Artist Salon Spotlight: Meet Brittany Noriega!

By: Emma Stuart

This is the continuation of a segment of blog highlighting local artists that will be involved in the Artist’s Salon, sponsored by the Women’s Center at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14, 6-7 p.m. This segment is about local artist Brittany Noriega. Brittany is a graphite and mixed media artist who is greatly motivated by emotional experience. She is very interested in the study of psychology and sociology and explores their impacts on the individual through her work. Her works have an ethereal air that echo the emotive state individuals feel when they are experiencing times of change, struggle, and revival. She often tells a narrative with her highly detailed work that focuses on the overcoming and healing of trauma. Her work is currently being shown at the InterUrban ArtHouse in the “Her Art/Their Art Exhibition”. To get to know our featured speakers we asked them some questions about themselves and their work.

Q: What is your preferred medium of creativity?

“My personal artwork is mostly visual art, usually graphite. I am also the creator of Core. Magazine, a local arts zine. I enjoy showing off how beautiful, creative, and diverse our arts community is, as well as telling artists’ stories.”

Q: What is your interest in participating in the Artist’s Salon? 

“I think that having discussions about what moves us, especially as women, is really important. My artwork is centered in personal stories of abuse, trauma, and overcoming challenges. Speaking about these topics opens up doors to give other women space to heal, or rejoice, or just connect.”

Q: What is a source of inspiration for your work?

“As mentioned above, my work is centered in storytelling, mostly things that I have experienced in my life. My goal is to create a spark that starts a conversation about what women go through every day⁠—the good and the bad. I am consistently inspired by the amazing women in my life, family and friends.”

Q: Are there any projects you are currently working on that you are excited about? 

“I was recently awarded a one-year residency with InterUrban Arthouse for their Centerpieces for Social Justice program. I will be creating a centerpiece for the Her Art/Their Art exhibition next year.”

Q: How do you see the intersection of art and gender in your own work? And how has this empowered you, or others?

“I started drawing about my own life in 2016, as a way to move through the things I have experienced and to heal. I let the process lead me and it has become much more than I ever anticipated. Finding new ways to have hard conversations about trauma has led to some really amazing opportunities. It has been very empowering and healing, but the most important thing to me now is opening up so that other women feel like they can, too.”

If you are interested in learning more about Brittany’s work, you can visit her website here. Her Instagram handle is @bmnoriega, and her work currently being displayed at the InterUrban ArtHouse. If you are interested in hearing her stance on the intersection of art and gender join us at our discussion, “Artist Salon: Gender, Art, Power”.  The event will take place at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14, from 6-7 p.m.

Artist Salon Spotlight: Meet Joy Zimmerman!

By: Emma Stuart

This segment is a continuation of the segment of blogs highlighting local artists that will be involved in the Artist’s Salon, sponsored by the Women’s Center at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14th.

This posting is all about  local singer songwriter Joy Zimmerman. She recently debuted a song called “Women Who Walk on Water” with an event at the InterUrban ArtHouse, accompanied by an exhibit. This exhibit is dedicated to important women throughout history, who are highlighted through a portrait gallery in the InterUrban ArtHouse gallery space and are mentioned in Joy’s song. To get to know our featured speakers we asked them some questions about themselves and their work.

Q: What is your preferred medium of creativity?

“I’m a singer/songwriter and presenter.”

Q: What is your interest in participating in the Artist’s Salon?

“I think this panel will be a fascinating discussion, and I look forward to hearing

the perspectives and insights of the other panelists.”

Q: What is a source of inspiration for your work?

“I love writing and sharing songs about the scope of life experience. Reflecting on artists whose songs have been meaningful to me, I dive into the joys and struggles of my own life to spur ideas.”

Q:Are there any projects you are currently working on that you are excited about?

“I’m currently participating in the Artist INC program, working on new collaborations, practicing for upcoming gigs, arranging small tours, writing new songs for a forthcoming album, and looking forward to attending several conferences and a songwriting retreat.”

Q: How do you see the intersection of art and gender in your own work? And how has this empowered you, or others?

“Women are vastly underrepresented in the music industry, so I feel stronglyabout representing the female voice and perspective in songwriting, performing, recording, and producing. It was gratifying to write a song highlighting courageous women past and present and curate a hall of portraits and a concert to celebrate their impact.”

You can find Joy’s music on streaming platforms such as Spotify, YouTube Music and Pandora. To learn more about Joy and her work visit her website, and if you are interested in hearing Joy’s take on the intersection of art and gender join us at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14th for our Artist’s discussion.

Artist Salon Spotlight: Meet Natasha Ria El-Scari!

 

By: Emma Stuart

This segment is a continuation of the segment of blogs highlighting local artists that will be involved in the Artist’s Salon, sponsored by the Women’s Center at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 1th at 6-7 p.m. Natasha Ria El-Scari will be one of the featured speakers at the event.

Natasha is a Kansas City local with many talents. She is a published poet and writer with 5 published written works. Her most well-known being “Mama Sutra: Love and Lovemaking Advice to my Son”, which is all about the conversations on lovemaking that she has had with her son. This is a non-fiction work those contrasts some of her other fiction work including “Growing Up Sina” and “The Only Other”. To get to know our featured speakers, we asked them some questions about themselves and their work.  Here’s what Natasha had to share with us: 

Q: What is your preferred medium of creativity?

“Poetry and specifically spoken word.”

Q: What is your interest in participating in the Artist’s Salon?

“ I am always elated to connect with other women artists in community. This event will be one of those beautiful times.”

Q: What is a source of inspiration for your work?

“The source of my inspiration is to create from the most authentic voice I can. That voice is that of a womanist, a woman, an African American, a mother and a lover.”

Q: Are there any projects you are currently working on that you are excited about?

“Currently, I am making attempts at completing my 6th book, Steelife. Each day it seems further away. I have another secret project in preparation now and I get giddy thinking of it. As an editor and manuscript developer I do admit that other’s work sometimes precedes mine. That is often the struggle of writers/artists who also teach and work in their field of passion. ”

Q: How do you see the intersection of art and gender in your own work? And how has this empowered you, or others? 

“I believe that my art as it intersects with gender completely empowers my intended audience, women, and girls but also the men who seek to and need to understand their perspective. There is something special about art and humor that allows people to see their oppression for what it is and to see their participation in others oppression. ” 

 If you are interested in learning more about Natasha’s work you can visit her website www.natasharia.com, which has information about her books, art, coaching services, and more. And if you want to hear more about what Natasha has to say about the intersection about art and gender join us at The InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14, 6-7 p.m. for our discussion- “Gender, Art, Power”.

Back to Basics #1: What is Intersectional Feminism?

Image source: marcn, Creative Commons

Editor’s note: Hi, Roos! Welcome to the first installment of… drumroll please… Back to Basics!  In this blog segment, Women’s Center staff take on core feminist ideas, terminology, myths, and more! We hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two!

By: Adriana Miranda

We’re bringing it back to basics this week with: intersectional feminism! What is intersectional feminism you ask? Great question! So let’s say just for example: You’re a white woman. You work with a Latina or Black (or both) woman and a white man. For every dollar this white male coworker makes, you make 82 cents. Unfair, right? But look at your Latina/Black female coworker; she only makes 56-64 cents.  

So you’re thinking, “Wow this is clearly a gender issue! We women make less than men! But why does my other female coworker make even less than me?”

That’s because there are other factors to your coworker’s identity that already add to her oppression. Yes you’re both women, but she is Latina/Black. Taking these different identities and layers of oppression into consideration in our fight for gender equity is intersectional feminism. “Intersectional” means we recognize the issues of all marginalized female-bodied individuals, not just the cis white women.

“But Adriana, why can’t we just advocate for ALL women without highlighting differences? Why can’t we just come together as women?”

I’m so glad you asked! For women of color, trans women, disabled women, etc. we can’t just separate from our identities. Even within women-centered and feminist spaces, non-white, disabled, and LGBT women may still face oppression among other women. It’s like, you can’t pick and choose what parts of you exist right? They all do!

We’re all whole complex beings, and fighting for gender equity means fighting for those with identities different to ours, and acknowledging their experiences unique to their identity. We should be intersectional in our feminism. 

Click here or here for more info!

Keep your hands to yourself!

 

By: Jetzel Chavira

“Don’t Touch My Hair” is a powerful anthem that Grammy-award winning artist Solange Knowles wrote in 2016. In an interview with Natelegé Whaley for the Huff Post, Solange recalls an experience where a white woman came up to her and petted her fro.

This made me think about the many times I walked through Target with my best friend who is a Black American woman, and how she could not find products for her hair. I think about how my own hair is wavy and it’s not hard for me to find hair products. My hair is not seen as a spectacle. I have never once been asked for my hair to be touched.

So, the next time you see someone whose hair is different than yours, check yourself before you do or say anything. Check out Solange’s song “Don’t Touch My Hair” ft. Sampha here.

 

Sliding from DMs into Real-Life Dating

Source: Creative Commons, https://foto.wuestenigel.com/online-dating-sending-online-gifts-to-lover/

By: Ebony Taylor

Valentine’s Day is approaching once again. For starters, there is a lot of conversation around this holiday being extremely heteronormative. Simply put, there are a lot of stressors put on being relationships and what that should look like. Though we have come a long way with recognizing and accepting other’s perception of “relationship”, Valentine’s Day celebrations, focus on heterosexual and monogamous romantic relationships which leaves out aromatic and asexual people, as Sian Ferguson from everydayfemisim.com points out.

With so much emphasis on finding love and being boo’d up on V-day, it doesn’t make it easier when we have been in a pandemic. Coming out of isolation and getting back to human interaction can be nerve-wracking. Without pandemic restrictions, “going out” means you can leave the house. If you’re making the switch from online dating to in-person dating, I have searched the internet for tips on making it as stress-free as possible.

For starters, you still want to be safe and setting boundaries before linking up can help. If it is important to you, making sure your partner is vaccinated, wearing masks, or limiting personal touch are some things to consider. I found it helpful that apps like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Match, OKCupid, BLK, and Chispa have a feature that shows a person’s vaccination status. Also, establish physical, sexual, and emotional boundaries. Talking about sexual orientation and gender identities is another conversation to be had in the world of online dating and meeting someone for the first time. Be mindful and respect others’ views on certain topics to avoid misunderstandings and conflict. Being clear and direct can save you time and undeserved stress later down the road. Communicating with your partner about your needs and what feels good for you can help the transition run smoother.

As for wanting ways to celebrate love as you see it and not what it “should” be, the first thing on any site’s list is practicing self- love. Though this needs to be normalized throughout the year, what better time is there than on Valentine’s Day? Forget the marketing and capitalistic ways of our society to make you think that if you’re not spending money on someone then you don’t love them. Get crafty and make your own gifts, or rather show your love with quality time.

Being back on campus can create a social pressure to make friends and be more involved on campus. Those feeling anxious about putting yourself out there, know that it is more normal than you think. Try not to let in-person dating give you anxiety. With a pandemic still lingering around, feeling anxious is okay. No need to rush. Set limits and boundaries that allow you to move at your own speed and you the most comfortable. When you be yourself, the confidence will take the weight of social pressures off.

If you are single, newly single, or just ready to mingle, remember to take your time and be yourself. So what if people try to compare you to your “virtual” self, or your connection only exists in text messages and DMs? In the words of pop princess Ariana Grande, say “thank you, next”. Instead, go out with your friends or favorite family members. Or better yet, make it about loving yourself. Getting comfy by yourself with your favorite sweatpants, food, and a movie sounds like a memorable date to me.

 

 

 

Someone Call Elle Woods Cause I Need a Lawyer to Fight the Pink Tax

 

Source: Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/50531102396

By: Sierra Voorhies

We all know that there is a gender pay gap; women on average make 83 cents on the dollar that men make. This is worsened by intersections of ethnicity and gender. For example, black women make 63 cents to the white man’s 1-dollar, while Latino women make 55 cents to a white man’s 1-dollar. But did you know about the pink tax?

The pink tax refers to an increase in price for feminine or feminine coded items. So, this commonly refers to things like razors and soaps but can apply to anything from dry cleaning to tech accessories. For example, at Target right now 4 women’s triple blade disposable razors from the Up & Up brand is $3.89 but 8 men’s triple blade disposable razors by the same brand is $4.89.  So, for a man’s razor it’s 61 cents per unit, and for a women’s razor it’s 97 cents per unit. This might not seem like a large difference, but over a lifetime of every hygiene product, it costs a lot more to buy feminine hygiene items than masculine ones.

Now that we are familiar with the Pink Tax, let me introduce you to our Pink Tax Donation Drive, happening Saturday, February 12 at the 2:00pm in the Swinney Center! Come to the game and get a free button from us and donate some Pink Tax item(s)! Ideas for items are things like razors, shampoo, bodywash, deodorants, soaps and more- basically hygiene products. They don’t have to be feminine-coded, just items that the pink tax could affect. For example, get the larger and cheaper pack of razors labeled for “men” to donate instead of the smaller more costly pack pink razors labeled for “women” if you want to! These items will go to the UMKC Kangaroo Pantry and the game is free for students! To get a ticket go to https://kcroos.com.

 

The Lasting Legacy of Henrietta Lacks

 

Source: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, © 2017 Kadir Nelson ,https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.2018.9

By: Emma Sauer

As you may know, February is Black History month– and this year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness. This extends to the legacy of African Americans not just in medicine and academia, but also as mid-wives, doulas, naturopaths, counselors and therapists, public health activists, and more. With a theme so all-encompassing, I thought it a fitting time to talk about an African American woman who, despite her huge contributions to cancer and leukemia research, cloning, and development of vaccines, will never see or know just how profoundly she changed the world.

Henrietta Lacks was a person much like you or me. She was a mother, a wife, a friend. She loved cooking, her children, and never the left the house without a coat of red nail polish. She was born in Roanoke, Virginia, on August 1, 1920. She married David Lacks in 1941, and together they raised five children: Lawrence, Elsie, David Jr., Deborah, and Joseph.

10 years flew by. One wonders how Henrietta spent those ten years. What memories did she make with her family? What hardships did she experience? What people did she meet? What made her laugh, smile, or cry? Time has robbed us of the answers to these questions. The bulk of what we know about Henrietta’s life is her last months.

The year was 1951, and Henrietta Lacks was feeling unwell. For some time, she’d had a strange pain in her womb area. She described to her cousins like a “knot”. After experiencing vaginal bleeding, she visited John Hopkins Hospital, the only hospital in the area that would treat black patients. She was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer, and by October 4 of that year, she died. She was just 31. Before she succumbed to the disease, she underwent a biopsy in which her cancerous cervix cells were snipped and sent to the lab of Dr. George Gey. Researchers were amazed by what they found. Henrietta’s cells were incredibly unique. They had the capacity to survive and multiply at a rate far above ordinary cells. Her cells doubled every 20-24 hours, where other cells died. Effectively, her cells were immortal.

Without the knowledge of Mrs. Lacks or her family, John Hopkins Hospital shared her cells widely with other scientists, biotech companies, and institutions. These cells were called HeLa cells, and were the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory. Her family was not made aware of this for 20 years.

Both the way Henrietta Lacks’ cells were obtained and used is appalling, but at the time, it was completely legal. Unfortunately, it was not the first or the last time an African American would be exploited by the medical community. For example, 12 years before Henrietta was born, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study began. Forced sterilization policies targeted African Americans and other minority women, lasting until the 70s. The historical context of how scientists acquired the HeLa cells is one steeped in centuries of racism. I can go on and on all day about how wrong this was, but what’s done is done. HeLa cells have been in use longer than Mrs. Lacks even lived. Her descendants continue to tell her story, and as recently as October 2021, they are currently suing Thermo Fisher Scientific for commercialization of HeLa cells.

Henrietta Lacks’ story is disturbing and sad, but her legacy lives on.  She has contributed to modern medicine and science in countless ways. HeLa cells have helped scientists understand more about the human genome, leukemia treatment, and vaccines. Her cells have even been used to test the effects of gravity in space. HeLa cells have saved lives, and my intention is not to take away from that. Rather, if you’ve read this far, I hope I’ve sparked some interest in you to learn more about Henrietta Lacks. She’s much more than a cell.

 

Tour of The Dividing Lines in Kansas City

By: Emma Stuart

O’Neil, Daniel X. Country Club Plaza. 12 January 2015As many of you know, the month of February is Black History Month, a month dedicated to the celebration of black culture and history. The history of the Civil Rights movement is all around us even right here in Kansas City and it is important to learn about that history. Thanks to the Johnson County Library there is a free and comprehensive driving tour of the history of segregation here in Kansas City. In this tour you are taken all throughout the city. It begins at Shawnee Mission East High School, whose students come from Mission Hills Kansas (one of the most expensive zip codes in Kansas).  As the tour continues, you are taken through the history of Kansas City’s development, including the founding of neighborhoods, the restrictive homeowners’ associations, and the homes of historical figures. The tour ends at the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center off of 37th Street, which is a resource for the local community.

The tour takes about a half an hour of driving and stops in various places around KCMO and KCK. In this short amount of time you are taken through decades of history starting in the 1940s and ending in present day. Sometimes it is difficult to grasp the impact of racism in your city, but with this tour it opens your eyes to the real effects of racism when it comes to the development of a city. You are able to see nearby locations where history took place right in the city where you live. This tour was eye opening for me, because it put me in the same location of these difficult historical pastimes.

I took this tour with my family last summer and it was a learning experience for all of us. I had inklings of the racially driven actions that had led to the development of this city, but I had never seen them with my own eyes. I had never heard of them from the mouths of those who lived it. This tour is something that I think all residents of KCMO and KCK should partake in. It tells of the sordid past of this interesting city; it is necessary to look back on the misdeeds of the past to move forward to a better future.

This tour can be accessed through the link below and can be taken either using a web browser or through the VoiceMap App.

 

Call Me Slim Shady Cause We’re Back, Back Again

By: Sierra Voorhies

Hello y’all. If you have been a reader of the Women’s Center blogs, you might be familiar with me. I have written blogs about pronouns, gender, and bisexual erasure, as well as stories about my family and tv-shows. I will be continuing to work at the Women’s Center this semester, until May when I hope to graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies.

I am passionate about educating myself and others about how to be a good ally and member of the queer community. I hope to explore some fun subjects and stories this semester, while developing myself and programs through the Women’s Center. Gentle reminder that the Women’s Center is for all genders, and I hope if you have a little extra time around Haag Hall, you will come check out our library, sit on our comfy couch and sip some tea with us.