End of Year Reflections: Mia Lukic

By Mis Lukic

My time at the Women’s Center was nothing short of amazing. I loved getting to learn from the phenomenal directors, fellow staff members, and friends of the Women’s Center. I feel like I have grown as a woman, professional, and feminist. I have loved writing these blogs and getting time to research and write about some important topics. I was also the project leader on three awesome programs: Equal Pay Day, Women’s History Month, and Rising Gardens.

Rising Gardens was by far my favorite. It was a new program that I did a lot of research and planning for. It was a part of One Billion Rising, a subset of the new V-Day celebrations. Its focus was on how gardens connect to everything and have the power to heal. The first part of the program was during Black History Month, and focused on the Black community, food desserts, and how gardens can be used to combat food insecurity. The second part fell during Women’s History Month and focused on women in agriculture and the difficulties they face. The third and final part was in April and led up to Earth Day, and focused on climate change and the women working to combat it. Over the course of the three months, our staff had home windowsill gardens where we regrew food scraps and repurposed jars and containers. On Earth Day, we gave away food scraps and containers so people could start their own gardens.

I am so grateful for my time at the Women’s Center and although I will not be working there next semester, I will certainly remain a devoted follower on social media and visitor as the center is slowly opening back up. I look forward to wrapping up my undergraduate studies next semester and starting law school!

Ma Vie en Rose

By Mia Lukic

I recently watched a movie entitled “Ma Vie en Rose” or “My Life in Pink”. The 1997 film follows Ludo, a young transgender girl in a time and place where being trans wasPhoto of pink high heels not understood nor accepted. Ludo understands the world and her situation through her favorite children’s show “Le Monde de Pam” or “Pam’s World”. The show takes place in a bright colored fantastical world where people can fly and the magic of imagination controls all. Ludo figures that when God was tossing X and Y chromosomes out of the sky to determine a baby’s gender, the second X that would have given Ludo the female sex at birth must have gotten blown away in the wind. Unfortunately, the adults in Ludo’s life and her peers do not think Ludo’s situation is nearly as simple. She is forced to dress like a boy and labelled as gay, also a huge taboo in the film, when she says she wants to marry a boy in her class. Life for Ludo and her family gets very complicated and difficult as Ludo refuses to stop wearing dresses and expressing herself as the young girl she is. A great movie, available to watch on Amazon, “Ma Vie en Rose” brings up many important conversations.

When the movie was first released in the United States it was given an rating of “R”, for having “adult themes” and IMDB cites “brief strong language” for the rating. All of the streaming services the movie is currently on, have it listed as an R rated movie. I am by no means an expert on the rating process, but as someone who has seen many movies, I can confidently say from my experiences that the movie does not compare to other R rated movies I have seen.

Mental Floss explains that the organization Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has a division called Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) that focuses on giving ratings. These ratings used to be controlled by the Hays Code, a code meant to control the morals of films, created by a Jesuit priest. The code, influenced by the morals of one religion, was used to evaluate films created by and featuring people of all religions and backgrounds. Today, CARA is “funded through fees paid directly to them by producers and production companies to have their films reviewed; their methods have been questioned by industry professionals and movie-lovers alike” (Mental Floss).

Currently the R rating is as follows:

“R—“Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian… May include adult themes, adult activity (author’s note: stuff it’s not legal for kids to do), hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements… Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.”

Ma Vie en Rose has no drugs, no nudity, no intense violence, the language is very brief and is subjectively not “hard”, but that word is very vague and open to interpretation.

PG (formerly M, then GP)—“Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children… The more mature themes in some PG-rated motion pictures may call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity… There is no drug use content.”

When we take a look at the PG rating it not only allows for “some profanity”, which matches IMDB’s description and my analysis, it allows for “brief violence and brief nudity”, which the film does not have. I would like to stress that I am not an expert but when comparing the ratings and their breakdowns to the movie, something does not add up. The transphobia and over sexualization of the vary topics of gender identity and sexuality seem to outweigh the written breakdowns of the ratings and logic itself. Children deserve to see films with representation of a variety of people and trans children need to be a topic that we can talk about openly without sexualizing them or making it into a taboo. Trans girls deserve to not only imagine but live their lives in pink.

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/57664/how-do-movies-get-their-ratings

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119590/

 

Caregiving and Mental Health

By Mia Lukic

According to Women’s Health, more than 1 in 5 women in the United States had a mental health condition in the past year. Depression and anxiety are some of the more well-known conditions, but there are many conditions that only (or disproportionately more often) affect women and people who menstruate. These include but are not limited to: caregiver stress, insomnia, menopause, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

A caregiver is someone who provides unpaid care for another adult with an illness or disability. Most caregivers are women, and 60% of caregivers also work a paid job in addition to their caregiving. (Women’s Health). Caregiver stress is a term that encompasses the immense stress and strain being a caregiver has on one’s mental health. Being responsible for another adult, sometimes in addition to children and other family members, work, and yourself can be incredibly difficult. It is important to remember that we put on our own masks before helping others on an airplane, and a similar approach is vital to mental health. We cannot be much help to others if we do not take care of ourselves first.

25% of women have insomnia symptoms, and it is much more common in older women than any other group (Women’s Health). Insomnia can be primary, meaning it is the disorder or problem. It can also be secondary, meaning it is a symptom of other conditions or medications. But why do women experience insomnia at greater proportions? Women’s Health explains it is due to the menstrual cycle.

The changes in hormones that women and other people who menstruate experience can cause insomnia. Menopause, pregnancy, and PMS/PMDD all cause physical and emotional pain and mood swings which make sleep difficult if not impossible. Sleep is crucial to mental health and the brain’s ability to rest and rejuvenate.

PMS is a series of symptoms that occur before a person’s menstrual cycle, that causes physical pain in addition to :

  • Feeling tired
  • Irritability or hostile behavior
  • Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Tension or anxiety
  • Depression, feelings of sadness, or crying spells
  • Mood swings
  • Less interest in sex

PMDD is a more severe form of PMS can in addition to physical pain causes:

  • Lasting irritability or anger that may affect other people
  • Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings or crying often
  • Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling out of control

Panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide are all listed as symptoms of these menstrual cycle conditions. They are all mental health issues that may require and deserve attention by a professional. While seeking help can be difficult, it is incredibly important. It might be a comfort that most people who menstruate also are going through similar things, you are far from alone.

All of the information from this post, including more info and resources can be found here : https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health

Mental Health Resources:

https://info.umkc.edu/womenc/services/campus-and-community-resources/mental-health/

Counseling Resources:

https://info.umkc.edu/womenc/services/campus-and-community-resources/counseling/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish.

800-273-8255

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: Zitkala-Ša

By Mia Lukic

“Gertrude Kasebier Photo of Zitkala Sa, Sioux Indian and activist” by National Museum of American History is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Zitkala-Ša was an empowering activist who fought for native rights and played a role in the fight for suffrage. She was born on February 22, 1876 on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota. At only eight years old Zitkala-Ša was taken from her home and placed in White’s Indiana Manual Labor Institute, a residential school that, like many others across the country, forced assimilation on native children. Here, Zitkala-Ša was given the name Gertrude Simmons, her beautiful and meaningful long hair was chopped off and her personal beliefs dismissed as she was forced to pray as a Quaker.

The school impacted Zitkala-Ša greatly, in positive and negative ways. She loved school and learning, especially learning to play music and she went on to become a music teacher at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Carlisle was an assimilation school like Zitkala-Ša had attended herself, a place where native children were taken to after being ripped away from their homes and forced to accept and act in ways that were favorable to the white teachers. The founder of Carlisle is quoted to have said “kill the Indian in him, and save the man”, in reference to what they did at the school.

The assimilation attempts and disconnect from her culture and heritage left her feeling stuck in a limbo between worlds. She tried multiple times to return to the reservation she was from, but was too upset by both the personal separation the school had made and the state of the reservation after years of white settlers occupying the land and the negative results of those actions.

A talented writer, Zitkala-Ša started writing for magazines about her experiences and her heritage. She wrote out against assimilation and boarding schools that tore children away from their families and communities. She even wrote down many stories from her tribe and culture to share with the white communities as means to humanize and share the rich cultures native people have, in an attempt to slow the push for assimilation. Zitkala-Ša even wrote the first native written opera, based on a sacred Sioux dance that was illegal in the eyes of the United States Government. The opera was a piece of art that expressed her feeling of being caught between two worlds, and her desire to connect the two.

She eventually went on to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Society of American Indians where she fought hard for native rights, against assimilation, and lobbied for American citizenship. She argued that as the original people of America, indigenous people had a right to be citizens and be represented in government with the right to vote. Zitkala-Ša moved to Washington DC and fought for what she believed in even after the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act passed. While this act granted citizenship it did not prevent states from deciding who had a right to vote and who did not. Zitkala-Ša devoted her entire life to fighting for native rights and was incredibly passionate about suffrage, creating voting registration drives and working to make voting accessible for all natives. She died in 1928 and the last state granted natives the right to vote thirty-four years later in 1962. Even then, much like the Jim Crow laws that were used against Black voters, natives faced literacy tests and taxes and general discouragement.

Zitkala-Ša was a driven and passionate woman who fought for native rights and the right to vote for all. Her role in the suffrage movement is not nearly as covered by the media nor textbooks but it was and is incredibly important and powerful.

Sources

https://www.history.com/news/native-american-voting-rights-citizenship

https://www.nps.gov/people/zitkala-sa.htm

 

 

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

 

Dating During a Pandemic

Two people, both alike in swiping right,

In the time of Corona, where we lay our scene…

One would imagine dating during the time of a global pandemic would decrease significantly. Instead, dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid are reporting substantial increases in usage. (Fast Company) What’s more, people seem to be more open to conversations and creating emotional connections than before. Researchers say that when meeting up immediately is no longer safe, people are taking their time getting to know one another, and working towards meaningful relationships as opposed to flings. (The Atlantic)

We’ve published blogs talking about the dangers women are facing having to shelter in place in houses where they experience domestic violence, and the increase in violence against women in the pandemic. You can read more about what the UN labeled “The Shadow Pandemic” here.

What about the concerns of newly budding relationships?

One love is an organization devoted to educating young people on love and relationships. They recently released 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship and explain what these signs can look like during a global pandemic. They stress that “While everyone does unhealthy things sometimes, we can all learn to love better by recognizing unhealthy signs and shifting to healthy behaviors. If you are seeing unhealthy signs in your relationship, it’s important to not ignore them and understand they can escalate to abuse. If you think you are in a dangerous situation, trust your gut and get help.” (one love)

The ten signs are listed below and the full infographic can be found here.

  1. Intensity: When someone expresses very extreme feelings and over-the top behavior that feels overwhelming.

Expecting you to respond quickly to text/calls, expecting to spend all day together because you are home, relationships escalating faster than normal, self isolating together after a short time.

  1. Manipulation: When someone tries to control your decisions, actions or emotions.

Using shelter in place to control where you are, pressuring you to meet in person despite social distancing guidelines.

  1. Sabotage: When someone purposely ruins your reputation, achievements, or success.

Withholding WiFi, transportation, or money, not respecting communicated boundaries like work from home time, carelessly exposing you COVID19.

  1. Guilting: When someone makes you feel responsible for their actions or makes you feel like it’s your job to keep them happy.

Making you feel bad for having conversations about boundaries, expecting you to be okay sending or receiving explicit photos/messages due to lack of physical contact.

  1. Deflecting Responsibility: When someone repeatedly makes excuses for their unhealthy behavior.

Using the pandemic as an excuse for their unhealthy actions and behaviors like yelling or anything else on this list.

  1. Possessiveness: When someone is jealous to a point where they try to control who you spend time with and what you do.

Demanding you share your location at all times, looking through your phone, demanding to know who you’re talking to throughout the day.

  1. Isolation: When someone keeps you away from friends, family, or other people.

Pressuring you to quarantine with them instead of family/friends, expecting you to stay on the phone with them all day or for long stretches of time and limiting your interaction with others.

  1. Belittling: When someone does and says things to make you feel bad about yourself.

Putting you down for your work habits, snacking, physical appearance, or level of concern for COVID19.

  1. Volatility: When someone has a really strong, unpredictable reaction that makes you feel scared, confused or intimidated.

Lashing out and having extreme reactions to things out of their control like the WiFi not working, not being about to go out, etc.

  1. Betrayal: When someone is disloyal or acts in an intentionally dishonest way.

Exposing you or others to COVID19 knowingly or due to a lack of precautions, lying about breaking safety “bubbles” and symptoms of COVID19.

It is important to keep these red flags in mind when starting a new relationship, and even when evaluating existing ones. Abuse does not have to be physical to be real, and it is never excusable. If you are experiencing domestic violence contact the domestic violence hotline at 816-995-1000.

As always you can contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu and we would be more than happy to assist you and/or direct you towards further help in whatever situation you are in.

Sources

https://www.fastcompany.com/90492617/how-covid-19-killed-hookup-culture-and-saved-romance

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/12/what-pandemic-has-done-dating/617502/

https://www.joinonelove.org/

 

Reflecting on the Semester

By Mia Lukic

I cannot believe the Fall 2020 semester is already ending. No one could have predicted the circumstances of this semester and it held many surprises for everyone. One of the positive surprises I got was when I received my email that I had been awarded work study. I knew immediately that I wanted to join the Women’s Center staff after taking a class with Dr. Bethman, our director. It was the first post I applied to and I was so incredibly happy to have been accepted. Because of my late work study, I started a month or two later than most of the other staff but they all welcomed me quickly and I started contributing to the programs and events, as well as my blog and social media postings.

I loved working on programs like Words of Wisdom Wednesdays where I shared quotes from women on our Instagram, White Ribbon Day where I collaborated with UMKC RISE to raise awareness for gender-based violence, and Transgender Day of Remembrance where I created graphics of information to share regarding the Transgender community.

These blogs have been a great opportunity to learn a lot about a variety of topics during my research and preparation. I have really loved sharing what I found and am excited to dive into new topics next semester. It has also served as a way to start important conversations with my parents, new devoted Women’s Center blog readers. (Hi Mom and Dad!)

I learned a lot about social media as it switched from casual, personal use to a sizable part of my job. One thing I did not expect to encounter were : Twitter Trolls. I had heard of these creatures before, but never experienced them until this semester. It was difficult at first, but I think it made me a better person and feminist, learning not to second guess myself just because someone didn’t agree with me.

I loved working with this amazing group of people and will miss those not returning next semester, but know they are on their way to doing great things! I look forward to working on more programs next semester like the new and improved V-day and even a program that combines issues surrounding the environment, women, and food insecurity into one.

I plan on taking the winter break to force myself to take time for myself and devote at least the time I would be writing these blogs to self care and I hope you find time to do the same. Until January!

The Shadow Pandemic

By Mia Lukic

November 30th was White Ribbon Day, a part of the United Nations ongoing 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence which runs from the 25th of November to the 10th of December. This was a day to show solidarity with those who have experienced gender-based violence through signing a white ribbon and sharing the message on social media. Gender based violence is defined as “harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms” (UNHCR) and is considered “a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue” by the United Nations Refugee Agency.

While the COVID 19 pandemic changed the circumstances of the event, it also has had a detrimental impact on gender-based violence worldwide. Even before the pandemic, 1 in 3 women experienced physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner (UN Women). The numbers are only increasing due to a multitude of COVID caused changes. The factors include: security, health, and money worries, cramped living conditions, isolation with abusers, movement restrictions, and deserted public places (UN Women)

Statistically, less than 40% of women who experience violence seek help, and during the pandemic calls to helplines in certain countries increased by 5 times (UN Women). What does that mean about the number of cases?

The United Nations has deemed this the Shadow Pandemic. The Coronavirus is without question one of the most difficult things the world has experienced in past years, and the increase in violence against women seems to be a symptom left out of the fact sheets.

PPE or Personal Protective Equipment, takes on a whole new meaning. The CDC recommends wearing a mask and social distancing, but a mask cannot protect from violence, and distance from abusers can be impossible during stay at home orders. So how do we combat this Shadow Pandemic?

The UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said:

 

“I would like to call on your government to make visible at the highest level your commitment to addressing violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19 by issuing a short statement on social media, in the form of a video message or a short text at the highest possible level, ideally at the level of Head of State/Government, highlighting:

  • Tangible actions undertaken to address violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19;
  • Future planning policies and actions to implement in this context;
  • Your Government’s commitment to raise awareness on the issue at the national and international levels.” (UN Women)

UN Women stresses the importance of the following during this Shadow Pandemic.

FUND

  • Prioritize funding for a minimum package of essential services and include violence against women prevention in COVID-19 fiscal stimulus packages.
  • Make urgent and flexible funding available for women’s rights organizations working at the nexus of COVID-19 and addressing violence against women

PREVENT

  • Declare national zero tolerance policy for violence against women and girls with a concrete action plan in place
  • Launch a COVID-19 behavior change social mobilization campaign

RESPOND

  • Undertake explicit measures so that services for survivors of violence are maintained as essential
  • Ensure continuum of adequate criminal justice system response.

COLLECT

  • Collect data for improvement of services and programs” (UN Women)

Whether you are calling your representatives to demand they address the Shadow Pandemic, checking in on your loved ones, or fighting your own battle, know you are not alone. For hotline numbers and resources in our area check out the link below:

Domestic and Sexual Violence Resources

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