The Filling, the Overflowing, and the Emptiness

On November 23rd of this year, I had the honor of being appointed to the Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet of Minnesota.

The Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet brings together nonprofits, businesses, and government to improve equity in outcomes for young women in Minnesota who experience the greatest disparities.

This cabinet has been a work in progress for years, but nowhere would approve it until Minnesota. It wasn’t approved until Minnesota because no government officials were on board until Governor Dayton. As soon as the idea was pitched to him, he was on board!

If our action plan works, this cabinet will be starting in many other states as well and for those of us in the cabinet, we will be a part of history.

There are about twenty five women on this cabinet, ranging from ages of 16 to 24 who are working with me to create an action plan to strengthen services and areas that are already working for women in Minnesota.

It is seldom I feel proud of myself but being appointed to this cabinet is one of those moments. My voice didn’t seem important until now.

But getting appointed to this cabinet a few short weeks after the election was conflicting for me in many ways.

Being a part of this cabinet was the hope that I needed in humanity and in the world I live in.

There’s a phrase that says ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ and the election had me feeling as if my cup had run permanently dry.

After a few weeks of feeling absolutely empty post-election and then getting to be a part of this cabinet, it felt like the cup I pour from was overflowing.

But how does one keep faith in the work they’re doing when the world at large is actively working against them?

I have always believed in people and that they hold the power.

To maintain my full cup, I needed to be a part of this cabinet working to create change in a world that so desperately needs it.

At the first cabinet meeting, we each spoke about what made us decide to apply for a position on the cabinet. As each woman went around the room sharing what brought them to this cabinet, I had hope in the people around me and faith in the fact that people still care.

Each woman that spoke has known various forms of struggles and disparities. Each of the women has the desire to create a better world for all the people in it. Their passions ranged from healthcare disparities to racial profiling and beyond. Even though we all had different issues that brought us to this cabinet, we were a room full of people who cared. The amount of empathy and passion in that room was enough to empower anyone.

It was everything I needed to hear. Being in a room so filled with passion, I felt my cup overflow.

And I recommend becoming a part of something to everyone who is feeling their cup has run dry.

Be engaged.

Surround yourself with people who care and have passion to create change like you do because you are not alone. You are not the only one who feels empathy for others or has a desire to change the way that our world is going. And there is nothing more than to fill your cup up with hope.

Hope in the people around you.

There are more of us out here fighting for good than you think.

So my advice is to do whatever you can to find people like this because they do exist.

And people have the power.

We just forget that.

 

 

grace-espinozas-blog-pictureGrace Espinoza is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, majoring in Social Work. Grace works at the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center on campus. Grace is a straight, Mexican Portuguese/white woman with a passion for social justice, feminism, and poetry. She has been a published poet several times beginning in the seventh grade and is honored to contribute to Collective Feminism. 

 

Calling All Writers!

Hey friends!  We are currently sending out a call for regular contributors for Collective Feminism for this semester, Spring 2017. If you haven’t already heard about our stipend, this post is dedicated to give you everything you need to know about it.

If you do have additional questions or concerns, shoot us an email at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu (you might even consider it practice for submitting future posts).

stipend-poster

If you’ve submitted posts to us already, you probably already know that we accept intersectional submissions of all shapes and sizes. From commentaries on political goings-on (which we have no shortage of), feminist reviews of movies and video games, to poems, stories, and even visual art. There’s a lot to talk about–and this is your space!

We understand that writing blog posts during the semester can be tough, especially considering homework, student organizations, and work. We’d like to offer this opportunity to help you out: if you submit three (publishable!) blog posts, you’ll be paid $60, and your work will be published on this blog.

So what’s the catch? First, all three have to be submitted and deemed publishable before you receive the stipend. We also have a contract for you to sign that details dates throughout the semester we’d like your post submitted by. (We give you ample time, and we’re willing to work with your schedule, so don’t stress out about it!)

Let us know you’re interested by shooting us an email at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu.

(Feminist) Thoughts on the March

Just after the Women’s March on Washington, Carly Puch (one of our own!) wrote on her own blog about her experience participating in the march.

She brings together a thoughtful perspective on the empowering heart of the march, critiques of its unmistakable whiteness, and what both of those things mean for the kind of work we have, as feminists, ahead of us.

Here’s an excerpt…

There are improvements to be made, and particularly we white feminists can do better but what these marches symbolized was that recognition. More women are mobilized because for many it is the first time their rights are truly being threatened, whether that be attributed to their race, their class, their age or any other factor that has allowed them to turn a blind eye to injustice. Human rights campaigns in this country have been built on the backs of people of color, do not silence them, but listen and learn to those who have been fighting before you.

Continue reading here!

The kind of work we have ahead of us must not be forgotten or ignored: it must be thoughtful. We must strive to love each other, build bridges between those of us with vastly different experiances, and act beyond our fear to achieve things which may seem impossible.

What do you think?  Let us know here on the blog or write us at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

Reflection from the Post-Production of That Takes Ovaries

By Ruth Sybil May

A few weeks ago, I participated in the feminist play titled, That Takes Ovaries: Bold Women, Brazen Acts by Rivka Solomon and Bobbi Ausubel; of which I was a cast member. The play is an adaptation of the book similarly titled, That Takes Ovaries: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts, edited by Rivka Solomon. The framework of the book/play is a collection of true stories submitted by ordinary people recounting an experience in which they acted of courageously and bravely, told through first-person narratives. The play was organized by recruiting a cast of diverse community members to enact these true stories on stage in front of an audience, mixing activism with performance art in a way that is humorous, yet serious and inspiring at the same time.

Within the play, I played the part of Drake, a young, transgender man on a path of self-discovery and emotional bravery. During his scene, Drake works up the courage to come out to his mother as transgender despite knowing his mother would not react well. After sharing his truth, his parents are apprehensive at first, but soon do their research so they can better support and love their son no matter what, bringing their family even closer together than before.

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Special Edition: Critiquing the Critique

Women on Wednesday is a critical program with a rich, 26 year history of highlighting the voices of diverse, intelligent, savvy and  creative people, especially women working to end sexist oppression and promote a safe, inclusive and engaged community through advocacy, education, alliance-building and women’s leadership.

On March 30th, the Women’s Center hosted Vednita Carter and Joy Friedman from Breaking Free, one of the nation’s leading organizations for working with victims and survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution, at a Women on Wednesday session titled “Sex Trafficking 201: Dynamics of Prostitution and Sex Trafficking.” We’re excited to report a record-breaking audience of 157 for this engaging presentation from two survivors about the realities of the sex industry and the experiences of prostituted women. (Follow this link to listen to an audio recording of the session and hear their powerful stories yourself!)

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What Does Yoga Have to do with Social Justice?

Have you met Dr. Beth Berila?  She is the director of the Women’s Studies program here on campus, she teaches many Women’s Studies courses, and she is a certified yoga instructor!  (We would also contend that she is a pretty awesome individual!)

Dr. Berila has a website called The Mindful Semester, where she inspires and challenges students to become more mindful of their college experience.  She has graciously offered for us to post from her site, and today we are pleased to bring you some of her ideas!

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Whose American Dream Is It? Falsehood of the American Dream

By Ruth Sybil May

The United States is proudly touted as the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Anyone living here who has a strong work ethic and a great deal of determination is sure to become successful, achieving the American Dream.  That dream includes: being free, having one’s own nuclear family, and especially acquiring financial stability. At least, that’s what American nationalism and patriotic culture tells us.

But frankly, this supposed pathway to personal and financial success, rooted in a person’s work ethic and goal orientation, is a fabrication of deceit from our highly capitalistic and individualistic Western culture. The ideology of the American Dream is designed to give the oppressed underclass false hope about their own personal power to dig themselves out of poverty. It simultaneously gives class privileged people the false notion that they somehow have earned or deserve everything they possess (despite the fact most class privileged people were ascribed this status at birth). This way, the American middle to upper class’ disproportionate hoarding of wealth is justified by assuming that they must have just worked harder than everyone else to gain all of that money and power.

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Minnesota Nice?

By Melissa Anne Frank

Diversity has the power to make communities stronger.  But in order for that strength to exist, there needs to be an integration between people.  Our community has been divided for too long.  After attending the Mizzou rally on campus, I was reminded of the fact that our entire community is missing this significant aspect in our lives.

I often ride my bike through downtown St. Cloud on my way to campus.  I bike past people and say “good morning,” because that is the kind of person that I am.  I was raised in this state, and I was taught that people in this state are nice.  We say good morning to our neighbors, we are there for each other, and we create safe spaces for those around us…at least that’s what I was taught.

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Do (not) (re)act with (out)rage

A Poem by Bianca Williams

N what time did it become “okay for you and

I to speak the same racial slurs… racial slurs that the racially oppressed have transformed

into a sense of comfortability. A

G– gift to each other. A feeling of

G– greatness for our people. A word so sensitive to the

E– ears of those who have not endured the quiet tears, silent cries, or countless years, or

the amount of times it takes to even be heard in this society. So again I ask when the hell did it become “okay” for you to

R– replicate, recreate, and imitate my culture.

N-I-G-G-E-R U serious?

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Perspectives from SCSU4MIZZOU

By Sharai Sims

The first snow fall of this season happened on the same night St. Cloud State students rallied for solidarity with the students of the University of Missouri

Over the last several weeks we have seen college students around the nation stand together in solidarity with Mizzou against racial injustice that occurs for all students of color on a systematic level. On November 19, St. Cloud State students of all ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations banded together to show their solidarity as a diverse community against injustice. The rally was a response to everyday experiences of racism and the denial of a call by student organizers for St. Cloud State University to make a public statement in alliance with Mizzou students. Students decided the best way to see change was to take action. With signs held high, voices screamed chants like, “My Gay Black Life Matters.”

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