America Ferrara: Latina Trailblazer

By: Jetzel Chavira

America Ferrara is a trail blazing Latina in Hollywood. For over twenty years, Ferrara has been breaking stereotypes on screen and has become a role model to all Latina women. Throughout her career she faces criticism from not only people from Hollywood but also her family. She recalls a time where a family member told her, “Actresses don’t look like you. You’re brown, short, and chubby” (America Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures )

Ferrera always went for roles where the characters that were relatable and it landed her first major roles including the character Ana in “Real Women Have Curves” (2002). Since then, she has been countless other movies and TV shows not only as an actress but as a director and producer. Her latest project, “Gentefied” a bilingual dramedy on Netflix is about a Mexican America family that is being pushed out of their home, Boyle Heights California, due to gentrification.

Ferrera wants to represent Latinos not only on screen but behind the scenes. In her words, “Making TV is hard, period. Making Latino TV by Latinos for Latinos is nearly impossible.” Ferrera continues to fight for basic representation and is continuously fighting for this simple ask.

Image Source: Ryan Lash/TED

5 Black Artists Bringing Excellence to the KC Art Scene

By: Emma Sauer

Kansas City has more to offer than barbecue and sports teams. This is a thriving city teeming with talent, innovation, and excellence, and the city owes much of that to the Black community. From the American Jazz Museum to the AAAC (African American Arts Collective), Black artists have an established presence in Kansas City. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of five Black creators who make incredible art.

Meeks Me Smile Studio

@meeksmesmilestudio Instagram

Shawanna Meeks founded Meeks Me Smile to offer unique, and stylish handbags. One night while getting dressed for a night out with her friends, she realized she didn’t have the right handbag to match her fun night. So, she made her own. The shop offers small accessories, wallets,  clutch bags, totes, handbags, and more–all with cute and colorful prints. Considering these bags are all handmade, they’re marked at a remarkably affordable price. Costs range from $15 to $155 (not including shipping). Meeks Me Smile Studio also dabbles in furniture design and acrylic paintings.

Sonia Sanchez

Source: Creative Commons, John Mathew Smith,

Sonia Sanchez is a poet, playwright, author, and activist. A major influence in the Black arts movement, she’s received both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. Her poetry is known for its mixing of musical elements and traditional poetry. Through her poems she celebrates the art of Black English. Sonia Sanchez’s 16 books have moved readers since her first collection of poems, Homecoming, in 1969. Not much of her poetry is free to read online, but you can check out her books at your local library or purchase them.

Arie Monroe

“Block and Delete”, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

If you like comics or pop art, you’ll love Arie Monroe’s colorful and expressive art. Her comic Tornado Alley, starring Mainasha and her cat Socks, is a wacky take on the Wizard of Oz, but it’s also been a way for Monroe to to communicate her struggles as a black woman, according to her caption statement on “Block and Delete”, a piece currently on display in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. She also specializes in caricature art. On Redbubble, she has merch available featuring caricatures, the Tornado Alley crew, and other illustrations.

Whitney Manney

@WhitneyManney Instagram

Whitney Manney is both a fashion designer and her independent ethical fashion label of the same name. WM’s clothes are bold, taking inspiration from street art and urban culture. Whitney Manney aims to make clothes that are more than clothes; they make ready-to-wear wearable art. As for the artist herself, she’s showcased her work at over a dozen galleries and runway shows, including the UMKC Gallery of Art. She’s also done teaching partnerships with the HALO foundation (a foundation dedicated to helping homeless KC youth), and other schools around the area.

NedRa Bonds

Image Source: Connie Fiorella Fitzpatrick, Creative Commons

NedRa Bonds is an activist, quilt artist, and retired teacher in Kansas City, Kansas. Her vibrant, collage-like quilts often make strong statements about the social issues she’s passionate about. Her artwork has been directly inspired by issues of human rights, social justice, race, and environmentalism, to name a few. Bonds also often incorporates elements of satire and political commentary into her art, echoing her principles as an activist. She’s made over 100 quilts since 1989, many that have been shown at different art shows and exhibits in KC. If you’ve spent some time at the Women’s Center, her art may look familiar: for the Women’s Center’s 40th anniversary, she led the creation of our Women’s Equity Quilt!





Supernova Women

By: Tatiahna Turner

In 2015, Supernova Women was formed by women of color that resided in the San Francisco Bay Area. Being that the cannabis industry is predominantly white and male, these women decided that the industry needed to be more inclusive. Less than 20% of the cannabis business is made up of people of color.

Besides starting their own business, these amazing entrepreneurial women also began holding free business workshops, panel discussions, and networking events that are targeted towards educating those who are the most affected by The War on Drugs. Through these events, Supernova Women help other people of color to obtain business permits and get into the legal cannabis industry. When discussing their business one of the Supernova Women founders, Tsion Lencho told Huffington Post, “When you came to the business side of things, there was a complete dearth of conversation about inclusion, even though social and racial justice were at the forefront of the talking points around why you should legalize and why you should allow local jurisdictions to give permits, but no one was talking about providing permits for those who actually went to jail for cannabis.”

In the end, these minority business owners hope that the industry will adapt and learn to respect their part in the business that they helped to grow.

My Favorite Feminist Shows on Netflix

by Matiara Huff

What a time it is to be a feminist! Depressing things are happening

By Netflix Inc. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

left and right, but at least TV is getting better. If you haven’t been keeping up, here is a current list of my favorite feminist shows on Netflix to spend your summer on.

13 Reasons Why (Trigger warning: suicide, sexual assault, rape) – This is an interesting, but sad story about a girl that committed suicide and left tapes behind detailing all the reasons why she did it. This show humanizes depression and sexual assault; it makes you realize just how close the two could be to you.

Grace and Frankie– This show is a gem! Frankie may be my favorite character ever. This show is about two women whose husbands fall in love with each other and get married later in life. The two women become best friends through the hilarious journey.

The OA– This is a sci-fi series about a group of people that are kidnapped by a scientist and learn how to use magic to escape.

Jessica Jones – This one is a little older than the rest, but if you have yet to watch it, she is a superhero.  Jones is an incredibly strong, complex character and her worst enemy is an interesting character.

Orange is the New Black– Is also an older one, but season 5 comes out on June 9! If you don’t already know, this show is about a women’s prison and the stories of some of the inmates.

Sense 8– This show is perfection to me. The newest season came out on May 5. Though I have yet to watch it, I am sure it’s just as great as the first season. This show is about eight different people in completely different parts of the world who suddenly gain the ability to read each other’s minds and switch bodies.

Chewing Gum– The show follows a 24-year-old shop assistant who is a restricted, religious virgin, who wants to have sex and learn more about the world.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt– The series follows 29-year-old Kimmy Schmidt as she adjusts to life in New York City after her rescue from a doomsday cult in Indiana where she and three other women were held by Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne for 15 years. Determined to be seen as something other than a victim and armed only with a positive attitude, Kimmy decides to restart her life by moving to New York City.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend– This show is a complete deconstruction of the title. It is meant to destroy the crazy ex-girlfriend stereotype, while also addressing some of the stereotypes of mental health, and staying a hilarious sitcom.

Crazyhead– It about two teenage girls that kill vampires. It’s a great show that passes the Bechdel test, but it is meant for a younger audience.

Scandal– This show will always have an honorary place in lists like these. It was one of the pioneers for feminist TV as we know it today.

How to Get Away with Murder – Also has an honorary place on this list for the ceilings it broke.

British Singer NAO brings ‘Wonky Funk’ to life

by Zaquoya Rogers

Talk about #blackWOMANmagic! Nao, a black British singer raised in East London, has been all the buzz in her hometown. She started singing in high school, training the choir with their harmonies. Later, she attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study vocal jazz. She then become a backup singer, but opportunity arose one night at a nightclub. A manager discovered her that night and she later released her first song in October 2014.

Since then, many labels have reach out to Nao to get her to sign, but this queen chose to start her own record label called Little Tokyo. Her unique sound blends with off-center pop-funk, electronic and R&B. Many say her “silvery voice glimmers like tinsel but lands like steel.” Nao calls her own sound “wonky-funk,” coining the term. Her debut album, For All We Know, was released in July 2016 and earned a Brit Nomination for Best Female Solo Artist.

The Grapevine talks Black Feminism

by Zaquoya Rogers

Many African Americans identify themselves as feminist, but what does that mean without intersectionality? Not only are black women fighting against sexism, but racism as well. Often the the two bleed into one another.  Feminism tends to leave out issues that are also affect women with different races, religions and sexualities. The Grapevine is a discussion panel that talks about various issues in the black community and I came across their two part discussion on Black Feminism. You can find the rest of their videos on YouTube, tackling topics like relationships, politics, and the Oscars.

IMDB Gets F-Rated

by Thea Voutiritsas

By, Inc. ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This year, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), added the F-Rating classification to their site. An F-Rating is applied to all films which are directed by women and/or written by women, and/or have significant women on screen. If a film has all three, it receives a TRIPLE F-Rating. The F-Rating system was develoepd by Holly Tarquini, executive Director of the Bath Film Festival.  It was inspired by the Bechdel test, which asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women or girls who talk about something other than a male. The differences in the F-Rating scale and the Bechdel test show how far women have come in film and media arts, however, they also show how much farther we have to go. In the top 250 films of 2015, women made up only 3.6% of all directors, 4.4% of all writers, and 10.4% of all producers.

The stories we see on screen need to be told by a broad spectrum of people to represent our diverse culture. Without change, we will train the next generation to only recognise white males as the protagonists and the ones in control of the cameras, scripts and budgets. As well as equality on screen and behind the camera, more female film critics from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities need to be welcomed into the industry so that opinion and feedback is balanced. The gender pay gap is also evident in the industry. By helping women gain recognition we can empower them to negotiate the contracts and salaries they deserve and help close the gap.

-The F-Rated Team

IMDB has attached the F-Rating to more than 22,000 films in its database. 81 films have received the TRIPLE F-Rating so far, including Clueless, Belle, My Brilliant Career, and The Zookeeper’s Wife. Users can also narrow the search by looking for only women-directed titles, or films with a female protagonist. That’s an F-YEAH for Feminism!

Women’s History Month Trivia


by Devashree Naik

Who is the current Chairperson and the CEO of the second largest food and beverage business in the world known for being the architect of the sustainability business model in that company?

Answer: Indra Nooyi

At the age of 51, Indra Nooyi assumed the role of the President and

CEO of the PepsiCo in 2006 and was promoted to the role of Chairperson in 2007. She has since been the chief architect of Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo’s promise to do what’s right for the business by doing what’s right for people and the planet. This Mrs. Nooyi calls a “future-proof” model, the PepsiCo’s commitment to sustained growth with a focus on human, environmental, and talent sustainability and performance. In 2015, amid much controversy and shock to the investors, she pronounced that the PepsiCo is no longer a soda company. In her tenure of a Leader of largest food and beverage giant, she has been vocal about changing the image of the organization from a sugary carbonated beverage making company to a company that has a nice mix of healthy and fun products in its product line.

Indra Nooyi was born in Madras (now Chennai) in Tamil Nadu state in India. Growing up in a conservative Brahmin family, her homemaker mother instilled in her the confidence and a quality to push back against adversity, which Indra strongly believes being responsible for her success in the male-dominated industry. She holds a B.S. from Madras Christian College, an M.B.A. from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta and a Master’s of Public and Private Management from Yale University. She has consistently ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women.

In addition to being a member of the PepsiCo Board of Directors, Mrs. Nooyi serves as a member of the boards of U.S.-India Business Council, The Consumer Goods Forum, Catalyst, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Tsinghua University. She is also a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and was appointed to the U.S.-India CEO Forum by the Obama Administration. Apart from her professional career, she was a lead guitar player in an all-women rock band in her hometown of Madras, India and was a cricket player in college. Her former boss at PepsiCo and now dean of business schools at Wake Forest University, Steven Reinemund, fondly talks about her as “a deeply caring person” who “can relate to people from the boardroom to the front line.”

Three feminist movies you may have missed

by Zaquoya Rogers

This weekend, I found out about these following feminist movies:

The Hours (2002) – A British-American drama film focusing on three women of different generations whose lives are interconnected by the novel Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Critical reaction to the film was mostly positive, with nine Academy Award nominations for The Hours including Best Picture, and a win for Nicole Kidman as Best Actress.

Daughters of the Dust (1991) – An independent film, and the firs feature film directed by an African-American woman to be distributed theatrically in the U.S. The film follows three generations of women on St. Helena Island as they prepare to migrate north. Cinematographer Arthur Japha won the top cinematography prize at the Sundance 1991 dramatic competition for the film.

Persepolis (2007) – A french animated film based on Marjane Satrapi‘s autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. The story centers around a young girl coming of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. The film co-won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

I haven’t yet watched them but it makes me ask, “What makes a movie feminist?” I took to Google to find out what criteria or guide to determine how the judgement is made. I found that there was a test called Bechdel test made in 1985 that states that to be a feminist movie, it has to have two female characteristics and one scene in which they  talked about something other than a man.

My reaction: *???!???!??* But later in my research, I found out that its intention was not to judge if a movie is feminist, but to determine if, personally, it is worth spending money. With feminism in film, it takes more than adding more women and allowing them to, you know, ACTUALLY talk about important things. To me, it is showing women as they truly are: independent, diverse, strong and empowered.

Women’s History Month Trivia

by Thea Voutiritsas

This woman is a former stewardess and union leader who led a landmark sex discrimination case in the airline industry.

Answer: Barbara “Dusty” Roads

image via

Barbara “Dusty” Roads is a former stewardess and union leader who led a landmark sex discrimination case in the airline industry. From a young age, she loved aviation, but gave up on that dream in her teens when her father told her, “You can’t be an airline pilot darling, they don’t hire ladies.” She thought becoming a flight attendant would be the next best thing. However, she claims it was not a career at the time; it was more of a transition between graduating college and finding “Mr. Right.” Roads wasn’t much interested in finding a Mr. Right, and preferred to stay with the airline.

When airlines began imposing age limits on flight stewardesses and forcing women out at age 32, she became frustrated. In an interview with PBS, Roads said,

It made me angry, it really did. It violated my sense of fair play. The pilots could work until age 60 and we were fired at age 32. Something was wrong there. It just violated my midwestern core value of fair play.”

“[These rules] were in place when I joined the airline in 1950. And it was a real strange thing, but we accepted the fact that we were fired when we got married. They expected women to get fat and ugly when they got married and had babies. They felt you wouldn’t devote as much attention to the job as you should. Pilots – men — could be married, but it was different for a woman.”

The airlines wanted to sell the image of a young, single girl that would appeal to male passengers. However, Roads wasn’t buying it. She became a union officer in LA, then a national officer, and soon wanted to become an advocate for all flight attendants. “Finally,” she said, “I was interested in all women. And now I’m interested in humanity.”  In July 1965, Roads and her fellow stewardesses were at the doorstep of the Equal Opportunities Employment Commission (EEOC). By 1968, the EEOC issued a ruling prohibiting age ceilings or marriage bans in the airline industry.