1-plus-1-equals-3-equationI read this editorial, A Toxic Work World, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I have 18-year-old twin daughters that I am about to launch into college, and I wonder what kind of world I am sending them into. I imagine my children getting a job, building their careers, providing for their families. But what if it is a low wage job? They will be lucky to get sick time and enough hours to make ends meet. What happens if someone gets sick? Or even if they are working in a lucrative career, it’s hard to succeed unless you live as if you are childless and don’t have any family members who need you. Most of our workplaces are still structured as if there is someone at home, usually a woman, providing free care for children and elder family members. Low wage or high wage earner, this equation is impossible.

Then I think about the many women I’ve worked with over the years who are in a battering or coercive relationship. When you need to get a job to help secure your freedom, what are your options? Are we telling them that they might as well go back home, because at least they can provide for their children and keep a roof over their head?

Let’s stop pretending that we are productive and humane when we force people to work when they are sick, quit their jobs to take care of others, work longer regardless of family responsibilities, and make it harder for people in abusive relationships to achieve financial independence. I don’t want an illusion of economic independence for my daughters, or for anyone.

What I want is a work environment that nurtures your soul, supports your family responsibilities, and values your loyalty and evolving experience and skills. Organizing for change in the workplace structure doesn’t have to be all or nothing—think about the recent success of the Seattle School teachers strike. But we do have to get clear about what we want. One thing I am clear about—our lives and our communities are intertwined. No one is untouched and that is a deep and giving source of power.

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls asked the best Emmy red carpet questions

The Bolivian women who knit parts for hearts

I set up #ShoutYourAbortion because I am not sorry, and I will not whisper

School has finally started here in Seattle!


You might have heard that Seattle schools didn’t start on time because the district and the teachers disagreed on several contract issues. So the teachers went on strike for our kids and our schools. As the mother of a first grader I’ve been scrambling to secure child care, but I support our teachers.

The thing that made this strike a bit unusual (as far as teacher strikes go) was the huge amount of support teachers received from parents and communities. I’m not talking about a handful of parents bringing brownies to the picket lines. I’m talking about district-wide grassroots organizing. Parents, students, and community members came out strong—they walked picket lines with teachers, held their own march, and kept teachers supplied with food, water, and that liquid sunshine known as coffee.

Neighborhoods with lots of support trekked across the city to places with less and provided food and supplies there. Neighborhood childcare collectives popped up. An organization started by a couple of parents called Soup for Teachers exploded on Facebook as the place for parents to not only organize lunches for teachers, but also a place for accurate and timely updates on how the negotiations were progressing.

So kids, let’s review what we’ve learned from this strike about community engagement:

  • It’s possible for A LOT of people to come together and rally around an issue that is pressing and important.
  • Community members who are not directly affected will get involved when they understand how others in their community are impacted.
  • When community members show up and do what they can, people get the support they need.

Awesome! Guess what? Violence in our homes is also a pressing and important issue affecting all of us. How can we take what we’ve learned from the strike and apply it to supporting survivors, holding abusers accountable, and promoting healing for all?

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

It’s hard to know what to do about a friend who is abusing their partner.  And it’s even harder if you come from a marginalized community that has good reasons to distrust the police.

A tattoo artist is offering free tattoos to help abused women cover scars left from knives and bullets.

Without Scars: Domestic Violence, Abuse and the Tech Pipeline “I look around and I see my friends building technologies that make life easier for abusers.”

Me encanta el video de Brené Brown: El Poder de la Vulnerabilidad. Me pone a reflexionar en lo importante que es permitirse ser vulnerable y los beneficios que se reciben con ello. El cómo vivir cada día su exacto momento, sin tantas expectativas y sin tratar de controlar resultados. El sentir esta vulnerabilidad da cabida a su vez a sentir otras emociones.

Y cuando pienso en vulnerabilidad, pienso en mi role de ser madre, ¿cómo estoy educando a mi hijo de 6 años? ¿Le estoy permitiendo desenvolverse  y encontrar su propia personalidad, y desarrollar su individualidad? ¿Aceptarse tal cual es? de tal manera que vaya aprendiendo que los momentos donde él se sienta vulnerable y se permita ese sentimiento son aquellos momentos que le darán la oportunidad de ser imperfecto y aún así amarse.

Se imaginan si el supiera desde ahorita ser vulnerable como parte normal en su vida diaria, donde ser permita sentir lo que sienta, tristeza, alegría, enojo, en fin, todas las emociones y saberlas canalizar pero sin eliminarlas, ¡wow! ¡Creo que esta es la base para relacionarnos sanamente con otras personas en nuestra vida!

Ahora bien, si me miro en un espejo, ¿qué tanto de esa vulnerabilidad me permito sentir? No mucha si soy honesta, pero estoy empezando a dejarla fluir cada día y en cada momento que se presenta y sé que vale la penar amar y decir, te amo primero; que vale la pena arriesgarse por ese sueño aun cuando no traiga el resultado que espero; que vale la pena soñar y luchar por mi sueños aun cuando la vida los va moldeando de una manera diferente a lo que pensaba. Que ser madre y aprender junto con tu hijo que sentir nos hace fuertes, nos hace ser lo que somos.


I love Brené Brown’s video The Power of Vulnerability. It makes me realize how important it is to allow myself to be vulnerable and the benefits that come with it. Living each day in the present without expectations and without trying to control everything—that vulnerability allows me to feel other emotions.

And when I think about vulnerability, I think about my role as a mother. How am I parenting my 6-year-old? Am I allowing him to find his own identity? Am I allowing him to develop his individuality and learn to accept himself as he is? I want him to learn that the moments where he feels vulnerable—if he allows himself to feel it—those will be the moments that will give him the opportunity to be imperfect and still love himself.

Imagine if he learns at this young age how to be vulnerable and makes it a normal part of his life, where he recognizes what he is feeling—sadness, joy, anger, and all the emotions—and knows how to accept them and to channel them without eliminating them…WOW! I believe this is the foundation to have healthy relationships in our life!

Now, if I look in a mirror, how much vulnerability have I allowed myself? Not much if I am honest, but I am starting to let it flow each day and in every moment that presents itself.  I know that it is worth it to be the first one to say “I love you.” I know that it is worth it to risk everything for a dream even when the result is not what I hoped for. I know it is worth it to dream and fight for my dreams even when life shapes them in a different way that what I had planned. And I know that it’s worth it to learn, along with my son, how to be vulnerable. It will make us strong, it will make us who we are.

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Angela Y. Davis on what’s radical in the 21st century. Enjoy this gem of nuance and wisdom from an elder who is still “committed to transforming this country.”

Serena Williams lays some truth on a reporter who asked why she’s not smiling. Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of her generation but this guy felt the need to remind her that women are expected to smile pretty when in front of the cameras.

Watch: An Illinois Democrat’s Epic Speech Against The Demonization Of The Poor. Litesa E Wallace goes to bat for poor women and domestic violence survivors in this concise, powerful takedown.

The prosecutor has spoken. And the court of public opinion is in session.

Thurston County’s Jon Tunheim announced that he has declined to press charges against the Olympia Police Department officer who shot and injured two unarmed black men last May.

He will, however be pursuing assault charges against the two young men.

The prosecutor claims that race was not a factor. We have to agree to stop saying that. Race has been a dominant factor in this country for hundreds of years, which means of course it was a factor in the shooting, it was a factor when the prosecutor made his decision, and it’s a factor in everyone’s reaction, including my own.

What to do? Fortunately big brains and big hearts have been working on this for a very long time and are working on it now.

Bursting on the scene, Campaign Zero has a plan. They recently put forward a vision statement and platform around ending police violence: “We can live in a world where the police don’t kill people…by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.”

Here are their solutions.

Solutions from Campaign Zero

Take for example Campaign Zero’s Strategy 1: End “Broken Windows” Policing. The theory behind “broken windows” policing is that when police respond to minor crimes, they nip crime in the bud and major crime can’t develop. Theory disproven. Add racism to the “broken windows” philosophy and you have shoplifting turning into shooting.

I listened to a few of my white middle class friends respond to the shooting by saying “Yeah, I shoplifted when I was a kid and I never got shot.” They get that race played a part in them, a) getting away with it and b) knowing that even if they were caught, the penalty would be minimal. What I find disturbing is an underlying attitude of so many liberal white people―a focus on “those stupid/racist cops.” I fear that we white people use our contempt of police to try to absolve ourselves of our guilt, our culpability. White folks can try to distance ourselves from the institution we created, support, and benefit from, but we can’t put down the ease with which we move in the world as white people, even if we don’t want that extra privilege, even if we want to give it away. Being pulled over by the police will never mean the same thing to us. It just doesn’t.

If we adopt this Campaign Zero strategy  in Olympia, we will have to figure out the non-police response to shoplifting, loitering, littering and such. How we are all going to respond as people who share the sidewalk with homeless people who have nowhere to live? What are we going to do when people steal food because they are hungry?

There is so much more to say about the Campaign Zero proposals from a domestic violence perspective. Even the idea of ending “broken window” policing gets complicated for domestic violence advocates. “Death by a thousand cuts”, which is how some batterers accomplish their dehumanizing control over victims, is often achieved with just the kind of minor crimes referenced in this strategy. If we call the police off from responding, how do we organize ourselves to help/support/force perpetrators to stop their wrong-doing and be accountable?

It’s time to follow the lead of the black people in Campaign Zero and black leaders in our communities and work to dismantle, demilitarize, de-escalate our police state. It’s time to think critically about how police are positioned now, at the top of the list of people we are urged to call. How do we move them to the bottom―the backstop, the call of last resort? It’s time to call ourselves, our media, our schools, our religions, our neighborhoods, and our democracy to task for failing to create a world where all people thrive. And it’s time for the police to stand down. The time is now.


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