Janelle Monáe’s New Music Video is a Tribute to Vaginas, Feminism, LGBTQ+ AND Unity of all People

By: Korrien A. Hopkins

This week Janelle Monáe dropped a new music video for her single PYNK. This is the third song and video she has dropped from her upcoming third solo album, “Dirty Computer” which is set to release April 27.

The video PYNK hit the web earlier this week, featuring only women dancers.  Directed by Emma Westenberg, the video opens with Janelle Monáe and a line of backup dancers wearing pink leotards and what the internet has been describing as pussy pants.

The entire video is pink of course. But in addition to the pussy pants and pink everything throughout the video you can see underwear with slogans like “Sex cells” and “I grab back” among many other womanist phrases.

In February, Monae dropped two songs and videos. The songs are “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane”. Both are songs that I absolutely love. “Make Me Feel” pays a clear homage to the legend Prince, reflecting on his 1986 video for “Kiss”. “Django Jane” which features Monae’s nice rap flow, is a song that celebrates the strength, courage and beauty of black women. It celebrates black culture while addressing the trials and tribulations of identity in a modern society.

Monae stated, “PYNK is a brash celebration of creation, self-love, sexuality, and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nook and crannies of humans everywhere.”

So, she not only uses Pynk to celebrate black women but to Its celebrate everyone and unify us all.

Like she said, deep inside we’re all pink.

There were concerns that the pants in the video might not be inclusive of women who don’t have vaginas. Monáe and Thompson quickly to address those concerns. Thompson tweeted, “To all the black girls that need a monologue that don’t have Vaginas, I’m listening.”  Monáe tweeted, “Thank you to the incomparable and brilliant @TessaThompson_x for helping celebrate US (no matter if you have a vagina or not) all around the world! We see you. We celebrate you. I owe you my left arm T. Xx.”

I am extremely excited for this album to release later this month. I am truly pleased with her releases thus far.  I am so happy, proud, and so thankful for Janelle Monae’s artistry and how she uses her platform. She promotes and supports those who choose to live their truths unapologetically and does so herself. For that I will forever support her. <3

Checkout her latest releases here:

Django Jane

PYNK

Make Me Feel

 

UMKC gears up for Transgender Awareness Month

By Ann Varner

It was recently brought to my attention that November is Transgender Awareness Month. In particular, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day dedicated to remembering transgender people who have lost their lives due to anti-trans violence.

This month is so important because it brings attention to a group of people who have significant struggles in terms of equality and acceptance in the United States. According to Marie Claire, there are an estimated 700,000 people who identify as transgender in the United States. 41% of this population has attempted or committed suicide.

19% of transgender people have experienced violence or abuse from a family member, with only 18 states having clear laws protecting transgender people.

In order to help improve these issues and reflect a more positive trans experience, UMKC LGBTQIA Programs & Services is hosting many events this week and next week for trans awareness. Their website also lists university resources for trans and non-binary students, faculty and staff. Check them out!

Pridefest or Protest

Photo credit: Julie Missbutterflies, “LGBTQIA Pride- Rennes-2017” via Flickr

By Caroline Turner

Kansas City celebrated Pridefest during the first week of June, but LGBTQIA+ communities have been continuing the festivities and activism around the nation and around the world throughout the entire month.

In KC, the three day festival at Berkeley Riverfront Park featured headlining musicians Betty Who, Citizen Jane, Well Strung and more. The celebration also featured many local business and vendors, volleyball, workshops, food trucks, and a Ferris wheel.

While reflecting on Pride Month, I came across the article by BuzzFeed questioning, “Should Pride Be A Party Or A Protest?” The article points out both trials and tribulations that the LGBTQIA+ community are going through, focusing on how Pride events have shifted since its beginning in New York 1970, which marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The author points out tension between the rising shift in the Pride movement being, “less explicitly about rising up against oppression and more about joy, visibility, affirmation and celebration in face of that oppression.” For some who feel their battle is not yet won, this presents a conflict. Some want to march to demand their rights and some want a party to celebrate their rights.

Themes of minority and majority come out within the tension, as the movement is made up of many people and groups. In the article, senior director of Casa Ruby, a well-known bilingual multicultural LGBT Organization said, “(There are) lots of folds in the community who don’t feel particularly represented.”

Whether people are protesting or partying, the main consensus seemed to be that as long as people are showing up that’s what matters. Showing representation of the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole is powerful. Get out there and enjoy the rest of pride month everyone!

LGBTQIA Pride Month Lecture featuring Angelica Ross

click to enlarge

by Thea Voutiritsas

Join us Wednesday, April 12th at 6pm in the UMKC Pierson Auditorium for the LGBTQIA Pride Month Lecture featuring Angelica Ross!  Miss Ross is a leading figure of success and strength in the movement for trans and racial equality. She is the founder of TransTech Social Enterprises, a company that empowers trans and gender nonconforming people through on-the-job training in leadership and workplace skills. TransTech helps people lift themselves out of poverty and brings economic empowerment to marginalized communities. She was awarded the 2016 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award for her work. She is also played a breakout role as Paige in the Emmy nominated 2015 film Her Story, which provides a look at the successful women who have been overturning conventions in their surroundings.

This lecture is free of charge. RSVP at http://umkclgbtqia.eventbrite.com

Cosponsored in partnership with the Division of Diversity & Inclusion; UMKC Women’s Center; UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs; UMKC LGBTQUIA Programs and Services; UMKC Pride Alliance; UMKC LGBTQIA Affairs Council; UMKC Trans+

Texas Mayor Jess Herbst: ‘Yes I am Transgender and a Seated Mayor’

Image from the website of the mayor of New Hope, Tex., Jess Herbst.

by Thea Voutiritsas

Jess Herbst, mayor of New Hope, Texas announced at a town hall meeting that she is Transgender, and would no longer use the name Jeff. “As far as I know, I am the first openly transgender mayor on record in the state of Texas; there could be others who never came out,” Ms. Herbst said in a New York Times interview on Wednesday. “But I am the first to say, ‘Yes I am transgender and a seated mayor.’ ” Herbst also writes an open letter to the citizens of New Hope which can be viewed on the official website of New Hope. In it, she writes:

I know that transgender people are just coming to light in our society, and we have made great strides in the last few years. Celebrities like olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox from the show ‘Orange is the new Black’ and popular shows like ‘Transparent’ , society finally has a chance to see and learn about who we are.

In Herbst’s blog, jessherbst.com, she writes that she found many of her transgender references online. She says she found “an avalanche of knowledge. I became aware of not only the terminology, but that fact that there were many, many more people like me out there.” Herbst was eventually able to begin meeting with more trans women, and about a year ago, she began HRT. Now, she has been living full-time as Jess since January 2017.

She plans on continuing as Mayor, and hopes to do the very best for the town. She says that her family has been supportive, writing in the letter that “My daughters have been adamant supporters of me and are proud to tell people their father is transgender.” More of Herbst’s story and updates can be found on her blog.

 

Kat Blaque

By Matiara Huff

http://katblaque.tumblr.com/image/120005457569

http://katblaque.tumblr.com/image/120005457569

Kat Blaque is an incredible Youtuber activist. As a Trans women of color, she has taken it upon herself to educate people on issues unique to her Identity. Her videos range from defining gender, to defining feminism, to issues of race and current events. She has basically made a video on every topic, and they have all been inclusive and educating. She is well educated in the issues that she talks about, and is careful not to offend anyone. Her on-camera attitude is almost neutral which helps in getting people to understand her topic. She is one of my favorite Youtubers, whenever people have questions about race or gender, she is one of the people that I recommend.

On Caitlyn Jenner as Woman of the Year

By Danielle Lyons

In a Glamour Magazine video Caitlyn Jenner says, “To live life authentically is the best thing I can ever do.” It sounds simple enough, but it can be the hardest thing someone can do. As women we have overcome so many obstacles throughout history and we have a ways to go.

The transgender community has farther to go in their fight for equality. They are advocating for their safety, healthcare, ease of transitioning, and other basic human rights. On March 1, 2015, the National Advocacy of Anti-Violence Programs reported 14 murders of transgender individuals for the year of 2015. That is two months into the year. The Human Rights Campaign analyzed 636 healthcare companies and only 207 provided coverage to transgender employees. A staggering 41% of the transgender population have attempted suicide at some point, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. These number are unacceptable and call for change.

18544239191_63546e9454_oIn October of 2015, Caitlyn Jenner received the honor of receiving, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award. Originally born Bruce William Jenner, she is mostly remembered as a reality star and as, “An All American Hero,” for her major success in the Olympics. Some have called in to question whether or not Jenner actually deserves this title. Moira Smith was a recipient of the award in 2001, shortly after her death. Moira’s husband, James Smith, considers Jenner to be underserving of the award. James, whom has worked at a shelter geared towards young youth stated, “When Mr. Jenner said the hardest part about being a woman was figuring out what to wear he proved to me that he is not truly a woman. I believe this comment and others he has made trivializes the transgender experience as I have witnessed it.”

Glamour has spoken out as stating, “Caitlyn Jenner has helped shine a light on the problems faced by transgender youth and given voice to a community that is often unheard. Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards recognizes brave, bold women who in their individual ways have all made a significant difference in the world.” Caitlyn Jenner is not the only transgender woman to receive this award from glamour. Laverne Cox received this award just one year prior. This is such an important step in transgender equality; the idea that a transgender woman can have an equal shot at woman of the year.

Much of Jenner’s criticisms are about her privileged life. It is important to consider the magnifying glass she had to transform under. Rumors and whispers about Caitlyn’s gender identity have been plaguing her for years. It takes courage to be yourself. It takes a different kind of courage to do it in the public eye with such grace. Her place of privilege does not make her any less of a conqueror; however, it is something to acknowledge. We as women should strive to celebrate in all women’s accomplishments, no matter the origin of the woman. Caitlyn did say this in regards to her new sense of responsibility, “If there’s one thing I do know about my life, it is the power of the spotlight. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, but with attention comes responsibility. As a group, as athletes, how you conduct your lives, what you say, what you do is absorbed and observed by millions of people, especially young people. I know I’m clear with my responsibility going forward, to tell my story the right way, for me, to keep learning, to reshape the landscape of how Trans issues are viewed, how Trans people are treated. And then more broadly to promote a very simple idea: accepting people for who they are. Accepting people’s differences.”

Lea DeLaria is Coming to UMKC

By Danielle Lyons

14823842337_429b79a082_bLea DeLaria has enjoyed a career in comedy, dating back to the early 90’s when she appeared in Comedy Central’s Out There, the first openly gay and lesbian stand-up special. She has also than enjoyed a career in jazz, Broadway TV and films. Her newest role is, Big Boo in the wildly popular Netflix exclusive, Orange is the New Black. Her character is an openly gay, charming and often times sarcastic inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary. Her performance can only be described as hilariously brilliant.

Lea DeLaria will be a speaker for the Ninth Annual Pride Lecture at the University of Missouri Kansas City, as hosted by the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. This event will take place 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 18th in the Atterbury Student Success Center, Pierson Auditorium, 5100 Holmes St., Kansas City, MO. Sign up and see this incredibly and accomplished women!

Sonia Sotomayor: Latina Associate Justice of SCOTUS voted to legalize same-sex marriage

By Madelina NuñezSonia Sotomayor

I’d like to give a shout out to Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s right, a Latina had a say in the landmark ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states in the United States. Born to Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor has served on the Supreme Court since 2009. Throughout her time she has been responsible for being a voice and decision maker for issues such as criminal justice reform, race, gender, and ethnic identity.

Regarding the ruling, Sotomayor said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Leelah Alcorn

Image found via Google Images on Creative Commons

Image found via Google Images on Creative Commons

By Matiara Huff

On December 28, 2014 Leelah Alcorn was pronounced dead, and her death did exactly what she wanted it to do. At the end of her suicide note she wrote “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f***ed up’ and fix it. Fix society.”

Leelah Alcorn was a 17 year old transgender girl and all she wanted for her 16 birthday was permission to have gender reassignment surgery, and the support of her parents. Instead she was met with hatred and embarrassment. She was verbally abused and denied her surgery. Then, after coming out in school as a stepping stone, her parents took her out of school, cut off all of her social interaction, and put her in conversion therapy for 5 months. When she finally went back to school, she thought that things would get better but all of her friends moved on, and she said this made her feel lonelier than ever.

Leelah was struck by a tractor trailer at 2:00 a.m. on a highway 4 miles from her house, then at 5:30pm the next day her suicide note was set to post on Tumblr. She explained everything that she went through and why she decided to kill herself. She posted a second note to apologize to her siblings and friends. Since then, Leelah’s life and death have gone viral and have sparked a movement that she would have wanted. The only way to keep the movement going is to not forget her.

Leelah’s story is just one of too many tragic stories, and it is time that we change our society so that we don’t have to hear about these stories grounded in such hatred. At the Women’s Center, we recognize these problems, and we take the necessary steps to support everyone, no matter what their gender expression is. We want to make this world a better place for all of us. Until it is a better place for all of us, everyone is always safe and welcome in the Women’s Center.