Afro-Latina Politician, Feminist, and Human Rights Activist

By: Korrien Hopkins

The proudly feminist Afro-Latina politician was a revolutionary public servant and activist. Unbothered by the status quo of politics, Franco quickly rose in political popularity. When elected in 2016, she won the fifth-highest vote count among council members. As a member of the far-left Socialism and Liberty party, Franco ran on a campaign that advocated for the rights of poor Brazilian communities, feminists, and the LGBTQ communities. She led an unapologetic march to freedom, justice, and equity for all Brazilians and continued that mission once in office.

Franco grew up in Maré, a slum in northern Rio de Janeiro. At the age of 11 she began working to help support her family. She gave birth to her first and only child when she was 19-years-old. She then worked as a pre-school teacher, making minimum wage and raising her daughter without the father’s help.

In 2000, after her friend died from a stray bullet, she began working in human right activism. Then, in 2001, she enrolled at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Janeiro on a scholarship while she continued to work. She earned a degree in social sciences then went on to earn her masters degree in public administration from the Fluminese Federal University.

Her career in politics began in 2007. She began working as a consultant for state representative Marcelo Freixo. She coordinated the state legislature’s Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship. She also worked for civil society organizations, including the Brazil Foundation and the Maré Center for Solidarity Studies and Action. In 2016, she ran for a seat on the Rio de Janeiro city council in the municipal elections. With over 46,500 votes, Franco was one of 51 people elected, receiving the fifth highest vote total out of more than 1,500 candidates. When elected she continued to work hard. She fought tirelessly to empower black Brazilians and other marginalized communities and fought against police brutality. As a queer woman, she supported LGBTQ communities and women’s rights, and was a strong advocate for impoverished Brazilian citizens.

Franco dedicated her life fighting to make her community and the world a better place for those who’ve yet to find peace and equity in it.

On March 14, 2018, Franco spoke out on Twitter against the police violence in Rio de Janeiro: “Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end?” she wrote. The next day, Franco attended a round-table discussion titled “Young Black Women Moving Power Structures”. Leaving the event, Franco and her driver were shot and killed on March 14, in a targeted assassination. This unleashed a wave of anger across Brazil, and provoked urgent debate on the country’s racism, violence, and impunity. As pressure grows on the authorities in Brazil to find her murderers, and open discussion on the global issues of hate crimes rise, supporters continue to  fight on her behalf. An open letter by international activists, writers, journalists, film-makers, politicians, and actors has called for an investigation of her murder by an independent commission.

Though Franco is gone, her work has forever changed her country and will continue to influence activists and revolutionaries around the world. As a black, bisexual feminist who was able to reach government official status, Franco’s death is not in vain. Her memory should continue to serve as an example of why serving others is so important. Her name and legacy will continue to motivate us to continue fighting for a greater world.

Isabel González

By Tatiahna Turner

Isabel González was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. When the island came to be under ownership of the United States through the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, González still resided on the island. One condition of the treaty was to transfer allegiance of the islanders to the United States. Under the Treaty of Paris, Puerto Rico was classified as “unincorporated territory” which meant that citizens of Puerto Rico did not have the protection from the United States Constitution that Americans did, including the right to United States citizenship. In short, the island belonged to the United States but was not a part of the United States. There were many factors that played a part in why the United States was not granting Puerto Ricans citizenship, one reason was the belief that the Puerto Rican population was considered to be racially and socially inferior to Americans. An 1899 letter published in the New York Times described Puerto Ricans as, “uneducated, simple-minded and harmless people who were only interested in wine, women, music and dancing.”

González’s fiancé, Juan Francisco Torres traveled to New York City in 1902, leaving her behind, pregnant and with another child from a previous marriage. He left with the intention of finding a job in a factory in Linoleumville, Staten Island. González was to join her fiancé there and they were to marry after he found a place to live. In August of 1902, González traveled from San Juan, Puerto Rico to New York. Normally the steamship she boarded would dock at the Port of New York, but during her travels the United States Treasury Department’s Immigration Commissioner, General F. P. Sargent issued new immigration guidelines that changed Puerto Ricans status to “aliens”. As a result, when González arrived on August 4, 1902 her and other passengers were taken to Ellis Island. González was detained upon arrival by the Immigration Commissioner as an “alien immigrant” with the intention of deporting her. When immigration officials learned of her pregnancy the Board of Special Inquiry opened a file on her.

The next day a hearing was held for González. Her uncle, Domingo Collazo, and her brother, Luis González joined her. During the hearing her family had to answer questions that vouched for her character and independence in a manner that would convince the court that she would not be a burden to the state’s welfare system. These attempts failed and her fiancé’s absence (due to work requirements) played a part in the court’s decision to stop González from being allowed to enter into the United States. After her loss, González appealed her case to the Supreme Court and focused on the issue that all Puerto Ricans were citizens of the United States, and as a result shouldn’t be detained, treated as aliens, or denied entry to the United States. The case, which became known as Gonzáles v. Williams, was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court on December 4 and 7 of 1903. González, who was out on bond, secretly married her fiancé and thus became “a citizen of this country through marriage” and acquired the right to remain stateside. She could have ended her appeal, but she instead decided to press her claim that all Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens. On January 4, 1904, the Court determined that under the immigration laws, González was not an alien, and therefore could not be denied entry into New York. The court, however declined to declare that she was a U.S. citizen. The question of the citizenship status of the inhabitants of the new island territories, and their situation remained confusing, ambiguous, and contested. Puerto Ricans came to be known as something in between: “noncitizen nationals.” However, in 1917 triggered by the efforts of Isabel González, Congress extended citizenship to Puerto Ricans.

Through her determination and perseverance, Isabel González helped pave the way for the rights of Puerto Ricans. She died on June 11, 1971 and is buried with her husband at Holy Cross Cemetery in New Jersey. Her legacy continues through her great-granddaughter, Belinda Torres-Mary, who actively pursues information regarding her great-grandmother’s history and immigration struggles.

Ava DuVernay: Director, Producer, and Screenwriter

By: Korrien Hopkins

There’s something very important about films about black women and girls being made by black women. It’s a reflection as opposed to an interpretation.

Ava DuVernay is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. DuVernay was born on August 24, 1972 in Long Beach, California. She was raised by her mother, Darlene, an educator, and her stepfather, Murray Maye. She grew up in Lynwood, California near Compton and graduated in 1990 from Saint Joseph High School in Lakewood. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and double majored in English Literature and African-American studies. During her summer vacations, she would travel to the childhood home of her stepfather, which was not far from Selma, Alabama. DuVernay said that these summers influenced the making of Selma and her successful career in film.

Prior to her filmmaking career, DuVernay worked as a publicist and marketer for 14 years. The award-winning firm she worked with provided strategy and execution for more than 120 film and television campaigns for acclaimed directors. These included directors such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann, and Bill Condon. DuVernay is also the founder of ARRAY, a grassroots distribution and advocacy collective dedicated to strengthening films by people of color and women. DuVernay sits on the boards of both Sundance Institute and Film Independent and in 2017, DuVernay was named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest World Leaders and TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay won the U.S. Directing Award Dramatic for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere, and was the first African-American woman to win the award. For her work in Selma in 2014, DuVernay was the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award. With Selma, she was also the first black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 2017, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for her film 13th in 2016. DuVernay’s latest film premiered March 9, 2018. The groundbreaking fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time, had a budget exceeding 100 million dollars, making her the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of that size. DuVernay was the first of many, setting the bar high and opening the door for future women of color filmmakers like myself. She continues to inspire many and displays what it is to be a phenomenal woman of history by using her power to share stories of those like us.

The intersectionality of TIME’s “silence breakers”—and how it’s being misrepresented

By Kara Lewis

I woke up this morning to several trending phrases on my Facebook timeline: “TIME magazine,” “the silence breakers,” and “me too” among them. As I scrolled, I found the exciting explanation posted by a feminist page that I follow—“silence breakers,” or the people who have spoken out about sexual assault and harassment, had been named as the influential magazine’s “person of the year.”

However, my pride and enthusiasm dimmed when I scanned the page’s share text, which read “Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, and Susan Fowler are on the cover.” This three-name list didn’t match up with the picture I saw, which featured five women, including two women of color. Someone had already commented, sarcastically noting, “Thanks for letting us know who the white ones are.”

In reality, TIME’s person of the year profile stands out as incredibly inclusive and intersectional. The spread features people of all races and ethnicities, women and men—despite the widespread myth that sexual assault is only a “women’s problem”—and people of varying socioeconomic statuses.

And, once and for all, the women on TIME’s cover are Visa lobbyist Adama Iwu, strawberry picker Isabel Pascual, actress Ashley Judd, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, and Uber whistleblower Susan Fowler. All have been touched by personal experiences with sexual assault and harassment, and bravely recounted them throughout 2017. All deserve to be on this magnificent cover. So why are Iwu and Pascual being overshadowed?

An informal Google search for “Time magazine cover” brings up a picture of Rose McGowan, the headline “Read Taylor Swift’s TIME Person of the Year Interview,” and speculation about whose cropped arm graces the cover. While the symbolism behind that arm is actually extremely powerful, a more problematic message brews behind this widely-asked question. Namely, why are people more curious and talkative about a woman who doesn’t fully appear on the cover than the strong women of color who do?

Many of the sources reporting on TIME’s impactful decision have also left out Iwu and Pascual. A US Magazine headline teases, “Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ is ‘The Silence Breakers’: Taylor Swift, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and More.”

An excerpt from a USA Today  article explains, “Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal revealed the cover on Wednesday morning’s Today show, which features Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler and a woman whose face is obscured.”

In yet another slight, TIME seems to have followed suit by giving readers what they want: a full interview with Taylor Swift, the only “silence breaker” to have her story published separately from the profile. While this interview proves interesting and inspiring, why weren’t the other “silence breakers”—including those of different races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and those of considerably less fame—given the chance to share their individual stories?

If you can’t appreciate the #metoo movement in all of its color and intersectionality, forget your fake allyship and just buy another copy of Swift’s Reputation. Maybe its message will be easier for you to understand.

However, if you’re ready to read Iwu, Pascual and everyone’s stories, catch the full profile and video here.

When there’s no one like you on TV: Searching for media representation

By Michaela Okosi

As a kid, I often looked to TV to find someone like me who could be my role model. I still remember never finding that person. I am deaf black woman, and the lack of representation I saw growing up made it difficult to understand this identity.

Television fails to reflect diversity, and often characterizes people from minority groups with stereotypes and stigma. I was so happy when I saw the show Switched at Birth, which has a deaf main character, yet the actress who plays this role isn’t deaf (though she has experienced disease-related hearing loss). I felt weird about it, because I know there are deaf actors and actress who could have portrayed the character. It is important for children to be able to say “Oh, she/he is just like me!”

Now, in addition to Switched at Birth, shows like Speechless, Hush, and others shed light on the experiences of deaf people. I hope representation like this encourages people to understand those who are deaf and have other disabilities. We have a power to influence the media and ultimately break the stereotypes and stigma.