Diversity Headlines

Hmong New Year When Grandma Was Alive

Hyphen Blog - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 10:45

My grandma was a medicine woman, a healer, and a shaman. Each Hmong New Year, the entire family came together to uphold our spiritual home, and appease the ancestral spirits. My grandma passed away in 2003.

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Categories: Diversity Headlines

Ayotzinapa, Mexico’s Ferguson

New America Media - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 08:50
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- As thousands take to the streets in cities nationwide to express outrage over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, another protest movement is sweeping through Mexican American and immigrant communities. Both are... Alfredo Camacho http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Femmes of Color Sound Off

Colorlines - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 08:46
Femmes of Color Sound Off

As a member of the queer community and someone who needed to figure out my gender identity and presentation before figuring out my sexuality, I've always been interested in queer expressions of gender. For many of us in the queer community, finding unique ways to express our gender is a liberating part of queer experience. Gender, after all, is tied to sexuality and heteronormativity.

Over the past few weeks I've felt compelled to explore queer expressions of femininity due to a new hashtag that has been popping up on social media: #FemmesOfColorVisibility. Created by a new group, the LA Femmes of Color Collective, and used more than 300 times so far, the hashtag is bringing visual representations of femmes of color to the forefront. I talked with the folks behind the hashtag and to femmes of color who've written about their experiences online to understand how this identity and community is shaped.

How did you come to identify as femme?

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, "queer disabled Sri Lankan cis femme writer, performer, organizer and healer":  "I'm a nerd and I've had my life saved by feminist and queer-of-color writing. I came to identify as femme [after] finding writers who were queer femmes of color--Chrystos, Amber Hollibaugh, Jewel Gomez. [I was] reading people's writing and seeing the way their bodies moved through the world [and saying], 'That's the kind of gender that I want to embody.'"

Mey Rude, "lesbian, Latina, trans woman living in Idaho," and the trans editor for Autostraddle"I started identifying as a femme as soon as I realized that I was in charge of my own gender. Being trans, I felt for most of my life that I had to fit my gender and gender presentation into what was expected of me, and that was pretty much the opposite of femme. I was always taught that it was shameful for me to act or look or even feel feminine. Thinking about gender had always made me feel weak and depressed, but once I found out about being femme, it suddenly was a source of strength, pride and joy."

Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, "black, femme, essayist, zinester and poet": "I absorbed a lot of the femmephobic ideas that I grew up with in the '90s. I had so many messages about needing to be masculine in order to be part of queer community. I didn't understand why. I've always felt like I chose femininity. I have a feminine connection to the divine. I stayed in femme because of the black femme community."

Vanessa Durand, "unapologetically fat, genderqueer femme," social justice activist and member of the LA Femmes of Color Collective: "Seeing strong, outspoken, unafraid and unapologetic women talk about how their queer identities and love for their bodies represented something so powerful, beautiful, subversive, and radically intentional about how they show up in the world. [It] made me feel like I had finally found home--a sense of belonging. Identifying as femme and learning how to practice self-love ultimately saved my life."

Has being a person of color informed your femme identity?

Johnson: "It's about being under more scrutiny than other femmes. [It's about] a rich history and [being] in really good company [of] black femmes who do the motherfucking work and are amazing. The best thing about being a black femme is that you know that you are in good, hardworking, incredibly tough, incredibly talented company."

Piepzna-Samarasinha: "Ableism lifts up a white, able-bodied, traditionally feminine, middle-class body as the 'right' way to be femme. Because of ableism in the movements I'm part of, it took me years to find a disability justice community where I didn't have to closet my disability in order to still be femme. My cane, sexy non-stilleto boots and bed life are femme now because of the labor of disability justice comrades. Many of them, liike Patty Berne of Sins Invalid, are deeply femme."

Rude: "Pretty much all of the femme inspiration and strength I get is from my fellow trans femmes of color [such as] Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Luna Merbruja and Morgan Robyn Collado. One label that I like to use for myself is 'bruja femme,' which is an identity that combines the spiritual power I get from my femme rituals and tools with the spiritual power I get from my faith and beliefs rooted in my Chicana version of semi-lapsed Catholicism.  It helps me stay rooted in my culture of fellow Latina femmes."

What do you think about the idea of femme invisibility and privilege?

Piepzna-Samarasinha: "For a lot of femmes of color--black femmes and indigenous femmes--we're hypervisible. We're not the less oppressed side of the butch/femme continuum; we actually face a lot of violence because we live in an incredibly sexist world. In a world where femininity is universally hated, being femme in a way that's powerful, beloved, tender and valued is revolutionary."

Johnson: "I've been catcalled and questioned on the street since I was a child so I don't know what it's like to be invisible. [I was once] choked in a store* in the middle of the day. I would have paid for invisibility in that moment--it would have paid to be invisible." 

Where do you find femme community?

Rude: "I find femme community in two interconnected places: my fellow trans women of color and on the Internet. Seeing beautiful, powerful and confident trans women of color gives me all the strength I need as a trans-Latina to fully express my femme self. Since I live in a small city in Idaho with a really small queer community and a really small POC community, the Internet has been a godsend to me."

Durand: "[The L.A. Femme of Color Collective] noticed that there was a lack of accurate and diverse representations of people on social media and in femme-focused blogs. They are so often filled with images of thin, white, cis women. #FemmesOfColorVisibility allows us to document our selfies as a form of resistance and it gives femmes of color the opportunity to combat invisibility, misogyny and the devaluation of femininity perpetuated by masculine-of-center folks within queer communities and spaces. The hashtag allows us to be intentional about creating a sense of community in digital spaces; an that can manifest to community-building in many other settings. This is not just a hashtag. It's a social justice movement that gives people the opportunity to witness the brilliance, beauty and badassery that is femmes of color!"

Where do you hope to see the femme of color movement go in the future?

Laura Luna P, "community builder, cultura curator, chola bon vivant, mama femme and self-identifying fat femme" and member of the LA Femmes of Color Collective: "I think that organizing in this collective has taught me that in our brilliance there is abundance, that there's no need to be scared of scarcity. I'd like for that feeling to spread to all femmes of color regardless of gender, sexuality, race and ability. I'd also really like for femme-of-color identity to be accessible to everyone who wants to identify that way. I'd like for the myth that femme only looks one way to be smashed. Femme doesn't only mean red lips, sky high heels and perfectly manicured nails (although it can most certainly mean that). Femme means whatever you want it to mean for yourself and however you want it to look like if that gender feels like home to you."

Rude: "One thing I hope for is more visibility for fat femmes of color. I want the femme-of-color movement to be the place where Westernized standards of beauty and femmeness are thrown to the side. I'd like us to fully embrace versions of femme that are currently pushed aside so that the white, cis, Western femme ideal can be praised."

Jo De La Torre,"stylishly dreamy writer, mother, caregiver, artist, community builder and brown femme medicine": "My hope is that femmes of color find each other when they want, take care of one another when they need to, and build interconnected movements that fight the systematic violence of all oppressed people."

Piepzna-Samarasinha: "I want all of us to get laid, be happy, live rich lives and mentor the queer femmes coming up. And I want the queer femmes coming up to bloom, lead and take up space with their genius."

*Post has been updated since publication to indicate that Johnson was choked in a store, not on a street corner as previously stated.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

St. Louis Cops Condemn NFL Team's 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' Gesture

Colorlines - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 08:16
St. Louis Cops Condemn NFL Team's 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' Gesture

In their first game since unrest broke out in Ferguson, Mo., after a grand jury failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson in Mike Brown's shooting, the St. Louis Rams made a big national statement. During pre-game introductions, several players ran out onto the field with their hands up, the gesture that's been most associated with civil disobedience since Brown's death in August. The players were Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt.

Hours after the display of solidarity, the St. Louis Police Officers Association issued a statement condemning the team. The statement read in part:

The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.

Watch video of the team's players below. 

It's not the first time this season that the protests from Ferguson have reached the football field. Shortly after Brown's death, members of Washington, D.C.'s NFL team made the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture.

fergusonwashington_113014.jpg

Weeks later, during a Rams home game against the visiting San Francisco 49ers, protestors from the organizing effort Ferguson October made their way into the stadium and unfurled a "Black Lives Matter" on primetime television. 

ramsbanner_113014.jpg

Images from Getty

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Janet Mock Raises Nearly $8K (and Counting) in Books for Trans Prisoners

Colorlines - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 08:14
Janet Mock Raises Nearly $8K (and Counting) in Books for Trans Prisoners

Author and media maker Janet Mock launched her second annual #TransBookDrive this week on Indiegogo and it's already been a smashing success. The project, which raises money to send books to incarcerated transgender inmates in U.S. jails and prisons, has already raised nearly $8,000 in fewer than two days, already surpassing its goal of $5,000 with 28 days left.

It's an effort that highlights a significant problem. Nearly one in six transgender people in America has been to prison -- and nearly half of all transgender black people, according to Lambda Legal. Once incarcerated, transgender inmates -- particularly women locked in men's facilities -- face increased risks of physical and sexual assault behind bars. 

Mock timed this year's drive to coincide with the paperback release of her memoir, "Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More." She partnered with biyuti publishing, Black Girl Dangerous and LGBT Books to Prisoners to fulfill book requests from 200 transgender inmates. The books will be delivered in care packages that include a handwritten letter from each author. Those authors and titles include: Mia McKenzie's "Black Girl Dangerous Anthology" and "The Summer We Got Free," "Decolonizing trans/gender" 101 by b. binaohan, "Make Love to Rage" by Morgan Robyn Collado, "Trauma Queen" by Lovemme Corazón and Mock's "Redefining Realness." 

With your continued help, we'll DOUBLE the amount of books per package + more!https://t.co/nvjsRo9TLh #transbookdrive pic.twitter.com/LDifv8ORCc

-- Janet Mock (@janetmock) December 2, 2014

Read more about the book drive at Indiegogo

* This post has been updated. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Actor John Boyega to 'Black Stormtrooper' Critics: 'Get Used To It'

Colorlines - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 08:11
 'Get Used To It'

Some "Star Wars" fans weren't happy to see a black man, John Boyega, featured so prominently in the recently released trailer for "The Force Awakens."

The actor's response? Too bad. He posted the following on Instagram:

With love xxx

A photo posted by @jboyega on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:37pm PST

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Charles Barkley Still Thinks Ferguson Protesters Are 'Scumbags'

Colorlines - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 07:58
Charles Barkley Still Thinks Ferguson Protesters Are 'Scumbags'

NBA Hall of Famer and current TV analyst Charles Barkley never misses an opportunity to beat the black community upside the head with his bootstrap logic. He recently called Ferguson protesters "scumbags," and in a lengthy interview with CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Tuesday he reiterated his point that he doesn't believe white police officers shoot people because of racism. 

Some notable quotes:

  • "We as black people, we have a lot of crooks. We can't just wait until something like (the Brown shooting) happens. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror," he said of people in black communities.
  • "There is a reason that [cops] racially profile us in the way that they do. Sometimes it is wrong, and sometimes it is right."
  • "Anybody who walks out peacefully, who protests peacefully, that's what this country was built on," he said. "But to be burning people's property, burning police cars, looting people's stores, that is 100 percent ridiculous."

Read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Chicago Approves New Minimum Wage: $13-an-Hour

Colorlines - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 07:51
 $13-an-Hour

Just in time for the two-year anniversary of the fast-food workers' Fight for $15 campaign, Chicago yesterday adopted a higher minimum wage. The city's new $13-an-hour wage floor is expected to be phased in by 2019 and comes less than a month after nearly 70 percent of Illinois residents voted, in a nonbinding referendum, for a new $10-an-hour state minimum by 2015. Fast-food workers kicked off their fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage with national strikes in November 2012 and have been at the forefront of calls throughout the country for similar increases from low-wage workers in other industries like healthcare and retail.

The Illinois state minimum remains $8.25-an-hour. Some officials, according to Northern Public Radio, are worried that during this session the statehouse will consider business-backed legislation prohibiting municipalities from raising their minimums above the state's. Franchisee owners are mobilizing nationally to counter the growing union-backed movement for a higher minimum wage, the Wall Street Journal reports.

San Francisco recently became the second U.S. city this year to join Seattle in adopting the highest minimum wage in the country at $15-an-hour.

(h/t NPR)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Cosby Sued for Sexual Battery, NYC Grand Jury Decision, Mike Brown's Stepdad Investigated

Colorlines - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 07:15
Cosby Sued for Sexual Battery, NYC Grand Jury Decision, Mike Brown's Stepdad Investigated

Here's what I'm reading up on this morning:

  • Brian Williams slow jams the immigration executive action news on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon":

    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Books: Asian American Anger Is a Thing

    Hyphen Blog - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 05:03

    Reading Chandra's book helps provide language for an emotion that is often experienced but rarely spoken about in a productive way.

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    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Life in America: Hazardous to Immigrants’ Health?

    New America Media - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 01:30
    Image credit: Margaret Molloy/UCLAAmerica is a nation of immigrants drawn from all parts of the world by the promise of freedom and a good life. But a substantial body of evidence suggests that for the newly arrived, life in the United... Dan Gordon http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    In San Bernardino, Blacks Account for High Number of Rising HIV Cases

    New America Media - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 01:10
    Image: HIV/AIDS activists (R to L) Kismet Evans, Pastor Harry Bratton, Kevin Powell and Nosente Uhuti, MSW discuss their work around HIV/AIDS prevention and support in San Bernadino. When San Bernardino County’s population began to boom 15 years ago, it was... Corey Arvin http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Did the Boycott Matter to Black Friday Retail Sales?

    New America Media - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 15:43
     Getting in the black got a bit harder for some retailers this holiday season, thanks to everyone from the retailers themselves to nationwide protests related to Ferguson, Mo. In figures released Sunday by the National Retail Federation, sales were down 11... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Are Police Unions Choosing Labor Rights Over Public Safety?

    Colorlines - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 13:12
    Are Police Unions Choosing Labor Rights Over Public Safety?

    Are police unions choosing labor rights over the public's safety? That's the question Conor Friedersdorf raises in a provocative op-ed in The Atlantic today. It's a timely look at allegiances given the St Louis Police Officers Association's letter threatening boycott and condemning Rams players' "hands up" gesture during Sunday's pre-game introductions as well as its fundraising effort for Darren Wilson. Friedersdorf culls examples of police unions' influence in protecting the jobs and pensions of officers who have been disciplined. One such example is Oakland policeman Hector Jimenez, a case that reporter Ali Winston covered for Colorlines in 2009 and 2011. As told by Friedersdorf:

    In 2007, [Jimenez] shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old man. Just seven months later, he killed another unarmed man, shooting him three times in the back as he ran away. Oakland paid a $650,000 settlement to the dead man's family in a lawsuit and fired Jimenez, who appealed through his police union. Despite killing two unarmed men and costing taxpayers all that money, he was reinstated and given back pay.

    There are other egregious examples like Chicago's Jon Burge, 66, who, despite torturing at least 100 black men while police commander, this year got to keep his $54,000-a-year pension. His supporters on the pension board, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, were police officers.

    Friedersdorf notes that, "[not] every officer who is fired deserves it, [and not] every reinstated cop represents a miscarriage of justice"--but his small sampling of disciplined-then-reinstated officers, alone, also illustrates a need for reform.

    Read the full story at The Atlantic.

    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Former NFL Player-Turned-Actor Terry Crews on What Makes a Man in 2014

    Colorlines - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 13:09

    A highlight of a new interview with "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" actor Terry Crews is when he tells a story of his 6-year-old son's shame at having to admit feeling afraid in front of him (12:45-15:07). He saw himself in his son's vulnerability and handled it in a way that's perhaps different from how he grew up in 1970s Flint, Mich. Crews recently keynoted a Canadian conference, "What Makes A Man," and sat with Elamin Abdelmahmoud* to talk feminism ("it scares men") and manhood.  His talk comes at a time when a number of high-profile and beloved male entertainers--Bill Cosby, Ray Rice and, in Canada, Jian Ghomeshi--are forcing public and revelatory conversations about the bounds of appropriate manhood. Crews, who's spoken openly about growing up watching his father hit his mother, doesn't mind all the debate though. He thinks it gives men an opportunity to re-direct and choose healthier ways to be.

     

    * Post has been updated since publication with the correct name of Crews' interviewer, Elamin Abdelmahmoud of "The Agenda with Steve Paiken."

    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Father of Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Says Son Believes He Acted Properly

    Colorlines - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:05
    Father of Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Says Son Believes He Acted Properly

    Fred Loehmann, father of one of the two police officers who shot and killed Tamir Rice in Cleveland on November 22, says his son Tim Loehmann believes he had no choice but to shoot the 12-year-old African-American boy, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. 

    "He's living his life," Loehmann said of his son Tim, an eight-month rookie with the Cleveland police academy. The officer was with his partner, veteran Fred Garmback, when they sped up to a park gazebo where Rice was playing with an airsoft gun. In an exchange that lasted just two seconds, Loehmann jumped out of the car and shot and killed Rice as his partner Garmback pulled up to Rice. "I had no choice," the elder Loehmann recalls his son telling him.

    Rice's shooting death came amidst the final days of tense anticipation as the nation awaited a St. Louis grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teen.

    A funeral for Rice is being held at 11am ET on Wednesday, NBC reported. 

    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Toni Morrison's New Novel Set to Hit Shelves Next Spring

    Colorlines - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 11:10
    Toni Morrison's New Novel Set to Hit Shelves Next Spring

    Good news, Toni Morrison fans. She's got a new novel coming out in April of 2015 called "God Help the Child." From BuzzFeed:

    Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child is a searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life; but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love until she told a lie that ruined the life of an innocent woman, a lie whose reverberations refuse to diminish...Booker, the man Bride loves and loses, whose core of anger was born in the wake of the childhood murder of his beloved brother...Rain, the mysterious white child, who finds in Bride the only person she can talk to about the abuse she's suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother... and Sweetness, Bride's mother, who takes a lifetime to understand that "what you do to children matters. And they might never forget."

    It'll be her Morrison's 11th novel and serve as proof that, at 83, she's still got it.

    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Why Prison Doesn't Work

    Colorlines - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 08:05
    Why Prison Doesn't Work

    Maya Schenwar, a longtime journalist and editor-in-chief of the progressive website Truthout, recently released her first book, "Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn't Work and How We Can Do Better." It's a quick-but-devastating read that reinforces what many of us already know: The criminal justice system is incredibly fraught and racially biased. Schenwar weaves her own research and reporting--collected over years of writing about prisons and policing--with a personal narrative about her sister's repeat incarceration. The book also features the voices of other incarcerated people with whom Schenwar has corresponded over the years. I spoke with Schenwar via telephone to dive a bit deeper into some of the themes presented in the book.

    How did you begin writing "Locked Down, Locked Out"?

    Over the past 10 years I'd been covering policing and incarceration, both as a writer and an editor [who was] commissioning stories. At the same time the issue had been coming home to me through my own sister [who was] cycling through the system. [Then] in May 2012 when the NATO protests happened in Chicago there were these arrests of activists. They arrested these guys on trumped up terrorism charges and Truthout's readership got very riled up about this. I wrote a column [in response], "35,948 Arrested Yesterday." My point was: We need to take a step back, and while it's important to talk about these white political prisoners, it's more important to talk about the fact that tens of thousands black and brown people get arrested every single day and it's normal. The column went over well and I thought this might be the seed of an idea, to write about the ways we disconnect with the prison population.

    Talk about how the prison industrial complex in the U.S. is gendered. How do the experiences of men and women differ with incarceration?

    Even though women are the fastest increasing group in prison, most people in prison are men; more than 90 percent [of incarcerated people] are men. But when men are incarcerated it always impacts women. Beth Ritchie writes about this really well. The impact of men's incarceration on women happens through families. It imposes these huge, huge burdens on women because when men go to prison, women are responsible for maintaining financially but also being responsible for supporting the man--paying for phone calls, commissary, transporting kids to visits.

    Why are women the fastest growing prison population?

    Because they are there for drug crimes and often they are there as accomplices. They are convicted of being present. Danielle, [who I write about in the book], has a life sentence for cocaine conspiracy and her partner is already out of prison, [even though] she's been there for decades. A lot of trends have fueled [women's incarceration]. Occasionally these types of feminism emerge that intersect with the criminal legal system in shitty ways. Carceral feminism a lot of times is advocating for the idea that the way to deal with domestic violence and violence against women is to arrest men. Marissa Alexander's case is such an intersection of all of these issues tied together.

    Can you say more about the distinction you draw in your book between so-called crimes and acts that cause harm? Why is this an important distinction?

    I think that the word "crime" is tricky because it's based on law. A crime is something that is against the law and it's also just something that's in the hands of the police and the criminal legal system to define. That's not shaped by [the question of whether] this act hurt someone. Law is shaped by all sorts of factors--including racism, ableism, transphobia and anti-blackness. Certain actions are criminalized based on who is doing them. How do we unravel what prison is used for now? It's being used as a mechanism of social control, and it's also being used as a really dysfunctional tool for trying to address harm and violence against some people.

    So much of your book focuses on alternatives to incarceration. Do you think that they, collectively, could represent a true alternative to the prison industrial complex?

    A lot of the alternatives to the prison industrial complex [are] going to be about creativity and all of us thinking about how we keep ourselves safe and healthy and keep our communities strong. It's very much got to be a collective thing if we're not relying on violent systems of state power for safety. One of the things that I was really grappling with is [that] it's hard to come up with a happy, clean definition of transformative justice because it means a different thing for every situation. How do [we] address problems where they are happening, in the actual community, with the actual people involved? So I tried to show that this is being done. I also think that it's really important to not think that those examples are what needs to be reproduced everywhere.

    Talk more about how what it would take for transformative justice. 

    Mariame Kaba, a Chicago prison activist, always talks about how abolition and transformative justice have to be collective, that they have to be things we're all going to invest in. A lot of it really does come from the fact that you're reversing where accountability comes from. Accountability comes from community as opposed to being imposed upon communities. The word "safety," what it so often means is "protecting white people," or "protecting white people's property."

    Women who give birth while incarcerated, like your sister whose story you tell in the book, have gotten a lot more attention in recent years, particularly through campaigns to end shackling during labor and programs that offer doula support for prisoners. What do you think about these efforts and increased media attention?

    I think they are really important. Women who are going through pregnancy and birth in prison are some of the most vulnerable. Even though I knew the facts, I was still shocked at every turn with my sister. I was shocked that she had to labor alone for 36 hours with a guard. They way it's affected her would be so different if she'd had a doula there.

    When my sister was pregnant in prison, I got a lot of people saying to me, "Why should she be in prison? What good is it doing anyone for her to be in prison?" She was this sympathetic character. Because she was pregnant, and because she is white, it had these characteristics of a perfect little story. Every time I get a letter [from someone in prison] I am reminded [to ask] "What good is it doing anyone for this person to be in prison?" It isn't to say that shackling pregnant women shouldn't be publicized, but we need to look at how we frame it because it can always turn into [a] good prisoner, bad prisoner [dichotomy].

    I'll admit that just a few pages into your book, I flipped to the end and read the last few paragraphs. It was like I needed to know there was some sort of happy ending to get through the hard realities that you focus on. What's the "happy ending" or hope that keeps you moving forward and working on these issues?

    The thing that kept me going in writing this book was the fact that as I was writing it, things were changing and things were getting better. I noticed people were having victories. Prisons in Illinois were closing. People in prisons were winning victories like [with] the hunger strike among California prisoners in solitary confinement. There were all these moments of triumph. It was really great when you could see how people inside were driving some of these movements. It's not an ending, but it's happy in many ways.

    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    Sony's Race and Gender Gap, San Francisco Stands With Ferguson

    Colorlines - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 07:40
    Sony's Race and Gender Gap, San Francisco Stands With Ferguson

    This is what I'm reading up on today:

    Categories: Diversity Headlines

    DACA — Confessions of a Formerly Undocumented Youth

    New America Media - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 00:05
    LOS ANGELES — A week after President Obama’s executive action to protect millions of immigrants from deportation, one young man who is already benefiting from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) says he hopes Filipinos will take advantage of the... Cecile Caguingin Ochoa http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
    Categories: Diversity Headlines
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