[photo: black and white photo. a piece of paper with black handwriting is posted. text reads, “a revolution is not a spectacle! there are no spectators! everyone participates whether they know it or not”]
“While the deal that Congress passed today to avoid default and raise the debt ceiling is far from perfect, we are pleased that it will maintain $17 billion in funding for the Pell grant program for the next two fiscal years, giving over 10 million young people the chance to attend college. The preservation of the Pell grant in the midst of fierce pressure to cut spending is a testament to the importance and effectiveness of the program itself, and speaks to the dedication and leadership of President Obama and Congressional allies who have fought to create opportunities for low income youth.
We recognize that spending adjustments are necessary in order to protect vital programs like the Pell grant, but we are concerned that a portion of the cost savings from cuts to student loan programs will be applied to paying down the deficit instead of being reinvested in education. Throughout the debt ceiling negotiations, Campus Progress and its partners have emphasized that if our country is to emerge from this economic downturn, we must invest in young people rather than cut valuable programs in order to reduce the deficit.” [Campus Progress, 8/2/11]
The latest debate over the Affordable Care Act’s provision on birth control is how religious institutions can perhaps be exempted from offering no co-pays for women who work for them. Here are two articles that outline the controversy:
From HuffPost Women: Free Birth Control Religious Exemption Coverage Sparks Controversy
Free Birth Control will become a reality in January 2013, but according to this HuffPost Women article, there’s still more work to be done:
Tait Sye, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, said the organization is pleased with the overall victory for women’s health, but “disappointed” that the Health Department is considering proposals that would leave some women out of the birth control coverage. [HuffPost Women, 8/1/11]
So what does this mean for women of color? According to Akiba Solomon, author of: An Obama Victory: Co-Pay Free Birth Control Becomes a Reality for Women
Despite the exemption, I do think the HHS guidelines are a victory for women of color who are disproportionately affected by gestational diabetes, cervical cancer and HIV and who are less likely to breast feed our children. Plus the religious exemption isn’t a done deal. As HHS pointed out in its statement, the agency “welcomes comment on this policy.” Stay tuned for information on where and how to fulfill their wish.
- Let the HHS(The Department of Health and Human Services) what YOU think about this issue, and any other thoughts you may have on this conversation. After all, it affects YOU. Here’s a link to learn more: Planned Parenthood: Victory for women with no co-pays
Dr. Vivian Dellier, Ph.D, recently published an article for HuffPost Women where she questions diversity and beauty in modern America and abroad. Her thought-provoking piece, “What Does it Mean to Be ‘Beautiful’?” was inspired by a few things, one of which being “Beauty CULTure”, a photography exhibition in Los Angeles(on display through November). “Beauty CULTure”(which you can read more about here) examines the evolution of women’s beauty as captured by photography.
Dillier’s piece begins to examine the up and coming popularity of multi-racial, and even “ethnically-ambiguous” beauties—-which she contends, still grapples with questions of women’s’ insecurities and the equally popular rise of plastic surgery. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“I also looked more carefully at the actual survey conducted by Allure in 2011. It was designed to revisit the same question that they had asked their readers 20 years ago — “What is beautiful?” Among the two thousand men and women who responded, the majority said they were eager to see beauty icons who were more like them — of different color, race, size and age — a hopeful turn toward diversity. But upon a closer look, the survey reveals less “colorful ‘stats.
- While 73 percent of women said that a curvier body type is more appealing than it had been in 1991, 85 percent still said they wish their own hips were narrower.
- 93 percent of women said the pressure to look young today is greater than ever before.
- In the 1991 beauty survey, men said women were at their most beautiful at age 31. In 2011, that ideal age had been reduced to 28.
- 86 percent of men said that they wanted to weigh less as compared to 97 percent of women.
- Women listed their top five appealing male attributes as a guy’s face, body type, smile, eyes and height (in that order). Men listed a women’s face, body type, breasts, smile and butt.
In 2011, Allure also announced that Angelina Jolie had replaced Christie Brinkley as the new face of beauty, proclaiming there was “no longer such a thing as an all-American look.” Americans, they said, “have branched out beyond the Barbie-doll ideal and embraced something quite different.”
But true contemporary culture tells us a very different story — as did the “Beauty CULTure.” The Annenberg Foundation newsletter introduced the exhibit saying, “As much as beauty can astonish and inspire, it can also corrupt and subvert, rendering all else — and even itself — broken and obsolete.” Deliberately entitled, “Beauty CULTure,” the show revealed all sides of the beauty world — gorgeous women, but the underbelly as well.” [HuffPost Women, 7/27/11]
When the WCRC first started, we attempted to create a “Redefine Beauty” campaign which would culminate in an exhibition of photos of different types of women that represented our community. While that was unsuccessful(don’t worry, attempt#2 will be coming soon), it raised a lot of questions about how we prescribe various beauty standards on a multi-racial, multi-faceted community of women. Long, dark hair for example as opposed to short, natural hair can often be a point of tension in Black and Latino communities. So what are we so hung up on?
We at the WCRC have been super-interested in this question of prescribing standards of beauty and my favorite term, the “Cult of Effortless Perfection”-which you can read more about in my Record op-ed piece, “Dressing the Part” from November 2010. Women of color feel an insurmountable pressure to represent both their cultural identities and a balanced approach to beauty and sexuality. It’s easy to be labeled a ‘hoodrat’, ‘sellout’, and the ever-wonderful ‘fiesty Latina’(something I personally never get tired of).
In our September 2010 conversation “From Boob Jobs to Weaves and all the Skin Bleaching in Between”, the WCRC hosted an honest and candid conversation about how to translate beauty norms from home to Williams. How much is acceptable, and how much is too much? While this may seem like I’m rambling, I can’t help but feel like Dr. Dellier’s words resonate very deeply in this particular instance. We all want to identify with popular images we see, but we do want them to also be authentically and personally tied to something we are familiar with.
Ultimately, we can use Dellier’s article and survey findings to ask ourselves questions about how we define beauty-as well as the healthiness with which we do it. What things are tied to our cultures? And what things do we choose to pick up on to assimilate with our environments? Then, let’s be frank here: most of the time when we choose to discuss questions of beauty, we commit to very hetero-normative terms and ideology. These are just some thoughts to consider, and I guarantee that this is just one small piece in a larger dialogue. So let’s keep talking.
July 28. 2009: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. Sotomayor would then go on to become the first Latina, and first Hispanic, to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, assuming her role on August 8, 2009. She is the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court bench.
Sonia Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954 in a South Bronx housing project; she would then go on to attend Blessed Sacrament and Cardinal Spellman High School in New York. She won a scholarship to Princeton, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
“She has served as a member of the Second Circuit Task Force on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts and was formerly on the Boards of Directors of the New York Mortgage Agency, the New York City Campaign Finance Board, and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund” [White House Official Press Release, 5/26/09]
While her journey towards the Supreme Court bench was one made difficult by Right-wing critics, she persevered and proclaimed “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life” during a speech at Berkeley in 2001. She also went on to say “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences…our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”[New York Times, 5/14/09]
Learn everything you need to know about her here:
Unabashedly bold and inspiring, we salute you, Justice Sotomayor for becoming a trailblazer for us all.
From The Center for American Progress, Peter Juul reported that:
Last week’s markup of the House’s Foreign Relations Authorization Act was a field day for extreme right-wing gestures on foreign policy and international aid. Conservative representatives passed amendments that would prohibit assistance to countries that take positions at the United Nations opposed to those of the United States, defund the Organization of American States, and cut off funding to specific states from Latin America to the Middle East. [CAP, Peter Juul, 7/26/11]
Keep reading here
*The Center for American Progress is a progressive policy think tank based in Washington DC.
This appeared in the February 1, 2007 edition of Glamour Magazine by Pamela Redmond Satran:
In May of 1997, I wrote this list. I had passed my thirtieth birthday and wanted to tell younger women about the things I really wished I’d had and known by that important milestone. I guess people agreed with what I had to say, because a few years later the list showed up in my e-mail inbox; a friend had forwarded it to me for my reading pleasure, completely unaware that I was the author. After that, every month or two someone would send it to me and I’d immediately hit “reply all” and type, “Hey, that was me! I wrote that for Glamour.” (After a while, I don’t think anyone believed me.) The list became a phenomenon; posted on hundreds of websites, it was attributed to everyone from Jesse Jackson to Maya Angelou to Hillary Clinton. Someone even published it as an anonymously written book. As I read over these lines now, so many of them still seem worth having and knowing—whether you’re 30 or 22 or 75. Being a little older and a little wiser, I’ve plugged in a few new “shoulds.” By all means, add some of your own.
By 30, you should have:
- One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
- A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
- Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
- A purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
- A youth you’re content to move beyond.
- A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
- The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it.
- An e-mail address, a voice mailbox and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you.
- A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
- One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
- A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra.
- Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
- The belief that you deserve it.
- A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
- A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship and all those other facets of life that do get better.
By 30, you should know:
- How to fall in love without losing yourself.
- How you feel about having kids.
- How to quit a job, break up with a man and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
- When to try harder and when to walk away.
- How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
- The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother and the best tailor in town.
- How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
- How to take control of your own birthday.
- That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips or the nature of your parents.
- That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
- What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
- That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long.
- Who you can trust, who you can’t and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
- Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
- Why they say life begins at 30. [Glamour, Paula Redmond Satran, 2/1/07]
Click the link above to read Liz’s blunt and brutally honest article about her personal experiences with having her hair touched and how she sees the racist implications it has. Is this something that you’ve experienced? What are your thoughts?
From HuffPost Women:
When Wendi Deng shock-slapped husband Rupert Murdoch’s pie-throwing assailant with superlative speed on Tuesday, the media reaction was almost as swift and fierce as the woman herself. “Who is this mystery woman?” the internet seemed to cry out. Deng became an instant Twitter sensation, and the subject of subsequent profiles published in England’s most prominent papers, from The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail. Some even attributed the 5 percent spike in News of the World shares to Mrs. Murdoch’s unintentional comedy.
All in good fun, right?
But while the media delights in the slapstick entertainment of it all — from #piegate hash tags and Tiger Mother memes to animated gifs and slo-mo reels — a darker shade colors much of the commentary. In a day and age where Twitter commentators are as influential to public opinion as major news outlets, the sentiment runs the gamut from shock and awe to thinly-veiled racism and xenophobia not seen in New York media since Amy Chua published her “Tiger Mother” excerpt in the Wall Street Journal.
Moments after the incident, the Wikipedia entry on Wendi Deng was updated to:
“Wendi used her ninja background to ward off an attacker during her husband’s questioning… The move is now being referred to as the Crouching Wendi, Hidden Dragon.”
News anchor Katie Couric tweeted:
“Wow wendy murdoch giving whole new meaning to the term tiger mother…insanity!.”
Later the same day, internet rag The Awl published the article “Wendi Deng’s Five Best Enraged Expressions.” Those livid expressions? Screengrabs of Wendi sitting at the Parliamentary hearing simply being… herself.
And today, The Daily Mail ran an article with the headline: “How Rupert’s tiger wife clawed her way up… and caught her billionaire.”
Some of it is admittedly pretty funny. But I can’t imagine any other ethnicity getting the same treatment in the media as Asians have. Let’s put it this way: if Murdoch’s — yes, third, and controversially younger — wife were Nigerian, would the headlines read “Nubian Lioness Wife Roars To Protect Husband”?
Mockery aside, Wendi’s “ruthless opportunist” way and “naked ambition,” as The Daily Mail characterizes her, also reflect a looming Western paranoia of China and of a new world order. Examples of this fear of the reawakening superpower abound in today’s media. For instance, when the results of the international standardized test PISA were published recently, experts were stunned by the Shanghai students’ debut. “I’ve seen how relentless the Chinese are at accomplishing goals, and if they can do this in Shanghai in 2009, they can do it in 10 cities in 2019, and 50 cities by 2029,” a former Department of Education official told The New York Times. For this, the Yale-educated and rags-to-riches Mrs. Murdoch could be the poster child.
In a CNN article titled “Twitter on fire with Murdoch wife Wendi” published yesterday, reader “BPcaresnot” nails this point home when writing that Wendi:
“carries the worst aspects of a lot of modern Chinese women.. aggressive, uncaring. greedy, selfish and cruel.. knowing she can get away with it because western men are like putty in the hands of an Asian hottie.”
Ironically, perhaps the biggest prejudice brews in Wendi’s native country — China. Her righteous right-handed smackdown now considered a source of national pride, Wendi is a viral subject on the internets there. On the website Weibo, user “Jihua” opines that Wendi’s act of defense adds “value to the image of Chinese wives.”
“They have previously proved their ability to cook and run a business. Now they can add bodyguard.”
To Jihua, I say: When did loyal and loving, as is all that Wendi’s act was, not become enough?[HuffPost Women, Youyoung Lee, 7/21/11]