Christmas Wishlist: 7 Funds You Can Donate To

(Content Warning: sexual assault, rape, abuse)

The season of giving is amongst us, with Thanksgiving having passed recently, Christmas is right around the corner. If you’re anything like me and you have the tendency to put off Christmas shopping until the very last minute, look no further.

I’ve compiled a short Christmas wish list filled with links to various funds and projects that you can donate your money to, as a present to me, your family, friends, and the rest of the world.

  1.      Muslim Anti-Racist Council

         The Muslim ARC hopes to build a physical space in Detroit, one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States, and are seeking to bring together a community to fight against racist policies, practices, and to provide solutions to advance racial equity. The current goal of this project is $25,785 and so far they have raised $13,978. The deadline for this project ends on December 15, 2017.

  1.      Assata’s Daughters

         The goal of this project is to earn up to $50,000 to open up a youth community space in Southside Chicago, to create “a home for our Ominira, Akerele and Assata University programs and continue to build out powerful place-based organizing efforts through our work with young people!”

There is no deadline for this project but as of recently they have raised $10,750 out of their $50,000 goal.

  1.      4th Annual Holiday Solidarity Toy Drive in Solidarity with Incarcerated Moms

–  Buy a Christmas present for children of incarcerated mothers, click on the Amazon link below to donate within your means to this project. It would mean a lot to these mothers and their children.

– Coordinated by Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration in Community with Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated mothers (CGLA), Nehemiah Trinity Rising/Trinity UCC, Lifted Voices, Love & Protect, and Chicago League of Abolitionist Whites.

  1.      Trans Women of Color Collective

         GIVE YOUR MONEY TO TRANS WOMEN OF COLOR. I don’t think I need to say anymore than that. THANK YOU.

  1.      Appolition

         Create an account with the Appolition project, it will take spare change out of any of your debit purchases and reroute them to a bail fund created for incarcerated people.

  1.      Jee Jing Sexual Assault Recovery Fund

          Jee Jing is a survivor of rape and is currently struggling with injuries she’s sustained after her sexual assault, on top of that she was fired from her job and has not been able to make enough money to survive and pay for her medical bills. The goal of this fund was set at $23,500 and so far $17,136 has been raised.

  1.      Help a Black Queer Woman Escape from a Abusive Situation

          All funds will go toward helping her move out of the environment and to avoid homelessness.  Currently $2,025 has been raised out of the $3,000 goal.

Any amount is highly appreciated and if you can’t donate please do help circulate this post around so that other people in your network of friends can help as well! Thank you so much.  


mePliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends. Social media consultant.

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I’m Disappointed as a Hmong

I am utterly disappointed in what council member Blong Yang had to say about his loss in the Minneapolis elections. I’m not a constituent, however, as a young Hmong American,I’m disappointed, disgusted, and ashamed–though I can’t say that I’m at all surprised.

Here’s what he had to say:

“It has been an honor serving the people of Ward 5. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to do the hard work for the people of Ward 5, who deserve great representation, service, and results. The people of Ward 5 have spoken. I make no excuses for losing. You win some and you lose some. Life goes on. Serving as a city council member is temporary and it has never defined who I am.

Congratulations to the winner: Jeremiah Bey. I guess the name, Ellison, carries some weight in Ward 5. As Minneapolis replaces a dynasty with another dynasty, I’m left to wonder why one is more acceptable than another. I’m sure there isn’t a good answer. The reality is that there are a bunch of hypocrites on every side. They want what they want and they’ll say anything to get it.

I wasn’t supposed to win in 2013, but I did. I guess that’s the story of our lives as Hmong in North Minneapolis. When people talk about “FUBU: For Us, By Us,” it’s not about us Hmong. When people talk about people of color, it’s only about us Hmong if we add the color, but not a voice or a viewpoint. When people talk about being a Northsider, we Hmong aren’t really included. From 2014-2017, it wasn’t that way. We had a voice and our voice was strong and powerful.

The saddest reality in Minneapolis politics for a person like me is the expectation that a person of color is supposed to be a certain way or else s/he isn’t a person of color. For those with whom these tactics are in your repertoire, let me just say: f you. I was born this way and I can’t change it. I may hold a different viewpoint than you, but my identity never changes. We people of color are not monolithic and for those thinking that we are, you are dumb.

Another sad reality is hearing certain people talk about how young people can now see a face that looks like them. It sounds cool, but it’s narrow in thinking. If young African Americans should expect to see an African American elected, why shouldn’t young Hmong Americans expect the same thing? But if that expectation isn’t met, why is it that Hmong American kids are supposed to see an African American elected as a “face that looks like them,” while African American kids aren’t supposed to see a Hmong American elected as a “face that looks like them?” Aren’t we all people of color? It’s a rhetorical question. I already know the answer. People are stuck in a black and white paradigm. Inclusion isn’t really inclusion.”

First, Yang insinuates that Jeremiah Bey Ellison won the election because his father is Representative Keith Ellison, completely invalidating the hard work that Mr. Ellison put into running his campaign.

Second, he brings up the racial binary implying that by not being Black (like Jeremiah Bey Ellison) or white, he wasn’t taken seriously as a Hmong man thus it contributed to his loss. There is a time and place for critiquing the Black-white paradigm but this isn’t that time. If Yang wants to call out the black-white binary, I’d rather he offer solutions for people of color to organize and work together in order to deconstruct the paradigm and to move beyond it.

Third, he points out the importance of Hmong representation in politics, which I agree is needed, but he was wrong for throwing the Black community under the bus. Communities of color have long been pitted against one another, hence why the ‘Model Minority” myth was created in the first place. It was a tactic used by the dominant group to create division and tension amongst subordinate groups. He shouldn’t demand for space and inclusion of Hmong people in politics if it must come at the expense of another marginalized community. Representation goes further than just “seeing a face that looks like mine.” Good representatives must also have the interests of the people they serve in mind.

Blong Yang’s words reeked of anti-black politics, clearly demonstrating his lack of understanding of the nuances of race. Not only that, but it’s apparent he never understood his own constituents, nor did he seem to care about what they thought about his campaign. He lost the election not because he was Hmong or wasn’t Black, but because he failed to meet the expectations of the communities he claimed he’d help and support.

A worthy leader engages all communities regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and class and does everything in their power to uplift them.  


mePliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends. Social media consultant.

“You’re Very Talented- for a Girl”

“You run like a GIRL!”

Ask yourself if that would offend you if you were told that. Why? Would it be because you don’t want to be compared to something considered feminine? But what if you DO carry feminine characteristics? Should you be ashamed of that?

Running has been a passion of mine since high school. It was during this time that I decided to sign up for my first half marathon with one of my guy friends. The fact that the race was to raise awareness for domestic violence and that it took place on the trails made me more eager to run it. Although I didn’t train at all for this race, I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

After crossing the finish line with my friend, an older man came up to us while we were in the midst of rehydrating ourselves.

While chuckling, this older man told us that either my friend runs like a girl or I am a very talented runner …for a girl. I laughed with him, as I didn’t know how to respond at that time, but I knew that deep down I was bothered by his remarks. I was also too preoccupied on getting fluids back into my body so that I didn’t collapse, so I disregarded this statement .

However, I do know that this man meant it as an insult and compliment to either one of us depending how you look at it. Basically, if my friend ran like a girl, it meant he was slow enough to finish with me. But if I was a talented runner “for a girl”, it meant that I was surprisingly skillful enough to keep up with a boy (gasp!). I was not flattered. It was an insult no matter which way I look at it. I was able to catch a glimpse of my friend’s face when he said that, and it seemed he was offended for being compared to a girl.

Why do we say these things? Why is it that feminine characteristics is the default setting for being considered inferior in this society, while masculinity is considered the superior? The phrase “like a girl” shouldn’t be an insult, but it always seems to offend boys whenever they are compared to one or are called out for displaying feminine qualities.

But what exactly does it mean to be masculine in this society?

“Masculinity means this-to avoid anything that might be considered feminine or girlish. A good part of being masculine, then, is to show that you are not one of “them.” In requiring distance from things considered feminine, the dominant masculine model has forced boys and men to mask emotion and compassion and to avoid the appearance of weakness, fear, or vulnerability” (Henslin, 2011).

In the Always advertisement, children were faced with questions of “What does it mean to [insert verb] like a girl?” The first group of boys and girls responded by acting out silly stereotypical gestures that are influenced by the media to make fun of girls. This included arms flailing in the air, clumsy feet, and unconfident facial expressions. When completing tasks, masculine traits seem to be more desired over feminine traits.

In the same advertisement, the second group shows younger girls being asked the same question as the first respondents. This time around, they do what they were asked to do in the way they would normally do it. They responded with realistic gestures of punching the air, running confidently with speed, and throwing a ball with power. This right here is what it means to do things like a girl. These younger girls have not yet been heavily influenced by the pressures of society. The media and society’s unrealistic expectations of how each gender should be like can start to affect anyone at any age, but will most likely start affecting those in adolescence. And we all know that adolescence is confusing enough without all the pressures society puts on us. This was painted in the advertisement when it showed a group of adolescent girls who acted in a way that also reflects negative stereotypes.

Young women are already facing body-image issues, eating disorders, suicide, and self-harm due to unrealistic expectations from the media. Yet, society feels the need to attack people based on their gender. And when men start showing even a glimpse of a trait that society doesn’t deem “manly”, they are hit with names that are typically associated with being a female and are meant as insults.

We, as a society, need to quit using the appearances or qualities of women as subject to hate. It’s time to reclaim and turn the phrase “like a girl” into a compliment that boosts self-confidence instead of demeaning someone. I ran like a girl then and I run like a woman now.


Ellen is a 4th year undergrad majoring in Sociology and plans to attend physical therapy school after graduating. She is half Hispanic and half Asian. She was born and raised in Houston, TX and moved to Minnesota with her mom and sister in 2010. Ellen is a hardcore feminist and is passionate about social justice. She enjoys talking about topics such as race, gender and gender violence, LGBTQ+, class, ability, and mental health. When Ellen is not at school or work, she loves to spend her time running ultra-marathons, doing yoga, meditating, gardening, playing the oboe and piano, playing video games, listening to people’s life stories over coffee/tea, spending time with family, volunteering, annoying her sister, and playing with her birds.  Associate editor and email consultant.

 

In a Feminist Fantasy World…

I’m a writer, feminist and I love Dungeons and Dragons.

It doesn’t seem like a contradiction at first, but when you look at the treatment of women in fantasy novels (often the blueprint that many fantasy role-playing tabletop games are based on), you see the disparity in gender representation and the general atmosphere of misogyny that surrounds many of these worlds.

The idea of women being misrepresented in fantasy isn’t a new idea. Juliet McKenna wrote a great piece on the roles that women in fantasy novels usually play. Some of these roles include (to briefly summarize and not get into how problematic each of these can be separate and together): the love interest, the mother/wife/family figure and the ‘whore’.

This has been the trend as long as there have been male fantasy writers. That is, a long time. So long, in fact, that those roles now make up the expectation of women in a fantasy setting. A young girl who may be interested in stories of knights and dragons and the like seeing herself in a character that is oppressed or simply not empowered is not beneficial to her view of her self-worth and the ‘value’ of other women.

As someone who thoroughly enjoys fantasy in both novel and game form but who detests the misogyny that usually comes with it, I found Dungeons and Dragons to be a great introduction in dislodging those harmful tropes and introducing a new, feminist way to see the fantasy genre.

I’m what they call the Dungeon Master: the creator the storyline, the rules, the villains… basically the entire world. With this ability, I made a conscious effort to create for myself and my players what a “feminist fantasy world” looks like.

In a feminist fantasy world, brothels don’t exist.

In a feminist fantasy world, there is equality on governing boards in regards to gender and race.

In a feminist fantasy world, one of the most powerful wizards in the world is identified by their hair color, not their gender.

In a feminist fantasy world, Lady Eva Albasten runs her city alongside her wife.

In a feminist fantasy world, those who abuse their power, money and authority at the expense of others are eaten by dragons.

What are other components of a feminist fantasy world? Let us know in the comments!


Mariam Bagadion is a Filipino-American third year SCSU student. She is double-majoring in English and Women’s Studies and has loved writing from a young age. She is excited to use this passion to bring attention to and start conversations about feminist issues surrounding the world of politics and pop culture today. Mariam is an editor for The Upper Mississippi Harvest, SCSU’s literary journal and a writing tutor at The Write Place. In her free time, she writes for her personal blog, scribbles in journals and is the Game Master for her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons games.  Consulting editor.  Monitor blog analyst.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

(Content Warning: Explicit descriptions of death in the google docs)

November 20th is considered Transgender Day of Remembrance in the United States. It is a day to remember those who have died unjustly and in the name of trans and queer rights. It’s a day to think of those before us and remember their legacies. It’s a day to remember who we are and how far we’ve come.

For the currently alive trans folx, it’s good to notice that these people are–you guessed it, ALIVE. Their existence is important as well because for those who currently exist, they are the future for all of us. They will be the ones to bring forth a better future.

Usually universities and organizations on this day will do a reading of the names with a list of trans folx killed so far in 2017. For a complete list of known transgender deaths around the world, here is a google doc.

Tell a trans person that they matter and that their existence isn’t a burden. Tell them that they matter. Most importantly, respect the trans people in your lives and if you don’t know any, maybe there’s a reason…


Screenshot 2017-08-31 11.15.44Hello! My name’s Archie Andersen, and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. I identify as a neurodivergent, AFAB, Fat, Queer, Nonbinary Transgender man activist. My main studies are in Queer Theory and Issues and the Prison Industrial Complex, but I also work to end all forms of oppression. I am in my 4th year at St. Cloud State University majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and minoring in Ethnic Studies. My favorite color is pastel blue, and I really enjoy watching YouTube videos in my spare time.  Blog monitor. Editor.

Land of the Free, Home of the Slave

Ever since I went on that trip to Cambodia when I was 12, I have been passionate about ending human trafficking. This was because while I was there, I wandered off and noticed a few signs hung up. I stopped and saw that they were translated to English with an image of a girl being abducted. The top simply read “Do not leave your children unattended” while the bottom read “Sex Trafficking” in big bold letters. I looked around only to see homeless women, men, and children everywhere. It didn’t take much for me to figure out that they were more at risk compared to others.

I was finally able to put a name to this crime.

What is sex trafficking?

“Sex trafficking is a form of modern day slavery in which someone coerces another person into commercial sex or exploits a child in the commercial sex trade. Simply, it is sexual violence as a business.” (“IJM: Sex Trafficking,” n.d.).

“Slavery still exists? Not in America, right?”

Many people are misinformed about human trafficking. When one thinks of slavery, they tend to think it’s a relic of the past. That couldn’t be further away from the truth. In fact, did you know that there are more slaves today than at any point in human history? An estimate of 27 million human beings are being held bondage across the globe today for manual and sexual labor against their will.

Another misconception people may have about trafficking is that it only exists in foreign countries. Although there are more risks involved in foreign countries, it doesn’t mean that it’s not happening close to home. It’s important to bring this fact to light because many people will claim that just because it’s not happening in the US means that it’s none of their business. While I personally disagree with that, I would like to point out that there is trafficking most likely going on in your own neighborhood.

In reality, 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the US annually. A third of adolescents on the street will be enticed toward prostitution within the first 48 hours of running away from home. Another sickening reality is that victims who are minors are sold an average of 10-15 times a day, six days a week.

How are they even captured? What are the risk factors?

Various tactics are used by traffickers to claim their victims. These include but are not limited to promising them false jobs, education, marriage, or citizenship in a foreign country. It is common for a woman to become romantically involved with a man who then forces or manipulates them into selling herself.

Although victims come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, social status, and gender, there are other possible risk factors that can leave someone more vulnerable to sex trafficking. This can be age, runaway and homeless youths, the LGBTQ+ community, victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, and gender. The average age of a victim ranges from 12-14 years old.

Youths may flee for many reasons, such as coming from a home that was abusive, poor, or did not accept them. Roughly 26% of LGBTQ+ adolescents are rejected and kicked out simply for being who they are. Studies have suggested that the LGBTQ+ youth are up to five times more likely than heterosexual and cisgender youths to fall prey to sex traffickers. Females are especially at a significantly higher risk. Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

What are the signs of a sex trafficking victim?

There are numerous red flags that can tell you if one is a victim. A few of these include a person who is not free to come and go as they please, owes a huge amount of debt and is unable to pay it off, and has little to no control over their finances, ID, passport, etc. A victim will most likely have poor mental and physical health and have a fear of law enforcement. Another red flag would be if they refuse to speak and has to have someone else talk for them and/or translate for them.

Unfortunately, prostitution is one of the many ways sex traffickers use their victims. Most of the time, when caught by the police, the woman is the one to be arrested instead of the men who are buying and/or selling her. According to the Massachusetts State Police, out of 920 prostituted arrests, 70% of the arrests were women instead of men.

Instead of punishing women, we should provide rescue and restoration for them. Luckily, since August 2014, there have been 236 trafficking bills passed and there has been more focus on training law enforcement and others to recognize the difference between voluntary prostitution and sex trafficking victims.

How can we end sex trafficking?

This isn’t an easy question to answer, but we have to look at why sex trafficking exists in the first place. There is a demand for more sexual services such as prostitution, pornography, live sex-shows, mail order brides, and sex tourism. Although both males and females can be victims, the majority of victims are women while men are predominantly buyers and sellers. Deep-rooted gender inequalities that permit the market for sex slaves is what causes sex trafficking.

Along with promoting women’s civil, political, economic, and social rights, we can start the end to sex trafficking by:

  1. Educating ourselves and law enforcement more about these issues and how to identify a victim.
  2. Speaking up against gender violence.
  3. Getting involved with organizations that focus on sex trafficking.
  4. Supporting organizations that help with prevention, protection, and prosecution.

Slavery is real and present. A person is not meant to be taken and sold for others’ pleasure, let alone 20 million of them. No one is entitled to anyone’s body, period. If you suspect someone to be a victim of trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-373-7888).

We can stop this.

Sources:

https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/human-trafficking-and-within-united-states-review-literature

http://www.equalitynow.org/traffickingFAQ

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3651545/

http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/fs/2009/126555.htm

http://www.trafficking.org/learn/statistics.aspx


Mardon Ellen SoEllen is a 4th year undergrad majoring in Sociology and plans to attend physical therapy school after graduating. She is half Hispanic and half Asian. She was born and raised in Houston, TX and moved to Minnesota with her mom and sister in 2010. Ellen is a hardcore feminist and is passionate about social justice. She enjoys talking about topics such as race, gender and gender violence, LGBTQ+, class, ability, and mental health. When Ellen is not at school or work, she loves to spend her time running ultra-marathons, doing yoga, meditating, gardening, playing the oboe and piano, playing video games, listening to people’s life stories over coffee/tea, spending time with family, volunteering, annoying her sister, and playing with her birds.  Associate editor and email consultant.

 

Solidarity Unionism and an Egalitarian Future

Building power on the shop floor must come from the rank in file and embody feminist principles of equality and justice.  This entails parity where workers mobilize horizontally versus hierarchically/ top-down. Where many unions fall short is in their inability to uproot existing institutions that strip workers of their dignity and reaffirm the need for managerial relations to resolve conflict and dictate movement (the flow of production).  Their complacency with the capitalist system is also problematic and counter-intuitive to the class warfare workers face every single day.

So what is solidarity unionism and how does it differ from traditional craft unionism?

Solidarity Unionism uses the strength of each worker on the job without regard to government or employer recognition. Contrary to the popular notion of the need for a contract, we don’t need one to be legitimate despite what other business unions might say.  We fight and use direct action to win our demands on the shop floor.  This type of organizing is practiced by the Industrial Workers of the World(IWW).  The Industrial Workers of the World, from its very inception, organized workers–skilled/unskilled, male/female, black/white, immigrants–and sought to abolish the wage system through overthrowing capitalism.  This gave the IWW a reputation as a fighting union. The “unorganizable” were organizing.

Craft Unionism organizes workers by craft or trade through contract bargaining and government certification. These unions also have presidents and bosses who utilize top/down organizing methods to push campaigns and maintain existing ones.  Historically Craft Unionism has been very sexist, racist,  xenophobic , and capitalistic.  Segregation was the norm as the American Federation of Labor(AFL) practiced Jim Crow. They also scoffed and excluded unskilled workers.

Not embracing top-down organizing allows workers to self-manage and delegate tasks that transcend societal expectations of gender roles in the workplace.  

Examples of Solidarity Unionism in Central Minnesota

The Good Earth Workers Union is actively organizing workers at the Good Earth Food Co-op.  The Deli department is worker-run and delegates tasks horizontally.  This means no one is above or below anyone.  Dishes, Cooking, Cleaning, Ordering, and Customer Service are done by everyone. Kitchens are typically very patriarchal.  The Good Earth Workers Union aims to smash that and has been very successful in doing so thus far.

*Truck Stop Workers Rise! There was a truck stop worker that was being denied hours after returning from maternity leave. Management gave her zero hours and tried to push her out the door. The IWW gave her some tips and different tactics to use. She documented everything, rallied her co workers, and collectively put the pressure on management. Took less than 24 hours for her to be back on the schedule at her full hours.  For many this was their first experience organizing and taking a stand against management! Direct Action Gets the Goods!

*Personal Care Assistants (PCA’s) are some of the lowest paid and exploited workers in Central MN. One home had an uprising against poverty wages and a lack of paid time off.  They used direct action and marched on their boss for higher pay and better benefits. Their solidarity yielded great results as they forced management’s hand and won their demands.

Summation:

We don’t need union bosses or presidents, paid staffers or outside organizers, to win!  Our greatest ally is our fellow worker.  This means the union should be controlled by the workers.  It means that we organize horizontally to crush existing hierarchies that inhibit us from reaching an egalitarian future!  We can get there.  Solidarity Unionism works. It’s time to dump the bosses and fight for worker control.

If you are interested in organizing your workplace or would like more information on the IWW feel free to contact us!

https://www.centralminnesotaiww.org

https://www.facebook.com/centralminnesotaiww/

https://www.iww.org

IWW Campaigns/Writings

http://www.stardustfamilyunited.com

http://www.burgervilleworkersunion.org

https://tcorganizer.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/good-earth-workers-union-goes-public/

https://libcom.org/library/sex-work-solidarity-not-salvation

https://sisterscamelottruth.wordpress.com/update/
*The IWW doesn’t name drop employers without worker consent.  We have several campaigns happening in Central MN that aren’t public…yet!  

Much Love and Solidarity,

Zach  X381494


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I graduated from Saint Cloud State in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Women Studies and double minored in Political Science and Environmental Studies.  Since graduation, I have dedicated much of my time to organizing workplaces, including The Good Earth Food Co-op, where we have an active campaign and use direct action to win our demands.  It’s a great place so please support your local union Food Co-op!

I also love playing music, watching movies, and spending time with my tender comrade Sydnee.

 

Understand Where People Are Coming From

“Understand where people are coming from…” echoes loudly and ironically throughout the 2nd Annual Police and Social Services Conference, which was about bridging community between police and social service providers. The tension in the room is tangible; it has an angry pulse that is buzzing underneath future and current social worker’s skin.

The intention of this 2nd annual conference, which many members of the social work faculty worked hard to make happen, was about community building. However, that isn’t how this conference panned out. I and many others did not leave feeling a sense of community building but rather with the desperate realization for how much we need to build our community.

Saint Cloud Police Chief, Blair Anderson, was the keynote speaker for this event. Chief Anderson began his speech discussing some of the amazing groundwork that has been done by the Saint Cloud Police department and many others to successfully bring to Saint Cloud the first ever COP house. (Read this article for more information on what the Cop House is: http://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/2017/08/18/st-cloud-cop-house-numbers/548540001/)

The creation of this COP house took several partnerships to make it happen and will continue to need these partnerships to be successful. The COP House is a perfect example of how community building can create a better, safer, and more cohesive community.

After discussing the cop house, however, this speech quickly took a turn away from community building. Somehow, the topic of protesting came up. Chief Blair Anderson brought up the I-94 protestors, referring to them entirely as “a group of clowns who don’t really know what they’re fighting for”.

It was suddenly as if the temperature of the room rose a thousand degrees and the opposition in the air became thick enough to be cut with a knife. Keep in mind that this is a room full of social workers or future social workers and that social justice is a main core value of the profession.

There were several people who challenged this statement by Chief Blair Anderson and one brave woman admitted she was personally offended that he would dehumanize an entire group of people by calling them clowns. His response? “That was me being nice”.

 

According to our police chief; historically there has been police mistreatment but “things aren’t that bad anymore”. There was a lot of throwing around of the words “historically” and “false narratives”.

To me, this statement about police was extremely problematic for several reasons:

  1. Police mistreatment of communities of color is not only historical, but it is a present day reality. If you have to decide against letting your black son play with a toy gun for fear of him being shot in 2017, then police mistreatment of communities of color is not only a historical issue.
  2. If the police chief, who holds a position of high power, cannot recognize what’s problematic about calling a whole group of people “clowns” but doesn’t want the police to be called “they” because they’re individuals, something doesn’t quite add up.
  3. If our own police cannot recognize a need for change within the police force/trainings will they ever be any change?

My list could go on and on to the endless reasons this statement from the head of the police department is not only dismissive but very problematic, but I will end here.

When our police chief was finally done with his speech he ended on the note of “understand where people are coming from”. To me this speaks volumes after he dismissed an entire group of people…The need for EVERYONE to begin to understand where people are coming from is all too inherent after this conference.So how do we begin to do this?


downloadGrace Espinoza, Programming and Outreach Assistant, Saint Cloud State Universities Women’s Center.  Grace Espinoza is a senior at Saint Cloud State University with a major in Social Work and a minor in Women’s Studies. She is a heterosexual white, Mexican, and Portuguese woman. She has been employed through the Women’s Center at Saint Cloud for two years now as a Programming and Outreach Assistant. She has also been appointed to the Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet by Governor Dayton for two years. In addition to this, she is also an intern for NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) as the Saint Cloud State Campus Representative. During the summers she also serves for AmeriCorps with the Yes Network working with low income families and children.

Breaks Ups Are Normal

“Marriage expert Hellen Chen asserted that 85 percent of relationships end in a breakup. 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce.”

I know, astonishing isn’t it?

Its incredible how so many bonds, so many memories, so many promises just go to waste.

You may have been just broken up with, as we speak or well you may have broken it off with someone, even.

So you! Yes, you! Tell me what does it feel like?

Does it feel like someone just ripped your heart out?

Does it feel like you got supremely betrayed and it’s just so unfair to you?

Have you started questioning where it went all wrong and how you didn’t see it coming?

Well, if you answered yes to majority of the above then you, my friend, are in for a treat.

Now that I’ve given you that ray of hope, let me tell you now how you are going to be, just fine.

Trust me when I say this; days down the line you will reflect back on your breakup and you will see reason, you will get why things end, only for new things to begin.

I know, I know.  At this point, you must be questioning how I can be so sure and why you should listen to me? Had I been you, I would have questioned the same thing so I’ll let this one slide. I will take no offense.

I would know because I was exactly where you are just months ago.

Cried myself to sleep? Check.

Made everyone feel sorry for me? Check.

Stopped eating completely? Check.

Fell sick both metaphorically and physically? Check.

Yes, you heard it. The person who is trying to pick you up and say it will be fine was at her lowest once as well. My days would go by in a stupor and all I did was feel sorry for myself. Weeks went by and I still didn’t make any progress. My education, my work everything started crumbling down.

That’s when I realized that guys come, they go but I am still here. I quit my job, I packed my bags and then I moved back home. Home for the summer.

I wasn’t on a mission to run away, don’t get me wrong. I was just on a mission to heal myself. Best decision I ever made for the record.

After returning home and surrounding myself with my family, my friends I started questioning how and when the definition of love changed for me.

I’ll ask you this.

Why is that we need a significant other to feel loved? How is that as long as our partner loves us it’s all rainbows and sunshine and when they stop the world isn’t a good place to be at anymore? How can we forget the endless, selfless love our parents our friends constantly bestow upon us? Isn’t it a disgrace to their love when after a breakup we act so broken and act as if we were never loved? How is that love not enough?

Now, I’ll answer that for you.

Its human nature, isn’t it that we view romantic love above every other love that we receive.

However, think about it the next time you feel like you are unloved. Think about how you are loved and how romantic lovely solely doesn’t have to define you.

So do you know why breakups hurt so much after all? Here, I’ll share some insights with you.

I’m sure It’ll put things into perspective for you

Breakups don’t hurt not necessarily. It is the eradication of memories that you once shared with your loved one, that hurts. Think about it! What haunts you now it’s just the memories isn’t it? If there were no memories would break up be so hard? No right? It’d be easy so well that’s where the catch is.

You were on a journey with that individual and somewhere along the way things fell apart and you parted ways and now you’re left with the baggage of memories you once shared with them. You don’t carry it voluntarily it sticks with you involuntarily.

Here here let me give you some perspective;

Let’s say you went on a hike

Along the way a leech got stuck to your leg

You try to rip it off of your leg and it hurts and it stings.

Do you see where I’m going with that?

Yes, you’ve got it. I’m basically calling the memories of your past relationship a leech. Yup I said it. So when you try to rip that memory apart it’s bound to hurt you.

Thus, to let go of the memories in your whole system, you will have to go through a level of suffering invariably and memories tend to pay up more strongly when your partner no longer is present in your life. That’s just your mind trying to make things worse for you and it will.

However, like everything in life, pain is only temporary. Suffering is only fleeting. After a cloudy day you always see the sunshine.

If you never complete a chapter in your life, how will you move on to the next one? How will you write the beautiful story that is your life if you’re stuck in all the could have beens and the should have beens?

So listen carefully when I say this: you are not alone. Breakups happen to every one of us.

You know what?

Quote me on this, I am telling you: You will live again, you will love again, you will laugh again.

An incomplete individual can never complete the other. So work on yourself, invest in yourself and be whole again. Breakups are nothing but a momentary pain before the glory. Endless possibility awaits you.

You’re a warrior, you’ve come a long way and you’ll go a long way. One bad experience or a couple of bad experiences don’t have to define you. They never will define you.

You were meant to shine and nothing can dull your sparkle.


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Asmita Koirala is a senior at St. Cloud State University. She is originally from Nepal, and she moved to the United States three years ago to further her education. Her major is Liberal Arts, and she chose Liberal Arts because she doesn’t want to be limited within a major and thus wants to pursue different avenues and know a little about everything.  She spends her free time reading and writing.  She also enjoys the outdoors and likes to go on hikes as well as snowboard during the winter.  She is a dog person through and through. She wants to make a change in people’s lives through her writing.  She basically wants to empower women to be the best version of themselves because life is too short to be mediocre.  Editor.

 

My Internalized Racism Started With My Name

It started with my name.

It was Fall of 2002. I was seven years old. We just moved to a new city, into a new neighborhood, a new house. It was the beginning of a new school year and I was going into the second grade

On my first day, the teacher had a difficult time pronouncing Pliab correctly, even after I repeated myself multiple times. It was frustrating. My previous teachers never had this problem and a part of me didn’t understand what was so hard. When she introduced me to the class, she mispronounced my name and somewhere in the background I heard a snicker. I tried not to think too much about what that might have meant, so I brushed it off.

When I sat down at my desk, the white girl seated next to me leaned over and tapped me on my shoulder. She pointed at the laminated tag with my name on it and asked me, “How do you say your name?” Believing her curiosity was genuine, I told her how to say it. What she did next left me dumbfounded: rather than pronounce it correctly, she butchered and insisted my name was something else other than Pliab.

I corrected her but we kept on going back and forth about my name, then it dawned on me that she was doing this on purpose. She was intentionally mispronouncing my name for laughs. The kids around us were snickering at the exchange, and I was the butt of an unfunny joke. I felt a whirlwind of emotions crashing down on me all at once: confusion, humiliation, embarrassment, frustration, anger, pain, and resentment. My face was burning hot and there were tears pooling at the corners of my eyes. A quiet voice at the back of my head kept telling me not to cry.   

Was there something wrong with me? Was it because I didn’t have an anglicized or English name? Was my name “too ethnic”? Was it because I was Hmong? Did that not make me American enough?

I cried when I walked home from school that day. I cried even more when my parents asked me how my first day went. All I could manage to tell them was that I didn’t want my Hmong name anymore. I didn’t want to be known as Pliab. I hated it. I hated them for giving it to me. I hated myself. My parents didn’t understand, they just kept telling me “Koj lub npe yog Hmoob, vim hais tia koj yog Hmoob”. My older siblings told me I was being dramatic and to get over myself, they didn’t understand.

I knew damn well that I was Hmong, and I had been proud of it up until that morning. What I learned from that encounter was that my name, my culture, my history, and my identity as a Hmong kid made me different in the eyes of other people. It painted me as foreign, as an Other, and if I wanted to belong I needed to conform—to assimilate. At seven years old, I had began to internalize my own oppression, and I made every effort to do anything—like going by an anglicized name—that would distance myself from my Hmong-ness.

 

It would take the next 13 years of my life to realize that those efforts never made a difference. I ended up hurting myself the most in the process of denying my identity. It took me 13 years to unlearn what I internalized and when I learned to let it all go, the first thing I did in an act of self-love was to reclaim my name.

Ethnic or ethnic-sounding names can hold cultural significance for many people, especially people of color as our names are a huge part of who we are. When people mispronounce our names—whether consciously or not—it indicates a complete disregard of our culture and identity. Ethnic names are seen as less valuable, weird, foreign, and perhaps a burden to pronounce correctly in comparison to names that are anglicized.

Studies reveal that applicants with white or English-sounding names are 50% likelier to receive callbacks for job interviews than those with black-sounding names. While it’s not the most pressing issue, people of color with ethnic names do face name-based discrimination with regards to job employment.

When people make fun of our ethnic names, they’re not being funny. They’re just blatantly racist. Our names mean something significant to each and everyone of us, they don’t exist to be used as punchlines


mePliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends. Social media consultant.