Hillbilly Elegy: a Review

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a memoir written by self-proclaimed hillbilly and venture capitalist, J.D. Vance. It’s a story of his life growing up in poverty in Ohio and Kentucky, and how one man was able to beat the odds with the help of his grandmother, Mamaw.

It’s a very informative book with a ton of insight into Appalachia and Appalachian culture, which is rarely represented in movies, tv shows, or books. 20% of residents in Appalachia live in poverty, compared to the 15.6% nationwide. I think that, had I read this book prior to the Trump election, I probably would have loved it. After the Trump presidency though, it feels like another think piece, albeit a long one, on how ignoring blue collar workers in this country has gotten us to the mess that we are in. Intellectually, I can see that, I can; but reading this often made me very angry, knowing that a large portion of my family are not, in fact, blue collar workers and still voted for Trump. That despite all the claims, really it was wealthy white voters that propelled Trump to the White House. It was interesting reading how many of his family members were dyed in the wool democrats, until recently.

It was a heartfelt story about how love and perseverance got Vance through his treacherous years living with his mother as a child, and all the horrors of addiction Appalachians, as well as many other regions, face, but in the end I just came away somewhat angry. I don’t even know if it was anger at these regions, that I know voted so overwhelmingly for Trump, and ultimately against their own best interests, or if I was just mad at the way the entire system is setup to benefit the wealthy and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is just a pipe dream. Either way, I was pretty angry throughout the whole book. It was a righteous anger at so many different things and for that, I can’t help but suggest you read this book and expect not to love it, but learn from it.

 

Enough Already

It’s been 100 days and some change since Donald J. Trump took office and what a ride it’s been, huh? WeeeeEEEEEeeeee--what part of the rickety rollercoaster will we experience today?! As if the constant anxiety due to national security secrets being leaked, underqualified dolts being appointed, and foreign dignitaries being manhandled is not enough for our worn nerves to bear, some on the Left have taken it upon themselves to call for “empathy” and “understanding” for those that voted for and created this (totally foreseeable and completely predictable) mess. Tell me if you’ve heard or read something like this:

“We need to have empathy for people that voted for Trump, they’ve been forgotten and ignored!”

It’s almost like when you eschew and devalue education you are easily conned by fraudsters that shill empty promises and outright lies. Weird. Anyway, here’s why if you are saying things like that you need to stop, and if you are thinking they are right you also need to stop:

 

  1. It’s presumptive. Telling people that they need to have empathy assumes that they don’t have it in the first place. I can feel really, really bad for someone and understand where they are coming from, while also finding them to be 100 percent wrong. So wrong and misguided that they are destructive. Being willfully ignorant and messing up your own life is one thing, messing up the lives of 320 million American people (or really even one or two people) is not ok and never will be.

  2. It’s tone-policing. Anger is an entirely appropriate response when lives and well being are threatened. Especially when it’s your own that is at stake.

  3. It’s inaccurate, revisionist history. White working class people in America have never been ignored or forgotten. Social service programs were created in order to help them. Republican and Democratic campaigns have targeted them in every election since the parties’ inceptions.  

 

Consider this post a demand for accountability. For ownership. Let’s stop infantilizing an entire class of people and start asking that they do better. For themselves and for all of us.

 

Media Review - Into the Badlands

by Emily R.

If you’re anything like me, you like to escape into a fictional world every so often. Maybe you *used* to enjoy a good romp through the post-apocalyptic wasteland, but now it seems a little too much like watching the future. But if you’re still into post-apocalyptic dystopia, let me recommend AMC’s Into the Badlands to you.

While I’m no expert on the genre, I’ve watched and read the highlights. I’m familiar with Mad Max. I watched season after season of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. I watched and read The Hunger Games and the Divergent series. I loved the graphic novel for I Am Legend, though the I give the movie a so-so. I watched The Road, though I it didn’t really speak much to me.

Every Sunday night, I eagerly anticipate Into the Badlands. Here are some of the reasons why:

 

  1. Humor. One thing that I find eminently true of humans is that we can find moments of humor in the darkest of times. I’m not talking about a giant yuk-fest, but some humor goes a long way to break up what would otherwise be a depressing slog. It’s something that is frequently missing from these bleak futurescapes.

  2. Martial Arts. One thing about the future is that there’s a lot of fighting. This isn’t really surprising, since fighting figures prominently into our past and present. But in the Into the Badlands dystopia, guns were banned (suspend your disbelief at that working), leaving us with some highly skilled martial artists. The show has a nice balance of story and fighting, so there’s a reason for the action that’s not wholly spurious all of the time.

  3. Diversity of Cast. OK, so there are still a lot of white people in this future, so it’s not perfect. But I do like that it’s not ONLY white people in this future, or at least mostly white people and a smattering of not-white people. And it’s not just the Chinese actors that are brilliant martial artists. And the political structure isn’t broken out along racial lines. It makes for a better viewing experience, because to my mind it makes that future more likely. It also makes the location less fixed in my mind.

  4. The Story. Fundamentally, there’s all the things that make for a good human drama. There’s forbidden love. There’s betrayal. There’s power and politicking and political upheaval. There’s failure and redemption. You know, the things that keep you coming back for more.

  5. Costuming and Set Design. This dystopia has some mad design skills, and we’ll leave it at that.

 

All in all, if you’ve not dived in yet, you should. It’s easily a million times better than rolling your eyes as Negan, yet again, proves himself to be a really terrible person.

 

 

The Customized Resistance

We’ve all been told that insulating ourselves from Trump supporters only widens the gap of understanding and prevents open dialogue, therefore impeding community progress. But what if you want to remain locked away in your liberal elite tower, fingers in your ears, and “LALALA” away The Crazy? There’s a bespoke browser extension for that!

This is the main Chrome Web Store and the Firefox Add-On Store, but here are a some extensions to help you avoid the stark reality of living under 45:

 

This replaces images of Trump with kittens to cushion the blow of unpleasant headlines with fur:

Make America Kittens Again

 

And here’s a way to convert Trump’s tweets into children’s scribbles to give them the weight they deserve:

Make Trump Tweets Eight Again

 

Or, if you’re past the Denial Stage and ready to tailor your browser to this marathon battle, here are a few extensions to help you Resist:

 

This one replaces Trump’s name with Jezebel’s descriptions of him to remind us all how terrible he is:

Detrumpify

 

Visit this site for extensions that will autocorrect all instances of “alt-right” to “white supremacy” or “neo nazi”:

http://stopnormalizing.com/

 

This site provides extensions to help you make sure your online consumerism contributes to a better world, all while you shop as usual (they even provide coupon codes!):

DoneGood

 

Have you discovered or created a browser extension that helps your election grieving process? Please share it with DGB!

 

I Could Never Do What You Do. Your Kids are So Lucky.

by Morgan W.

I am an adoptive parent and all of my children were adopted through foster care.

In 2008, we took the training classes, installed the best car seat in our practical SUV, and waited for someone else’s baby to be taken from them so we could bring it home and, hopefully, adopt him or her. We were young, optimistic, and totally prepared. Love can heal anything, right? Once our baby was home with us, we would just love it so much, anything she or he had been through would be erased. We would be perfect parents.

Today, we have a handful of children. They’re weird and imperfect. They have various delays and disorders. I go to a lot of IEP meetings and specialists. Whenever people find out how we built our family, they say one of two things: “I could never do what you do.” or “Your kids are so lucky.” In the early days, when I had one baby, I would think “anyone could do this! My baby isn’t lucky! I’m lucky to be her mom!” Fast forward nearly a decade and my reaction has evolved. You know what? You probably couldn’t do what I do. Bouncing a drug-addicted and screaming baby all night for weeks could break a person. Being afraid that your child will go back to their biological family because they’re just barely good enough on paper will keep you up all night even if your tremoring, wailing baby settles. I’m strong as hell. And my kids are lucky. They’re lucky because, if they had been reunified, the combination of nature and nurture probably would not have been kind. They’re lucky because I advocate for them. I don’t care who thinks I’m pushy and I’ve always had a serious problem with authority. My kids are lucky because I constantly read and research. I question service providers. I rely on my instincts and my niche knowledge of children with extra needs. I don’t believe in predestination, but I’m good at this.

The part of adoption and foster care that’s the hardest to swallow is the realization that love isn’t enough. There’s a spectrum of brokenness for the children who come into care, and you could end up with a child anywhere on that scale. You could get a well-adjusted baby who grows up relatively typical; a delay here and there. You could get a child with RAD who ends up in residential care because they try to kill a pet or even a family member. Love is a powerful tool, but trauma can last forever, and no one knows how genetics play a role. Not everything is fixable because you hugged your child and wished away the pain. This realization hurts, and it’s a particularly hard fall from the tree of idealism like one I planted in 2008. I can personally verify that you can have two sets of organic unbleached crib sheets and wear your baby daily and your child can still have FAS.

I’m not going to say I wouldn’t trade this life for anything or that my greatest reward is parenting my children. Maybe those things are true, but neither this blog nor foster care can be tied up with a neat, feel-good bow. This life is nothing like what I imagined it would be, but it’s mine, and I’m doing my best.

 

Superiority

by Emily R.

Most of us want to be good people. We want to be nice. We want to say the right things and have people like and love us. Sure, there are outliers. There are people that seem to thrive on cruelty. There are others that really just don’t seem to care what others think or feel. But I think it’s safe to say that those are the exception to the rule.

Often, part of thinking about ourselves as the nice and good people that we want to be means not looking at the parts of ourselves that are not so savory. These parts may be saying hurtful things in the heat of anger. They may be the tendency to disappear when a friend is going through a tough time because we don’t know what to say. And if you’re a white person in America, there’s probably a little voice that is a white supremacist.

WHAT? LOL. That couldn’t possibly be you. You’re good! You’re nice! You believe in equality! You marched! Trust me, it’s there. To quote the Church Lady, you think you’re just a *leetle* bit superior. Because it’s there doesn’t make you a bad person. Your entire life, you’ve been told that you’re the gold standard. Your name (even if it’s creatively spelled) is the standard against which all other names are measured. You’re an American, not an African-American, not a Chinese-American, not a [dash] American. You’re the people on Friends and Seinfeld. Your people lead the charge against aliens and terrorists and asteroids. Hell, your people will save the other poor people that can’t save themselves! If you want a role model from any walk of life, there’s a person or multiple people to look up to and maybe mentor you (and that person is the first [dash] American to be that role model).

Well … shoot. Now what?

You need to find that voice that tells you that you’re superior for no reason other than the circumstances of your birth and consciously silence it. You may have some things which are just a little superior, but it’s not because of the amount of melanin in your skin. They’re probably things that you devoted hours to learning and mastering - like quilting or computer programming or cooking delicious food. And you deserve to pat yourself on the back for that superiority. You earned it.

But any time you have that feeling of superiority, and you didn’t work to earn it, ask yourself why you feel that way. If you see a name that looks or sounds “made up,” remind yourself that all names are “made up,” including your own. That name belongs to a person who is truly your equal (though you still may be a better quilter). Take the time to learn that African American Vernacular English is an English dialect, not “poor grammar” or “uneducated,” and truly listen to the speaker’s thoughts or you just might miss something important.

In short, hold that unsavory part of yourself up to the light and snuff it out. It’s going to take as much or more work than learning to quilt, but it’s worth the effort. It’ll make you a better person.

 

Americans Resisting Overseas in the Trump Era: Backburner Activism or the Next Best Thing?

by the Americans Resisting Overseas Team

The Women’s March on Washington revealed the power and commitment of Americans living overseas to exercise their citizenship and participate in the current political struggle from outside the USA. By simply adding an international registration option to their online platform, millions signed up to march in over 50 countries. The global ‘’huddles’’ that mushroomed from the DC Sister marches represent a living experiment for transnational citizenship in the Trump era.

Despite this great success in overseas mobilization, other United States based social movements have not followed suit. The absence of international registration options on the wonderful ACLU People Power and RISE Stronger grassroots platforms are indicative of the absence of Americans living overseas’ voices and visibility in the current political context. While the Women’s Global Marches proved that Americans living outside the USA are willing to be politically active, they still remain largely under the radar and underutilized by US advocacy efforts as a whole.

Although not everyone has caught on to the fact that Americans living overseas have the potential to be an important political force, there has never been a better time to exercise transnational citizenship. This is the reason we set up the online platform Americans Resisting Overseas, as a space to support Americans overseas in exercising active citizenship through mobilizing, learning and sharing actions with others from outside the USA.

Today, as an American migrant who has lived in Medellin, Colombia for six years, I, like so many others in the world, receive news of what is going on in the USA as it happens through social media. I can volunteer for US NGOs “remotely’’, make cheap overseas calls to my Members of Congress via Skype, mail postcards to the White House that will arrive within 14 days, participate in public policy webinars, receive online civil rights trainings, participate in global marches, and coordinate with other activists through SLACK, all from outside the United States. Not only can I connect with my own country, but I can, in a second, coordinate with other American activists living overseas in dozens of other countries through apps like WhatsApp.

This is transnational citizenship at its height, the ability to be both here, the country where we currently live, and there, the country where we come from.

Why then has American overseas activism been left at the fringe? For one thing, American citizenship is still too often associated with physical borders, versus a sense of belonging, participation, and identity which can be nurtured regardless of the physical territory where we live. Indicative of this, is the fact that Americans living overseas did not even gain the right to an absentee ballot vote until the Overseas Voting act of 1975.

The case for including Americans living overseas in activism is not helped by the fact that there are not any real numbers on how many Americans live outside the USA. Estimates guess between 2 and 7 million, somewhere between the size of the population of Rhode Island and Tennessee.

Some might argue that another reason for the distance of Americans abroad from US politics is that many Americans living overseas left the US in order to escape American systems. Some of the strongest lobbying efforts that have historically emerged from the Americans resisting overseas movement have been around taxes, versus in defense of rights.

However, these are not ordinary times and the current political situation has motivated American migrants who otherwise would not become involved to mobilize, politicize, and stay active.

2 to 7 million people…How can this political power be put to use by the organizing efforts in the United States? I would venture that the responsibility is two-fold. On one hand, the movements in the States should be aware of how transnational citizenship can come into play in influencing public policy. We no longer live in a world where physical borders determine our ability to participate. Today overseas Americans can boycott Ivanka products and jam their MoC’s phone lines with the same ease as someone from within the States.

On the other hand, Americans living overseas must become better organized, find each other, and connect and form alliances, not just with other Americans but with activists from the countries in which they are living who almost certainly are also being harmed by the current administration’s policies. The establishment of online platforms such as Americans Resisting Overseas based out of Colombia, Progressive Action Global Exchange reaching countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Solidarity for Humanity in Switzerland, and American Expats for Positive Change in the UK are just some of many groups that have begun to take important steps towards making visible what is happening from abroad and working collaboratively with others to organize against the current administration from outside the USA.

Advocating for social change is complex. Trying to understand what works and what doesn’t from outside the United States adds an extra level of complexity. But, like millions of other Americans living overseas, I am willing to be part of this living political experiment. I, along with others, will be organizing and making enough noise from outside the USA for Trump and my representatives to hear me, even from all the way across the ocean.

 

Americans Resisting Overseas is a platform to share experiences of American activism overseas in the Trump era and inspire others to take action from outside the USA.

 

Say Anything

by Morgan W.

So, you can’t lie to Congress, right? It’s, like, a big deal? Well, it depends on who you are.

For a little background, lying to congress is illegal according to statutes 18 U.S.C. §1621 (perjury) and 18 U.S.C. §1001 (false representations before Congress.) The Justice Department generally doesn’t investigate lies before Congress unless their services are requested by legislators. But that makes sense, right? People don’t appreciate being lied to and it’s a waste of time if Congressional hearings become a joke, so Congress probably has an interest in their institutional integrity, right?

Kind of.

After Hillary Clinton testified about her emails in 2015, Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Bob Goodlatte authored an official letter, requesting that the Justice Department launch an investigation into whether she could be prosecuted for inconsistencies in her answers. Although FBI Director James Comey eventually determined there was no willful deceit, we all know how that prolonged inquiry turned out for Hillary.

James Clapper, by all accounts, gave false testimony to Congress in 2013 regarding CIA surveillance of private American citizens. Nine Republican senators asked that he be investigated. Then Attorney General, Eric Holder, declined.

Read more about Clinton and Clapper here.

Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings. About Russia, of all things. Thus far, there’s been radio silence from apparent Guardians of Truthful Testimony, Chaffetz and Goodlatte. No formal letter requesting an investigation by the DOJ, which Sessions himself continues to be in charge of at his cabinet post. Could be awkward to direct an investigation of yourself, I guess.

But Jeff Sessions wasn’t the only cabinet appointee to lie in confirmation hearings. At least four others did. Luckily, they’ve all been fined and sentenced to jail time. Just kidding. Exactly zero have faced any issues at all and were confirmed without incident.

 

Betsy DeVos denied being involved with her family’s foundation, which donates hefty sums to anti LGBTQ+ groups:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/01/18/betsy-devoss-13-year-clerical-error/?utm_term=.535b6e83b194

 

Steve Mnuchin lied about his company’s unethical foreclosure processes:

http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170129/trump-treasury-pick-mnuchin-misled-senate-on-foreclosures-ohio-cases-show

 

Tom Price lied about insider trading:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/1/30/1627549/-Tom-Price-lied-to-the-Senate-about-the-sweetheart-deal-he-got-on-medical-stocks

 

and Scott Pruitt claimed he never used a private email account (sound familiar?) as Oklahoma Attorney General:

http://okcfox.com/news/fox-25-investigates/ags-office-confirms-pruitt-used-private-email-for-state-business

 

In an age of alternative facts and conspiracy tweets from atop Mar-a-Lago gold toilets, does this matter? Breaking news: Hillary was treated unfairly and this administration are a bunch of liars, right? Yes, but Republican Congress members should probably at least attempt to appear to care when they’re lied to by their own party. I propose they at least treat lies to secure cabinet positions the way I handle my five year old lying about sneaking sweets: Call them out, take their illegally-obtained cookie away, and tell them to get the heck out of the room before the punishment gets worse.

 

Election Isolation

by Anonymous

I am one of the very few people in my gigantic family that voted for Hillary Clinton. It leaves me feeling very isolated, but also very angry. I live thousands of miles away from almost all of my family and my only contact was through social media and texts and all of that has stopped, thanks to the election of the Hostess Orange Cupcake. I have also unfriended or unfollowed many former friends and family over the election. I understand that I am isolating myself in my little “snowflake” liberal bubble, but I have to. If I don’t, I will spend all of my waking hours fighting online, and I have too much work to do.

I don’t know how to reconcile how angry I am with everyone who voted for Trump, or said that Trump and Hillary were the same, and I am sure that includes many family members. It feels like the world is absolutely crumbling around us and I don’t blame just Donald Trump, I blame them. How could they have been so naive? Were they even naive or did they just not care, or, even worse, were they racist and sexist and I never knew, and they wanted these things to happen? How do you find out? Do you ask your family “so hey, about those Muslim bans, are you cool with them?” How do you even know if people support the things Trump is currently doing when everyone I know who is not actively fighting against Trump has gone completely silent. I see your silence and it scares me.

This election has been very isolating, but it has also been very freeing. It has has given me more courage to say the things I want to say on my own Facebook wall, without the fear of repercussions that previously stopped me from posting political stuff because I know my family and friends just won't say anything about it.

To all my high school friends, living in the same small town, posting about how they don’t care about politics: I see you. I’ll care about politics so that you don’t have to. To all of my female family members and old church friends who say the March wasn’t for them: I see you. I marched because you didn’t know you should. To everyone else who isn’t absolutely terrified of Donald Trump: I see you. I am scared enough for all of us and I will fight because you don't know you should.

I see you.


 

Who Cares About Art When Everything is Terrible?

by Mandy J.

 

“The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.”  

-Toni Cade Bambara

 

When I was standing at the top of a hill on Boston Common, looking down over the throngs gathered peacefully for the Women’s March, my first thought (after wondering, “does this pussy hat make my outrage look big?”) was about art. Everywhere I turned, everyday Americans had poured their rage, fear, sadness - and often, senses of humor - into artful signs, posters, costumes, and even puppets. Often these were made by people who never even considered themselves artists to begin with. It was seriously thrilling.  If you were at the march on Washington or any of the sister marches, you know what I mean, but if not (or just for fun), check out this small selection of the creative stuff marchers posted on social media.

The organizers of the Women’s March knew about this intersection of activism and art, and in the lead-up to the march itself they, in collaboration with the Amplifier Foundation, invited artists to submit poster designs. The results are poignant, defiant, thought-provoking, and gorgeous.

Art inspired by, and in service of, the resistance has come from all over. From those protesters who wouldn’t even call themselves artists, from creatives whose art has long been deeply political (see political cartoonists), and from artists who used to keep their politics out of their studio, but felt they could no longer do so. KQED Arts’ series “First 100 Days: Art in the Age of Trump” is a terrific cross-section of the range of art being made in response to the new, orange-hued world order.

As for me, at the time that Donald Trump was elected to the most powerful seat in the world, I was knee-deep in classes for painting and illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design (Continuing Ed). My media of choice were charcoal, graphite, watercolor, and oils. That all changed, nearly on a dime, on November 18th, 2016, when my close group of friends conceived of Daily Grab Back. I’m still in school, but now I illustrate the revolution, one bite-sized piece of activism at time, with my nascent graphic design skills. Life is funny that way.

 

 

But who cares, you say?  I mean… REALLY? Our environment trembles on the brink of disaster, our public schools are imperiled, our democracy is under attack, hate crime is on the rise, and autocracy occupies the White House… who gives two Sharpies about ART at a time like this? For one thing, art can be a central component of social change. Writing about a similar explosion of art during the Occupy movement, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers wrote, “activist art turns a protest into a spectacle, from a turn-off to a turn-on, from an event ignored to one that is widely reported. The protest itself becomes art.” I definitely see this in our movement. The sea of pink hats on January 21st was the most obvious demonstration of this. Also check out things like the Bowling Green Massacre and “Nevertheless, She Persisted” memes on social media, as well as the logos and other graphics associated with the alt-government Twitter accounts, and even the “missing” stickers placed on milk jugs all over Congressman Paul Cook’s (CA-R) district as a commentary on his availability for a town hall with constituents.

But more than that, a healthy society just needs art - and artists to make it. I don’t want to be a part of a culture that doesn’t nurture creativity in all its forms, political or otherwise. It’s no coincidence that the current administration wants to completely do away with the National Endowment for the Arts AND the National Endowment for the Humanities, making it that much harder for the arts to flourish in the US. 

If you make art, keep making it. If you love art, keep loving it. If you are in a position to support the arts, please do. Those Sharpies? They’re not as cheap as you think and we’re gonna need a lot of ‘em.

 

How to Combat Protest Fatigue

by Celestia L.

You’ve all been hitting the pavement, making those phone calls, sending out endless e-mails, and it’s making a real impact. DGB wants to give you some tips and tricks to combat protest fatigue so that we can all keep fighting 45 and his Cabinet of Deplorables.

Protesting is a marathon and not a sprint, and one can apply the same training techniques for marathon training that you would for protest training. You may be a seasoned protester, or you may just be starting and one of the most important steps in any training is to pace yourself. You wouldn’t go out and run ten miles if you had been completely sedentary the past four years, and you also wouldn’t run the exact same distance every day if you were an established runner. Find a pace that works for you and build up your endurance so you don’t get fatigued.

The next step is to find a protest buddy or buddies. Running is often more fun when you are training with others, and the same can be said for protesting. You are more likely to march and chant till you’re hoarse, if you have a badass friend beside you. Another benefit to having a protest buddy is that if you are feeling fatigued, they can go in your place, or vice versa, to ensure someone is hitting all those important rallies.

The third step to fighting fatigue is to rest. Every marathoner takes rest days. Listen to your body and your mind and rest when you need it. You are useless to the resistance if you burn out. One great way to rest and refresh yourself is meditation or mindfulness. This website gives all the basics for how to start a meditation and mindfulness practice and has different guided practices to help you rejuvenate yourself. Mindfulness helps other issues in your life like reducing stress, helping you feel more connected to those in your life, and even dealing with pain.

A few more small things you can do to fight protest fatigue are to make reusable signs. Use some of the sturdy poster board and make a sign that works for more than one protest. We also recommend you stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet. Just like training for a marathon, your body needs those nutrients if you are going to be able to keep up the pace at your marches and have the strength to intimidate your representatives at town hall meetings.

Keep up the awesome work, Grabbers. We see you out there protesting every weekend and, seriously, you kick ass. Follow these simple steps so you can continue to fight and show those that say we will fizzle out, that we’re just getting warmed up.

 

From the Mouths of Babes

As adults and activists, we are always trying to say the right thing and use the right words. At DGB, we tirelessly research our actions for maximum impact in our quest to leave the world a better place for future generations. In all this intellectualizing and analyzing, sometimes it’s refreshing to listen to some smaller people, whose lives and views are a bit more pure and uncomplicated. Every DGB staff member is a mother and between us, we have 37 Junior Grabbers ranging in age from two weeks to 14 years old. We asked them “What can you do to make the world a better place?” Here is their sage wisdom. Also note: the public school system is really pushing the don’t litter agenda.


 

6: I can be a good leader in my class, family and girl scout troop.

I can try and become President and let people have more freedom. Like more schools and more playgrounds.

 

2: I call my Dada

 

14: If you see bullying, don't be a bystander

 

12: Be nice, pay it forward

 

8: Don't be a bully

 

8: Don't do drugs

 

7: Put lots of trash cans and recycling all over so people can always throw trash away (he had a formative experience recently with chasing a plastic bag)

 

7: I could become president and change laws that hurt people and also I can stand up for people who need it and pick up trash on the ground.

 

4: I don't want to tell you

 

7: I would tell people no more cutting down trees unless you absolutely have to

 

4: I just don't know

 

3: (threw herself on the ground and cried)

 

8: One time I found a lost dog and took her back to her family and they were really happy. I really wanted to keep her, though.

 

8: If rich people helped poor people and gave them money so they could at least have things to help themselves.

 

13: *pulls out earbuds* huh? umm I dunno. No, I can't think of anything. (she's in a dark period)

 

8: Stop littering. And stop smoking because it stinks. Oh and don't destroy an animal's habitat just to build your own.

 

10: not eat as much and give food or time to charities.

 

5: Make s'mores

 

8: Picking up trash, not littering, and telling your friends at school to pick up trash.

 

7: have Donald Trump not be president.

 

7: give money to schools.

 

9: Be nicer and donate to food banks.

 

6: Pick up rubbish. (she lives in San Diego, but watches a lot of Peppa Pig)

 

5: Love it.

 

So, adults, take comfort in the fact that these people will be running the world in the blink of an eye. They still have the wide-eyed optimism of youth and we look forward to the squeaky-clean and s’mores-filled civilization they envision.

 

Effective Action on DAPL

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is finally soliciting public scoping comments on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Today, we are asking you to submit your opinions.

Before we get too far, here’s a quick and dirty summary of what the heck is going on. Last year the Corps wrote an National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document called an Environmental Assessment for DAPL, which is a one level of review below an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). By the way, if you’re interested in knowing more about the NEPA and what all the acronyms mean, check out the Council on Environmental Quality.

The Corps issued their permits and construction started. As it approached Corps property (the Lake Oahe dam, this is the “easement” you may have heard about), the protests intensified. Having already issued permits, the Corps had limited options to stop construction, so they denied access to their property.

In response to the public outcry and the brave protesters at Standing Rock, the Corps are starting the process of an EIS. That begins with scoping, where the agency asks for comments on what topics they should address in the EIS. Go here to register your comments.

An EIS - by definition - compares feasible alternatives. The options will probably be

  • A couple of different pipeline alignments, the current one and a new option or two

  • Moving crude oil by rail (already congested and not very safe)

  • Moving it by truck (TERRIBLE).

Living in a world powered by renewables will not be one of those options. The oil is going to move (for more on that, see this ProPublica piece on pipelines in the US). The questions are, what is the best outcome and how can we move towards that?

Regardless of what outcome you support, there are major problems that the Corps needs to address. First, there are spill concerns at Lake Oahe and elsewhere. Second, there are cultural resource concerns along the whole pipeline. The Corps defined their area of responsibility as only where the pipeline crosses their federal facility (two dams/reservoirs). So they didn’t look at most of the alignment, which is where many of the cultural sites are.

To make an effective scoping comment on this project, try a version of one or more of the following points:

  1. The Corps should take responsibility for cultural and sacred sites in the entire project area. Not doing so is inconsistent with 33 CFR 325, Appendix C.

  2. Water quality impacts need to be evaluated in a systematic, conservative way, consistent with the Clean Water Act.

  3. A nationwide permit is not appropriate for a project of this magnitude, and the Corps should prepare an individual permit.

Finally, we ask you to please support the Standing Rock Sioux and the other water protectors. Tribes have historically saved this country from a number of bad environmental decisions, and they are doing it again. We should show our gratitude.

You may have heard that the Trump administration has compelled the Corps to issue their final permit, the easement to operate on their property. It is unclear whether that goes into effect. In the meantime, let’s continue to show our support for the protestors and comment where we can.

 

A Woman Scorned

by Morgan W.

Being cheated on was the best thing that ever happened to me. After seven years of marriage and two kids, my relationship was struck by the breathtakingly violent force of infidelity. The affair had been going on for more than a year. I had a four year old and a one year old at home. I cried and vomited. I laid on the floor and I wanted to die. I hated myself and my spouse. Weeks later, when I surfaced for air, I looked at our lives and I decided to stay.

I took stock of the aftermath. There were huge piles of anger and the trust was shattered to pieces. Everything we had built together lay demolished at my feet. I don’t know why I didn’t give up. It would have been easier, certainly, but I found someone inside myself who was more willful and fierce than I could have imagined. A woman I hadn't met until then. So, fragment by fragment, I rebuilt. It was much more difficult than building the relationship the first time, but I was determined. I had been tested and I wasn’t about to fail. Almost everyone in my life told me to leave, save for a few women who had, themselves, stayed. So, although I sat in the courthouse parking lot more than a few times, I never did file for divorce, and the continued success of my marriage is one of my greatest accomplishments to date. We went on to have another baby and I became a serious distance runner. In the years after the affair, I discovered I could do absolutely anything.

Every day post-election pretty much feels like the weeks following my discovery of the affair. The blanket of depression is occasionally thrown aside by a surge of rage-empowerment and I finally get off the couch. Then I read about another Cabinet appointment or something Kellyanne Conway said and I slink back into the familiar covering. Which feeling will win out? Depends on my frame of mind when you ask, I guess. I’m committed to my marriage and I'm in it for life. I like to think of my country the same way. What it’s done to my family hurts like hell, though.

It’s estimated that up to 60 percent of marriages will be affected by infidelity. It can happen to anyone. It can happen if you are attractive, successful, a perfect Pinterest mother who does whatever it is that you’re supposed to do with shaving cream this week. It can happen if your husband is the president of the United States. As much as I tried to insulate myself from it during the campaign, I saw the memes and heard the derogatory attacks based on Bill’s philandering. If Hillary couldn't keep her husband satisfied, she couldn't handle America. Monica got the job done when Hillary couldn't. Bill chose other women over Hillary and the country should too. More puns on the word "blow" than I care to recount.

Aside from the misogyny and tastelessness of these attacks, I believe the opposite is true. Marital strife has only strengthened Hillary and made the Clinton marriage a force to be reckoned with. Every couple should feel they can take on the world together, but few literally do. People spend a lot of time speculating on why she stayed. It doesn't really matter to me if she loves him or if she's holding him hostage for the rest of his life, Gone Girl-style, or a bit of both. I would guess that everything that has happened in their marriage, has, like all successful marriages, made both of them better and stronger. I like to imagine that he has paid a personal price for his mistakes higher than impeachment or even being the subject of a Beyoncé album, but that’s my own revenge fantasy. Ultimately, we know very little about Hillary’s marriage, or any marriage besides one we’ve actually been in. What we do know for certain is that Hillary is strong as hell, which we see in her post-affair evolution. She rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a fire, witnessed by basically the whole world with access to television, many of whom were merrily roasting marshmallows around it. She thrust herself into the public eye again and again, doggedly pursuing her political career. The story of Hillary as a wife and as a person isn’t about being a victim or an “enabler,” which is also a popular way to deride her for staying. It’s about the might of commitment, perseverance, and unwavering ambition. It’s about turning powerlessness into dominating inner strength. Sure, maybe she already knew she could shatter every glass ceiling she came up against. Maybe she never once doubted she could take on the world. Or maybe, like me and so many other dedicated women I know, she's driven to accomplish the things she has in part because he cheated, and she stayed.

Around 62 million people voted for Donald Trump in last year’s election, stunning so many of us. I often ask myself how Hillary soldiers on, especially now. Somehow she won the votes and still lost, but doesn't seem to have wavered. Does she ever cry like I do or has she figured out a way to harness the power of political victimization the same way she channeled her personal hurt? More importantly, do I have that woman inside me still? I desperately want to take for myself just a tiny piece of her badassery for this resistance. As DGB staff, I try to do all the good I can every day. Like so many other women right now, I want this to be when I rise up and fight like never before. As the saying goes: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But what about a woman scorned by her country? How much fury and strength will she find inside herself then? And I'm not talking about Hillary. I'm talking about me.

 

Take Us Far, Far Away

Most of us at DGB right now are suffering through some serious winter weather as Mother Nature shows her progressive political leanings by turning everything blue. One of the best ways to warm up your mood is to plan your vacation or long weekend, even if you only do it in your head. Since Trump properties are off the list for obvious reasons, we’ve gathered up some resources to help you plan something that doesn’t contribute to the destruction of the planet or your bank account.

 

  • Stay local The positives of a staycation are low use of fossil fuels, less time spent on travel, and discovering new things in your area. Maybe you think you live someplace pretty boring or think you have seen it all. Trust us, that’s not true. Check out your town, city, county, state or Chamber of Commerce website(s) for ideas. There are also countless blogs, Instagram accounts, and Facebook pages to help you find hidden local treasures. A DGB staff member recently spent two genuinely fun days entertaining three children in Yakima, Washington. Yes, Yakima. (She suggests you check out this awesome museum.)

  • Buy from Locals One of the great things about tourism dollars is that they can positively impact all layers of a local economy. So plan to support the mom and pops, the small inns, the Airbnbs, and the non-chain restaurants. If you need extra help or are terrible at any type of planning, take the suggestion of the International Ecotourism Society and think about hiring a local guide.

 

  • Take in America’s National Parks, Monuments, Forests or Recreation Areas In the current political climate, it’s more important than ever to take time to experience the beauty and history our country has to offer. There are nearly 500 Park and Monument sites within the National Park Service, found throughout the 50 states and 5 U.S. Territories. Some of these sites are world-famous, from Yosemite to Shenandoah, Yellowstone and The Everglades. Others may surprise you, like the Nicodemus National Historic Site in Kansas, the “oldest and only remaining Black settlement west of the Mississippi River.” You can even aim to visit one of the five new National Monuments President Obama recently recognized. Find the National Parks Service site closest to you here. If you’re the parent of a 4th grader, homeschool a ten year old child, or you are an active military member, you can get a National Parks Pass for free. Find out more here.
     

  • Go sustainable If you really want to get out of dodge and you have the means to go someplace far away, aim for eco-friendly. Here are some sites that can help you do that:

Book Greener

Glooby


We at DGB can’t help but fantasize of escaping it all to a warm vacation location. A DGB meetup in a sunny place, where we hang out with our fierce friends, with the margaritas flowing as freely as the laughter, where we plan a brighter future for us all.


 

Donate Your Public Transit Card

If you attended one of the over 500 Women’s Marches held across the US, and you have an unused balance on a public transportation card, why not donate the remainder to a shelter or charity that distributes them to those in need of transportation for vital appointments? For those who attended the march in Washington, D.C., Martha’s Table is collecting SmarTrip cards. They can be dropped off or mailed to:

 

Martha’s Table

Attn: Trish/Martha’s Outfitters

2114 14th Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20009

 

For those who attended a march in another city, use this previous Grab to find a shelter near where you marched. Call them and ask if they are accepting donations of unused balances on transit cards and send them in. Keep the momentum of the March traveling forward.

 

We March for Her, Part 5

If you missed Part One, start here.

If you missed Part Two, start here.

If you missed Part Three, start here.

If you missed Part Four, start here.

 

We are all feeling a little emotionally drained and defeated right now. The day we couldn't fathom really happening came and went yesterday, and we are left reeling with the aftermath. There have been immediate changes and executive orders; and, well, it can feel frightening. Daily Grab Back is going to harness all of the strength of these 27 amazing individuals and seek solace in the fact that we know we aren’t doing this alone. We not only have these women to look to, but we also have all of you. You are there with us every single day, Grabbing Back, and we will not back down. It’s not over and you're not alone.

Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith is an author, LGBT activist, feminist, and book publisher for women of color. Barbara was born on December 14, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio, and shares that birthday with her twin sister, Beverly. Their mother was the first in their family to receive a college education and expected the girls to do the same. She died when the twins were nine, and the girls were raised by their aunt and grandmother, who continued to press the importance of education. Barbara received her BA from Mount Holyoke College and her MA from the University of Pittsburgh. Smith co-founded the Combahee River Collective in Boston, and co-authored the Combahee River Collective Statement in 1977 with her twin sister, which was one of the very first examinations into intersectionality and different types of oppressions including racism and heterosexism. It marked the beginning of black women being unapologetic about their sexual orientations and how this related to their social justice work. In 1980, Smith and colleagues founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the very first US publisher for books by women of color. In 1994 Barbara received the Stonewall award for Service to the Gay and Lesbian Community and in 2005 she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. We march for her.

For more information on her life, click here.

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is a feminist organizer, writer, and political activist. Gloria was born on March 25, 1934 in Toledo, Ohio. She attended High School in Toledo and then  Washington DC, where she graduated. She then went on to graduate from Smith College in 1956, and after that spent two years in India as a Chester Bowles Asian Fellow. When she returned she was hired by Warren Publishing as the first employee of Help! Magazine. Gloria would go on to start her own feminist magazine, Ms., with Dorothy Pitman Hughes in 1972 - which was also the year she became the first female to speak at the National Press Club. Gloria has authored many books including “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellion” and “My Life on the Road.” In 1993, Gloria’s concern for child abuse led her to co-produce and narrate a TV documentary called “Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories,” which would go on to win an Emmy. Gloria has been a spokeswoman on all issues of equality including race caste systems, child abuse, and gender roles, and she continues to break boundaries to work on social justice and peace. We march for her.

For more on her life and a complete list of her works, click here.

Hannah G. Solomon

Hannah was born into a large Jewish family of ten children in Chicago, 1858. When Hannah was a child, her parents set the tone for civic engagement, with her mother forming the Jewish Ladies Sewing Society and her father founding the Zion Literary Society. In 1876, Hannah and her sister joined the elite Chicago Women’s Club as the first Jewish women. She married at the age of 21 and went on to have three children with Henry Solomon. In her mid-thirties, she began the work to form the National Council of Jewish Women, with the support of her husband. Then in 1894, the NCJW joined forces with the National Council of Women to work together towards social change. These combined organizations would help set the foundation for the early social welfare system in Chicago. Hannah also worked on instituting Chicago’s first juvenile court system, and worked to improve laws regarding the city's children. Her legacy has had a profound effect on our welfare system, as well as how we now care for Wards of the State. We march for her.

To read more about her life, click here.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman has been referred to as the “Moses of her People.” Harriet was born into slavery between 1820 and 1822 in Maryland. She was named Araminta Ross and her parents were Harriet Green and Benjamin Ross. When Harriet was 12, she intervened while a fellow slave was being beaten after attempting escape and suffered a blow to her head that left her with severe headaches and narcolepsy. Slaves weren’t allowed to marry, but Harriet married a free black man named John Tubman in 1844 and renamed herself Harriet. In 1849, Harriet and her two brothers escaped slavery and went north, using the already existing Underground Railroad. Her husband refused to join her and remarried. Harriet returned to the south at least a dozen times, bringing at least 80 “passengers” on the Underground Railroad to a new life of freedom up north. There was a $40,000 reward for her capture or death put out by slaveowners, but she was never caught and she never lost a passenger. After the war was over, she joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the fight for women’s suffrage. Harriet risked her life over and over to give others a taste of freedom. We march for her.    

For more on her life, click here.

Edith Windsor

Edith Windsor is an LGBTQ activist and a pioneer in operating systems. Edith was born June 29, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Edith’s family was hit hard by the Great Depression when her father lost his candy and ice cream store, as well as their home above it. Edith also experienced anti-semitism at school during that time. Windsor attended Temple University and became engaged to Saul Windsor. They broke off their relationship when Edith fell in love with a female classmate, but ended up getting married, only to result in a divorce a year later when Edith confided that she wanted to be with women. Edith received her Masters in Mathematics from NYU in 1957, afterwhich she began her 16 year career with IBM, where she attained the highest tech position at the company; Senior Systems Programmer. She met Thea Spyer in 1963 and they began dating in 1965. Spyer proposed in 1967 with a circular diamond pin, so as to not give Edith’s sexuality away to her coworkers, and this would lead to what is now referred to as “the very long engagement.” Edith and Spyer fought every step of the way for their right to marry, dealing with difficult health issues along their journey. They entered into a domestic partnership in 1993, when it was first recognized by the state of New York. In 2002 Spyer suffered a heart attack and by 2007, her doctors told her she had less than a year to live. Edith and Spyer went to Canada, where same-sex marriage was legal, and ended their very long engagement in Toronto on May 22, 2007. Spyer passed away two years later and when Edith was denied the right to claim a federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses on Spyers estate, she filed a lawsuit against the federal government that resulted in Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) being found unconstitutional and was issued a tax refund. Edith has been a trailblazer, not only in the tech world, but also for LGBTQ rights. We march for her.

For more information on her life and what she is working on, click here.  

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. When Malala was a young child, she loved to learn and would often toddle into her father’s classroom as he taught. When Malala turned ten, the Taliban took over the valley she lived in and forbade girls from attending school, or doing cultural activities like dancing or watching tv. Suicide bombings were prevalent and the push to suppress girls was at the forefront; by the end of 2008 over 400 schools had been destroyed. In early 2009, Malala started an anonymous blog speaking out against the Taliban and her desires to go to school, and by May she had been forced to evacuate her home and seek safety hundreds of miles away. When she returned a few weeks later to the Swat Valley, she resumed her blogging and began to gain recognition. In 2011, she had been nominated for the Children’s Peace Prize and had received Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize, but unfortunately not everyone loved her message and she was shot in 2012 at the age of 15. Malala was shot three times on her school bus by a member of the Taliban. She ended up in Birmingham, England to receive the best care. She would require multiple surgeries, but despite being shot in the head, she suffered no major brain damage, and after weeks of treatment and therapy, she began attending school in Birmingham. In 2013, she wrote an autobiography “I am Malala; The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban.” She has since started the Malala Fund with her father and works to empower girls and encourage them to be leaders in their countries. Malala fights for education for all girls and believes that they can be an advocate for change in their communities. We march for her.

To learn more about Malala, click here.


We march for them. We march for you. We march for us.

 

We March for Her, Part 4

If you missed Part One, start here.

If you missed Part Two, start here.

If you missed Part Three, start here.

 

Yuri Kochiyama

 

Yuri Kochiya was an extremely vocal and sometimes controversial Japanese-American political activist. Born to immigrant parents in 1921, her life took a turn, when in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Yuri’s father was falsely imprisoned. His imprisonment took such a toll on him that he died the day after he was released, and Yuri and the rest of her family became some of the 100,000 people forcibly relocated to US Japanese internment camps. After WWII, she and her husband (whom she met during her family’s 3 year internment) eventually moved east to Harlem, and it was there that she became deeply involved in the civil rights movement, and in opposition to the Vietnam war. Her activism was influenced by meeting and becoming friends with Malcolm X in 1963, and at that time she began to focus on Black nationalism and separatism. She went on to agitate for reparations and a government apology for the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and partially in response to her efforts, President Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act in 1988 which included reparations. After September 11th, Yuri was involved in activism opposing the profiling of and bigotry against Muslims, Middle Easterners, and South Asians that became more intense after the attack. Her relentless work on behalf of social justice for People of Color, especially Asian-Americans, continues to inspire activists today. We march for her.

 

For more on her life, visit here.

 

Winona LaDuke

 

Winona LaDuke is an environmentalist, an economist, and an activist for issues involving tribal land claims and preservation. She was born in 1959 to an Ojibwe father, actor and activist, and Jewish mother, artist and teacher, both of whom she credits for her activism. At Harvard in the late 70s, early 80s, she first became active in the school’s Indian political community, and at age 18 she addressed the United Nations on Indian issues. Winona graduated with a degree in rural economic development, and moved to the Ojibwe White Earth Reservation in Minnesota to become principal of the high school, eventually gaining a Masters Degree in Community Economic Development through distance-learning at Antioch College. There she founded the Indigenous Women's Network in 1985, and worked to bring awareness to the forced sterilization of Native American women. In 1989 she formed the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which is working to reclaim land that belongs to the Anishinaabeg people, reforest the land, create jobs on the reservation, and bring back wild rice cultivation. In 1996 and again in 2000, LaDuke ran as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Green Party. Today Winona works with the organization she helped found, Honor the Earth, doing speaking engagements all over the country on the topic of the Native environmental movement. Winona is currently standing with the Standing Rock water protectors, against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and against our environmentally-toxic reliance on fossil fuels. We march for her.  

 

To learn more about Winona LaDuke, go here. To find out about her current projects, go here.

 

Audre Lorde

 

Audre Lorde is a black feminist/womanist poet and activist. She was born in Harlem in 1934 to Caribbean immigrants. She learned to read and write at age four. When someone would ask young Audre how she was feeling, she would respond by reciting a poem. In grade school, when other people’s words no longer sufficed, she began writing her own. She went to Hunter College and then Columbia University, earning a degree in library science. She worked as a librarian for many years while continuing to write poetry and be involved in the civil rights, antiwar, and feminist movements. In the sixties she also began to write about her different identities as a black woman, a feminist, and a lesbian. Her poetry was being published regularly in literary magazines and anthologies, garnering her a National Endowment for the Arts Grant and finally a poet-in-residence position at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. She would go on to teach at John Jay College and Hunter college. Her writing won her acclaim and in 1973 Audre’s third volume of poetry, From a Land Where Other People Live, was nominated for a National Book Award. Black Unicorn (1978) is considered by some critics her best work. In 1980 she published a book of essays about her battle with breast cancer, The Cancer Journals, and in 1991 she was named New York State’s Poet Laureate. Audre died in 1992 of cancer, which had spread to her liver. Audre’s writing, both prose and poetry, focused on the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality. She gave voice to the complexities of motherhood and family, the complications of multiple and shifting identities, and global politics. She was one of the most influential and outspoken critics of the lack of intersectionality in mainstream, especially academic, feminism. We march for her.

 

To learn more about Audre Lorde and her writing, go here. To see what work is being done today in her name, visit this site.

 

Wilma Mankiller

 

Wilma Mankiller served as the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief for a decade (1985-1995) and oversaw many positive changes for the Nation and its people. Wilma was born in 1945 in Talequah, Oklahoma. In 1956 her family moved to California via the Bureau of Indian Affairs relocation program when the US government claimed the land of 45 Cherokee families in Talequah, citing eminent domain for military purposes. In 1963 Wilma married and went on to have two daughters. At that time she was involved with San Francisco’s Indian Center and became an activist in the late 1960s. She earned her BA in social science from Flaming Rainbow University, and did graduate work at the University of Arizona. In 1977 she divorced and moved back to OK with her daughters, and sought an entry-level position in the Cherokee Nation. By 1983 she’d risen to deputy chief of the Nation, and in 1985 she became principal chief. Despite the challenge of being a woman in a male-dominated arena, Wilma would go on to run two successful re-election campaigns, finally choosing not to run a third time for health reasons. Until her death in 2010, she remained active in the fight for Native American and women’s rights. Mankiller accomplished so much during her leadership including the following: the Cherokee Nation’s population swelled from 55,000 to 156,000, the tribal high school in Talequah was reopened, a hydroelectric facility was built, the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department was founded, and relations between the Nation and the US federal government were strengthened. We march for her.

 

To learn more about Wilma Mankiller, click this.  

 

Diane Nash

 

For decades, Diane Nash has been an effective activist, strategist and leader in the civil rights movement, particularly the student’s arm of the movement.  Diane was born in 1983 and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Her grandmother was a particularly big influence on her, instilling in her the self-confidence that would inform her future activism. When she transferred from Howard University in Washington, DC to Fisk University in Nashville, TN, she came face-to-face with the full effect of Jim Crow laws. The outrage of segregated bathrooms and the like sparked the beginning of her activist career. She soon became a leader and a spokesperson for non-violent civil disobedience, such as the Nashville sit-ins that eventually spread to 69 other cities across the US and directly led to the desegregation of Nashville lunch counters. In 1960, after heeding the call from NAACP leader, Ella Baker, for students to follow their own principles and path, Diane co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  She also worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); and with the Congress of Racial Equity (CORE), coordinating the Freedom Riders and their non-violent protests against state segregation of interstate buses and facilities. SNCC, SCLC, CORE, and the NAACP would come to be known as “the big four” civil rights organizations. In part due to Diane’s repeated successful organization, these groups finally got a seat at the table. In 1963, President Kennedy appointed Diane to a national committee to prepare civil rights legislation, the outcome of which was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We march for her.

 

To learn more about Diane Nash and the Freedom Riders and to watch the PBS film, click here.

 

Sylvia Rivera

 

Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of Venezuelan and Puerto Rican descent, was a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, and a co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front, Gay Activist Alliance (GAA), and the Street Transvestite/Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR). Born in 1951 in New York City, Sylvia’s home life, as it was and is for many trans people, was difficult. By age 11 she was living on the street and working as a prostitute, eventually taken in by the drag queen community. Her earliest activism was with the civil rights movement, but she was also became involved with the anti-war and feminist movements of the 1960s. Her persistent focus in all her work was the intersection of race, income, and gender in gay rights activism, and she fought tirelessly against the erasing of the most marginalized groups - homeless, people of color, drag queens and transvestites - from the movement as it sought mainstream support. In 1970 she co-founded STAR to help homeless queer youth of color on the streets of New York, and resurrected it again in 2001 to work on more overtly political action. In 1986 the New York City Gay Rights Bill was passed, in part due to Sylvia’s hard work with GAA. At the 2000 Millennium March in Italy, Sylvia was hailed as “the mother of all gay people” for her work. Even as she lay dying in 2002, she met with leaders of the Empire State Pride Agenda to push for transgender inclusion in the organization and its agenda. We march for her.


To learn more about Sylvia Rivera’s legacy, go here.

We March for Her, Part Three

If you missed Part One, start here.

If you missed Part Two, start here.

 

Dorothy I. Height (1912-2010)

 

Dorothy I. Height was a prominent civil rights and women’s rights activist. Born in 1912 in Virginia, Dorothy was recognized early on for her talents as an orator and activist. In high school she won a national oratory competition and was awarded a college scholarship. She was outspoken socially and politically as a teen, launching an anti-lynching campaign. Dorothy earned a B.Ed in 1930 and a Masters in Psychology in 1932, both from NYU. Dorothy became a social worker with the YWCA in Harlem. Her activism spurred the YWCA to allow for the integration of all their centers nation wide. Dorothy established the Center for Racial Justice, where she continued her work fighting against racial injustice and for women’s equality. In 1963, Dorothy was one of the organizers for the March on Washington and although she stood with Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy was not invited to speak. This event furthered her resolve for the need for women’s rights activism, and in 1971 she help found the National Women’s Political Caucus.  President Obama has called Dorothy “the godmother of the civil rights movement.” We march for her.

 

Read more about Dorothy I. Height here.

 

bell hooks (1952-)

 

bell hooks is an activist, writer and scholar, best known for her work regarding black women and their perception in American society. Born in the deep south in a culture rich in segregation and patriarchy, bell sought to liberate herself from the confines from which she was born. The criticism she faced for being outspoken almost dissuaded her from expressing herself through writing. However, using the name she chose for herself, bell was able to construct a new persona from which she would draw strength and create distance from disapproval and oppression. bell has written and lectured extensively on the plight of the black woman, who in being excluded from the mainstream feminist movement are often forced to choose between honoring their race or their cause, as they seldom intersect. bell earned a PhD in English at the University of California Santa Cruz and has taught and guest lectured at several universities along the west coast. bell’s work emphasizes the need for solidarity among spheres of gender, race and class. Although some criticize her work as “unacademic,” bell counters that by choosing not to adhere to the rigors of traditional scholarship, she is making her work available to all. bell currently sits as a distinguished professor at Berea College. We march for her.

 

Read more about bell hooks and her writings here.

 

Dolores Huerta (1930-)

 

Dolores Huerta is an activist and labor leader, tirelessly advocating for the rights of migrant workers in America. Dolores, a Mexican-American born in New Mexico, was influenced early in life by her father, who was an assemblyman and union activist. Following in his footsteps, Dolores sought to help protect the rights of non-US migrant workers who faced poor working and living conditions and were targets of racism and violence. In 1960, Dolores started the Agricultural Worker’s Association, lobbying politicians for migrant rights. In the 1970’s Dolores’ work paved the way for legislation to pass which allowed for the collective bargaining rights of farmers. Dolores’ activism championed for comprehensive immigration policy and improved health conditions for farmers and migrants. Huerta’s work has earned her the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom and she has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Today, the Dolores Huerta Foundation offers support and training to low-income communities.  Dolores continues her role as an activist and lecturer on social issues including immigration, income disparity, and the rights of women and Latinos. We march for her.

 

Read more about Dolores Huerta here.

 

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)

 

Marsha P. Johnson was a trans woman who became a prominent member of the New York City LGBTQIA community, and who was one of two founding members of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) as well as an active member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Born in 1945 in Elizabeth, NJ as Malcolm Michaels, by the time Marsha moved to Greenwich Village in 1966, she was living her life primarily as Marsha. No stranger to the hardships of homelessness, bigotry and violence plaguing many members of the Trans community in New York at the time, Marsha put herself in the center of the activist movement. STAR sought to keep Transgender people off the streets and to protect them against the violence and intolerance they were often victims of. In 1975 Marsha became a subject for a series of paintings and portraits by Andy Warhol, putting her on public display as an icon of trans femininity. Marsha died in 1992, her body found floating in the Hudson River. The police speculated suicide, but those who knew the violence and vitriol Marsha faced as a public trans figure feared something worse had happened to her. Today, her death remains a mystery. We march for her.

 

Read more about Martha P. Johnson here

 

Barbara Jordan (1936-1996)

 

Barbara Jordan was a lawyer and politician, earning her place in history by becoming the first black female senator in Texas. She went on to be elected to Congress in 1972, again a historical post for a black woman from the deep south. Barbara earned her law degree from Boston University in 1959. Her involvement in the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy helped to launch her career into politics. Barbara favored a political ideology of working within the existing power structures and staying community minded, something that sometimes earned her criticism from civil and women’s rights activists. In 1974 Barbara earned acclaim as a member of the Judiciary Committee with her pointed and insightful questioning of President Nixon during the Watergate investigation. Her impassioned remarks championing the constitution inspired the nation. When Barbara left politics she returned to Texas as a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Barbara Jordan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We march for her.

Read more about Barbara Jordan here.

 

 

We March for Her, Part Two

If you missed Part One, start here.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson was a writer, ecologist, and scientist who called for drastic changes in the way humankind interacted and viewed the natural world. Rachel was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. Her love for nature was cultivated at an early age and she would eventually study marine biology, graduating from Johns Hopkins University with an MA in zoology in 1932. Rachel originally wrote books and pamphlets on marine life and conservation, working for the U.S. Bureau of Fish and Wildlife. Her books such as The Sea Around Us (1952) and The Edge of the Sea (1955) both won awards and became quite popular, encouraging her to leave her government job and become a full time writer. Her book Silent Spring, written in 1962, completely changed the way people thought about pesticides. She was called an alarmist by some, but courageous by others. A year before she passed away from breast cancer in 1963, Rachel testified before congress calling for better policies to protect human health and the earth. We march for her.

For more information on Rachel Carson’s life and a complete list of her works click here.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm was an author and the first black female congresswomen of the United States. Shirley was born on November 30th, 1924 in Brooklyn, NY. She spent some of her childhood in Barbados with her grandmother and graduated from Brooklyn College in 1946. She began teaching and went on to get her MA in elementary education from Columbia University. Chisholm made history in 1968 by becoming the first black female congresswoman of the United States. She went on to serve seven terms, representing the state of New York. She fought for education and employment opportunities, as well as authoring two books: Unbought and Unbossed (1970) and The Good Fight (1973). Shirley shattered glass ceilings and even had a presidential run in 1972. She passed away in 1980 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2015. We march for her.

Read more about Shirley Chisholm here.

Angela Davis

Angela Davis is an academic scholar, author, and political activist. Angela was born on January 26th, 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager in Alabama, she formed interracial study groups that were targeted and broken up by the police. She also grew up with several of the girls killed in the Birmingham Church Bombing of 1963. Davis moved to Massachusetts to attend college, continuing on to San Diego as a graduate student.  In San Diego she joined the Black Panther Party, and the all-black branch of the communist party, the Che-Lemumba Club. Davis began teaching at UCLA, but ran into trouble because of her political ties. She spent 18 months in jail after being charged with aiding a prison escape, but was acquitted after it was found she had nothing to do with the escape. She has authored five books including Angela Davis; an Autobiography (1974) and Women, Race, and Class (1983). Davis ran on the Communist Party ticket as Vice President in 1980 and 1984. She has been an outspoken activist for the abolition of the current prison system, calling it the new form of slavery in the United States. She is currently the Professor Emeritus of History and Consciousness and Feminist Studies at University of California at Santa Cruz, and continues to be an activist and lecturer. We march for her.

For more information on Angela Davis’ life and a complete list of her works click here.

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a pioneer for transgender activism. Born on the southside of Chicago on October 25th, 1940, Major came out to her parents at the age of twelve. She began taking hormones and eventually moved to New York City. Miss Major and other transgender women were a major factor in the Stonewall riots in NYC, but transgender participation has been erased from its history and credit has been given primarily to white, gay men. Miss Major became an activist after a friend was murdered and the police refused to investigate, reporting the death a suicide. Miss Major moved to San Francisco and took on the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, eventually forming the Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center in the 1990s. Miss Major was an advocate for transgender rights in the prison system helping women upon release and exposing the injustices they faced while incarcerated. In 2003, Miss Major joined the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project and later became the executive director. She is a fierce advocate in her community, a ray of hope for transgender women of color, and is lovingly referred to as both Mama and Grandma Major. We march for her.

Read more about Miss Major Griffin-Gracy here

LaDonna Harris

LaDonna Harris is a Comanche Native American social activist and politician. LaDonna was raised during the Great Depression and watched as her people faced huge cultural upheavals including land allotments, boarding schools, and urban relocation programs. After marrying an up-and-coming politician, Fred Harris, LaDonna began dipping her toes into activism. She was rejected by the Junior League of Oklahoma for her Comanche heritage and decided to form the national organization Americans for Indian Opportunity. She moved to Washington DC and was invited to the Oval Office by Lyndon B Johnson and immediately started teaching a series to members of congress called “Indian 101;” this series would last over 30 years. LaDonna spent her time working tirelessly to return land to native nations, helping tribes gain national recognition, forming the National Women’s Political Caucus and National Urban Coalition, and even ran for vice president on the Citizens Party ticket. LaDonna currently works to bring young professional Native Americans to the capital to be ambassadors for their nation. We march for her.

To watch a PBS documentary on her life and read more about LaDonna Harris, click here.