BlogHer '14 Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Feminism & the Internet

Last month I had a change to participate in a conversation around gender, race, feminism, and the internet at a conference called BlogHer. This conversation happened before the events in Ferguson, Missouri and is all the more relevant now. It's available to watch and I thought I would share it.

“Intersectionality,” is a term (coined by Black legal scholar KimberlĂ© Crenshaw in 1989) that captures how multiple forms of oppression, multiple –isms, can be experienced simultaneously, as in an intersection, when traffic can come at you from four different directions. The closing keynote at BlogHer '14 brought together seven women with passionate voices to discuss intersectionality and the Internet. Moderated by Cheryl Contee with guests; Feminista Jones, Kelly Wickham, Kristen Howerton, Grace Hwang-Lynch, Patrice Lee and Natalia Oberti Noguera.


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What I Want You To Know About Being A Safe Family

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Anonymous Writer. 

Every night I rock a baby to sleep that isn't mine. I won't be keeping her. My job is to love her right now until her mom comes back for her. It's also my job to hold her older siblings while they cry themselves to sleep because they miss their mommy and want to be with her, not us, even though they've been with us more in the past year.

I want you to know what it's like to be a Safe Family. We're not foster parents. We're not doing this because we want to expand our family or because we get paid from the state. In fact, we don't get paid at all. Most of the families we've worked with have some benefits (WIC, food stamps, daycare benefits) but we never actually use those. We could use the daycare but we don't. We have four kids and because of their adoptions, we have dealt with trauma and attachment for the past several years. While we didn't want to expand our family we did know that there were kids who need a safe place to land short term. We felt like we would be prepared.

We weren't.

I don't know that we ever could have been. Safe Families is a voluntary program, where parents or caregivers contact them to ask for help. The family is in some sort of crisis and the kids need care. Everything is still done through social workers but there is not the involvement of children's services and with our experience they tend to not be as overwhelmed. But the kids are still coming from unimaginable circumstances right in our own Midwestern, fairly high income city.

What I want you to know is that tonight there are three extra kids sleeping in my house because their mother is homeless. She is young, has no family, and has three children under the age of five. I want you to know that we get, on average, seven emails a week about kids who need placements from Safe Families and I fight between wanting to take every child and wanting to ask them to stop emailing me. I want you to know that I have wondered whether or not it's appropriate to ask the mother of my extra kids if she would consider adoption because they've been here for months and we love them and every time they call me Mama my heart aches. (Side note : It is NOT appropriate and I would never do it.)

I want you to know that this morning they emailed about a 14 year old girl who is pregnant with her second child and getting kicked out of her home. She's willing to live on the streets but wants a placement for her children. I want you to know that even though I knew this happened here I cannot wrap my head around that.

I want you to know that foster parents don't get us because we don't have to deal with the court system and all the lingo that goes along with it. It's kind of a no man's land in adoption. Terminating parental rights or making a plan for adoption is rarely ever a goal. We just keep moving along, providing a home and a family for these kids and hoping their mom will step up and follow her plan. I want you to know that we've had family members tear us to shreds for this, saying that we've adopted four times so we've "done enough about that whole orphan thing."

I also want you to know that this isn't really tough. We get an email, we discuss whether or not we would be willing to take the placement, we email a response. Within a few hours we usually hear back and if that placement is going to happen, it usually happens within the week. Our social worker visits once a week to check on everyone. Respite care is available whenever we need it. All things considered, this feels like the best way to help those kids who are falling through the cracks in our own community.

But it is hard too, even though I just said it isn't. It's hard to welcome another child or more children in to our home. It's hard to say goodbye to them. After having these three kids here for so long, even though I love them, I am longing to have my family back to normal. But whenever I think about packing away their things I want to sob. These three kids have been knit into the fabric of our family and we love them dearly. I can't imagine not having them here.

Still, we are a Safe Family. This is what we do. We have become part of a community safety net and for better or worse, this is where we will remain.

For more information about Safe Families, please visit : http://www.safe-families.org/

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Is a college degree still worth it?

This post was sponsored by Scholarshare.


Mark Zuckerberg didn't finish college. Neither did Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. But chances are, someone at my local Starbucks DID finish college…and now she's putting her degree to work making lattes.

As for me, I attended both college and grad school. I have a master's degree. But do you know where the bulk of my income comes from these days? My blog.

I didn't go to college to learn how to be a blogger, because blogging didn't exist in those days. I have a degree in musical theater that I only use in the car or in the shower when I'm busting out some showtunes. I have a degree in psych and only a tiny foot still in the door of that world.

Is a college degree still worth it? It's a question we asked ourselves before opening Scholarshare 529 college savings accounts for our kids. Tuition is through the roof. Wages are falling. Student debt is at an all-time high, and most college grads leave school with thousands of dollars in student loans. And this book says 36% of college students don't demonstrate any significant improvement in their learning while attending a university.

Would my kids be better off entering a non-degree training program for a specialized skill, like computer coding? I'd hate to spend all that money only to end up with a kid who isn't using a degree that cost more than my car.

I think that's still a question every family has to answer, but for us, the answer is still yes.
  • A recent report shows a 14% to 15% rate of return for a bachelor's degree since 2000. That's still a good return on investment, any way you look at it. 
  • People with a college degree earn 84% more over their lifetime than those who only have a high school diploma. 
  • In 2013, those who had a four-year degree averaged 98 percent more an hour than people without a degree. 
  • Overall, unemployment is lower for college grads than it is for high school grads. Some majors and careers—like engineering, business, healthcare, and computer science—have even better potential.
So you can save for college and pay all those skyrocketing costs but have better earning potential over your lifetime. Or you can avoid those costs, skip college, and earn less over your lifetime.

It's not right for every personality or every kid, but I know which path I'd choose for my own children. The one with a greater potential reward. To end up with a well-paying career, college seems the path with the least risk and greatest upside.

I'm an educator. I believe in the power of education to teach people to think critically, to open their minds to new ideas, and to prepare for the workforce. Education stimulates you to ask questions and evaluate concepts. It helps you make connections. It exposes you to fantastic resources and greater opportunities. Our economy today isn't based on manufacturing like it used to be—it's now based on knowledge and information. College is a foot in that knowledge economy door. So I think college is valuable…but I don't think it's worth going into extreme debt in order to pay for it. Especially for some majors. (I'm not sure a $100,000 degree in French Literature is going to pay off.)

But I do think it's worth it to save for some kind of post-high school education for my kids, whether it's a certificate from a community college to a master's degree like mine. Scholarshare 529 accounts can be applied to all of those scenarios.

That's why we did it for our four kids.

What's your view? Is a college degree still worth the money? Will you encourage your children to pursue a four-year education?



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That's what SHE said: high-maintenance kale, Wes Anderson childbirth, a cop's take on Ferguson, and more . . .



Why Does Kale Taste Like Dreams Deferred? | Awesomely Luvvie

I am not here for Kale apologists and I don’t believe in your ministry. You know the people who just insist that you haven’t found someone to cook it right. Is this leaf a magic kettle that you gotta rub perfect so the genie (and good taste) can pop out? That’s too much work! Do I gotta sing kale a heartfelt love song so it can soften up and be delicious? Why must I bribe kale with property and good music before it gets
behavior? It’s so high maintenance. Is spinach busy? Me and spinach can talk because it’s a bit less involved.

A White Cop, A Black Kid, And A Crime | Jamie The Very Worst Missionary

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t lean on statistics that claim black men are more likely to be under-educated, under-paid, or engaged in criminal activity (in order to prove they probably deserved to be shot), and, then, not conclude that our black baby boys are being born into some kind of serious systemic disadvantage. Black children are born at higher risk of poverty and prison, because they are born black. That, my friends, is racism. That is a crime against humanity.


Via Kelly Wearstler

A Cops Take On Ferguson | Daily Kos

But here are a few things that I do know. I know what it’s like to walk around in a Kevlar helmet, gas mask, shield, and baton dressed in riot control gear. It’s hot, it’s frustrating, and most of the time you are just standing around waiting. I know that Protests and Riots are not the same thing and just because someone is protesting the police does not make them a “thug”. I know that the criminals that are using this situation to loot and cause havoc should be arrested and prosecuted period. I know that whether you are a rapper, a teacher, a nun, or a congressmen you should have the same rights. I know that if your police department continues to let the community’s questions go unanswered for days while you post armored vehicles and snipers in their neighborhoods you might not get a very positive outcome. I know that if your unofficial departmental policy is to ignore the underlying problems in a community and never address their actual issues don’t be surprised if protests become riots.

Woman Requests Birth Video To Look Like Wes Anderson Film | Reductress

“I’ve already decided what our opening shot will be,” says Sarah’s husband and director, Chris. “A nurse wearing a neck bow will pass a handwritten note to another nurse wearing a similar neck bow. She opens the note. In handwritten pink-marker cursive we read: It’s time. Then we transition into a tracking shot, slowly moving left from the nurses’ station and eventually revealing the crowning.” The birth soundtrack will consist entirely of 1960s French pop.

For Weary Friends | Austin Channing Brown

Feel every emotion as it courses through your body. No apologies for feeling feelings. Expect America to do better, churches to do better, people to do better, police to do better, politicians to do better. Your expectations of being treated as fully human is not setting the bar too high. Hope for better, even as you prepare your children for a world that fears them. Hope for better even as you delete the hateful comment at the end of your post. Hope for better as you work. For this is what the ancestors taught us to do.


Matt Connors Colored Drawings Maquette, 2011 via Office Baroque

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Eye-witness accounts of Mike Brown's murder, in chronological order. #Ferguson



Today my friend Shaun King put together a chronological account of the eye-witness stories in the murder of Mike Brown. I know that there are some who are confused about the outrage and protests around this case, but I think if you watch this it will give you a better understanding. Note that MOST of these witnesses did not know Mike Brown, which is quite different from the narrative I've seen from some suggesting that all of the witnesses are personal friends who are weaving a story.


Regardless of what kind of struggle ensued, no one deserves to be gunned down or left in the street. This is not how citizens in this country should be treated, and these repeated acts of unnecessary violence towards young black men are why we are angry.

Eye-witness accounts of Mike Brown's murder, in chronological order. #Ferguson

EDITED TO ADD: Another important video to watch, that illustrates the overreach of the police and the disconnect between media coverage and reality.


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