Do(ing) it Like a Feminist

Post-Grad Girl living in a Post-Grad World.

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Moving Past the Funk: Living in a Post-Election World

Like many people, I’ve been in mourning. I actually found myself googling how to immigrate to Canada the night of the Election. Granted, I didn’t make it past the screen showing that the site crashed, but I still wondered how I would be able to do it. Then I thought more about what a Trump Presidency would look like and wondered, what would it look like for me to abandon my place in this country and lose my will to fight? If I were a child, I wouldn’t want my elders to do that to me, so I can’t give up now.

To this day, I can not fathom how people could vote for Trump. You say he is anti-establishment; we say he is a racist demagogue. You say he is a great businessman; we say he has gone bankrupt a handful of times and has only looked out for himself. I can go on and on about this, but there is no point. The only points left to make are what is going to happen next. How can we teach our peers and young folk about what it means to be an advocate for the issues at hand?

And here is where you can get your crash course.

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Harro, page 16

In Bobbie Harro’s “The Cycle of Socialization”, she discusses how we are socialized from birth/toddler into a way of thinking. We are taught biases and stereotypes, and we live with these mechanics as we grow up. We are then socialized on a personal level from parents, loved ones, and teachers (that’s why they are so important). These mechanics are then reinforced through various institutions such as church, TV, and in our culture. When these mechanics are reinforced, they result in anger, discrimination, and ignorance. It’s up to you to figure out which direction you want to go- do you want to continue reinforcing the same cycle, or would you want to head in a direction for change?

For those who says white privilege doesn’t exist, I want you to look at the events that have occurred since the election: swastikas being spray-painted on walls, a woman in Brooklyn was punched by a male trump supporter at a restaurant in Brooklyn, a woman pulled another woman’s hijab off in a Walmart in the name of Trump, and the list goes on and on. In Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, she states:

“My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.” (McIntosh, 2)

As a woman of color, I will never be able to have this privilege. From what I’ve observed about the country post-Election is that many people who have this privilege don’t (or won’t) understand the power their actions have with people of color, and they don’t worry about the consequences of their actions, because most likely, they won’t be reprimanded for it. Is this what we want to teach our future children and voters?

For all you Trump supporters, I hope you realize what your future will look like. Only a week has passed and there is already a white supremacist in a position of power. You did this. Take responsibility for it. Once Donald Trump takes his place in the White House, I can only predict the decline of our Country, economically and socially. You can sit back and say that he will fix our broken “system”, but he will continue to display divisive and demeaning behavior toward people of color, the LGBTQIA community, Muslims, immigrants, etc..

Or maybe that’s what you all really want, which is much scarier to think about.

For those of you who are willing to fight forward, find your local community programs. Volunteer. Protest. Write to your local politicians. We will not be swayed. I am with you all.

___________________________

Harro, Bobbie. “The Cycle of Socialzation.” Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. N.p.: Routledge, 2007. 15-21. Print.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.


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A Letter to My Future Daughter

Dear Sarai,

Today, all I see is red. I’ll explain in a minute.

Yesterday, we made history by voting for the first female candidate in a major party. I filled out the ballot with pride. I thought of you and your future as I filled in the bubble and scanned my ballot in the machine. I felt for you as I walked out of the voting area, beaming with Pride at what was to come.

Then came the results. A sea of Red.

As time dragged on, many states were “too close to call”, which made me feel equal parts dread and anxiety. By 1am, I was done watching, for I knew this was over for us. The future I hoped you would enter slowly ripped from my fingers.

A sea of Red.

I weeped for you. I weeped for all our children. How was I going to explain to you and my younger brothers that this is the new reality? What could I say to you when you enter this world that would make you feel safe as a woman of color? These are the questions that came to my mind.

All I see is red. Red for the GOP that overpowered this Election. Red for the blood that was shed for us to have the power to vote, only to have it squandered away. Red for the blood that was going to be shed in the coming weeks, months, and years because of this shift in power.

I fear for your safety.

How can I sit here and explain to you that a man who said it was alright to “grab a woman by the pussy” can be President? That a man who ran on a platform of fear-mongering won? That survivors of sexual assault who felt their futures were on the line, lost?

We all lost.

And yet, here we are. The aftermath. And I can’t stop thinking about you.

As long as I am living, I will protect you from this hate and fear, and raise you to be a socially-conscious woman who can help change the world you will grow up in. I will continue to fight for you, to fight for the rights and privileges that you should have, as those before me have done.

I fear for what comes next, but one things for sure: you will be safe. I will always protect you.

Love,

Your Mom

 


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For Whom Is Silence Golden? An Open Letter to the Administration of HWS

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This is a two-part article. *Trigger Warning- viewer discretion is advised*

Upon reading the NY Times article “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t”, we were reminded of the many stories we heard that went unnoticed at HWS. We relived a time where we fought tirelessly for reform and it was swept under the rug. We were furious and upset that the policies regarding sexual assault (NOT sexual misconduct) were still not being taken seriously.

This is our open letter to the administration who consider themselves “trailblazers” in sexual misconduct policy reform.

Part I

In my job as a case planner, they teach us to do a sanctuary check in order to express our emotions, identify a goal, and think of a person(s) who can assist us with that goal. Today, I am furious as hell. My goal for today is to make my voice heard on the misconduct of HWS’ policy, and all of you can help me by expressing yourselves as well. In 2011, the members of Women’s Collective and I connected with SAFER to have them review our sexual assault policies on campus. I created a photo campaign to assist with the push of the SAFER initiative. Robb Flowers sat with then co-leader of Women’s Collective, Josephina Ragon, to discuss the policies and fill out the proper forms for SAFER to review the guidelines of the misconduct policy. Now, in 2014, I think about that semester where we worked hard to achieve something only to have it fall by the wayside.

When I read the NY Times article, I thought about the countless stories I’d heard about students who were raped or sexually assaulted but were afraid to speak up about it because their assailant was in a Fraternity or Athletic team. I thought about the scenarios where the courageous survivors would stand up against their assailants in the misconduct hearings, only to be heard their assailants would be cleared (what does that even mean). I remembered the students who would be afraid to walk around campus because they didn’t want to be heckled or verbally abused by their peers.

When you think about these situations, what are you teaching your incoming students? When you live in a residential setting, you are vulnerable to the culture that enables peer pressure and “social suicide” (to quote Mean Girls). In 2010, during the Women’s Collective event Take Back the Night, President Gearan stood with us and spoke against the violence that students faced. He stated:

“We have the opportunity to have the ripple effect here. Everyone here can take these tiny ripples of hope and send it out to their friends and families and other people in other colleges. We are fortunate to have the leadership we have here with Women’s Collective. I’d like to take some hope from the obvious tragedies of our culture and part of it might be to send forth these ripples of hope in awareness and understanding and compassion and courage that we are all so privileged to hear tonight.”

Where does the ripple effect begin at HWS?

Some of my closest friends are survivors of rape and sexual assault. Some were afraid to talk about it. Some were brave like Anna and chose to stand up to their assailants. How can we talk about inclusive excellence if we aren’t protecting the very students who you’ve committed yourselves to educating? According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. There are over 2000 students at HWS. How many do you think have had their voices silenced?

In order for change to occur, you must begin to build from within. Establish mandatory trainings for staff and administration to attend on sexual assault. Build a well-trained, substantial committee that can hear sexual assault cases. Hire a SANE nurse for Hubbs Health Center. Renovate the Women’s Resource Center and finally open the hotline that students can call when something happens or they feel unsafe. Sexual Assault and Rape is a culture that will not go away quietly, but you have the power to minimize the conflict on our once-beloved campus.

Be the change YOU wish to see in the world. Or at least on your campus.

Gabrielle Perez, WS ‘12

Part II

I am a William Smith alumnae, and I am a survivor.

Every day of my life is like navigating through rapids going upstream; I slowly make progress but not without a few scrapes and bruises after I am hit by triggers and depression.

I still blame myself for what happened to me.

I am a survivor of molestation. While I was not raped or sexually assaulted during my times at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, it does not mean I do not know what it is like to be silenced. I have been silenced about my sexual assault for over ten years. That pain does not go away.

Anna trusted the administration at Hobart and William Smith. She thought she would receive justice for what happened to her. Instead, you silenced her.

You silenced her when you revealed her identity in an email. You silenced her when you trusted a committee with only 6 hours of training to deal with a case of gang rape. You silenced her when the committee implied that she was asking for it because of the way she was dancing. You silenced her when you questioned how drunk she was when she vomited four times on the way home from the hospital, hours after the assault occurred. You silenced her when you did not punish students for violating the no contact order.

You silenced her.

When I read the New York Times article on the morning of July 13th, I cried. I cried because it was triggering for me, and I cried for Anna. Anna did not deserve to be silenced, to be treated less than human. By silencing her, you violated her just like those football players.

And what would you do if that happened to your daughter? Michael Cragg, your daughter was a William Smith student. This could have easily been her. Would you have ignored the evidence and allowed your players to stay on your team then, even if a perfect season is in jeopardy? Mark Gearan, your daughter is in college right now. What if this happens to her when she is at school? Would you want the administration to handle her case in the same way Anna’s case was handled at Hobart and William Smith? Robert Flowers, you have a daughter. Are you just hoping things will change by the time she is in college?

I will leave those as rhetorical questions.

The semester before Anna was sexually assaulted, I had a meeting with Robert Flowers about a meme on the HWS Meme page on Facebook because a Hobart student posted a meme about a girl crying rape. Nothing was done. I was ignored. Looking back, did you even hear me Robb Flowers? Or were you just appeasing me with that meeting?

Did you listen to Josephina Ragon when she worked tirelessly on changing the sexual assault guidelines in the summer of 2011? Did you listen to the student concerns during the spring of 2011 when another case of sexual assault was brought to the student body’s attention?

Obviously you were not listening or Anna would not have been silenced.

Are you listening now?

It is pathetic that it takes an article in the New York Times to get your attention. And it is even more pathetic that you tried to defend your actions in an email.

Instead of defending your actions, you need to apologize, not only to Anna but to the other nameless survivors who have graduated from William Smith, or are still attending. 39 people messaged Anna the day the article was released about how they were assaulted and never reported it. 39 women who did not get the help they needed because they were too scared of being ostracized, labeled, and discriminated against by not only the administration but by their peers.

We are waiting for your apology.

Connie Mandeville, WS ‘12


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The Personal is Political: Life in Social Service

Hello fellow bloggers! It has been a long time (as usual), but the life of a case worker never rests! 

I have been working at my job for 8 months now and it has taught me a lot about myself as a professional and as a person in society. Working in the foster care system is no walk in the park; it tests your mind and your spirit every day, but I am lucky to have such a strong, stable team who push me to keep moving forward. Foster Care also teaches you a lot about the systemic issues that occur within our (NYC) society. So many people say the system is broken, and in some instances they may be right, but sometimes it isn’t. If there is anything I have learned about working in foster care, it is that despite the circumstances that may arise, we are in control of our future; WE can take responsibility for our actions and learn from them. 

There is such a thin line between the personal and the political, especially when it comes to direct work/social service. We work directly with families and often times we are taught not to step over the line into personal territory. Now this is true, as a case worker, it is pertinent not to pass the boundaries, but sometimes it’s hard not to let your personal feelings get the best of you. I have worked with some of the best kids who have been dealt a bad hand in life, but when you pour your heart and soul into working with them, your desire to protect and advocate for them comes into full effect. 

People can go back and forth about the systemic issues that are failing our kids, but in essence, the life of a social service worker isn’t easy. We devote so much of our time to helping reunify families and do right by them, but no one can truly understand how much effort goes into this job. I applaud all my case workers and social service workers every day for doing this type of work and not getting much recognition for it. I just want us all to remember: let us not become jaded from the downfalls we face, but to be proud of the successes we achieve. As Robyn Brown-Manning stated, we are precious care workers. If the work is sacred, then so are we. 

I am proud of the work I do despite the many challenges. Case workers are activists too, even if they don’t recognize it as such. Let’s continue to do the work. 

 


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Guess who’s back?

Hello Bloggers! I can not believe it’s been MONTHS since I last posted. SO much has happened to me (both personally and professionally) that I haven’t had a moment to reflect (it didn’t help that my laptop officially died in April).

So to play catch up, I would like to inform the world that I am now a Case Planner for Good Shepherd Services in the Family Foster Care unit. I can’t even believe how my life has played out in the past couple of months to lead me to this amazing career. I have been working at GSS for almost three months now and I must say it is truly a tedious but rewarding job. I help find youth permanency within the foster care system and have developed relationships with amazing kids and adolescents.

It’s funny to me when I think back on my time at HWS and how it’s helped mold me to where I am now. When I graduated, I wanted to be a hardcore activist, but I didn’t really know what that looked like. I thought by being engulfed in the feminist movement online that I would find my voice and become the next Audre Lorde, but there was a bigger plan for me. I now realize that I don’t have to try to get my foot in to the movement online, but rather become my own type of activist in a field where it needs advocating. It’s kind of ironic to be going from one spectrum of feminist activism when a part of me knew all along that I would be where I am now. I can truly say that it has been a blessing in disguise and all the waiting has paid off.

Now, as I move forth into this career of Family Foster Care, I know that my activism will not fade away because it is with me every day when I am talking with my kids or advocating for them in court. Isn’t life funny?

 


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Getting on the Healthy Grind

I haven’t really been posting much lately (due to the fact that my life is wack), but I thought I would share some things that have been going on recently.

I’ve gone healthy.

Oh yes, I thought it would never happen, but not that it has, I’m not really mad at it! The only hard thing is adjusting my cooking skills to suit the new changes. I’ve been chatting with my friends about their healthy habits and have been researching A LOT of new things to try. It actually started out when I got an infection and was trying to detox my body to get it out my system, and while I was doing this, I learned a lot about substituting foods for healthier ones. I even started drinking Soy Milk (my friends *cough, CARRIE, cough* drink Almond Milk and I want to try that too).

Eating healthier does have it’s ups and downs. I’m trying to cut sweets for the time being and have been fairly successful (I had a bite of my brother’s birthday cupcake =\ I can’t resist red velvet) and have substituted for fruits and Kale. LOTS OF KALE.

It’s been quite an interesting two weeks, and even my stepmother and brother are getting in the spirit!

I bought Joshua a Hip Hop dance game for his birthday, but I’m not going to lie, it was for me too. WORKOUT TIME!

In other news:

  • I visited my alma mater this past weekend and was presented with an award for my dedication to an organization I was involved in during my time at HWS. I had been thinking a lot about HWS and wanted to visit, and once I did, it was like the obsession with Geneva slowly faded away. I now realize that I wanted to go back to see if the legacy I left behind was in tact and my successors were doing a better job than I did, to which I can proudly say that they are.
  • Selfless relationships plug: Marcus and I have been together for 9 months to the day. For anyone who knows me, this is a big deal.
  • A few weeks ago, I reunited with Carrie and my good friend Katie for some Brooklyn Hijynx: Part Deux and there were cupcakes involved.

I can’t think of anything else, but surely there are more.

TTFN, bloggers.