Forced Sterilizations and Targeting Marginalized Communities

By Emma Gilham

Earlier this fall, whistleblower allegations at an ICE detention center in Georgia of forced sterilizations swept news headlines. Dawn Wooten, the whistleblower and former nurse at the center, claimed consent was not obtained for these procedures, the patients were not informed of what was happening, and those that objected were placed in solitary confinement. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security has been opened into the misconduct at Irwin County Detention Center after significant urging from federal elected officials, as ethical questions such as obtaining informed consent and negligence have been raised. While the investigation is a start, it cannot be ignored that consistent complaints of misconduct have emerged from these detention centers and that the government has an unsavory history with forced sterilizations. The first eugenics law was passed in 1907 in Indiana, inspiring 31 other states to follow. In the CNN article, “In a horrifying history of forced sterilizations, some fear the US is beginning a new chapter”, “The laws, which led to officials ordering sterilizations of people they deemed ‘feeble-minded’ or ‘mentally defective,’” later became models for Nazi Germany.” Throughout the 20th century other government-backed forced sterilizations occurred, which unsurprisingly targeted BIPOC womxn. Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer had a non-consensual hysterectomy while she was having surgery for another health issue in 1961. She brought attention to the issue in her activism. Even into the 2000s, sterilizations were illegally funded by the state of California on incarcerated womxn. Time and time again vulnerable groups have been sterilized at increasing rates. To clarify, hysterectomies and tubal ligation are irreversible and valid forms of birth control. However, the aforementioned instances of forced sterilization often included preying on, coercing, or misinforming womxn into having these procedures. In the end, the investigation into the Irwin County Detention Center is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Stethoscope” by surroundsound5000 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Women Who Lead: Activism Through an Intersectional Lens – Panelist Jasmine Ward

Tune into the “Women Who Lead” Panel Discussion for an invigorating conversation with a panel consisting of a diverse group of local women leaders, Thursday November 5, 2020 6:00-7:30pm

Use the link below to register

https://umsystem.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJElf-GtrjsuE9LhA5KFTTUrsV7LnbyIiRxM

The “Women Who Lead” panel discussion is this Thursday! Continuing our introduction of the panelists and all the amazing things they do, we would like you to meet our second panelist, Jasmine Ward! Jasmine is a third-year law student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law, and a KC native studying education law, and criminal defense. She is currently a Rule 719 Legal Intern for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, president of the Black Law Students’ Association, and vice-president of the Board of Barristers. As with our previous blog on the topic, we asked Jasmine some questions about her community involvement and advice to future leaders, the following is that interview.

What motivates you to keep working towards justice in a time where the country is so divided, and many people choose to reject the realities of social issues and/or scientific fact?

Very long story short, I always think about my ancestors and my elders (including those who are still alive), who were fighting for things they weren’t sure would ever be realized, and who were doing so in much more dangerous situations (not to downplay the true dangers Black women and men face today). If they could do what they did, then I feel we can do anything.

How does your intersectional identity as a woman impact your outlook on the world and certain issues?

I think having identities that intersect as mine do – being a Black woman – it makes you think about all the little things that mainstream media or politicians don’t consider, all the things that “fall through the cracks” per se. And thinking about those things as they relate to Black women has made me hyper-cognizant that issues and realities fall through the cracks for millions of people with intersectional identities – so I’m always striving to look between the lines when I consider a person or a community and their needs. More than that, I find ways to just ask communities about their “between the cracks” needs, because it’s preposterous to think I could know things about communities to which I don’t belong.

What would you say to young female leaders who are just starting on their path to leadership?

First and foremost, don’t doubt yourself. If you’re in a room, you belong there, and you can stand with the best of them. And don’t take on a role, just be yourself – I don’t think anyone who is considered a “leader” thinks of themselves that way; you don’t have to assume some personality or way of being, who you are is already effective enough!

Are there any programs/projects you are currently working on that you would like to mention?

My main focus right now is graduating and passing the bar, but I am working with the Diverse Student Coalition and UMKC to try to make some necessary additions to our discrimination policies. Further, the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) at UMKC Law is currently planning our Fall session of Street Law, a program where BLSA students, Black law professors, and Black attorneys teach diverse high school students, basic legal concepts. This year, we’ll be teaching those classes via Zoom, instead of in the law school, but we think high school students will still get the same learning experience and ability to see Black academic and professional success modeled.

Where can people go to learn more about the work you do?

LinkedIn would be the best place!

Be sure to register to see Jasmine in the Women Who Lead Panel and keep checking in to learn about the other panelists!

Trump vs. Biden Debate and Double Standards

By Emma Gilham 

The night of September 29, 2020, America witnessed the presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Candidate Vice President Joe Biden. Like many, I was a part of the population watching from my living room. Cozy in a blanket, I had little to no expectations for information or entertainment. Indeed, I would have rather re-watched NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” for the millionth time. Alas, the debate began, and I was tuned in. I won’t go into too much detail about the debate itself, as that has been widely addressed. With frequent interruptions, name-calling, and talking over one another, the candidates have been widely criticized for their breaking of standard debate decorum. In the end, I wondered how a womxn would have been treated had she been breaking as many rules as either debate candidates.

For this analysis, we can investigate into the not so distant past, to the 2016 election, Candidate Hillary Clinton. Tweets have revealed to us that Clinton often wanted to tell her opponent to “shut up”, as Biden did in his debate on the 29th. Clinton was assaulted with slews of nicknames and defamatory speech during her campaign, labeled “crazy”, “crooked”, and “heartless” just to name a few of the adjectives assigned to her by her opposition. It isn’t difficult to speculate how much worse these jibes could have been had she not held herself to a certain standard of conduct during public appearances.

I’m frustrated with the double standards womxn and minorities often face in the public’s eye. The pressure we place on the minority groups, of any arena, to be the absolute model is a tired trope. We must recognize that the traits, revered in our white, straight, men, are just as natural in our womxn. Leadership, dedication, boldness, anger, and frustration are traits all genders exhibit. No matter how you lean politically, it’s necessary that we acknowledge and amend the double standards placed on public figures, especially in politics.

Turning A Man’s World Into Our World

By: Maggie Pool

Since our first American History class, a few names have been imbedded into our minds regarding the history of equality and women’s rights. Names such as, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Tubman are familiar to anyone who received a general education in America. Noticeably, lessons surrounding women’s history is geared towards women’s suffrage, but the fight for equality did not stop once women gained the right to vote in 1920. After this leap toward equality, who continued the fight?

Joan Ruth Bader, known as Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), was born on March 15th, 1933. She attended the Harvard School of Law but transferred to Cornell University after being scolded for pursuing a male dominated career. In 1954, Ginsburg graduated from Cornell in the top of her class. Despite facing gender discrimination, she became the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. Ginsburg continued fighting against gender discrimination, and in 1980 was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the U.S Court of Appeals. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court. She served as Associate Justice until 2010.

On December 25th, 2018, “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic presenting RGB’s rocky beginnings as a lawyer in a man’s world was released. The film centers around a tax case about a Colorado man who is denied a tax benefit routinely given to women caring for family members. The case triggers a series of arguments about gender, society, and the law. Ginsburg’s ruthless dedication to prove many laws are generated on the basis of sex is catapulted by this one event, and the journey she faces forces her to maneuver longstanding sexist barriers by only using the weapon of law.

It’s hard for audience members to not get riled up about the discriminating figures Ginsburg confronts, especially since the movie sets up her logic behind the case. We are immediately on Ginsburg’s side, rooting for her to finally shed light on equality for those too stubborn to accept reality. “On the Basis of Sex” does its job of introducing Ginsberg and her struggling start as a lawyer but also her unwavering intensity for justice, which immediately grips you, inciting you to continue the fight for future generations.

Ginsburg, now 86-years-old, remains one of women’s fiercest advocates. When President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court, he compared her legal work on women to that of Thurgood Marshall on behalf of African-Americans. Because of her heroic feats, I hope the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg is another woman’s name future students are taught to remember and respect throughout American history.

“We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold ― because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.”
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Time Magazines Top 100

By Caitlin Easter

Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the year came out recently, and it’s one of the most diverse and intersectional issues ever. The list also features the most women ever awarded, at almost half of the list being female. There are 48 women featured in this year’s list, which is up from the 45 who were featured last year. The list is made up of pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans, and women are representing in each category.

The list is selected every year from a list of candidates who made the largest impacts in the world, good or bad.  Nominated by list alumni and voted on by the public, the list embodies the changes that happened throughout the beginning of each year.

This year’s list is made up of strong, groundbreaking women from all walks of life: activists, chefs, athletes, authors, scientists, actresses, singers, models, painters, directors, designers, politicians, a first lady, survivors, journalists, business women, and architects. We see big names such as Sandra Oh, Taylor Swift, Michelle Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ariana Grande, but also have the pleasure to learn names that we’re not all familiar with such as Greta Thunberg, Vera Jourova, Jeanne Gang, and Jennifer Hyman.  Women are finally starting to be equally represented in different aspects of life, and we’re ready for it!

A full list of this year’s recipients can be viewed at: http://time.com/collection/100-most-influential-people-2019/.

 

A Woman’s Place

By Caitlin Easter

An important reminder to us all in today’s rough political climate: “A Woman’s Place is in the House…and the Senate.”

As I was browsing around the internet a while back, I came across a piece of artwork by Mike Luckovich that depicted the women of the 116th Congress entering the Capital Building below the statement, “A Women’s Place is in the House”. The illustration got me thinking about the cleverness and irony of the statement that was being made. I was seeing a statement that had been used as a means of oppression throughout the centuries beautifully interpreted and illustrated into artwork.

And if I’m being honest, I hope that all of the women stay in the House. Okay, admittedly we’re talking about two different houses here.

While statements like “women belong in the house” used to irritate me (relevancy check: a statement that was made to my face less than two months ago), I fully support Luckovich’s rendering of the statement to exemplify the start of the rise of women. A message that seemed to perpetuate itself in the mouths of people who don’t know what they’re talking about is now turned into a piece of artwork honoring the women who have fought the odds to get to where they are.

Dubbed “The Year of the Woman,” 2018 led us into a 2019 that has started off with a bang. A record number of 127 women are currently holding seats in Congress, a number comprised of 102 women in the House of Representatives and 25 women in the U.S. Senate.

While this is obviously an amazing feat, it isn’t for everybody, and women should be able to choose what they want to be and do. If you want to be a stay-at-home mother, that is great!  But for some of us, staying at home would be maddening, and the idea of motherhood is something a little less-than attractive. Regardless, my gender shouldn’t play into the scope of my options in life.

A woman’s place…is wherever she decides it is.

If you want to view Mike Luckovich’s piece of work entitled “Household”, it can be viewed at https://on-ajc.com/2BXCPPY.

The Women of the US Supreme Court

By Ann Varner

Image from Wikimedia Commons

As a newly converted criminal justice major, I have learned more and more about the cases being taken by the US Supreme Court and how important the Supreme Court and its Justices are — such as the federal ruling allowing gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges that overturned individual states ban on same sex marriage on June 26, 2015. I decided to find out more about the US Supreme Court and found that only four women have served in the history of the Supreme Court.

The first woman to serve on the US Supreme Court was Sandra Day O’Connor. She was appointed by President Ronald Regan in 1981 and retired in 2006 after serving for 24 years. O’Connor attended Stanford University for her undergraduate and law school, and finished third in her class.

The second woman to be appointed, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is still serving on the Supreme Court. In 1993 she was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and prior to her appointment, Ginsburg was (and still is) an advocate for women’s rights. She attended Cornell University for her undergraduate and Harvard for law school. During law school, Ginsburg was a mother and a student and only one of eight females in her law class of 500.

The third woman to serve on the Supreme Court and first Hispanic is Sonia Sotomayer, who is still serving. Sotomayer was nominated by President Barak Obama in 2009. She attended Princeton University for her undergraduate and Yale University for law school. Before becoming a Justice she was a high-profile prosecutor in Manhattan, New York and put “some of the most heinous criminals behind bars.”

The fourth and most recent woman to join the Supreme Court is former Solicitor General of the United States, Elena Kagan. President Barak Obama selected Kagan for the role of solicitor who became the first woman to serve in that role. In 2009 she was nomintated by President Obama for Supreme Court Justice. Kagan attended Princeton University for her undergraduate degree, Oxford University for her master’s degree, and Harvard for her law degree.

As someone who hopes to attend law school one day and potentially go into politics, these women are inspiring in every way. To me, the Supreme Court is how to effect change in the most powerful way. These women are amazing in what they’ve accomplished and can continue to accomplish.

Women’s History Month Trivia

by Korrien Hopkins

Who was the youngest woman ever to serve as the Director of the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau, also known for her handling of the 1997 UPS worker’s strike?

Answer: Alexis Herman

By US Department of Labor (Information About the Secretary of Labor) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Alexis Herman was born on July 16, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama. Her father Alex Herman was a politician and her mother, Gloria Caponis, was an educator. Herman graduated from Heart of Mary High School in Mobile in 1965 and enrolled in Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and then Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama before transferring to St. Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. At Xavier, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1969.  She began her career working for Catholic Charities helping young people find employment. At the age of twenty-nine, President Carter’s appointment made her the youngest director of the Women’s Bureau in the history of the Labor Department. In 1992, she became the 1st African American woman to serve as an Assistant to the president as the Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. On May 1, 1997, Herman was sworn in as America’s 23rd Secretary of Labor and the first African American ever to lead the United States Department of Labor. She also served as a valued member of the National Economic Council during her tenure as a member of the President’s Cabinet.

Herman focused on a prepared workforce, a secure workforce, and quality workplaces while working as secretary. She consolidated the Department’s wide array of skills development programs into a simpler, more efficient system. She led the effort to institute a global child labor standard. This in result moved people from welfare to work and launched the most aggressive unemployed youth initiative since the 1970’s. Under her tenure, unemployment reached a thirty-year low and remains so today. The nation witnessed the safest workplace record in the history of the Department of Labor.

 Today, Alexis Herman serves as chair and CEO of New Ventures, LLC, a Risk Management Firm. She continues to lend her expertise and talent too many corporate enterprises and nonprofit organizations. Herman is a former trustee of her Alma Mater, Xavier University of Louisiana. She Co-Chaired the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund and was a member of the board of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Presently, she chairs the Toyota Diversity Advisory Board. She works for nonprofits serving as a Trustee for the National Urban League, a member of the Executive Board of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the president of the Dorothy I. Height Educational Foundation.

The success of Alexis Herman is very important and beneficial to me. Her accomplishments opened many door for women of color .While at the Women’s Bureau, Herman pressured corporate giants to hire women of color. For the first time, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, General Motors and others put diversity on their list of hiring priorities. She is a main contributing factor to the diversity in Americas Corporate businesses today. I’m truly grateful for Alexis Herman paving the way.

My Experience at the KC Women’s March

womensmarchby Zaquoya Rogers

Going to my first protest, which was the Women’s March in Kansas City, Mo. was a totally new experience for me and I loved it. First stepping into the crowd, I was in awe at how many people came out to fight against sexism. It was not a crowd that you would see at a concert: people keeping to themselves, coming out just to listen to the music, socialization, but no sense of unity. At the march, even though it was so many people, I felt the togetherness that oozed out of the crowd. We stood there to be seen as one unit, fighting for our rights as women and against sexism and the glass ceiling. What also interested me was the different ways that women and men voiced their ideas. From pink pussy hats, to shirts that screamed female empowerment, to witty signs that were bound to make you laugh and give you the energy to help you continue to protest with power. Creativity appeared at every corner. Strength, motivation, resistance, demand for respect and peaceful unrest fueled what was the biggest Women’s March in history.

Saudi Women Tweet Themselves Voting for the First Time

By Thea Voutiritsas

In this recent historic election, 130,000 women registered to vote for the first time. 978 women ran as candidates. At least 20 women won municipal council seats. Women began posting their photos, sharing the moment they dropped the ballot into the box. Women of all ages were photographed, and many even brought their children along to witness the historic moment.