Angela Rye: Modern Day Angela Davis

By Caroline Turner

The keynote speaker for this year’s 12th Annual Women of Color Leadership Conference is Angela Rye, a political powerhouse who is being called “TV’s Wokest Bae.” Named after the legend Angela Davis, she has been living up to the movement of being the change. Angela’s continuous work has been connecting the public with politics, and growing the ever evolving sphere of politics and leadership towards one of equity.

Angela is deeply rooted in political leadership and has a very impressive history with political activism and education. A graduate of University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law, she is now the co-founder, Principal, and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, “an organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement.” She has been featured in many publications and outlets as an influential politico, lawyer, and advocate. Angela serves on a number of boards including the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, and the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, and is a member of many groups including the National Bar Association, and has won 21 distinctive awards from 2010-2015. Catch her on CNN as a regular commentator, and read more about her history on her website.

Angela continues to speak at events and on media outlets, reaching local and national audiences. Her conversations are crucial to help new upcoming leaders, and help educate and advocate awareness of the issues that we face in our government and institutions today.

Transwomen in Prison

Image courtesy of Flikr.

By Zaquoya Rogers

The Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” highlights many different female experiences that tend to occur in prisons across the globe. They portrayed the problems of women in prison within every race, sexual orientation and background. One that caused an increase in conversation was about trans women and how they were being treated within prison. Since, obviously, male and females are separated into different prisons, where do transwomen fit? People started asking what it means to be a women. Also, why are transwomen’s gender is being trivialized? Lindsay King-Miller states “A woman, no matter her background, should never be asked to prove she is a woman.”

Laverne Cox, a transwomen actor and speaker, played Sophia Burset in the popular series and accurately depicted the struggle and mistreatment of transwomen in prison. In prison, transwomen go through difficulty in consistently receiving necessary hormone medication. In Season One, Sophia’s medication had been reduced because it wasn’t deemed as necessary which caused her male characteristics like facial hair to return. This happens in prisons today and scars transwomen’s sense of self.  A transwomen inmate named Mary was placed in the male prison Boggo Road Gaol located in Australia. She was denied any access to hormones medication. She states, “It was like my identity was taken away from me. I look like a woman and I think if a transgender person is genuine and they are living as the opposite sex, then they should be housed in a female prison, even if you’re in a wing on your own.” Denial of one’s gender is abuse and is not fair.   

In Season Three, Sophia clashes with some of her fellow inmates and is brutally attacked by the same group. Instead of punishing the perpetrators, Sophia is the one sent to the SHU (Security Housing Units/Solitary Confinement) supposedly for her protection. In reality, this type of solution downgrades transwomen and serves as an injustice. Not only do transwomen experience abuse, discrimination and bullying when serving time but they cannot count on higher authority in prison to ensure their safety. They are turned against and devalued as human beings simply because of who they identify as. This is a problem that won’t change unless more conversations take place about these injustices. I think that a great majority of people still see being transgender as something unnatural. This is why transwomen are subjected to so much abuse. The more we speak on it and accept people for who they are and not who we want to see them as, the better it will get for transwomen.

 

Black Dolls Matter

ByImage courtesy of Flickr. Korrien Hopkins

Dolls play a pivotal role in the development of girls. I remember going to Toys R Us with my family to use the gift cards our uncle had given us for Christmas. I remember going through the aisle looking for that Easy Bake Oven I had been anxious to get. After I got it, I went to the doll section. I glanced through the dolls looking for one that resembled me. No Luck. So grabbed a doll from the long selection of white dolls. My grandma came over with my brothers and asked me if there were any black dolls. “No,” I responded. She quickly found an employee and kindly asked them if they had any ethnic dolls. The employee helped us look through the dolls and checked in back. Unfortunately, they had no luck in finding a black doll. I spent the rest of the money on something else. I was a bit disappointed but quickly got over it. I learned my importance and worth from my mother. What my mother didn’t tell me I found on my own. Thanks to community, to black media, and my spiritual interpretation; I have been greatly influenced by the black excellence I see. That I am pretty and important but, why is this something I had to find on my own?

Positive self-images should be poured into children. I can clearly see why it is important for stores to sell black dolls. Playtime Projects is an organization that collects toys for homeless children. “Author Debbie Behan Garrett explains, “When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black. If black children are force-fed that white is better, or if that’s all that they are exposed to, then they might start to think, ‘What is wrong with me?’ By providing children with African-American dolls that reflect their beauty, we can help to instill in them a positive self-image.”

In my psychology class we have talked about the “Doll Study.” This was a study that’s was done in 1939 by psychologists Kenneth & Mamie Clark, it examined black children’s preferences for white and black dolls and found that the children tended to find the white doll to be “nicer” and more enjoyable to play with. Perhaps fewer people, though, are aware that this study was repeated in 2005 by the then 17-year-old Kiri Davis. She found similar results to the original study. While Dr. Thelma Dye of the Northside Center for Child Development cautions that these results should not lead to the assumption that all black children suffer from low self-esteem, she encourages continued exploration of the meaning of these studies.

Self-representation matters! Children should be able to think highly of themselves and see that they are thought highly of in society. Whether they are of African decent, European decent, Hispanic, or Asian, a child should be able see their culture present in the world. The United states is a country full of many different cultures and I believe those cultures should be represented and embraced in all communities. It should be easy to locate a variety of dolls that represent a wider spectrum of ethnicities wherever you may go.  Children should be able to see dolls of all shades because that is the refection of the world.

Being Called White-Washed

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTPbrWsLUcg[/youtube]

This video featuring Anna Akana, is a very good explanation of the difference between calling persons of color or POC white-washed and a Hollywood film. The most important statement to take from this video is calling POC white-washed is them not abiding by your stereotypes of there race.

Free the Nips!

File courtesy of Google Images.By Zaquoya Rogers

Before the 1930s, going topless was illegal for both men and women. It was seen as indecent up until the 1930s when men were permitted to be without garment from the waist up. Women on the oth http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/nipple-double-standard r hand, still had to keep their areolas covered.

Even today, the media is very stern on keeping female areolas off of their platform. Artist and professor, Micol Hebron said of her censored Instagram photo, “The fetishization and censorship of female nipples gets to the point where the body is being seen only as a sexual object.”  Instagram is one social media network that has been adamant and persistent in removing any photo that exposes feminine nips. Their justification states that it’s for “safety reasons.” But really, how harmful can a pair of female nipples be? This goes back to Hebron’s statement about how society sexualize the female anatomy and that’s really the underlying motive Instagram is acting on. Covering female nipples in public and on social media is completely unfair. Especially when the difference between male and female areolas is non-existent. In fact, male areolas and female areolas are EXACTLY the same. According to LiveScience.com, the first few weeks inside the womb, every developing embryo follows a “female blueprint”, which is why men even have nipples. The #FreetheNipple movement have provoked peaceful protests, celebrity support and conversation. This is helping to make more people aware of why we should free the nips

Beyoncé Slays the Country Music Awards

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60aCpaG2S6E[/youtube]

By: Korrien Hopkins

A moment a silence for Beyoncé’s performance at the 2016 Country Music Awards…

Beyoncé and the Dixie Chick’s collaboration was the highlight of the 50th CMA show. They performed a song from Beyoncé new visual album Lemonade and the song is called “Daddy Lesson.”  She expresses how it was growing up with daddy lessons in the perspective of a young girl. The girl seems to have grown up tough after her father was hard on her. He didn’t want anyone to take advantage of her.

As you may know Beyoncé showing up to any award show now days is rare. So, for her to go and blow us all away at the CMA was amazing. Some may be aware that Beyoncé is a Texas native. Her pulling off a country song at the CMA wasn’t all that surprising.  I mean she’s Beyoncé what can’t she do? Some would disagree, there was even controversy over whether she is qualified to perform a country song. But we will let the haters hate, and continue to be great. I mean, no one would down play a great an Eminem performance and say he’s not qualified. Society limits women’s “qualifications” anyways. So, my advice to every woman is to go do what you want and slay while doing it.

 

The Hairy Elephant in the Room: You Shouldn’t Be Embarrassed About Your Facial Hair

Photo courtesy of google images.By: Danielle Lyons

I totally have a beard. Seriously, I do. That feel’s weird to say, let alone type. It’s caused by Hirsutism. Sound unfamiliar? It’s new to me too. UCLA states, “Hirsutism in women is defined as excessive coarse hair appearing in a male-type pattern. It represents exposure of hair follicles.”  It can be caused by other conditions such as Insulin Resistance, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Cushing’s Disease and much more.  According to WebMD, 5% of women have hirsutism. However, I’ve encountered a lot of women that suffer from facial hair or excess body hair in general. For a condition that made me feel so alone, I was shocked and relieved to find comrades with the same issue.

One similarities I’ve noticed amongst women with hirsutism is the struggle of self-esteem. Most women don’t have to wake up to stubble or worry about their excessive body hair growth. I’m telling you, it’s not easy to manage. Like, dates for example. It sends me on an anxiety fueled hair removal frenzy. Armed with a razor, I’m like Conan the Barbarian preparing for battle. Nothing horrified me more than the thought of a date brushing against my stubble by accident. It’s a giant ordeal. According to Monash University, “Undesirable hairiness for a girl or woman can be a substantial cause of anxiety leading to low self-esteem and restrictions in lifestyle. For most women, unwanted facial hair generates the greatest anxiety.”

According to The Guardian, 40% of women have hair on their faces. Sure, some is more course or thick than others.  But that is a rather large number. The reactions I’ve gotten have generally been good. Some women confide that they have the same issue, or they know someone with it. Other women are just fascinated. I will admit, one or two people have been uncomfortable. But when raising awareness, you may not win them all.

Here’s the thing: Bodies are all so different. Any anyone worth keeping around, isn’t going to judge you or look at you any different. I forced myself to be more open about it because I was tired of being embarrassed. Slow but surely I started talking about it. And one day someone asked if they could feel my stubble. And you know what? The world didn’t end when I let them. They didn’t flinch or cringe. Without awareness, there isn’t much acceptance. Tina-Marie Beznec shared a photo of herself shaving to create awareness about Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Hirsutism is often a symptom of this syndrome. In the caption she states, “Do you know how UNFEMININE this can make a woman feel?!? I’ve always been super self-conscious about it, but really just have to put this out there because I want create more awareness.”

Now, I’m not saying every sufferer has to post a photo or shout of from the rooftops. However, we owe it to ourselves to drop the shame. And we owe ourselves self-acceptance. S. E. Smith of XOjane states, “Women come in a lot of different flavors, and all of them are pretty great.” Next time you look in the mirror inspecting stray hairs or stubble, I hope you remember that you are beautiful, strong and wonderful. With or without the beard.

Cutting the Crap in the Comments Section

By Logan Snook

Alright, question: Anyone guilty of reading comments on web and social media postings to see what crazy things people will say? All guilty parties, raise your hands.  Next question: Those of you who raised your hands, who gets about halfway through the comments only to become completely disturbed by the way people talk to each other, respond to issues, and disrespect differing opinions? All guilty parties raise your hands. For those of you who follow feminist blogs, websites, or groups, chances are you see this a lot. Does a post like this look familiar?

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Well. That got out of control quickly. Posts and comments on feminist posts range from general misunderstanding of what feminism and being a feminist is to simply harassing the author or other commenters. The post above was from an article Women’s Rights News shared on their Facebook about “slut-shaming” and female dress codes for high school proms.

Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook and the saw another shared article from Women’s Rights News about becoming a feminist blogger. The article, published by the editor of Everyday Feminism, focused on tips for starting a career as an internet writer, focusing on the topic of feminism. What I saw in the comments was this:

Womens right post(2)

*As of 4/15 these comments have been removed from the post.

Now, I am all for seeing discussions started on posts and seeing the spread of positive, clarifying information, but both commenters here are bashing one another. The first commenter clearly did not read the article, jumping straight into posting uninformed and insulting remarks. Rather than correcting or offering relative information, the second poster fought fire with fire, posting derogatory assumptions about the first, and creating a domino effect of offensive statements. There was a similar pattern or comments seen in image one.

What happens that makes these comments so hostile? Can we not have a civilized dialogue about these issues? Differing opinions or not, doesn’t everyone deserve respect? Reading through these posts, there are very few harassing comments on posts that offer a strongly worded opinion. Instead of slinging insults at one another, each side defends their viewpoint. The point of this is not to make someone think the same way you do, rather it is to better inform (both sides), and create an open discussion.

Let’s drop the name calling and assumptions and increase the respect.

Shanice Williams @ The Wiz Live!

By Matiara Huff

Shanice Williams

NBC

Imagine being a 19-year old black actress debuting as the lead of an old-time classic story. Shanice Williams is a 19 year old actress that made her debut as Dorothy on NBC’s The Wiz Live! If you didn’t see it, December 3, NBC did a live televised performance of The Wiz. The show was an all-black cast that included Queen Latifah, Ne-Yo, Uzo Aduba, Mary J. Blige, Common, David Alan Grier, Amber Riley, and Stephanie Mills. As well as the director of A Raisin In The Sun, Kenny Leon and the choreographer from Dreamgirls and countless hip-hop music videos, Fatima Robinson.

Shanice being casted as the lead in a show like this, is literally a dream come true and an inspiration to other young black actresses. Shanice is from Rahway, New Jersey, and attended Rahway High School, and briefly attended American Musical and Dramatic Academy in LA. She receive the part in an open audition, where thousands of girls from around the country tried out. The opportunity that she received on Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 is life changing, and based on her performance, she didn’t take it for granted.

Stop What You’re Doing and Go Read “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler

By Danielle Lyons

Amy_Poehler_at_the_premiere_of_You_Are_Here,_Toronto_Film_Festival_2013_-aWhen one thinks of Amy Poehler, they think of her humor and sheer positive energy. This positive energy wildly popular in the internet world. Most notoriously so, is the outstanding advice she doles out. This advice, along with her life story has been compiled into one glorious collection of essays entitled, “Yes Please.” Her wise words are the kind that stick with you, due to the lighthearted approach combined with the weight of her message.

Being unsure of your self is unfortunately almost a rite of passage growing up. Whether it be from media or society; we as women are conditioned to be unsure of ourselves. In her book, she speaks of her uphill battle to gain self-confidence. In this book she describes her battle with her poor self-esteem, or “The Demon,” as she refers to it. She states:

“I was eventually okay. And you will be okay too. Here’s why. I had already made a decision early on that I would be a plain girl with tons of personality, and accepting it made everything a lot easier. If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks.Decide what your currency is and let go of what you don’t have.”

Instead of focusing so much energy on what she felt lacking in, she focused on what she felt sure of. And that was, her talent in performing. It’s all about finding your strength and running with it. In

Another gem in her book is her new mantra:

“Good for her! Not for me.’ That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again.”

When surfing through the media, you see countless titles about, “Celebrity Cat Fights.” Very seldom does one see an article about a women supporting each other. Not only are we conditioned from a young age to criticize ourselves, but were taught to harshly criticize other women. When you read her book, you see all of the fantastic women she surrounds herself with such as Tina Fey, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, and Retta. She celebrates every single one of them, even writing personal messages in her memoir. This outpour of support has no doubt contributed to her success in the industry. One can imagine that she gets such support back tenfold.

As little girls, were taught to be polite and be little ladies. Being a take charge kind of lady is hardly encouraged. But with the pay wage gap still a problem, women have every incentive to take charge. Amy Poehler says:

“Let me take a minute to say that I love bossy women. Some people hate the word, and I understand how “bossy” can seem like a shitty way to describe a woman with a determined point of view, but for me, a bossy woman is someone to search out and celebrate. A bossy woman is someone who cares and commits and is a natural leader”

Hollywood began as quite the boys club, and there are still remnants of that today. Her passionate nature has allowed her to take charge despite any criticisms. She’s taking the taboo of a woman in control, into a positive thing.

Amy Poehler has gained such a wealth of knowledge as she came into adulthood and journeyed through Hollywood. She shares this wealth throughout this delightfully enthralling book. It’ll grip you from the beginning and carry you through the whole thing. Amy Poehler is a positive role model that encourages women to be at their best. Her books is certainly worth the read.