Tag Archives: Race

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!

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Day 13 of 16 Days of Activism: Singapore

As one of two places in Asia where English is the primary language, Singapore takes center stage on #Day13 of #16Days of Activism. Arguable one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world with a population nearing 5.5 million, the government of Singapore encourages multiculturalism, and recognizes English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil as official languages. Singapore shines in some areas–like boasting the lowest infant mortality rate in the world and being the world’s most religiously diverse nation–and lacks in others–there is no minimum wage in the country and all public gatherings of five or more require police permits.

While reporting of domestic violence and the collection of statistical data related to gender-based or interpersonal violence has been difficult to assemble in Singapore, estimates currently state that nearly one in 10 women in Singapore were victimized at some point in their adult lives, and more than one-third of the survivors surveyed were afraid for their lives during the most recent incidence of violence. There are a handful or organizations on the 277 square mile island nation dedicated to helping everyone live free from fear and violence.

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We Can! Singapore “uses interactive theatre, intimate workshops, and collaborative projects to reach out to individual Change Makers as well as community groups, provoking thought and discussion on the less obvious forms of violence against women…. [and] builds on the belief that change can be achieved when people recognise the problem of violence against women as their own, know that there is a better alternative, and feel empowered to make that change happen.”

A number of organizations exist that specialize in aiding folks with disabilities. The Asian Women’s Welfare Association “strives to empower caregivers and caregiving families of the disabled, the elderly as well as the chronically and terminally-ill through the provision of information, training and support programmes. We also work with caregivers to advocate for more caregiver-friendly policies, support and services for caregivers and their loved ones.” Care Corner operates Project START– Stop Abusive Relationships Together which aims to “provide community-based services for mentally incapacitated persons of family violence, and/or vulnerable persons with disability, etc. Care Corner Project StART handles various types of complex family violence cases that comprise of high risk. Care Corner Project StART provides family protection intervention work in the west and south region of Singapore.”

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The National Council of Social Services “with the goal of enhancing the quality of social services for the disadvantaged, works closely with VWOs [Voluntary Welfare Organizations] to build their organisational capabilities for better management and delivery of social service programmes.” NCSS operates:

  • Family Service Centres
    Family Service Centres (FSCs) are a key community-based focal point and social service provider for families in need. The objectives of FSCs are to promote and improve the social well-being of every individual in the family, at every stage of life. FSCs are staffed with social workers and other professionals to provide a helping hand.
  • Single-Parent Family Support Services
    The objectives of a Single-Parent Programme are to support and promote the psycho-emotional well-being of single-parent families towards stability, growth and acceptance of the new family unit. The services provided include family casework and counselling, support groups, programmes for children, and public education.
  • Services for Remarriages and Step-families
    The holistic programme helps remarried couples and their families cope with their new roles and adjust in their reconstituted families. The services provided include family casework and counselling, support groups, programmes for children, and public education.
  • Family Violence Prevention and Intervention Programme
    The Family Violence Prevention and Intervention Programme aims to help victims, perpetrators and witnesses of family violence. It also aims to create greater awareness in the community about issues on family violence through public education and outreach. The programme involves services ranging from remedial services to preventive and developmental programmes. These include casework and counselling, group work, and workshops.
  • Counselling Services
    Counselling services aim to help those suffering from psychological issues, anxiety, and behavioural difficulties arising from relationship problems, addictions, bereavement and lifestyle pressures. Counselling helpline services are also available to provide a listening ear to anyone who needs to talk about their concerns. Information and referral are also available for those with specific needs.
  • Suicide Prevention Service
    Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) provides confidential 24-hour emotional support by trained volunteers to people in crisis, thinking of suicide or affected by suicide.
  • Aftercare Case Management Service
    The objective of the aftercare case management service is to facilitate the reintegration of ex-offenders into families and the society. Such service also aims to harness greater community resources in efforts to reintegrate ex-offenders.
    The aftercare case management service assists ex-offenders in attaining employment/job training, securing accommodation, developing social support and coping skills, and attaining a positive lifestyle.

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The Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations is the umbrella over 57 organizations in the country. Their aims and objectives include:

  1. To co-ordinate and act as a federation for women’s organisations, and to bring together all women leaders of Singapore;
  2. To create opportunities for member organisations to share information and collaborate with each other;
  3. To identify areas of common interest , and purpose, and furthering these through unified effort;
  4. To foster friendly relationships, goodwill and understanding amongst women, irrespective of origin, race, or religion;
  5. To provide leadership and work positively towards peace and understanding throughout the world by actively participating regionally and internationally with other like-minded organisations which subscribe to similar aims and objects;
  6. To promote and improve the status of women in Singapore in all fields, and where necessary, seek legislative and policy changes to ensure justice and equal opportunity for women as embodied in the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  7. To serve as a resource centre for information about women in Singapore and carry out research and training programmes that will benefit women;
  8. To provide direct and support services that address the needs of women in Singapore, with special focus on the needs of vulnerable women.

PAVE–the first family violence specialist centre in Singapore– was created with the goal “to promote a healthy community, free from violence through improvement, collaboration and advocacy.” They provide counseling services, support groups, referrals, safety planning, help with obtaining protective orders, public education, research and training. They can be reached at 6555 0390.

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AWARE– the Association of Women for Action and Research- is “Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group” whose aim is to “remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes.” They do this through research and advocacy, education and training and by providing direct support services. AWARE operates the Sexual Assault Care Center Monday through Friday from 10am-midnight, the Helpline for survivors of domestic violence Monday through Friday from 3pm-9:30pm at 1800-774-5935 and a Free Legal Clinic. They also have a ton of great information on their website, including safety planning, getting a restraining order and contact information for a number of other organizations in Singapore dedicated to ending violence against women and promoting gender equality.

With all these great resources available for survivors of abuse and domestic violence in Singapore hopefully soon their human rights record will be on par with their education and healthcare system. If anyone knows of organizations within Singapore that are working directly on the justice system there please share them in the comments! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the remaining few days of #16DaysofActivism!


Day 31- Connecting the Dots

As Women’s History Month wraps up today I want to express my deep gratitude for all of the support I have felt from readers over the past 31 days. I hope that you have enjoyed the discussions and have learned something. I also hope that you can see how interconnected every individual’s struggle for justice is with everyone else’s. I welcomed you all to Feminist Activism with this quote by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As I conclude my personal goal of writing everyday, I want to focus on the overarching ideas of justice and equality.

In the web of humanity everyone’s fate is intertwined with everyone else’s, so even if we personally are not facing injustice or persecution, we must stand up for those who are. Fighting to secure basic rights and freedoms for everyone will someday protect you, or someone you love. This statement by Pastor Martin Niemöller comes to mind.

Human rights covers a huge range of things, from women’s rights to access to education to the rights of the disabled to access to health care, etc. Merely fighting for each individual human being to have equal access and opportunity will not fix what is wrong with our world though. Environmental issues and the rights of other species to not only exist but to thrive need to be priorities as well, for even the most equal of societies will fall if the planet cannot sustain it.

A look into one individual’s life will clearly illustrate how dependent all living beings are on each other. Let’s look at an average white American woman: 30s-40s, two teenagers and a shelter rescue dog, one expensive abortion, Christian with no time for church, divorced because her alcoholic ex-husband broke too many of her ribs, high school graduate, working class–living paycheck to paycheck, no retirement fund to speak of, paying a mortgage, lives in the suburbs downwind from her job, tries to help take care of her disabled mother who lives in a run-down nursing home, health insurance only covers cervical cancer screenings every two years instead of the recommended annual screenings, her gay brother lives with her because he was forced out of his home when his partner passed away and their home was automatically given to the legal “next of kin,” her mid-90s car has tons of miles on it and is just as hard on her wallet as it is on the environment, and her best friend is the Mexican woman with whom she can barely communicate who is charged with her mother’s care. This story of “middle America” could go on and on.

Every aspect of an individual’s life–sex, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, education, class, religion, ability, language, environment, legal status, criminal record, and age–affects her/his reality. Each of these factors individually can be cause for discrimination but when more than one factor is “abnormal” the individual can feel hopeless. The norm for American society is male, white, straight, man, some college, middle-upper class, Christian, nondisabled, English-speaking, suburban, US citizen, non-convict, 30s-40s. Imagine how harsh someone’s reality is if these are the facts: female, Latino, bisexual, transgender FTM, some high school, working class, atheist, disabled, Spanish-speaking, urban, undocumented, ex-convict, 60s. Obviously this is an extreme case of being at the bottom of the food chain but this man does exist, many times over!

Let’s go back to our “average” American woman. Her Christian upbringing lead her to get married at age 20 and have children by age 22. After her youngest child went to school she tried to get back into receptionist work but found she had been out of the game too long and no one would hire her. The family couldn’t survive on her husband’s paycheck alone so she took an entry-level job at a manufacturing plant where she was often sexually harassed for being a woman and doing a “man’s job.” Despite missing work for three weeks because her husband put her in the hospital, she worked her way up in the union and, since she left her husband, luckily makes enough money to get by every month. Her brother helps with some of the bills but his employers give him just enough hours to qualify for health insurance, out of pity, because they know if he ever lost his health insurance his HIV status would make him “uninsurable.” Her children, whom she would sacrifice anything for, are in high school, sexually active, average students, mildly involved in extra-curricular activities. She’s straight but sometimes wonders what it would be like to be with a woman. Her mother’s illnesses are taking a toll on her and the Mexican caretaker at the nursing home is the only person she feels comfortable being honest with, partly because she believes the caretaker can’t understand her. She’s been having some pains in her stomach lately which could be attributed to cervical cancer or could be a result of years of inhaling pollution, but she can’t afford to take the time off work to see a doctor during normal business hours, and couldn’t afford her co-payment anyway.

We must all fight each other’s battles. My only word of caution is not to fight for what we think someone else wants, but to fight for what she says she wants, otherwise we’re repeating colonialism all over again. If you are interested in fighting injustice in any (or all) of its many forms, get involved in your community. The old feminist adage to “think globally and act locally” is still true. Always consider what effect your actions will have on the global community and start to make changes in your life and at the local level. This explanation may help.

Some organizations with whom you can explore the birdcage of oppression include The Connect the Dots Movement focused on human, animal and environmental well-being, The Connect the Dots Network which teaches green/sustainable environmental practices to social justice non-profits, 100% Renewable Energy that explains the folly in ageist discrimination in relation to the environmental movement, Counter Quo which examines how a multitude of factors compound oppression and sexual violence, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights that is a legal service that understands how race and security issues affect environmental issues, and L.O.V.E. Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation which explores the necessary links between veganism and feminism, and on combating speciesism, racism, sexism and rape culture.

Tomorrow is April 1st and the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I will not be writing everyday but hope to be able to post at least 2-3 times per week, so check back often for new discussions, or subscribe so you’ll automatically be notified when I post something new. As always, any ideas, links, information, etc. is more than welcome. Thanks y’all. Keep fighting the good fight!


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