12 Sep

I Don’t Want To Be Okay

Photo of 9/11 Memorial by Ludovic Bertron

“Tribute in Light” by Ludovic Berton used under CC License

Yesterday was a day of reflection for me, remembering memories and feelings from 15 years ago. The attacks on 9/11 punctuated my soul and heart, and in moving through all of that, I re-found this post I did. The desire to love still speaks to me even though I recognize the naivety of my younger self. I am still moved.

I hope it is moving for you too.


I Don’t Want To Be Okay

I don’t want to feel better about the world or myself after September 11th.  I don’t want to go back to my “normal” routine as a passive player in the world…my job, my daily commute…my armchair perspective of the world.

I don’t want to be okay because I am being told that I should “go back to normal.”  I feel like I am being told to forget and pretend that everything is all right.  Too much is still wrong; it is still too painful for me to just ignore.

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25 Jun

Walking in Liberation


Photo Credit to Noee

I am flying home after co-facilitating a three day intensive institute on equity and justice sponsored by the multicultural student center at the University of Wisconsin Madison. It was a wonderful and deeply transformative three days with some faculty, staff, and students. I am returning home renewed, rejuvenated, and with a clearer sense of purpose of the work I need to do in the world.

Three days together was a gift. Most trainings are 1/2 or full days—two days if we are lucky. It was a rare treat for me and my co-facilitator, Tanya Williams, and it was a deep investment by the institution in its employees.

What I realized is that this additional day allowed us to work in liberation. Trainings and institutes that are smaller timeframes generally only provide opportunities to understand how we internalize and act out of domination and subordination, but not begin to dismantle it. The third day offered us time to explore what liberation from oppression might look and feel like.

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31 Dec

Ripples of Change 2014

Photo Credit by Richard Freeman

Photo Credit by Richard Freeman

It has been a productive, complicated, difficult, and blessed year.

I had the opportunities to work with people at Rollins College, University of Nebraska, UC Merced, and the Sierra Club. I am blessed to work, and grateful for my exceptional partners: dr. becky martinez and Amber Mayes.

As part of my annual commitment to use a portion of my proceeds to spark more Ripples of Change, I share the organizations that I chose to support for 2014.

Feminist Frequency
I have been following Feminist Frequency and the work of Anita Sarkeesian for a couple of years now. She is a media critic, focusing on representation of women and gendered stereotypes in popular culture. She began her video blogs to address sexism in popular movies, television, and video games. This led her to research sexism in video games, undertaking a review of hundreds of video games and critiquing the ongoing sexism in the video game industry. Her work in gaming spaces prompted a backlash of harassment, sexual and violent threats on her wellbeing and life. Through it all, we witness a gaming and media industry unwilling to shed its prejudices. Anita remains a courageous and clear voice in one of the clear social justice issues of our time. You can find more on Anita and Feminist Frequency here.

The Brown Boi Project
The Brown Boi Project is an organization in Oakland, CA, that works to empower queer/straight men of color, masculine-of-center womyn, and trans men through leadership development, economic self-sufficiency, and health and wellness programs. They have a commitment to social justice work at the intersections: racial justice, gender justice, and using masculine privilege for social change. I continue to be inspired by their work to expand notions of masculinity, break down gendered roles, and to empower communities of young men. We have seen the results of a country resisting change and holding on to whiteness, patriarchy, and capitalism—black, brown, and trans youth being terrorized or killed by whites and a justice system that condones those killings—and the Brown Boi Project is a needed voice in the movement for change. You can find more information on The Brown Boi Project here.

I encourage you to support both these organizations.

Although the “end of the year” is a time for reflection, renewal, and thinking ahead, I am reminded that it is an arbitrary mark in time, and our work for social change transcends these time markers.

Happy New Year, and I wish us peace, justice, and love.

09 Nov

White Man Rules

Southwest Boarding ProcessAs we have previously discussed, systems have consequences.

And when we create nested systems within larger systems, often times those who benefit in the large system receive the benefits of the nested system, unless we account for it to be otherwise.

Case in Point–A few years ago, Southwest Airlines revised their boarding system from a “first come, first served at the gate” model to one that gave the early boarding spots to those who checked in online first. This was a natural evolution as the internet became more prominent in our lives.

Southwest additionally created their version of a tier system to honor and recognize its regular customers, which is also not uncommon in the airline industry. Southwest then revised its boarding system once again to reserve the early boarding spots to their frequent travelers with high tier membership and those that bought into the full fare ticket price.

On face value, this is a good system for recognizing brand loyalty by an organization that prides itself on low-frills, and is also fairly simple, which sets it apart from other brand-loyalty programs. On face value, nothing in this system is set up to unequally reward one group over another (assuming of course that the value within a capitalist system of rewarding customers who have given you a lot of their money is fair—but that is another post).

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28 Aug

Working Across Difference

Photo by Adam

Photo by Adam

Ferguson is not a black and white thing. Ferguson happens all over the country, to black folks, brown folks, asian, native, trans* folk. It crosses racial lines. Ferguson (and all the other violence and killings that happen in our country) is also at the intersections of race, class, and gender…and so Ferguson happens to poor folks, to middle class folks, to women, to trans* and gender non-conforming folks—by men, and primarily white men. Our country’s history is centered at the intersection of whiteness, masculinity, and wealth, and our suppression tactics through violence, fear, and economic sanctions stem from that place as well.

As I have been processing all of what is happening and having conversations with friends and colleagues, it occurred to me that our “justice work” efforts have been largely single issue actions and responses. We do our work in the silos. Race is salient in this country in very particular and meaningful ways, and we work that. Class has a very real and tangible impact on families and communities, and we work that. Gender has a fluidity that resists being boxed and harassed into narrow imaginations, and we work that. But we end up segregating our efforts, never getting to the intersection that leads to the oppression in our country.

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30 Jul

Songs for Social Change, Love and Empowerment

We are at a crisis. The kids are aurally out of control in our house, without direction, or without foundation. They are listening solely to…<gasp>…POP MUSIC. This intervention was born out of necessity, and out of a loving desire to save the kids from audio hell.

Photo Credit by Irish Typepad

Photo Credit by Irish Typepad

Okay, maybe that is a bit of hyperbole. But only just a bit. This list was truly born as my kids began exploring their musical selves, gravitating toward music (as we all did) through popular music.

As a bit of background, I love music. Music moves my world and moves my soul. In many ways it is a centerpiece to my life, it is always with me, and I am immersed in it. I can mark life events through the songs and albums, and even use music to help me navigate feelings and emotions. Music is multi-dimensional poetry.

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