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

 

Oprah Winfrey Shares a Message of Hope and Unity in Her Inspiring and Historical 2018 Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

By Korrien Hopkins

This past Golden Globes weekend, Oprah Winfrey received a lifetime achievement award and gave a very moving speech. The actress, producer, and philanthropist presented a message of hope, unity, and optimism in her speech.

She opened with a story reflecting on her childhood when she was a little girl in 1964, watching the Oscars from the linoleum floor of her mother’s house in Milwaukee. She explained how hearing five words that changed history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier,” inspired her to be the person she is today.

“I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that,” she said. “I’ve tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door, bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses,” she said.

In addition to being the first black man to win Best Actor at the Oscars, he also was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1982. The same award that Oprah was receiving. She also spoke of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who in 1944 had the courage to speak out against her white male rapists. Taylor was of great inspiration to Rosa Parks and many others.

After hearing Oprah Winfrey’s speech, I realized how important it is that we live in our truth as she said. When we follow our heart, despite opposition and fear, we are in turn paving a way for others and inspiring others. We are shaping the future for us all because, when it comes down to it, we are one.  Winfrey’s inclusiveness of men and women in the fight against sexual harassment on all levels was strong and very inspiring. Her speech proclaimed the strength and sisterhood of the women in Hollywood who suffered and spoke out against harassment along with women all around the nation.

“But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue… Recy’s truth is here with every woman who chooses to say, ‘Me too,’ and every man who chooses to listen,” she said including male allies.

Perhaps her speech was never meant to be anything more than that, but it became a moment where many like myself, saw her presidential potential. People took to social media to express their #Oprah2020 dreams. I’m definitely not opposed to this at all. I think it takes someone who understands life and human connection in a special way to be President. This is what Oprah has shown us throughout her career. She is authentic and relatable, despite her lack of political experience which clearly is needed in today’s world. I think her life experience and amazing wisdom outshines many by far. This is what I believe could evoke a positive change and unity for all of humanity. I think that’s why her Globes speech transcended to the American people far beyond the fancy occasion. She met people in their living room sharing her truth to encourage us to share ours. We also can’t forget her extremely generous nature. Could you imagine her giving out free college tuition and student loan forgiveness in the same way she once gave free things to her audiences on the Oprah Winfrey Show?

 

“You get free college…. and You get free college….”

“You get loan forgiveness…. and You get loan forgiveness.”

I mean, a girl can only hope and dream. Right?

Oprah’s speech opened my eyes to a brighter future. Whether she runs for president, or just continues to contribute her thoughts of inclusion or shares her story, I’m happy. She continues to inspire me to overcome the many obstacles I face because of my gender and the color of my skin. She shows me that although it’s not easy, it’s possible. And the more we create change for ourselves, we are creating change for others because we are one. So that one day, hopefully sooner than later, young women like myself won’t have these same problems.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men — but their time is up. Their time is up!” –Oprah Winfrey

Missed the speech? Watch it here:

Gimme My Money

By Caroline Turner

We are now in the second half of summer with about one more month left to enjoy our sunshiny and stress-free break. A certain summer energy infuses the days even if you are busy taking classes, in an internship, working, or all or none of these things. As we prepare to transition into fall for a new semester and to dive deeper into work projects, it is a good time to look ahead towards what we expect and want.

I came across a TedTalk video called “Know your worth, and then ask for it,” where speaker Casey Brown explains that defining your value + communicating your value = your full earning value. This equation can be applied in different facets of life to realize different kinds of value. Understanding perceptions that we have of ourselves, and the perceptions that others have of us is important to get our message across and ultimately expand our action. The most obvious area that this equation applies to is your job, i.e. making profit.

While we approach our future jobs and careers, it is important to acknowledge that, although just as worthy, women have been and still are largely underpaid compared to men. One recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women are only earning approximately 82% of men’s earning. This pay gap is even larger for women of color and as women age past 55.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women throughout our history have repeatedly contributed to companies, products, and history without being acknowledged, let alone PAID. Recognizing your actual contributions and actual earnings is important to see how they balance out. The history of pay inequality and the current pay gap is a huge reason why we must demand that we be compensated for our true worth, so that we don’t allow our employers to place these old standards upon us.

As women it is especially important to be able to recognize and clearly define our unique value first to ourselves, and then to clearly communicate this to bosses, potential employers, etc. By doing this it will help break the current status of women’s earnings.  Do not go by how your bosses assess and value you, only you know your true worth. Bring to the plate what you have to offer and show them the price you are willing to offer it for. Like the TedTalk speaker Casey Brown, you will realize that many will be willing to pay what you rightfully deserve, and by being bold and truthful to your value, your job/effort will continue to thrive even more than you may have originally thought.

The Struggle

Photo credit: via Flickr, “Struggle” by photographer: Sam Cox

By Caroline Turner

The 12th Annual Women of Color Leadership Conference at UMKC last Friday sold out. It featured keynote speaker Angela Rye and focused on the theme, “United and Strong: Rising through the struggle”.

“The struggle” is a broad word that can be defined at large as the struggle that we all face day to day, our “daily struggles”. For some, the daily struggle can come from situations at work, school, relationships, clumsy hands, forgetful minds, or malfunctioning technology. But for some, the daily struggle is one that is experienced with people on the subway, institutions, personal narratives, glass ceilings and ol’boy club doors, stemming from a deep rooted history.

I am currently reading, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a marvelous book wherein Coates narrates his history to his son, and delves in the mysteries of race. In the book he explains that his son, Samori, was named after Samori Ture, an Emperor of the Wassoulou Empire who resisted the French until his capture. Coates says, “The Struggle is in your name, Samori.” Keeping in mind the experiences and truths of a young black person in the USA that Coates opens up and passes to his son (and to the reader), I can’t help but connect it to this year’s Women of Color Leadership Conference theme.

The struggle that only a woman, a person of color, a woman in leadership, and the combination a woman of color in leadership all face, are unique and real. A diamond in the rough, the flower that breaks through the cold concrete, is what the keynote speaker Angela Rye represents as she rises above and then challenges the struggle as a young black political strategist, activist, and CEO by spreading seeds to others. Understanding what the concrete surrounding us is made of is part of our mission. For women, the cement can begin from being told what we can or cannot do as children, identifying and reacting to injustice as adults, and what lies between and beyond. We are all striving to be our best flower blossoming as big and beautiful as possible, having our diamond light shine bright in the sparkling eyes of all others. This year’s Conference theme reminds us there is strength in numbers and unity, and the help of others is essential and necessary for us to rise through the struggle. As Coates emphasizes in his book, we do not rise alone. There are many along our journey that help us to rise.

This week, if you have a moment to reflect, do not lose sight of your focus. Do not forget what your struggle is for. Remember that, “United and strong, we are rising through the struggle.”

No Men Beyond This Point

By: Matiara Huff

netflix_logo-svg

Image courtesy of Google.

I watched this mockumentary on Netflix without any knowledge of what I was getting into, and it was quite an adventure.

No Men Beyond This Point is about a world where men are going extinct, and women have become asexual and only give birth to girls. This story begins after a successful matriarchy has been established, and women have comfortably adjusted to life without men. There are still men, but they all live comfortably in nursing home-like camps. The youngest man at this point is in his thirties. Now I don’t want to tell the whole story.  But trust me, it is interesting a weird but I still recommend watching it.

It was interesting, because I think that it accurately portrays the way that the world would react if this were to actually happen. In the beginning one women gets pregnant and gives birth without having sex and the whole world blows her off by calling her a liar and slut-shaming her. Then as time passes more and more women are getting pregnant without having sex and the amount of female births is rising. Men continue to not believe literally millions of women, until they notice the drop in male births and they begin to look into it. Then by the time that they begin a full investigation most men are too old or just physical unable to participate, and the matriarchy begins. It almost seems possible and has some feminist values as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUwZ5Yo3Urg

It’s Magic

itsmagicBy Zaquoya Rogers

Black girl magic is sweeping the nation and it seems to have grabbed the attention and support of every black women it passes by. The term, ‘Black Girl Magic,’ represents the love and appreciation of everything little thing about being African American. This can range from our kinky hair to the melanin that gives us our beautiful shades of brown. Not only does it promote self-love but it also celebrates the potential, the power, and the ability of black women to achieve anything. Celebrities such as Solange Knowles, Serena Williams, Zendaya, Traci Ellis and many more proudly take part in the movement. Skai Jackson states “I would have to define black girl magic as just being empowering, being confident and loving yourself; Just all coming together and definitely embracing each other.”

I think Black Girl Magic is great! For so many decades black women have been the most disadvantaged and oppressed group of people. They were always taught that their hair and dark skin was unfavorable in this world. However, ‘Black Girl Magic’ has  given women the pride to walk with their chin high, and their kinky crown standing upright.

I am Not My Hair

Image sourced through Google Images via Creative Commons

Image sourced through Google Images via Creative Commons

By Torshawna Griffin

One of my favorite songs to listen to is India Arie’s “I am not my hair”. This is a favorite of mine because it not only tells people not to define you by your hair, but not to define you by your skin either. It is a powerful #GirlPower song that speaks to the heart and lets you know that it is okay to be unique and different. In her video, she dresses up in many costumes and hair types to prove that all types of women are seen as beautiful.

Check out the video below.

I Am Not My Hair

Vagina Monologues to be Staged at UMKC!

2015-VDAY-posterBy Kacie Otto and Kemora Williams

Name of Event: The Vagina Monologues

Date and Time: February 10, 2015 at 7pm

Location: UMKC Student Union Theater, 5100 Cherry Street

Admission charge: $10 for students, $20 for non-students in advance and $15 for students, $25 for non-students at the door.

Parking information: Parking will be available on the fifth floor of the Cherry St. Parking Garage

Coming up on February 10, 2015 at 7:00 p.m., the Women’s Center is sponsoring a benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues. Funds raised from the event will support the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project and VDay’s 2015 spotlight campaign, One Billion Rising. The Vagina Monologues will be held at the UMKC Student Union Theater, 5100 Cherry Street. However tickets are required for this event, which you can purchase online at or by calling 816-235-6222. Tickets are also available at the door.

For more information, visit our VDay website. The Vagina Monologues is sure to be an empowering performance and we hope to see you there! What better way to support both the campus and community!

The Woman Behind Operation Beautiful: Caitlin Boyle

By Armelle Djoukoue

Caitlin Boyle is 26 years old and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She worked as a freelance and technical writer for seven years, including a five year stint as a contributing columnist for The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition. Caitlin started her blog “Healthy Tipping Point” in 2008 where she writes daily about food and fitness. The blog chronicles how she balances her busy lifestyle with healthy eating and exercise.   It was on this blog where Caitlin began Operation Beautiful.

In June 2009, Caitlin was inspired to post a note that simply read “You Are Beautiful!” in a public restroom. She took a picture of her note and posted it on her blog. She immediately received responses from her readers, and her email filled up with photographs of notes posted all over the country. Caitlin continued to leave positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms, at work, the gym and the grocery store. She scribbled down whatever came to mind — “You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!”  And with this one small act, the Operation Beautiful movement was born.  Three months later, she resigned from her corporate job to write “Operation Beautiful: The Book” which was published in August of 2010. Caitlin Boyle is a woman who is dedicated to ending negative self-talk among girls, woman, and men. Women of different ages, races, lifestyles and geographic locations have been posting encouraging notes of their own.

So join us next Monday, February 27th– Friday, March 2nd as your UMKC Women’s Center engages in Operation Beautiful. It’s time for us to encourage a positive body image in ourselves and for others. Participate in this campaign by posting statements of positive body image around campus. Stop by the Women’s Center (105 Haag Hall, 5100 Rockhill road) or the MindBody Connection (3rd floor of Student Union, 5100 Cherry) to pick up post-it notes.

Visit our Operation Beautiful event page https://www.facebook.com/events/348089951886726/ 

For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Links: http://operationbeautiful.com/ 
http://www.womenshealth.gov/news/spotlight/2010/1.cfm

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

By Patsy Campos

Image c/o AAUW KC Chapter

My second year of working at the Women’s Center has taught me that in order for women to advance, we need to know the basic building blocks of success like leadership and written and verbal communication skills.  In order to break gender barriers, women and girls have to take advantage of local and national organizations that encourage women to advance and provide them with the support that they need to do so. 

Last June, I was fortunate enough to receive a great opportunity from the American Association of University Women-Kansas City Chapter (AAUW) to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in Washington D.C. Over the span of three days, I met wonderful women from around the world and attended skill building workshops, informative forum discussions, and listened to the fascinating accomplishments of women who received the Women of Distinction Award.  I will continue to use these basic principles of leadership I gained in all of my future endeavors!