Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chris Brown & Our Responses To Violence

cross posted from my Media Justice column

It would be an injustice to let this week go by without addressing the various forms of media that come into play surrounding Chris Brown. I’m not one who wants to write about him, and this is because there are so many layers to violence, abuse, healing, representations, narratives, and community responses that are at play with him that they can easily get ignored and others may read that as erasure.

For those of you who are not aware of what current event I’m referencing, visit the ABC website,
watch the interview, and read what happened after Brown’s performance this week.

I’ve learned that sometimes the questions are more important than the answers. That is not to say that answers are not important, but asking questions and thinking them over and creating a response centered in healing that results in action is important and critical. Plus, we do a lot, A LOT, of hard work quietly. That’s what thinking and building may look like for some of us. Often answers stem from questions that are posed. So instead of trying to find answers, I’d like to ask some questions and have us think about a few things that are still at play surrounding Chris Brown.

Here are the main areas I’d like for us to question:

1. What timeline or deadline do folks have for healing? Is it different for celebrities or the wealthy (read folks who have access to care in specific ways)?
2. What does it say about our community(ies) when violence is so public?
3. Where are the voices, opinions, questions, and answers of young people?
4. What spaces and communities of healing and support do we create and are a part of establishing?
5. What type of power is connected to violence? How does that power shift?

For many folks, especially those of us who are healing, I think the first question is that there is no deadline or timeline to our healing. We may put it off for decades, yet that does not make the healing any less valid or significant. So I wonder why we think that healing is different for celebrities or the wealthy? I understand how the idea may be connected to class status and access. Yes, it may be easier for someone with more money and access to go to a Caribbean treatment facility versus doing work in their bathroom that is shared by more than two people, or to a basement of a building of worship. Sure, that trip and location sounds a lot more relaxing. However, the work that it takes to heal is no less different based on space and location.

Do we have stereotypes of celebrities and the wealthy that they can heal more quickly than those of us who do not have that status? Why is that? How may these stereotypes be connected to our own healing we do? Perhaps we need these stereotypes to help us heal and cope with our situation and experiences. Yet, what does it do to us when we allow for such us vs. them binaries to exist? How does it isolate us? See our healing as different from theirs?

When violence is public and represented in a particular way, what does that say about our communities? Are we normalizing certain types of violence? Is there complacency that some may become frustrated with? I’d argue that, from experience, sometimes that complacency is a part of the healing process. Sometimes it hurts too much to care. And in these situations it is important to find and have people/places to go to find comfort and to be reminded that our action, even lack of action, does have consequences and specific outcomes we must be aware of. This is when it is important to acknowledge there are various forms of healing and not to prioritize one over the other, as each of us is different.

Trying to find the voices, ideas, and answers of young people in such conversations on violence and media representations is not as much a challenge as it used to be. There are several youth who are creating their own media and posting videos on YouTube or using social media to share their perspectives. I also recognize that in me writing this article, I am also taking up space that could be occupied by youth perspectives. How does my work limit such inclusivity that I argue to want to create? There are times when I tell myself that writing one column a week versus monopolizing an entire virtual space is one thing. That providing an opportunity for folks to share their ideas in comments is part of this space that connect to a larger discussion.

Many of the pieces on Chris Brown in the past 24 hours have not been by youth. Why not?

I’m personally discovering that there are many folks who I have in my network who are defending Chris Brown. I didn’t think this would irritate me as much as it has. I mainly find irritation in their defending of Chris Brown because they identify as heterosexual women of Color, are physically and sexually attracted to Brown, and are raising children. I do realize this is specific to my community. There may be several similarities among many folks who find themselves in support of Brown as well, perhaps they are not teenage girls, perhaps they are adult men.

I’d like to be clear that a major part of my discomfort with the folks in my community sharing their support for him is how they are responsible for other people: their children. I’m also concerned because, like me, we are women of Color and a part of the same community of practice and healing. I realize that part of this discomfort and frustration is in my understanding and expectation of parents. There remain questions for me about how a parent can support a violent act of any sort upon another person’s child. Just as I do not want someone dictating if I should/not have a child I do not think I can dictate to a parent how to raise their child. I can provide my opinion if asked, support, resources, and tips to approaching such conversations. Yet, I realize that I am not going to misuse any power I have to tell that parent what they are doing wrong/right per my standards.

So then, how do some people, especially women of Color who may find themselves attracted to Brown, use their attraction and adoration to ignore and erase his history? Mind you, these are people who may not ever meet or speak with Brown. Yet they are still very much on #TeamBreezy. How may some folks be allowing their imagined physical/sexual connection with a celebrity to guide their stance on issues that affect our community every day? How may this impact the work we can do collectively? Are some folks choosing to remain in a position of oppression and violence?

As a result, I ask questions: What does it mean that we have parents who are supporting violence, abuse, assault, rape, and harming of others, of our communities? Can we really allow ourselves to be surprised to know that parents will support their children, even if they
allegedly raped a 11 year old girl and it was caught on video? Are we as educators prepared to work with the children and parents who share these ideas? How could we begin to prepare?

Also, can we please stop talking about “anger management” as the only solution? As my homegirl
Sofia Quintero has said over and over again: anger management is not what is at issue among folks who are abusers. Such folks know how to manage their anger, they don’t act out at work often, nor in public, many times they wait until they are home or with someone in their family or who they have an intimate relationship/friendship with. So, Brown knows how to manage his anger, he did not act out on stage or with Robin Roberts who interviewed him. He waited until he was in a particular place to act out violently. He made a choice.

How are our choices in violence connected to power? I remember teaching an upper level women’s studies course and listening to a reggeaton song by Ivy Queen. The song was
“La Abusadora.” One of the students shared how she believes, that for many marginalized and historically oppressed women, claiming some level of violence was one of the few forms of power they had. This has stuck with me for almost ten years. It struck me because I thought about the ways I have claimed violence as a form of power. How I have power in other ways now and have not had to claim violence as a form of power. What does it mean that power may be connected to violence because it may be the only form of power someone may have? Do we forget that the power we do have is not always guaranteed based on where we live and who we are?

Which leads me to ask what spaces of healing and support are we working to create? This past weekend was International
Anti-Street Harassment Day. I became familiar with several different outlets and community events occurring all over the world. One such event featured media maker Nuala Cabral who I interviewed last year. Her media focuses on anti-street harassment and useses various forms of media to begin such conversations. She collaborated with several other folks to provide a live performance of her film “Walking Home” as well as participated in community rallies and demonstrations. You can see her documentation of these events at her blog.

Often folks believe that the only “real” way to heal is by seeing and working with folks trained in Western ways of healing and counseling. I know this may work for some folks and I know it may not work for others. As a result I’ve found myself in support of non-traditional and complimentary forms of healing and care. This may be found in circles of support, art therapy, walking, traveling, and doing spiritual work and meditation. All this to say that there is not only one way to heal. There is not one right way to heal. Let’s limit essentializing healing for ourselves, others, and even for celebrities. As I’ve
shared before, I believe there is room for all of us to heal in the best and most nurturing and comfortable ways.

Lots of questions, not many answers. But
asking the questions and talking about them, thinking about solutions and approaches, are important work too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Imma Homo

This video is on fiyah on the internets! I had to share because im in some kind of love with this production and vision. Here's what Rainbow Noise Entertainment is about:

Rainbow Noise Entertainment is a lesbian owned record label specializing in LGBTQ music artist with an independent name and mainstream appeal; But it doesn't stop there... We are also committed to representing LGBTQ dancers, models, comedians, and entertainers with something to be proud of.

Check out their video below. You may follow them on twitter @RainbowNoiseEnt or visit their facebook page. I really dig the contributions, the evolution of the genre, and the representations. Knowing folks will have some stuff, good, complex, and critiques to share, right now I'm just absorbing all the juicy rainbow goodness in!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Our Parents Need Media Literacy Too!

cross posted on my Media Justice column

This site focuses a lot on youth and youth media makers or folks who are creating media with and/or for youth. Yet, this week our editor Emily shared a link that reminded me our parents need media literacy and to be involved in media justice too! The article was published at USA Today columnist Stacy Kaiser who is a licensed psychotherapist, author, and mother. Her article, A few things parents may not know about teens and sex, but should…., was really interesting and many of us wanted to laugh, but knew we couldn’t because, well these ideas are being taken seriously and impact us all!

The article was written because Kaiser read about how youth are reporting delaying sex and more youth are reporting not having sex until later in their teen years. I wrote briefly about this and
some questions and communities the research does not include or address. What Kaiser’s goal in creating her message was is that parents need to know what is really going on with youth trends around sex. She shares some information she has come across through her work as a therapist, a parent, and I’m sure as someone who reads and is connected to some extent with research and ideas that are published.

What many of us, and I say us as including Emily and those folks who responded to her post, find odd is that there are many stereotypes and misinformation that is being shared and applied to an entire group of people: youth. Now, I want to make clear I do not doubt any of these scenarios have occurred, I just doubt how often and what demographic of young people are participating in these activities. The activities Kaiser outlines include: rainbow parties connecting colored lipstick/glosses young women put on and perform oral sex on boys; sex bracelets that resemble rubber colored bracelets many non-profit organizations use to show support for their cause now are used to announce what activity a young person will participate in; and young men cutting holes into the pockets of their pants so that they can fondle themselves or someone else can do so to them.

Now, this article was published this week, however, it could have been written over a decade ago! It kind of reminded me of the ad where the mom is rapping in front of a group how bad drugs are to demonstrate she is comfortable talking about sex for the young man leading the training. The first time I had heard about “rainbow parties” was about ten years ago at a training I was conducting with providers working with youth. The training was for providers all over the state of Maryland, and the person who had shared the story was also in a very suburban and what some may call isolated area of Maryland. As a result, the demographics of the clients she saw were of the same age between 12-18, but they were also from specific class status’ (upper class/wealthy), racial demographic (racially White), and she was speaking about this issue from a heterosexist space.

The second part about wearing bracelets kind of makes me chuckle. Not in a, “that’s so funny youth are doing that,” but in a “grown men have been doing this with bandanas in certain communities for decades!” Not to mention I’m sure we could figure out other ways that people have done such things with other accessories. I think of the stories I have heard over the years about how students who attend private schools try to show their personality when required to wear uniforms. Students at these schools would express themselves with nail polish, socks, and jewelry. Of course, many of these may be stereotypical of a gender expression we would assign to someone who identifies as a woman, but I think today there are more inclusive forms of expression. I also recall a 5 year old episode of “Without A Trace” highlighting a young woman who went missing after she started to wear a nail polish color that announced she was looking for a partner for her first sexual encounter.

Finally, excuse me for thinking that cutting a hole in the pocket of your pants is genius, but I’d like to think that this generation of young men, are not the first ones to think of this. That would be like arguing that this is the first generation to participate in “hook ups” or the first generation to experience teenage pregnancy, economic collapse, and an increase in war veterans coming home with disabilities which impacts sexual and reproductive health as well. We are not. You are not.

So when is something a trend, and when is something and activity people participate in because it’s happened so often?

What is happening is that youth are more vocal and active around their own bodies and claiming the power that you each have over your bodies as your own. This is phenomenal! At the same time I think it scares and intimidates a lot of parents and caretakers.

I think this article, above all else, shows us how disconnected some older folks are or can be when it comes to working with youth regarding sexuality, sexual health, and choices we have. It also highlights heterosexism as the first and third examples are in a heterosexual scenario that not only isolates and ignores youth who may identify as anything other than heterosexual, but it also results in young women being seen as the problem as they are the ones who are performing/initiating in each example.

Let’s tease these out a bit more. The heterosexism many readers already understand and many of us already work to challenge in our everyday lives. Yet, have we thought about asking our parents, caretakers and mentors to also challenge themselves? I have often found myself intimidated by folks who are my mentors or parents and afraid to disappoint them. Yet, when we believe in something, and want to share and produce new knowledge, sometimes it means challenging folks who have trained, support, or cared for us. Sometimes standing up for and by our convictions and values does not always have a nice ending, there are consequences to our activisms. Those endings can be sticky, uncomfortable, and some may feel sad. My experience has shown me that when I do stand by what I believe no matter what situation I end up feeling better later on because I did what was right and came genuine to me. My hope is that for those of you reading may this also be the experience you have when encountering such challenges, no matter what your perspectives.

Back to the heterosexism: we know that these scenarios isolate queer youth or those that don’t identify as heterosexual. This is in no way the best or most effective strategy. Had Kaiser wrote her article using gender-neutral language, which we know she can do as the entire second example of wearing bracelets is gender-neutral, I think the effectiveness would have been greater, and included a larger audience of readers. Yes some boys put on lipstick and lipgloss, some may wear bracelets, and skirts not pants. Plus, some people with a penis do not identify as boys or young men, so the idea of them cutting a hole in their pants may not connect for some, nor would wanting folks to touch them if it is something they do not feel is genuine and definitive of who they are. It could have been a fabulous opportunity to have had a conversation that was more inclusive versus divisive.

I also read the article as blaming and putting more responsibility on the actions of young women. I’m not sure if others had this similar reactions, but it really came off to me as a “girls are making poor decisions” while boys are “getting serviced” or are being “crafty.” This continues to perpetuate the idea that anyone who identifies as a young women are ignorant, impressionable, and need to be “saved.” It totally doesn’t give anyone who identifies as a young women the power and support they need to make the best decisions for them at any moment. It also does not allow for people who identify as young men to be in any situation other than one of power and privilege. What if a young person is being assaulted or harassed? Would they feel comfortable sharing that a girl made that hole in the pants pocket and would they be believed?

I’d like to think that if this article were to be updated messages such as this one by students at Wesleyan University who created the video below about sex and sexual health:

In order to "balance the budget" the House of Representatives recently announced the intention to strip all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. This is unacceptable. It's time to face reality: many young people have sex, and need to know how to stay safe and healthy. Even those who have chosen to wait still need to know how to be safe and healthy when begin their sexual activity. This extreme ideological measure threatens our youth's ability to choose their own future.

In many parts of America, Planned Parenthood is the only place young people can go to learn about safe sex, access contraceptives, or have a simple question about "down there" answered.

With all the rhetoric centering on "government waste," Congress's refusal to close multi-billion dollar corporate tax loopholes and instead eliminate essential, multi-million dollar sexual health programs is beyond hypocritical.

We are starting a student movement to make sure elected leaders know: Americans have sex, and we stand with Planned Parenthood.
Their video is called: "I Have Sex" — students speak out against ideological attack on Planned Parenthood.

Or perhaps parents could also discuss how refreshing it is to have a young woman of Color modernizing messages about “girl power” from the 90s and agency in 2011 as Willow Smith is doing with her music and representations in her videos. Check out her latest “21st Century Girl.”

Tell me what you think: have you spoken to your parents about such experiences or have they tried to talk to you? What would media literacy and justice look like for our parents and mentors? Do you think they are ready to learn from us

Monday, March 14, 2011

What Is Appropriate For A Human Sexuality College Course?

cross posted from my RH Reality Check blog

What is considered appropriate when in a college classroom, especially one dedicated to human sexuality? I think about this often; this idea of “appropriateness” and how it is connected to power, especially my power as the professor. When my homegirl Jenny sent me a story about a Northwester psychology professor, J. Michael Bailey providing students with an optional after-class demonstration of a woman being sexually penetrated to orgasm by a sex toy, this question arose again for me.

My initial reaction was to ignore this story. I thought: “I don’t really care all that much what other professors do in their classrooms.” But then, I quickly caught myself and I realized that I do really care how what goes on in other classrooms because they may impact what I do in my own. I think of the young woman in my class this semester who was told by another professor she wasn’t allowed to come to class because she hadn’t paid her tuition bill in full, as a result the young woman missed all of her classes for a week. The professor was wrong to tell her this, we were told not to tell students they could not come, yet this professor did the opposite and as a result the student was not present in my class either a week before midterms were to begin.

It’s important what other professors do in their class. It is important to me what professors do in their classes, especially if their students enter my class, but also because I value education and there may be a lot of unlearning we may have to do together.

So, in reading the events that took place and the responses from the Northwestern community, faculty, and administration a few things stand out to me. First, this is a college that seems to have merged the importance of teaching with the importance of research. One description of the campus from the website reads:

Northwestern University combines innovative teaching and pioneering research in a highly collaborative environment that transcends traditional academic boundaries. It provides students and faculty exceptional opportunities for intellectual, personal and professional growth in a setting enhanced by the richness of Chicago.

After spending my undergraduate time and then a short time in a PhD program (which I did not finish but earned another master’s degree) at the University of Maryland, I realized very clearly this is a research university. I was able to tell the difference clearly only after my first master’s degree from NYU, a teaching college. The focus on teaching versus research at NYU, or rather the centering of training educators to be educators and then do research in my department, was clear to me. I felt more comfortable and in the right place. At a research institution, where research is centered and pushed first then education, I was quickly out of my element and lost.

I know there are people who excel in research centered higher ed, and then there are folks like me who are more comfortable in teaching centered spaces. As a result, I believe Professor Bailey had education and teaching at the center of his after-class demonstration.

Second, the topic of age and consent are important. I know very well that my introductory courses have students who are just turning 17 (yes they were born in 1994, talk about feeling old, I REMEMBER 1994 very clearly!), yet it is rare when the 200-and upper-level courses I teach (one the Sociology of Human Sexuality at the 300 level) has students under 18 years old. As a result, the students who chose to attend class were consenting adults. And don’t we, as sexual health professionals, educators, activist, focus on consent? Don’t we envision and hope for a world where people are given options and information to make the best decision for them and that is consent and we must respect it? I think so. I hope so. And I think just as much as exchanging a bodily fluid or a sexual encounter with someone requires consent, so does watching a sexual encounter, and that consent is just as important and in no way less valuable.

Educational value is another component that I think of. Many folks could sit in one of my classes and argue that my centering the (Dave) Chappelle Show season 2 to discuss issues in sociology is inappropriate and lacks educational value. They could definitely make this argument regarding language as I teach at a Catholic college. However, I argue that the value in incorporating such images and narratives is to help my students gradually build media literacy skills, to be critical of representations they often interact with (although the skits are now almost 7 years old!) and deconstruct them so they can make sense of the world based on their values and beliefs. I believe that it is our responsibility as professors to share information, challenge students to examine information and texts, and help them understand their dis/comfort with various topics. One of the items I write in my syllabus and share with my students at the beginning of and throughout the semester is that we will discuss topics that are going to be uncomfortable, controversial, and may make them experience a range of feelings and emotions and all of these are valid. Professor Bailey made asimilar statement in his syllabus.

Third, the educational value of having a live action demonstration is numerous. I think many students can learn about how human sexual response works, or doesn’t in some folks who are experiencing different challenges. There is also the value of understanding how some forms of adult toys can be used or misused. The focus on female sexual pleasure is one that I find extremely useful and one that is often mystified,pathologized, or simply ignored. I wonder how some of the negative responses may be connected to disapproving of female sexual pleasure, or the idea that a woman can experience pleasure on her own.

This of course is connected to an attempt to normalize masturbation. I would hope that promoting masturbation, one of the safest sexual experiences we can promote with one of the most important sexual partner we will have, would be supported. Then there is the idea that nudity can be comfortable. In a society where people are being bombarded with drastic weight loss commercials, plastic surgery for genitals, and a general focus on standards of attraction and beauty, nudity seems to be promoted as acceptable only for a select few. What if our society had more young people and adults who found pride in their nude bodies versus flaws? Imagine how this could have a positive impact in self-esteem, mental health, and reduce various forms of stress.

Let us not forget that such demonstrations are not rare. They were often how early sexuality research and training were provided decades ago. Plus,Annie Sprinkle centered her work on providing demonstrations to audiences using her own body as a model for understanding the vulva, vagina and cervix.

Finally, I believe the educational value of this after-class demonstration helps to make clear that sex work is work. If the sex work being seen is from the perspective of a adult toy creator/developer or someone who may be a performer/educator/sex surrogate (I don’t know the background of the woman providing the demonstration), all of these, to me, fall under the category of sex work.

At the end of the day, for me, the issue is that this being at an institution for higher education is a privilege and one that comes with various forms of experiences and responsibilities. The idea of deciding as a professor what is appropriate comes with responsibility. I believe that Professor Bailey made an appropriate demonstration available to students in a class that focused on the subject of sexuality at a university that welcomes various opportunities for their students. He has provided an educational opportunity that speaks to the campus goal of “transcend traditional academic boundaries.” I don’t know if I had the same opportunity if I would make a similar decision, but then again I don’t have full professor status, tenure, or desire that specific status.

I’d like to hear what others think about this topic. I’m sure, as usually happens, with more time other topics make come up that will impact my perspective. Yet, as of now, I feel confident in the three areas I’ve mentioned, but would like to hear others share.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Charlie Sheen Inspired This Post!

cross posted from my Media Justice Column

This is not an article about Charlie Sheen. Instead this article uses the conversations and reporting around Sheen to bring to light ableist language that is being used. My hope is to have us all think about how language is alive, and how we can make good decisions to use language that is effective yet does not oppress or isolate others.

I’ve heard all sorts of terminology around what is going on with Charlie Sheen, most overly used being “crazy,” “nut,” “loony,” and “lost/losing his mind.” Folks are also using other terms, more profane, in addition to these. What strikes me is the obvious misuse of certain terms when it comes to mental illness and disability. I have been working on this myself, especially since my mother was recently diagnosed with dementia, and thinking about what that means for my future mental wellness. I am not without misusing these terms either, however, now that these terms impact me and my family and the community I’m a part of, I’ve learned. I’ve made the conscious choice to learn and do things differently and treat language as an important part of the work I do. It’s a struggle, it’s not always easy, but it’s something I’ve committed myself to doing and it’s a process.

Caring for an aging parent really puts disability in context, especially for someone like me who enjoyed almost 25 years of being able-bodied. When I was disabled and could not walk for extended periods of time I was very isolated and had lots of time to think. It was then that I realized that being able-bodied was temporary, that I will always now be someone with a disability and how that will impact my life. How to move through the pain that is very real and impacts my sense of self and gender expression; how to cope with my body changing because of lack of movement, were all things that came at me very quickly because I was never prepared to think about such things. This is because we live in an ableist society.

Our society, and many all over the world, privileges people who are able-bodied. Yes, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act, and yes some forms of limiting access are illegal, yet that does not eliminate the prejudice that can, and often does, follow. So, as Sheen’s actions are televised and shared virtually, so are the insults, name-calling, and isolation. The ableism spreads quickly without critique or mention.

Folks, please be aware of the ableist language you use and how it harms us all. Using terms that oppress others who are living with mental illness is not trendy, funny, or appropriate. I believe that language is alive, it is important, and has power. I was writing to my homegirl Erika Lopez who has written extensively about Sheen and what he’s said and represents at her clog, but we both agree that language can do a lot of good and a lot of damage.

She share with me how some terms, that she had never heard of and are not slang, are difficult for her to understand and use properly. She shared that it challenged her, but not in a way that was affirming or that taught her anything, but in ways that made her feel inadequate. I told her I know exactly how she feels as I often find myself in that space too. I think a lot of language does this because that is the goal of some folks who use such language. I shared with her my experience in a PhD program and having to learn the language of theory, and all the big words “scholars” made up to share their ideas. They made these terms enormous as a way to only speak to the people who are members of their community. It excludes folks and that is the goal. In that exclusion it also has others doubt their own intellect, thus reinforcing an elitist space.

There are some similarities in code-switching, when folks move from one language to another (think moving from English to another language for folks who speak more than one, this includes sign language). When folks code-switch they may often do so because that is the language they are most comfortable speaking, a hybrid of more than one language. It is also a way that folks can keep outsiders out. I wrote a little about this and language in my post about Lady Gaga and her choice in using certain terms in her songs.

This is the same issue I find with the term “colorblind” when folks talk about racism and race neutrality. Affiliating people with a specific disability that impairs their vision with people who perpetuate discrimination based on race is wrong on numerous levels. Not only does it equate a disability (which can be an outcome of numerous situations from biology, age, injury, etc.) with a lack of knowledge, but it also reinforces stereotypes that people with disabilities are not intelligent, thus disposable, thus ignored.

Many of the anti-racist communities and activists use the term “colorblind” on a regular basis, even some folks who we may admire, and it is one of the reasons I have slowly removed myself from such spaces. It is not effective to think that the language we use does not isolate or impact others, especially if we do not understand how identities intersect and make us all complicated. Imagine what a person of Color with a disability or an anti-racist White person with a disability may experience when in their community of practice, their gender, race and ethnicity or culture is prioritized over their disability. None of us should ever have to be forced to choose one identity over the other. Ever.

One of the things that triggered this post for me was seeing this image come across my Tumblr dashboard. I think this image offers some great suggestions and examples of how we have such a vast amount of choices in the words we choose, why not accept this challenge of not using ableist language? The image at the time was posted at the site however at this time Tumblr does not seem to be showing that page. For now you can view it or reblog it here.

Youth in US Delaying Sexual Activity, What Does It Mean?

cross posting from my RH Reality Post

A recent National Health Statistics Report has released data in a report called “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth.” The report states it provides national estimates of sexual activity and behaviors among men and women ages 15-44.

The data does not mention if transgender or gender non-conforming people were included. As a result, I am assuming they were not and any discussion based on gender is not inclusive of all communities and thus may not give a complete picture for all youth in this age group.

Some of the findings include an increase in youth waiting to have a first sexual encounter. This increase comes from comparing data obtained in 2002. The report states that in 2002 22% of young men and women ages 15-24 had never had any sexual contact where as in 2006-2008 those numbers increased for the age group to 27% for men and 29% for women. Specifically looking at youth ages 15-17, 53% of young men and 58% of young women reported never having any form of sexual activity. This is a seven to ten percent increase since 2002.

As respondents age their choice to engage in consensual sexual activity increases, as has been the case for decades. However, the percentage of youth who have only had oral sex and not any other form of penetrative intercourse remain low, yet as penetrative intercourse becomes a part of their sexual health history these numbers decrease. However, the reality remains that focusing on STI prevention for younger youth must still be a priority. As the report argues, some youth are putting “themselves at risk for STI and HIV before thy are ever at risk for pregnancy.”

USA Today reporter Sharon Jayson interviews several professionals in the field of reproductive and sexual health of young people and many of them make strong important arguments about our ideas about youth. Jennifer Manlove from Child Trends is quoted as saying that youth “may be more in control of their behaviors than we think.” I appreciate this quote because I think it speaks to many of use working with, raising, educating, and/or mentoring youth. There are ideas that their peers, media, and lack of supportive and affirming messages from various support networks youth are a part of influence them negatively. Yet, we rarely talk about how youth have agency, can provide consent, and are important contributing members of society.

A majority of the articles focusing on this research are interested specifically in the “virginity boom.” The Week provided an interesting list of 5 reasons why there is an “teen virginity boom.” Included in the list are: virginity is trendy, sex education is working, youth don’t have time for sex, youth desire quality, not quantity, and maybe respondents were not being honest.

I believe this is more complicated and there may not be just one answer. If we are to want our choices and experiences to be respected and to be seen as complicated individuals we must offer that to youth as well. Let us first acknowledge that the 15 year olds that were interviewed at this time may now be adults today, and their experiences may have changed. So, a majority of the respondents in this research are possibly currently sexually active to some degree.

What if we acknowledged that media images, even if not the most positive or inclusive, had an impact on youth, especially when connected to strong messages from parents and adults in their lives coupled with comprehensive sexuality education. Are we ready to give shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom some credit in providing examples and conversations for youth to witness and absorb?

Are we ready to acknowledge that some youth do value activism and education in ways we may not have imagined before? That their work is just as important, if not more, than our own as they are “insiders” to communities we have aged out of. Will any of us do anything different with this new data? And if so, will any of that include transgender youth?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: The Kama Sutra Weekender Kit

The first time I owned a Kama Sutra item was a large bottle of Sweet Almond Massage Oil that I won at a training for sexual health professionals. This was about 2 years ago. I remember the smell being so wonderful that I didn’t care what the oil was for; I knew I had to own it and take it home with me. It remains here because it is amazing oil and lasts a long time, as just a bit is all you need!

When I was offered the opportunity to review additional products from The Adult Toy Shoppe, and I saw The Kama Sutra Weekender Kit it was one of my first choices! It’s rare when I find a kit like that that I know will have quality products of which I will enjoy all of them. I reviewed The Original Weekender Kit and when the package arrived I was surprised by the size.

The Kit is not much larger than a deck of cards. It is about an inch thicker, but the length is a definitely pocketsize. This was surprising for me, as I didn’t realize it would be so compact and I wondered if there would be enough of each item for me to do a good review. When I thought of travel size I assumed the size of items you would get at a drug store to put your shampoo in, or the size of items a hotel may give you. These are about half that size. Inside the Kit was the following:

  • Original Oil of Love (clear bottle container with green fluid)
  • Spearmint Stimulating Pleasure Balm (circular container with green gel)
  • Sweet Honeysuckle Honey Dust (circular container with golden powder)
  • Feather Applicator
  • Sweet Almond Massage Oil (clear bottle container with yellow fluid)
  • Love Liquid Sensual Lubricant (mauve colored bottle container)

The Kit was sealed in plastic and the box that it came in was sturdy and thick. It opens as a book would in the center and small travel size containers of each item are included. Each individual item comes either sealed in their own plastic (i.e. Oil of Love, Pleasure Balm, Honey Dust) while the massage oil and lubricant were not sealed in plastic they had a sturdy covering that held the liquid in place that the screw on cap held down so nothing would pour out. The feather applicator was not sealed and sat on top of the items.

There is a white card that covers the items and that shares with you what is inside. The card also offers suggestions for how to use each item for the best result. I found this a nice touch to the Kit, but the font is extremely small on this card, so if you have a hard time reading small print, keep this in mind. I had to wear my glasses and had the card pretty close to my face to read it properly.

I’ll admit that I was very excited to test out each of these items, and only one left me a bit weary: the spearmint stimulating pleasure balm. I’ve tried and reviewed similar items and although they are supposed to offer not only a taste of spearmint, but they are also expected to stimulate certain sensitive parts of the body (i.e. nipples). The latter has rarely ever worked for me, yet for some reason when I apply it to my lips there is a tingling sensation that I imagine is what is to occur if you were to put them on your nipples.

So, when I first opened the Spearmint Stimulating Pleasure Balm, I smelled it and a strong spearmint scent accompanies the thick yet light gel. The container is the size of a US $1 dollar coin, a bit larger than a quarter, so there is not too much product, but enough for you to get a few uses out of. I put the product on my lips by dabbing a bit at the bottom of my lip and pressing my lips together. Almost instantly I felt a tingling sensation that I expected and it lasted a good amount of time, at least 15 minutes.

After I put the spearmint on my lips, I started to open the other items. I carefully opened the Oil of Love, which has a plastic cover and a cork that holds the fluid in. Be cautious and careful opening the cork from the container as the fluid may fall out if you are not. The scent of the Oil of Love is light and pleasant; almost a musky scent, but not one that is overpowering or that stays for a long period of time. The way to use this Oil is to apply it to any part of your body and rub in. Then, you or a partner(s) can blow on that area and the area with the oil will warm up.

I tried this quickly on my hand and could not tell a big difference between the hand that I put it on and blew versus blowing on my other hand with no oil. I added a bit more and realized that the more oil you apply to a smaller area and rub in and then blow as your rub results in the best warming sensation. I was worried there would only be enough of the product for one experience with my partner.

I then opened the Sensual Lubricant and there was no odor whatsoever from this product, which I like. The oil is clear, light and at first touch seems to be a sturdy product that can last a long time. This is the only item that is made specifically for the genitals, all the other items can be used on your genitals, but were not made especially for those areas.

I didn’t open the massage oil until later because I knew what to expect, so instead I went for the Honeysuckle Dust with Feather Applicator. This is another container to be cautious about opening as the golden dust inside can fall out easily and get everywhere. Now, I don’t mind having shiny dust all over me if I’m in my “house gear” or naked, but getting this on some work wear or items that need to be dry cleaned is another story for some folks. The dust fell out a bit and onto my fingers, but this offered a good opportunity to rub it on my palms and see how long the scent lasts and if my skin felt soft as advertised or if there was a taste.

Impressed with how light the dust was, it did stay a long time keeping my palms dry and smooth. Even after about 10 minutes I licked my palms and there was a subtle and sweet flavor that was pretty yummy! The feather applicator works as an applicator for the dust, but also as a tickler on it’s own.

So, to start, I began with a product that my partner and I felt most comfortable exploring: the Lubricant. It is latex safe, water-based, and light. I had to be more goal oriented since there is only a little bit of lubricant in the Kit. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of the lubricant for me to even give a good hand job. I’m not sure if it is because my hands began to sweat a bit, or if I had higher hopes for the lube, or if it just didn’t mesh well with us and what we needed, but I found myself having to add more and more lube because it did not last very long or stay very slick for too long either. This was disappointing and took up a lot of time that I don’t think was really necessary. I mean it wasn’t hard to be sneaky about adding more lube since the bottle is so small, but it was less than erotic to me to know I needed more. I was left thinking I could have done a better job on my own. A positive aspect was that it didn’t stain the sheets or our clothing and was washable.

The Spearmint Stimulating Pleasure Balm was not my favorite item, this and the Lubricant I could do without. However, that is just me, I know several people who do have good outcomes and experiences with such pleasure balms. However, I don’t see myself using this product again, in any flavor.

The Oil of Love is latex-safe, it is only called “oil” to describe the texture, but it is water-based and good to use with any of your other toys or prophylactics. One of the reasons the oil has a green tint is because it is made of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon. We had a good time playing around with it and seeing how hot certain spots could get. We learned that it helps if you have not recently brushed your teeth, but rather have not had anything to eat or drink (although we didn’t try drinking something warm then blowing on the spot). Just as I had expected, there was not enough in the Kit to explore different spots, but it is definitely one of the items that I would want to get in a larger size to use again and again. This is hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested, and did not leave a sticky residue nor did it stain the sheets or our clothing. It comes in six other flavors and scents that you can purchase at The Adult Toy Shoppe for less than $35.

My absolute favorite item in this kit is the Sweet Honeysuckle Honey Dust. There is so much to do with this powder, and I like that it’s got some shimmer, so you can wear it before a date or throughout the day. The size is good and you can refill it and carry it with you wherever you need to go without it taking up too much space! In general, this item for me was the most fun, and applying it with the Feather Applicator was enjoyable as well. It is hypoallergenic; dermatologist tested and should only be used externally.

Do I have to tell you how much I also adore the Sweet Almond Massage Oil? I’ve owned it for over two years and having it in a smaller size in this Kit was a great addition. Now I can refill the smaller container whenever I need to and I can travel wherever I want with the individual container. You can purchase a larger 8-ounce bottle from The Adult Toy Shoppe for less than $20.

Refillable containers a plus, although very small, for some of the products it works really great. If you want to test out several items at once without paying full price, The Kama Sutra Weekender Kit is a great option.

I did not experience any skin irritations. However, I did not have a very easy time finding what ingredients are included in the kit. The items do not come with a list of ingredients for each item, as I would imagine they come with the larger items. They are not available on the website, so if you are someone who often has irritation to your skin when not knowing what a product is made of you may want to do more research, or skip this product all together.

You can purchase The Weekender Kit at The Adult Toy Shoppe for less than $30. All of their products are shipped in unmarked packages for discretion.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Media Makers Salon: Aiesha Turman Part 1

cross posted from my Media Justice column

This is the fourth interview in a series of interviews with various media makers who have agreed to share with us their motivations, process and hopes for the media they create. Read past interviews with Nezua, Nuala, and Espie.

This interview is long overdue! I asked Aiesha to do a virtual interview with me back in January of 2010 and then life happened and lots of exciting opportunities came up for both of us. During that time Aiesha asked me to join the advisory board of The Black Girl Project, an organization she began, which stemmed from the documentary film of the same name she directed and produced. So, I have to be honest, I’m totally biased and in support of not only Aiesha’s work, but of The Black Girl Project as well. I thought now was the best time to share part of her interview with Amplify readers (although I’ve mentioned her work before) and share ways you can get involved with the media she is creating!

I can’t remember where I met Aiesha Turman first, but I’m sure it was on the Internets because the first time we met in 3D I was bringing art supplies to her home in Brooklyn in an attempt to clean up my own space to move into a new one. Aiesha identifies as a “Black, working class, woman, hetero, over 30 mama.” She’s stunning, the kind of stunning that makes you feel seen, that someone is really witnessing your life, and that is a gift not many folks have yet to embody.

Aiesha is the founder of Super Hussy Media, The Black Girl Project, Okra Stew, and The Adventures of Pecan Tan. She shares that she “ had the domain name Super Hussy for a few years. It's evolved from a somewhat personal blog to what it is now once I finally got the nerve to go for it. My initial motivation was to just have a space on the web.”

When did you create Super Hussy Media? What were your motivations?
On the name Super Hussy: “hussy” was my maternal grandmother’s favorite/only swear word. Regardless of your age, if you pissed Nana off and you were a female, you were pretty much a hussy. Now, after looking up the etymology of the word, I found out “hussy” was derived from the German for housewife and began thinking about how patriarchy (particularly the white supremacist brand) twists, labels and misconstrues anything that does not fit into its neat little power structure. Hussy became to be known as a wanton, lascivious, ruthless and sexually promiscuous heathen. Language can be used to both uplift and nourish or belittle and hurt. Any woman who goes against the grain and/or lives by her own rules, not the ones forced upon her, has been labeled something or other (“bitch” and “whore” come to mind) which seeks to minimize who she is in the world. As far as the "super" goes, I've always loved comics, so I might as well be a hero!

Tell us about The Black Girl Project?
The Black Girl Project (BGP) is both a documentary film and a non-profit organization. I have worked with young people in New York for over a decade, with the past few years being dedicated primarily to high school students. It was in this work, I began to hear the stories of young women, many of whom were outwardly accomplished, but were dealing with a lot of issues from homelessness to sexual assault and depression. I was lucky enough to be trusted enough by them that they would talk to me. Their lives reminded me of mine as a teen-aged girl. I was highly accomplished academically, but when it came to dealing with issues, many of which were shared with my peers, I turned inward for fear of embarrassment or disappointing my parents. The non-profit is an outgrowth of the film and my commitment to helping young women reach their fullest potential. The Black Girl Project provides tools, guidance and support for girls to prepare themselves physically, socially, emotionally and culturally for the responsibilities of young adulthood. We confront the issues that most-impact girls head-on all within the context of being a Black female in an ever-changing world. We utilize literature, the arts, individual and group work, along with a host of interdisciplinary modes to help bolster self-esteem, critical thinking and leadership skills. The Black Girl Project is a documentary film which asks pretty much one question: who are you? Of course that question morphed into other, follow-up questions, but that singular question lies at the heart of the film.

In a culture where Black women and girls are either venerated for their saintly accomplishments which strips them of any other character attribute except that of martyr/mammy, or demonized and used as the fall gal to explain away all that is wrong with the Black community and society-at-large, it is important to hear and see Black girls speak their truths. Traditional media continues to have a problem with realistic, multi-faceted portrayals of Black women and girls, and for that matter, all females of color. It is our hope that the film adds to the discussions about Black women and girls across the country and that it will contribute to a paradigm shift in how they are seen by others and how they see themselves.

The film is dedicated to the memory of Shannon Braithwaite. I met Shannon when she was in 10th grade, in fact, I hired her as an intern for a youth program I coordinated in Brooklyn and had hoped that she would be one of the young women I interviewed.

Shannon was bright, outgoing, feisty, a great dancer and fiercely loyal to her friends and family. She was well-liked by her peers and the adults she interacted with. What I loved most about Shannon was her critical thinking skills. You could always see that she was thinking and she’d pose questions to me out of the blue. She was really a model young woman.

This all ended on a late September evening in 2008, just after Shannon’s 16th birthday, she was brutally murdered by her cousin Tiana Brown, just 15 years old herself.

I’ve sat in on part of the trial, seen the knife that slit Shannon’s throat and stabbed her over 30 times, puncturing her heart. It was because of Shannon’s kindness that Tiana was staying with her and her mom in the first place. A troubled young woman, Tiana had few other options.
While the film is dedicated to Shannon, on the flipside, it’s also dedicated to Tiana; all the young women and girls who have been hurt, damaged and have unexplored/unhealed anger, pain and rage.

The film, workshop, seminars, etc. are for all of our girls, dedicated to helping them become the self-actualized people they deserve to be.

Share with us the importance of naming in your media. How is language important to the work and projects you are creating?
I define "Black" as folks who are of African descent throughout the Diaspora and who acknowledge their "Blackness" by having some type of social or cultural connection or just awareness of/to their internal "Blackness". This doesn't mean that you are wearing dashikis or celebrating Kwanzaa (though I have no problem with that), but it is recognizing and embracing the fact that you are part of the Diaspora, regardless if you live on the continent of Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia...wherever.

I define "girl" as simple a female human whether biologically or socially. While your sex is supposed to determine gender, I know that there are folks who have been assigned the sex "male" but in all actually are girls. The lines are blurry, but if you consider yourself a girl, so do I.

What is going on now with The Black Girl Project?
(Collaborated response by Aiesha and Bianca) Currently we are fundraising for the educational arm of BGP. We have the trailer of the documentary available for people to watch online, are touring with the documentary screening it at various places all over the US (let me know if you want to screen the documentary at your school or community), and working with community organizations focusing on health and wellness. Our PSA for World AIDS Day called “Prevent, Don’t Manage” featuring some of the young women from the documentary discussing the importance of testing, education, and valuing ourselves as Black women, has been very well received.

We had panel in December 2010 of speakers discussing how HIV/AIDS impacts our community and had one speaker from Love Heals, Kim, a young Black woman born with HIV spoke about her experience growing up positive and her relationships now as a married woman and mother to a one year-old son. She was joined by Carmen Mendoza, Miss Kings County 2011, who is using her platform to discuss reducing the stigma getting tested for HIV.

We’ve just collaborated with Ghylian Bell of Urban Yoga Foundation to create Urban Holistic Girl, a twice-monthly workshop for young women where they can learn yoga, tai-chi and other movement and meditation practices/techniques. In addition, the participants learn healthy ways to create teas, locations and body scrubs to learn how to take care of themselves inside and out. We are meeting on Saturday’s in Harlem at Neighborhood Holistic and the sessions are FREE! Tickets must be reserved though and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Our next session is Saturday March 12th and 3:30pm. Click here to reserve your ticket.

Fundraising efforts on our Kickstarter page are under way! You can see the many supporters of our work and the important need that we are seeking to fill. More Black girls need to tell their stories and we are seeking to raise the funds to ensure that can occur. Consider donating whatever you can, even if it is your time, sharing this interview, or working to arrange a screening of the documentary!

You may follow Aiesha on Twitter @SuperHussy and The Black Girl Project @blackgirlproj. Stay tuned for part two coming soon where we discuss mamahood, her other projects and media, and her suggestions for texts, training, and equipment for aspiring media makers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Notes From A Workshop on Intercultural Dating & Relationships

cross posted from my RH Reality Check blog with a different title from the original.

This past weekend I was asked to do two workshops at the first annual Rutgers University Sex, Love, and Dating Conference. I provided two workshops, one on negotiating our multiple sexual identities and the other on intercultural dating and relationships. When I was asked to present I had asked what other sessions they had, to see where I would fit in best. Many of the workshops were fun, exciting, and had “how to…” approaches. What I also noticed was there was a lack of conversation about sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity and how those intersect with race, class, gender, ethnicity, immigration status, and language.

I knew my workshops would have some hardcore competition. When I walked into opening session, a room of over 200 students, I wondered how many would actually want to attend my sessions. My first session on negotiating multiple identities had 5 students. I had been told that students ranked their top choices of workshop sessions for each track and then were told where to go based on availability. So before I started that session I shared that if they wanted to go to another session they could do that. Luckily all of the students present had chosen my workshop. We had a good conversation about identities, historical implications and outcomes, and how to heal and create support systems.

My second workshop on intercultural relationships and dating was one that I was more anxious about. I knew I wanted to be flexible and provide what students wanted in that space, at the same time I didn’t want it to become a “how to date interculturally” type of workshop. Many of my assumptions about the student population were also challenged. I thought there would be a lot of racially White students who may have questions about dating interracially. This assumption, and the possibility, did make me a bit uncomfortable and I thought about how as the facilitator, I was going to insert that discomfort as part of the discussion. However, I was surprised to see my room fill with students of Color. By the time the workshop started I had offered the same disclaimer: students could go to another workshop if this was not their first choice. I had two of the four racially White students leave when I mad this announcement and the other two stayed.

We had an amazing time and conversation!

Although we formally only had an hour, we talked about a lot of issues and topics. The group even decided to stay longer after the formal hour was over. I was not able to complete all of the items I had outlined, but students said they were drawn to some of the topics I did share in the conference description. I wrote:

This workshop will center on the challenges, successes, and experiences of intercultural dating (not just interracial dating!). Conversations about preference (is it a preference or is it a fetish?), racism (can you date a person of a different cultural background and still be racist?) and cultural relativism, (how, if at all, does it work in intimate sexual relationships?) How does the construction of Whiteness in a relationship complicate it? What are important conversations to have with your partner, family, friends, and with yourself? What to do when you find yourself questioning your relationship, yourself, your partner, and your desires?

When I asked if there were specific topics participants wanted to discuss before I followed what I had outlined, several students mentioned they wanted to talk about preference versus fetish and how Whiteness is constructed and may affect a relationship. So that is exactly where I began: what is a preference versus a fetish.

I had asked students how they would define “fetish” and many of them connected this term to sexual pleasure, objectification, and not having certain boundaries around misusing power. When I read to them what The Complete Dictionary of Sexology defined as a fetish, “attribution of erotic or sexual significance to some nonsexual inanimate object or to a nongenital body part, object recognized for its alleged magical powers. The fetishist is dependent on the fetish object, substance or part of the body to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm,” and participants had some strong opinions. Many of them agreed that the definition provided made the fetish seem imaginary and almost mocked it with the focus on “magical powers.”

We spoke of preferences and how these may be different from a fetish, if at all. I shared that even I continue to struggle with how to define certain terms and how they may apply to my own life and experiences. We agreed that a preference does not take away someone’s agency, power, and self-determination in the same way a fetish does/may. For example, we were speaking specifically about fetishizing people of Color or racially White people or people from a particular ethnic group. We were not talking about fetish as connected to certain kinks. We came to a group understanding that to fetishize a person may mean that the person who is desired does not have a choice or give consent to be fetishized. They are not in control of that “gaze.” This person does not get the opportunity to say “no” to the person desiring them in the same way people who may prefer someone with dark hair may hear and respect a person who rejects them. We recognized it is still a working understanding and that for now, we were comfortable with those loose definitions and that they may change, shift, and evolve.

After discussing these two terms my good friends and amazing revolutionary lovers (and newlyweds), Tara Betts (an educator at Rutgers) and Rich Villar joined us. They were just in time for our conversation about Whiteness. One student made the point in stating that they believe that Whiteness in the US is connected to class status. This made me think of the autobiographical work of Dany Laferriére (translated by David Homel) whose controversial book How To Make Love To A Negro Without Getting Tired provides an interesting first-person perspective. I had asked if anybody had heard of the book (or film of the same name) and nobody had. I did a loose discussion of Laferriére’s theory based on his personal experience as a Black heterosexual Haitian man who migrated from Haiti to Montreal and how the racially White women of the area were fetishizing and desiring to be with him sexually.

Laferriére attempts to argue that there is a hierarchy in society, one that intersects with class, race, and gender. He writes:

“Because in the scale of Western values, white woman is inferior to white man, but superior to black man. That’s why she can’t get off except with a Negro. It’s obvious why: she can go as far as she wants with him. The only true sexual relation is between unequals. White women must give white men pleasure, as black men must for white women. Hence, the myth of the Black stud. Great in bed, yes, but not with his own woman. For she has to dedicate herself to his pleasure” (pg. 38).

Now, one aspect of his theory that is not discussed by him is racially Black women, do they ever get to experience pleasure or do they never because they are at the bottom and always having to please their partner? What about same gender relationships between two racially Black women? These are just a handful of areas that his theory of over two decades ago has some holes. He wrote a book that followed which addresses some of these critiques called Why Must A Black Writer Write About Sex?

Finally, I opened the space up to conversation among participants and the exchange was phenomenal. One young person asked what to do when his partner of another ethnicity cannot share with their parents that they are dating, that they must lie and say he is just his partner’s “friend.” One couple in a similar pairing shared what they experienced and some of the approaches they took to talking with their parents. Today, the couple shares that although it was difficult at first, standing firm in what they believed was a solid and important relationship has gained some aspect of respect and tolerance from their parents.

Then Tara and Rich shared a personal story about their courtship that really resonated with many of us. Rich shared that even in challenging situations, there are new discoveries that may be seen when our family members are offered the opportunity to meet and interact with people from different cultural backgrounds. Even as adults, our parents can still surprise us, and that was a message I think many of us took home. Tara also shared how she approaches some conversations from friends, family, and strangers who share racist and/or ethnocentric ideologies. One of her strategies is to ask questions that ask for clarification to offer the person an opportunity to have to simply say their point is they are perpetuating an –ism.

At the end of the session, I shared a list of resources I created for students, which includes organizations, websites, books, podcasts, and films about the topic. The list is in no way an exhaustive list, but I think a good starting point for many of the people present that day.

I have to say that I was overwhelmed by the interest and desire to have such conversations in this space, and that I was glad my assumptions were, and continue to be, challenged as well. Many thanks to the students who participated in the workshops, and to Rich and Tara for allowing me permission to share their contribution to the session.