Five good things

This week we’re sharing a post from Eleanor Powell, our summer intern.

I don’t think I know anybody who could argue that the first six months of 2016 have been the best months of their lives. The continued police brutality against black Americans, the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States, a rise in blatant xenophobia—all these things have made it hard to be positive and keep fighting for justice.

So, here are five things I have been trying to think about when everything else seems hopeless:

  1. Over $150,000 was raised at the 2016 Goodwill Refuse To Abuse® 5K!
  2. Beyoncé, always.
  3. Leslie Jones, and the love shown towards her after she received hate on Twitter.
  4. Pokemon Go (What can I say, I’m a technology-obsessed millennial)
  5. The WSCADV staff. Thank you for working so tirelessly to end violence against women, and for making this internship special. Since my first day, I felt welcomed and included. I learned so much about the work you all do, and discovered what kind of work I want to be doing in the next five years. I truly cannot thank you guys enough for giving me such a great opportunity.

Don’t forget Orlando

This week we’re sharing a post from Eleanor Powell, our summer intern.

I could write about how angry I am. I could write that I had more faith in this country, that I believe people are fundamentally good and honest, not born with hate in their souls. I could, but I won’t.

The truth is I don’t expect much better from this country. At a mere 18 years of age, after witnessing countless incidents of racialized police brutality across the country over the past few years, I have already become numb to gun violence against the oppressed, and the shooting at Pulse in Orlando is no different. I wish I could say with the fervor of straight allies that I’m shocked such a hate crime could happen in the year 2016… but I’m not. Blatant hatred towards LGBTQ+ folk is never surprising to me. Even in a city as liberal as Seattle, I am afraid to walk out of my house looking too gay/dykey/gender non-conforming. Public spaces are always places of anxiety for LGBTQ+ folk, and with the added intersectionalities of being a woman of color, I very rarely feel safe outside of my own home.

For many LGTBQ+ folk, their homes are not safe because they live with abusive families or partners. While abuse occurs at the same rate in same-gender couples as it does in straight couples, bisexual women are almost twice as likely to be rape or abused by their partners than straight or lesbian women. Now, one of the few safe spaces for LGBTQ+ folk, especially survivors, has been compromised. After Orlando, I did not go to any more Pride events. I am even more conscious of what I wear and how I act in public―I am terrified. And so are the rest of the LGBTQ+ folk, the people of color, and the women in this country, because our oppressors keep telling us through hate speech and hate crimes that our lives are not worth as much as theirs.

I am not just angry, I am sad. Really, really, really sad, and scared, and just plain tired. I am tired of being hated, tired of hating myself, tired of trying to not hate myself while others like me are being murdered in safe spaces.

Staying hopeful after events such as Orlando happen is difficult, but not impossible. Pride Month is almost over, but that does not mean all LGBTQ+ folk go back in the closet until next June. Nor does it mean that we will forget Orlando. If it is safe to do so, be out, be proud, be who you were destined to be.

To the 49 people who lost their lives, may you rest in love and peace and power. To those still alive, may you find the strength to continue living.

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

This Was a Bad, Gruesome, and Utterly Typical Week for Men Killing Their Partners “A week like this of any other kind of incident—mass shootings, publicized incidents of bullying, canoeing accidents—would probably occasion some editorials, some discussion on the morning talk shows, maybe even a grim press conference from the president, vowing not to stand for any more.”

As An Abuse Survivor, I Understand And Support Amber Heard “Suddenly, my morning ritual of laying in bed and browsing the internet on my phone wasn’t fun. Instead, it was peppered with stories about Heard that pointed the finger, hurled sexist slurs, and made up grandiose stories about what really could have happened.”

What the War on Reproductive Rights Has to do With Poverty and Race While claiming to care about Black lives, anti-abortion advocates have used racist billboard campaigns to shame Black women out of having abortions without addressing any of the reasons why we choose abortion

Shouting about guns. Again.

There was another mass shooting last week. This one was in Pennsylvania. As I write this (on March 10) there have been 8 mass shootings in the U.S. this month. EIGHT MASS SHOOTINGS IN TEN DAYS!!!! Sorry to get shouty, but I’m super mad. My heart breaks for the children whose parents were taken from them. My heart breaks for the communities that have a lot of healing to do. I’m struck by how little media attention this last shooting has received (the fact that the victims were Black probably also had something to do with it). How jaded we’ve become about mass murder.

Image from Demand Action To End Gun Violence
Image from Demand Action To End Gun Violence

Did you know that more than half of mass shootings in America are domestic violence related? Most of the victims are women and children. Most of the shooters are men. This sounds all too familiar to advocates like me. We hear about this kind of thing all the time―survivors who fear for their lives because someone who is supposed to love them has threatened them with a gun.

The media pays less attention to mass shootings when the victims are family members of the perpetrator. But some of the more high profile shootings also include elements of domestic violence. Like this recent tragedy in Kansas where the gunman was just issued a restraining order by his girlfriend and promptly went on a shooting spree at his workplace.

We know the facts, so why aren’t we putting domestic violence front and center when we are talking about guns? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently asked his first question from the bench in a decade. Why? To question if we should be taking guns away from abusers. The New York Times calls the case in question a “minor” one. I disagree. A gun in the hands of an abuser is anything but minor.

Hablemos de racismo (Let’s talk about racism)

ignore-me-elephantAyer por la noche mientras mi pequeño se preparaba para dormir después de un dia difícil, se acercó muy tiernamente, me abrazo y me pidió disculpas por haberme respondido no de la mejor manera durante la tarde y se disculpó diciendo que estaba muy cansado. Lo escuche, lo abracé y con todo amor y mirándolo a los ojos le explique que cuando uno se disculpa es mejor hacerlo sin presentar la excusa.

Ya dormido me puse a pensar lo importante de ser responsable de nuestros actos y no pude evitar pensar en lo que está ocurriendo a nuestro alrededor con todas las ofensas y racismo abierto y descarado que se escucha de los aspirantes a ser candidatos presidenciales y además de todos aquellos que en este país se sienten superiores a inmigrantes y personas que ellos consideran distintas. Yo me pregunto, ¿cómo hacer para que estas personas se hagan responsables de sus acciones y del impacto del odio que están sembrando en contra de lo diverso?

Es triste a lo que hemos llegando y al mismo tiempo puede que no sea tan malo pues tal vez es necesario llegar a lo más bajo para que ya de una vez por todas sea hable abiertamente de lo que siempre ha estado presente de una manera silenciosa: El racismo. Si, ya la esclavitud no es legal pero fuera de ahí, el odio, el miedo a lo diferente y distinto, y la necesidad de marcar la superioridad siempre han estado presentes. Es incómodo, triste, pero es una realidad y la única manera de que haya un cambio es que se vea y se palpe de una manera real y abierta.

Ahora bien, ¿qué podemos hacer al respecto? ¿Cuál es mi parte en todo esto? ¿Responder con odio, sentirme ofendida, atacar, estar a la defensiva? Creo que no. Como inmigrante por supuesto que he sentido todas estas emociones pero si realmente quiero formar parte de un cambio o mejor aún de una transformación social donde la tolerancia, inclusión y aceptación sean parte del  mundo donde nos desenvolvemos mi respuesta tiene que ser proactiva, pensada, con estrategia y con la intención de crear una mejor sociedad.

Por mi parte continuaré cuestionándome y haciéndome responsable de mis acciones. Crearé espacios donde se pueda conversar al respecto, en fin es un granito de arena, y si cada quien pone un poquito quien quita y esta vez realmente sea el inicio de una transformación en la conciencia social para vivir mejor.


Last night while my son was getting ready for bed after a rough day, he very kindly came and hugged me. He apologized for not having responded in the best way that afternoon and he excused himself, telling me that it happened because he was very tired. I listened to him, hugged him, and with all my love, looked into his eyes and explained to him that when you apologize it is best done without an excuse.

Once he was asleep I started thinking about how important it is to be accountable for our actions. I could not help thinking about what is happening around us in politics;  all the offensive remarks and the open racism that we are hearing from  aspiring presidential candidates  as well as from all those in this country who feel superior to immigrants and people they consider different. I wonder, what needs to be done for these people to be accountable for their actions and for the impact the hate they are spreading against diversity is causing.

It’s sad what we have come to, and at the same time it may not be as bad as we think.  Maybe it is necessary to get to this low point, so we can start speaking openly about what has always been there in a silent way: Racism. Yes, slavery is not legal but the hate, fear of the different and diverse, and the need to show superiority has always been there. It is uncomfortable, it hurts,  it’s sad, but it is a reality and the only way to change it is to see it and examine it in a real and open way.

Now, what can we do about it? What is my part in this? Responding with hate? Feel offended? Attack back? Be defensive? I don’t think so. As an immigrant, of course I have felt all these emotions, but if I really want to be part of a real change—or, even better, a social transformation where tolerance, inclusion, and acceptance are part of the world where we live—my response has to be proactive, thoughtful and strategic, with the intention of creating a better society.

For my part, I will continue questioning and being accountable for my actions. I will work to create spaces where we can talk, discuss, and learn about racism. It is not much but if everyone does a little, maybe this time really is the beginning of a transformation in the social conscience.

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

The black female engineers at Slack took the spotlight this week, accepting the award for Fastest Rising Startup Award. Then one of them, Erica Baker, called via Twitter for white men to give up space to minorities: “I don’t *need* another board seat, let me help them find a woman of color to take it.”

Meet The Queer Woman Who Proved Einstein’s Theory About Gravitational Waves “I am just myself,” says Prof. Nergis Mavalvala. “But out of that comes something positive.”

When actually doing something meaningful to disrupt institutional inequality would be way too much work; why not just Rent-A-Minority instead?

Teen activists in action

We’re excited to bring you a guest blog post from Quinn Angelou-Lysaker of Franklin High School’s Feminist Union, an energetic student-led group that has been tackling teen domestic violence along with other feminist issues.
On January 13th, Franklin High School’s own Feminist Union lead a class we called “Intersectional Feminism 101.” Five members of our leadership team created an activity based on WSCADV’s game In Their Shoes. In Their Shoes takes participants through a story about an abusive relationship, where they’re asked to make decisions as the story progresses. We used this idea and wrote our own stories in which sexism and other forms of oppression intersect. One story was about a black girl who was forced to resign from a theater program because she wouldn’t straighten her natural hair. Another followed the story of a boy with two gay mothers who makes some homophobic friends in school. We also used one of the original stories from In Their Shoes about a Mexican girl whose relationship with a boy becomes abusive.

franklin-feminist-union-teensThere was a healthy turn out of both boys and girls, which we were glad to see. As I spoke to groups participating, I found that it was easier for them to detect the racism, classism or homophobia in the stories than the sexism. But as groups went through more and more stories, it became more clear to them how multiple kinds of discrimination could exist in the same situation. It was interesting to hear how people identified with the characters, like to “Cassandra,” the gay daughter of conservative Chinese immigrants. They had insightful comments about how if she were straight, she would have more resources (like her parents) to get her out of her abusive relationship. Overall, people seemed to enjoy the activity and learn a lot.

So be good for goodness sake

Ah, the holidays. That glittery season of joy and forced togetherness with people that we both love and love to argue with. I’m preparing for my annual trip back to Atlanta where my ENTIRE Southern conservative family still lives. I love them. And we pretty much disagree about everything. (Except barbeque. We all fully support smoked meat).

I’m already feeling a bit low lately with the many bad things happening in the world, so as part of my mental preparation for enduring conversations with loved ones about Trump’s greatness, here are five things that I’m going to do before the end of 2015 to spread a little love, kindness, and cheer.

  1. I know many of us are hemorrhaging money this time of year, but I’m going to find a little bit to donate to an organization I believe is doing good. For me, I think it will be Planned Parenthood.
  2. Read the Humans of New York blog and sign the petition to bring Aya and her family to the U.S.
  3. Read this post about how to be a good non-Muslim ally. Try at least one idea and share the author’s thoughts with others.
  4. Rather than say something rude when someone I love espouses hatred, I’ll grab my phone and answer trivia at, where each round helps end world hunger. That’s much better than calling mom racist during a shouting match.
  5. Look at and share these Emergency Kittens. For when I or someone I know needs a smidgen of cheer.

It’s true, doing these five things are not going to change the world. But when we we find ways to do good, to spread love and kindness, and behave the way we would like to see others behave we are setting examples for those who are close to us.


Football gets it right

Mizzou-logoThis Saturday, I’ll be cheering for the Mizzou Tigers. The entire team will take the field to play a game that might not have happened. Earlier this week, 30 players said they would not play. Thirty players who supported the growing unrest on campus in the wake of the administration’s refusal to address racism and anti-Semitism throughout the University of Missouri system. Thirty players who were concerned about a fellow student’s hunger strike. Thirty players who said: We love the game, but at the end of the day, it’s just that—a game.

They knew that the Board of Curators, alumni, and team boosters would not sit still for a forfeiture loss of $1 million dollars. They knew that nearby Ferguson was not random. And they took a stand. The next day, University of Missouri president Timothy Wolfe resigned, and the Columbia campus chancellor quickly followed. The Board of Curators has vowed to take immediate steps to interrupt patterns of hatred and violence that have disrupted the school since it was desegregated in 1950.

NFL players should take note. If you care about injustice in your community, take a Sunday or a Monday or a Thursday off. If you’re sick of the violence—racial violence, gender violence, anti-immigrant violence, etc.—boycott your own game. Maybe your coaches will support you. And maybe your fans will too. I know I will.

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

#CoverTheAthlete points out how weird it would be if journalists talked about male athletes’ bodies the way they talk about female athletes’

Franchesca “chescaleigh” Ramsey brings us White People Whitesplain Whitesplaining, an excellent example of how speaking for others, even with the best of intentions, is not nearly as powerful as listening to them.

What If Bears Killed One In Five People? We wouldn’t put up with that. But 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted by the time they finish college, so why aren’t we putting a stop to it?

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