Category Archives: Strategic Nonviolent Action

Undue Burden: Abortion in Texas on the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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January 22, 2016, Austin, TX, USA

Although I didn’t plan to be at the Texas Capitol on the 43rd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade to hear comedian Lizz Winstead, Senator Kirk Watson, activist Amy Hagstrom Miller and others impassioned about Reproductive Justice speak, the stars aligned to bring me there. Wearing orange, armed with signs I made to protest in that same building back in 2013–La Lucha Sigue Y’all!–with a friend and clinic-worker by my side, I listened, as the wind whistled, and carried our whoops and hollering across the rolling lawns of the Capitol grounds.

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Fate has seemed time and again to draw me into abortion. Many, many people who support the right to choose clarify that they are pro-choice, but not pro-abortion. I cannot claim the same. Abortion, its cloaked and infamous history, everything about it, calls to me, in the depths of my soul, as a human right I cannot stop fighting for. After leaving my local abortion provider’s office last January to focus on domestic violence full-time, last summer I began to feel the void again. Maybe it was memories from the Capitol, maybe the heat got to me, but I was finally recovered enough from the massive burnout I suffered after the devastation of HB2, to pour myself into abortion again.

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Now I serve as one of two Outreach & Volunteer coordinators for The Bridge Collective, the only practical support network in Central Texas for people seeking abortion care. We as a collective, and through our network of volunteers, provide accommodation and transportation to people traveling within 100 miles of Austin (roughly a two-hour drive each way) to terminate a pregnancy. To give you an idea of what that means, check out the maps below. The orange markers are all of the abortion clinics we don’t serve, the purple ones are clinics we do, and the red markers are towns within 100 miles of Austin.

Texas Zoomed Out

TBC Travel Area

Covering the vast swaths of land between tiny Texas towns that dot the landscape, you’ve got a lot of time to think. And while for our clients that time may be spent confirming their decision, or contemplating all of the other responsibilities and stressors in their lives, for the drivers, inequality is always on our minds.

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But that’s true for a lot of Texans, in a lot of battles, over abortion, voting rights, segregation, police brutality, healthcare or lack thereof, classism, shelters for domestic violence survivors and the homeless, etc. etc. etc.

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Abortion has always been an issue that sparks a fire in me. I’ve written numerous times about bodily autonomy and the policing of bodies and abortion, but I’m glad that the political discourse around abortion, at least in my circles, has finally started to be intersectional (almost) all the time. The argument that “if men could get pregnant” may finally be shifting to “if cismen could get pregnant” because men can and are getting pregnant. No longer are White Feminists talking only about a woman’s right to choose, although that is still the dominant rhetoric. It’s heartening to hear frank, public discussions of WHO is affected by these ridiculous, restrictive laws, and how those of us with white or class or able privilege can help people suffering from racism, classism, ableism and transphobia.  So while many pro-choice arguments still look like this:

12507451_10153215260552687_1076058395963496776_nor this better, more racially inclusive infographic

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I’m grateful that many of the memes and much of the discourse has shifted to be more wholly inclusive of all people who can become pregnant, like this: 1848_1679204842323100_2455440285072812659_n

It seems like more and more people, pro-choice people, are finally starting to show up for ACCESS to abortion, because Roe v. Wade means nothing to people who can’t afford, or get to, their appointments. Because we all know the wealthy will always find a way to terminate a pregnancy that is unwanted.

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But even if someone does have the funds, and the transportation to terminate a pregnancy, that doesn’t guarantee there is a clinic near them that will have an available appointment soon, or even before they pass the 12-week mark, or their state’s legal limit for termination. Nor do money and transportation promise that the patient has the “proper identification” or the right to take time off work (at least twice in Texas) or childcare or wouldn’t face a barrage of racist and insulting questions about their gender or immigration status. No wonder so many people in Texas and elsewhere are illegally purchasing abortifacients online, or self-inducing terminations.

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And while we may have to deal with media-supported abortion shaming and the clinic violence that is a consequence, and some ridiculous gubernatorial shenanigans and blatant sexism in our legislature, at least, unlike North Carolina, we don’t have to send the forced ultrasounds patients get to lawmakers. The documentary Trapped shows what it’s like from an abortion provider’s POV. We’re not the only one’s failing… yay? There have been some bright spots nationally in abortion laws though, like Louisiana & North Dakota, and some upcoming elections could prove to be critical as well.

Back at the Texas Capitol though, on January 22, 2016, our activists were just kicking off the Texas Truth Tour, to get to DC before March 2nd, in time for the landmark Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case challenging the ominous omnibus HB2 bill that has been so devastating to abortion care in Texas. For more on how the SCOTUS ruling will impact the nation, check out this piece from Colorlines.

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You can help Texans get to the Supreme Court by texting ‘Fight Back’ to 97779 and follow their journey using #FightBackTX #StopTheSham and #WWHvHellerstadt, and other conversations around abortion rights and access with #DrawTheLine #WeWontGoBack #ShoutYourAbortion #7in10forRoe #RepealHyde #RepealHelmes #1in3Speaks #ReclaimRoe and #reprojustice. For more from the Draw The Line campaign hear these actors speaking out. Also, check out the incredible amicus briefs filed for the Supreme Court’s consideration, and Obama’s take on all of it.

Do people really need to be reminded what life was like before Roe? Apparently so. We’ll only have to look to El Salvador in the near future to see what a healthcare crisis of that magnitude looks like.

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Giving Back for Native American Heritage Month

Paint It RedMost people in the United States automatically equate November with Pilgrims & “Indians” and Thanksgiving, and while the tide of cognizant adults is turning, there are still millions of people in the USA who do not acknowledge our country’s horrific, genocidal, colonial history. I’ve written about Native American women’s activism in the States before, but today I want to bring your attention to Native American Heritage Month, and a few things you can do to help improve the lives of Native Americans still reeling from centuries of slaughter, forced migration, forced assimilation, and modern political policies like forced sterilization that deepen the mistrust indigenous folks have against white colonizers. While we all might not be able to give back the land our ancestors stole, there are a number of other things we can do to support our Original American neighbors. Today is also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the kickoff of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

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While the sentimentality of a holiday to show gratitude for what we have is nice, we can’t deny the roots of Thanksgiving, which is why many Native American families and activists see the holiday as anything but something to be thankful for. The most important thing you as an individual can do to combat the mistruths we’re taught in school is to educate yourself and others as to the realities facing Native communities on a daily basis. It’s also important to be honest with children of all colors and races about the origins of our country and our holidays. One way to show your support for indigenous communities is to wear red on Friday, November 27th, and use the hashtags #NativeLivesMatter and #IdleNoMore on social media.

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Native children, as they have under the Bureau of Indian Affairs for decades, also face incredible obstacles in achieving an education. Suicide rates amongst Native youth are astronomical, but all young people of color are much less hopeful to live to age 35 than their white peers. With South Dakota frequently taking Native American children from their families to place them in foster care (because the state earns money for every child under state care) the Lakota People’s Law Project is demanding that President Obama take action. You can sign their petition here.

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Another petition you should sign is this one to stop the flooding of Winnemem Wintu’s last sacred location. While Obama has been lauded by many as a leader on environmental issues for not allowing the Keystone XL pipeline project to be built, there’s always room for improvement, and a delegation of more than 45 indigenous leaders from across the continent are making their way to Paris for the UN Climate Talks. Environmental issues are a major factor impacting the health, sovereignty and survivability of many Native American tribes. The President is also the target of demonstrations this weekend to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier, an American Indian Movement (AIM) activist charged with the murders of two FBI agents and the fierce AIM activist Anna Mae Aquash.

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Unfortunately, despite an incredible history of strong, warrior women and equality for all sexes/genders in many Native cultures throughout the continent, murders of Native American and First Nations women are still rampant and sex trafficking regularly occurs with impunity. Follow the controversy with #MMIW which stands for missing and murdered Indigenous women. Native American women also deal with domestic violence and sexual assault at astounding rates. No better example of “the personal is political” exists than that of environmental degradation of fracking in North Dakota and its impact on the levels of violence against women and girls in the area. But Native women definitely aren’t giving up; they’re fighting back by creating safe spaces like Tewa Women United, the Four Directions Clinic on the infamous Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the first-ever Native American birthing center, planned to open in New Mexico within three years. With only 14 Native American certified midwives throughout the entirety of the US, you can see why such a project is necessary–donate to it here.

Tweet TruthI owe my initial understanding and appreciation of other cultures to an elementary school classmate’s family. They are Me-wuk, and in my small public school in Northern California, took every opportunity they could to educate our class and our school. Native dancers came and performed for us and we took field trips to learn about them. Officially replacing the derogatory name “Digger Indians” placed on them by the invading gold miners, Miwok became the tribe’s official name in 1924. Although I have written before about how language shapes our realities, and I talk a lot about the importance of naming, labels and respecting identities, many readers may not know that I have a degree in Linguistics. I’ve studied 7 languages, including two indigenous languages, Nahuatl–the language of the Aztecs, and Miwok. Studying indigenous languages is a revolutionary act, especially because of the abhorrent relationship between Native Americans and their languages that white colonizers perpetuate to this day.

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Studying a new language can give us a totally new understanding, by making us view the world through a different lens. In the course where I studied Miwok, other students were studying other languages, and I learned that many Indigenous languages group nouns based on shape–round, flat, long, etc. It’s also important to consider that many Native cultures understand their actions as affecting Seven Generations, and thus feel personally and politically obligated to take both their ancestors’ accomplishments and their offsprings’ futures into account. One way to ensure that Native Americans in our communities are not “in the past tense” is to do whatever we can to keep their unique languages from dying.

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Marie Wilcox (right), the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni

National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project shows that two areas of the United States are currently suffering from high to severe threat levels for the extinction of unique Indigenous languages, although even languages like Lakota with 6,000 speakers are still not safe. The Pacific Northwest is home to 54 Native languages, but many of them are on the verge of dying out completely. A Canadian project working to combat this is First Voices, which maps and archives Indigenous languages with soundbites and written dictionaries. Further down the coast the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival work with UC Berkeley to document languages, and also created an incredible Master Apprentice Program for individuals to learn directly from speakers of Native languages. The other area of the United States where Indigenous languages are threatened with extinction is the Oklahoma-Southwest region, home to 43 different languages, including Euchee, a language isolate, meaning it doesn’t belong to any language family. Euchee only has five remaining speakers–to donate to the Euchee Language Project consider a recurring gift to Cultural Survival.

 

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I know I’ve included a lot of plugs for donations in this post, but really it’s the least you could do. The Dolores Project homeless shelter could use your help as well. If giving money is totally not an option at this point though, supporting Indigenous artists in all media is a good place to start. You can play the unique Never Alone, the first Alaska Native videogame, buy fashions from these Native designers instead of appropriating their themes from big box stores, listen to these seven rising Native American musicians, learn from this intrepid mapmaker and his incredible work, and support Matika Wilbur’s photography with Project 562. If you’re in Santa Fe in mid-August, be sure to check out the Indigenous Fine Arts Market. There are also tons of Native American authors you can read and learn from. Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach was really poignant for me. If you’d rather watch your storytelling, here is a list of 84 films by and about women of color, and if you’re branching further south, 4 documentaries about indigenous Mexicans. Now go forth, and dismantle colonialism!

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Photographer Matika Wilbur (c) Tulalip News


Pink & Purple Awareness

As October draws to a close the observations of my friends and co-workers are ringing in my ears: cancer is a by-product of life, and we should be focusing on things we can prevent, like domestic violence. Most people are unaware that in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, hence why there are so few purple ribbons to be seen amongst the sea of pink, but purple goes with your pink ribbons just fine.

William GayObviously no one likes cancer and my friends are no exception, their respective points though–that death is an inevitable part of life and that we should try to heal social issues with social action rather than medical issues with social action–challenge the accepted social norm that causes even burly NFL players to don the “feminine” color pink so that more women will detect breast cancer early. Nevermind that men can and do get breast cancer too…. Despite the NFL’s Crucial Catch Program, there’s a stark contrast between pink-supporting players like Johnny Manziel who recently avoided any legal or NFL discipline after police dash-cam footage showed him schmoozing away a domestic violence incident, and pink-resistant players like William Gay who was fined for wearing purple cleats in honor of his mother who was murdered in a domestic violence incident when he was a child. Thank Gay for his brave action here.

Manziel sporting a pink "Breast Cancer Awareness" towel

Manziel sporting a pink “Breast Cancer Awareness” towel

The truth is breast cancer kills an estimated 40,290 women and 440 men in the US each year, while 1.3 million women and 835,000 men each year are victims of physical intimate partner violence. Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer by far, killing more people every year in the US than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, but Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November) is barely a blip on our collective media radar. Maybe breathing just isn’t sexy enough.

willie-maeDon’t get me wrong, I’m not saying mastectomies fit into the mainstream ideals of sexiness either… but oh those reconstructed breasts! And there’s nothing wrong with public awareness campaigns for any serious health issue, the problem I have with BCAM is the pinkwashing–claiming to care about breast cancer while selling/promoting products that are carcinogenic.

Breast cancer survivor Barbara Ehrenreich explains in the documentary Pink Ribbon, Inc., “‘We used to march in the streets. Now you’re supposed to run for a cure. Walk for a cure, or jump for a cure. The effect of the whole pink-ribbon culture was to drain and deflect the kind of militancy we had as women [who] were appalled to have a disease that was epidemic, yet we didn’t know the cause of.'”

RibbonsUnderstand the history of the Pink Ribbon and its campaigns, and Think Before You Pink. If you truly want to make a difference in the lives of the 1 in 8 women who will develop breast cancer, try this:

  1. Create an Early Detection Plan and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Knowing what is normal for your own body through monthly self exams (but not right before or during menstruation), annual clinical breast exams, following the revised mammogram guidelines and speaking up to your doctor about any changes to your breasts including itchiness, redness, swelling, change in shape or size, as well as lumps or unusual discharge.
  2. Donate to Planned Parenthood–their breast cancer screenings and treatments save the lives of folks who would otherwise not be able to afford healthcare.
  3. Hold a fundraiser to help provide mammograms for people who are struggling to afford them.
  4. Support organizations who are fighting to challenge the way we think about breast cancer, like Metavivor and Breast Cancer Action which advocate for finding a cure, the National Breast Cancer Coalition that has a strategic plan to end breast cancer by 2020, and the National Women’s Health Network which pushes for the inclusion of more women in clinical trials.
  5. Challenge people and campaigns aimed as “saving the ta-tas” instead of saving the person with cancer. Understand that many people (~30%) who detected their breast cancer early still went on to die from metastatic breast cancer.
  6. Learn the facts about early detection campaigns for all kinds of cancers, and work to mitigate the racist, classist, transphobic and heterosexist effects a lack of healthcare and lack of awareness create.
  7. Support research for alternative treatments like Phoenix Tears.
  8. Don’t buy pinkwashed carcinogens!

If you want to make a difference in the lives of the 1 in 3 women who will face domestic violence in their lifetimes:

  1. Donate to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and your local domestic violence shelter. Money is great but local shelters could always use toiletries like shampoo, soap, tampons, diapers etc., and clothing as well.
  2. Speak out against police brutality and domestic violence within police families.
  3. Call your Representatives and encourage them to support the SAFE Act.

Happy Bi Visibility Day!

Bi FlagEvery September 23rd bisexuals the world over shed our cloaks of invisibility in favor of something more suited to the human race- community. Bi Visibility Day lands in the middle of Bisexual Awareness Week so today I’ll share with you some ways you can educate yourself about bi+ folk. Bi+ refers to the whole spectrum of non-monosexual people of any gender identity (transwomen, ciswomen, genderqueer, non-binary, genderfluid, transmen, cismen, etc.) who love/are attracted (romantically and/or sexually) to more than one gender, or for whom the gender of their partner is unimportant. Many people in the Bi Family identify as Queer, polysexual, pansexual, or fluid, amongst myriad other personal identifiers. Research suggests that roughly 52% of non-heterosexual people (and 29% of all people under 30!) identify as bisexual which means bisexuals come in all colors, races, religions, abilities, nationalities and ages. Bisexual individuals, no matter the gender(s) of their partners, come in three exciting flavors: single, monogamously partnered, and poly partnered. Below Sir Cumming are some ways you can celebrate (your own?) love for more than one kind of person.

Alan Cumming

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I know the infographic isn’t very celebratory, but if you share it, this post, and all the things you learn during Bisexual Awareness Week you will greatly be contributing to the visibility of the Bi community, which is always something to celebrate!


Black Lives Matter: Reflections on the Death of Sandra Bland

Get ready to get uncomfortable.Sandra Bland Kimberlee Randle King

One of the biggest privileges of having white skin is believing, knowing, that if you call the police they will feel more inclined to “protect and serve” you than not. The same is true of doctors–if the medical industry has a history of lying and using your people as guinea pigs, it would understandably be difficult to trust white coats. Of course media portrayals, general corruption, class, rural vs. urban, previous incarceration history, dis/enfranchisement and gender affect how everyone interacts with the police, but for white people as a whole the police are not a threat. On the contrary even when there is evidence that white people are breaking laws Black people are still the ones treated like suspects. #BlackLivesMatter but think about how many drunk/irate white men brandishing guns have been taken peacefully into police custody, compared to the number of unarmed Black people killed while behaving lawfully.

The Real Race WarThis piece explores how the justice system views Black women, here five Black women share their experiences with the police, read 60 more Black women’s stories here, listen to this spoken word piece about being a Black woman, here you can watch Black women speak out, and this is a good example of Black people’s realities. The disgusting truth of the matter is that any black person in America could have been Sandra Bland, and age, genderdisabilityinnocence or any combination of those don’t change that. The biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout the past year is that Black people rightly fear the police. Would more female police help???

copshooterWhite folks–we NEED to talk about our privilege and how our appropriation of other cultures is not only damaging but violentHere are just a few things you need to know before we move forward so please take a moment. You should also read this, this and this before going any further. Also, here’s what would happen if someone who doesn’t look like me got in a cop’s face, and here’s what kids will be learning about our country’s racist history in school. Speaking of school you should really check out these two truth bombs. And if you’re (somehow) still questioning why anti-racism efforts *must* be integrated into feminism read this. If you need more resources on learning about racism there are more than 30 there. Finally, here is what one woman of color wants white allies to know. What I need from you is to share these truths as far and wide as you can, #SayHerName and the names of all of the people killed by police violence, regardless of color.

Bree Newsome Tweet

On The Burning of Black ChurchesLast month we collectively mourned for the parishioners and families of the victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church assassination, but the burnings of Black churches around the nation have been the backdrop against which the taking of Black lives by the police has been set. And while superheroes like Bree Newsome are shining examples of the courage to which we all ought to aspire, the confederate flag still flies regularly in the face of people of color whose existence is challenged everyday merely for the color of their skin. There aren’t enough ways to explain how wrong all of this is. In the safety of my white skin I am shocked and saddened and appalled by my fellow man. Reading about the destruction of Black lives and Black souls all day, everyday is exhausting, but the torment I’m experiencing from bearing witness to these atrocious human rights violations is a sliver, a fraction of what Black people living in fear of being killed by the police or by any of the myriad other racist institutions in our country are forced to deal with throughout their lives. Since it is impossible for me to share the gravity and weight of their reality with them, to take on a just portion of their load, the absolute least I can do is bear witness to these truths, do my part to hold police accountable, and demand change.

Truth Bomb

While so much has been written since Sandra Bland was found dead, details have come forward about the deaths of many others in police custodySarah Lee Circle Bear, Kindra ChapmanRalkina JonesJoyce CurnellRaynetta Turner, Jonathan SandersRexdale Henry, Christina Tahhahwah and Sgt. James Brown to name a few. And while the US has an embarrassing maternal mortality rate pregnant women who are incarcerated face incredible obstacles whether they choose abortion or birth. Where is your outrage? Why aren’t we all taking to the streets everyday to demand a complete and total overhaul of the Injustice System as we know it?  The headline of this story speaks volumes.

“In 2012, the latest year for which federal data is available, 73.2% of inmates who died in jail for any reason had not been convicted of a crime.”

So what do we know about Sandra Bland and her death? She was driving through Texas on her way to a new job at Prairie View A&M when a squad car pulled an abrupt U-turn and sped up behind her. She yielded to the police who then pulled her over for “failure to signal a lane change.” She lawfully refused to put out her cigarette after the officer asked her to. She was ordered to step out of her car, with no reason given. She exerted her rights but Officer Encinia (who was cited last year for “unprofessional conduct”) threatened to forcibly remove her. She said she was going to call her lawyer. Encinia told her he was going to “yank” her out of her car, reached in, and called for backup. Sandra Bland continued to assert her rights and question what reasoning he had for removing her from her car. Then he told her she was under arrest. He called for backup again, yelled at her to get out of the car and opened her door. He said, “I’m going to drag you out of here.”  He then threatened to “light her up” with a taser. She got out of her car. He yelled at her to get off the phone, but she clarified that she was recording the situation, again asserting her rights. She put her phone down and he ordered her to turn around and put her hands behind her back. He said she was under arrest for “failure to obey a lawful order.” She gave him sass he definitely deserved saying, “You know this is straight bullshit.” He tried to justify his actions, “If you would’ve just listened” and handcuffed her. She said, “Oh I can’t wait ’til we go to court. Ooh I can’t wait. I cannot wait ’til we go to court. I can’t wait. Oh I can’t wait!

The doctored dashcam video of her arrest continues for another 37 minutes and includes Bland being brutalized in a number of ways. You can read the transcript from it here. Bottom line: she should not have been arrested. After being taken to (racist) Waller County Jail, and trying to post bail, she was found dead three days later. The official cause of death was suicide, and marijuana was found in her system, but despite her history of depression and PTSD, a lot of things don’t add up. So much so, in fact, that Attorney General Lynch has spoken out and the FBI has joined the investigation. 28-year-old Sandra Bland was laid to rest on Saturday, July 25th, 2015.

Police Custody

So what can you do to combat racial injustice? Educate yourselfSign this petition to stop the prosecution of a Black woman trying to get a job so she can feed her children. Speak out against the mistreatment of trans* folks, especially in police and immigration custody. Support your local Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Justice efforts in your community. Remember the history of race and slavery in our country. Take all seven steps Black Girl Dangerous spells out for you. Show Up for Racial Justice. Follow conversations on racism on social media with hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter #SayHerName #SandySpeaks #WhatHappenedToSandraBland and #IfIDieInPoliceCustody. Be an ally to trans* folks. Support just struggles everywhere. Donate to the Sandra Bland Legal Fund. Whether Sandra Bland did commit suicide or was killed at the hands of someone else while in police custody is basically irrelevant at this point. She is dead and the entire criminal “justice” system is guilty. Rest In Power Sandy.


I Believe! #WWC

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The victims of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

There’s so much I could write about right now I had a really hard time choosing this month’s topic! From LGBTQAI+ Pride to #BlackLivesMatter to reproductive (in)justice and everything in between, there’s a lot going on in the United States that deserves our attention. Recent police violence against black girls and the massacre of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church parishioners pictured above Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Rev. Clementa Pickney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, DePayne Middleton Doctor, and Myra Thompson shows that racism in the US is still deadly. Domestic violence is ever-present. Biphobia and bi-invisibility are still rife, even during Pride Month, and trans immigrants are still dying to become Americans. One thing that doesn’t deserve our attention is white privilege that ran rampant in blackface for years.

Attack_of_the_14_year_old_girl_WebDespite the often deadly climate in the US for trans women of color the documentary Out in the Night sounds like an incredible exploration of the intersection of race, gender expression, sexual orientation and class as it plays out in the “justice system” from street harassment to prison. Other snippets of positivity have popped up recently too including simple ways to combat racial bias and use white privilege for good, major retailers discontinuing sales of Confederate flag merchandise, the presence of a woman on American money in the near future, the continued presence of Obamacare and free birth control in our healthcare system, Lorretta Lynch was sworn in as Attorney General by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, California passed a bill banning crisis pregnancy centers from lying to patients, New York law now requires sexual assault charges to appear on college transcripts, Google’s new policy to exclude revenge porn search results, a 16-year-old French girl registering on Major League Baseball‘s international list, GO! Magazine’s 100 Women We Love, a Kickstarter for a documentary on black women in tech was wildly successful, these six awesome international developments for women’s human rights and today’s ruling by the US Supreme Court that MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS THE LAW IN THE UNITED STATES!!! “We’ve made our union a little more perfect.”- President Obama #LoveIsLove

Bad RefsSince I couldn’t choose between all the good and the bad things going on I landed on the ugly. Not really, but there definitely is some ugly truth coming up with the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. I’ll admit I am no expert on sports–in fact I don’t even really care about sports. While I grew up with football, baseball, hockey and tennis on TV occasionally and was basically required by the size of my elementary school to play basketball, kickball, flag football and softball and participate in all kinds of track events, I am no athlete. My partner however is all athlete–grew up playing futbol and basketball and avidly watches men’s and women’s futbol, basketball and tennis, and American football to this day. His love for sports is contagious and after learning so much from him about the benefits of team sports, especially for kids, I’ve somewhat come around. I still can’t tell a pick ‘n’ roll from a set screen but I watched most of this year’s NBA finals and thanks to Title IX some of the Women’s College World Series and have been engrossed by the Women’s World Cup.

OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 17:  Sohyun Cho of Korea celebrates with Hahnul Kwon of Korea after scoring her teams first goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Group E match between Korea Republic and Spain at Lansdowne Stadium on June 17, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Sohyun Cho of Korea celebrates with Hahnul Kwon after scoring. June 17, 2015- Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Lars Baron – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Women’s sports get less media coverage now than they did in 1989, but if you have the right channels, or go to the right sports bar, you too can watch women from around the world play the Beautiful Game in all its glory. Superstar ballers like Brazil’s Marta, South Korea’s Cho So-hyun, and the US’s Alex Morgan are showing the world that women have just as much passion, talent and heart as men, but like everything with FIFA this World Cup isn’t without controversy. For those of you not familiar with the Evil Overlords of Soccer FIFA has recently been embroiled in a corruption scandal and former President of FIFA Sepp Blatter (the genius who proposed increasing interest in women’s soccer by making players wear “tighter shorts”) stepped down amid complaints of obvious human rights abuses by upcoming Men’s World Cup host countries Russia and Qatar.

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Twelve international women’s teams are set to appear for the first time in the next iteration monstrously successful video game franchise FIFA 16 but even that feat has been overshadowed. The biggest issue players and fans alike have with the 2015 Women’s World Cup is the playing surface. Men have never been made to play on artificial astroturf and even though Canada had offers to install grass for free FIFA maintained that separate but equal was possible. Despite balmy temperatures all over Canada in the 70s-80s during game time temperatures on the field ranged upwards of 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit even though temperatures over 122 degrees are considered “unsafe for sustained use by trained athletes.” Issues surrounding pay equality for women athletes have also come up numerous times.

“This is why soccer should be played on grass!” -US Striker Sydney Leroux

If you need a primer on how elimination works in these tournaments this page is an easy read and this page has a quick 20 facts to get you caught up on WWC action through its history. In the down time between games various sports channels have been re-showing Nine for IX, which originally aired in 2013, and has one episode focusing on “The ’99ers,” the only US Women’s Soccer Team to win a World Cup. For an interesting history of the iconic photo of Brandi Chastain check out this piece, but save it for after you’ve seen The ’99ers. Also airing recently was Heroes: The Story of the FIFA Women’s World Cup which I’m sure is also available online. The United States plays China tonight in a knockout quarterfinal game but make sure you catch up on this fantastic re-cap of the game that got us out of group stages.

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The quality of play has not been an issue so far–the women’s teams are making the same mistakes the men’s teams do, but one of the most glaring issues has been the inexperienced referees. I think most fans can appreciate that FIFA and/or Canada wanted to have all female refs for the Women’s World Cup, but since only 10% of referees globally are women their experience level cannot be equal. To follow the action on social media check out @FIFAWWC #WWC #worldcup #USA #LiveYourGoals and #SheBelieves. In the face of rookie refs, turf burns and no real professional league development the United States Women’s Soccer Team’s future could look pretty bleak, but with so much love from fans and talent from our superstars, like Mia Hamm, I believe!


Love ‘Em All: A Bisexuality-Affirming Playlist

March, in addition to being Women’s History Month, is also Bisexual Health Awareness Month. Bisexuals (pan/poly/omnisexuals et al.) of all genders face discrimination and health issues at rates way beyond monosexuals of any gender. If you want to check out #BiHealthMonth and some of the depressing statistics you can do that here. To combat all the shit bisexuals deal with I wanted to make a playlist of songs (in precisely zero order)–interspersed with art–that affirm bisexuality, whether they are performed by bisexual artists or not, so get your sewing circle together and enjoy!

Bi Cartoon

Some Days, Some Other Days by Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too

Rhythm by Tamara de Lempicka (1924)

Rhythm by Tamara de Lempicka (1924)

Las Dos Fridas by Frida Kahlo (1939)

Las Dos Fridas by Frida Kahlo (1939)

Fwew! That’s a lot of music to soothe, energize, and delight your bi little souls. What other songs would you add? Which musicians am I missing? Let me know in the comments, and here’s an infographic for your troubles. Be safe, be well!

BHAM 3 ts to safer sex


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