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100 Days after the Women's March

19 May 2017

Ole Tangerine Man and Planet

I get a lot of requests to share crowdsourced projects, but this is one of the best ones...a children's book that addresses the way Trump treats people.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ole-tangerine-man-and-planet-amazing

After watching the pitch video I was intrigued...So instead of sending off money, I sent off some questions for Carol Steuri, the author, behind what could be a popular children's book. Steuri is not a US citizen and says that the aim of the book is to empower kids to stand up against bullies and protect one another. Once costs are covered, all remaining funds (roughly 20%) will be donated to a nonprofit that inspires women and girls to run for elected office in the U.S.

1) You're not a US citizen, so why are you invested in our story?

Steuri: The U.S has such a huge impact across the globe, it's hard not to be invested. As a Canadian, I don't want to see harm done to my neighbours. As a Canadian living abroad in Europe, I see how U.S politics affects us here with far-right candidates gaining momentum and spewing the same sort of rhetoric. It feels like very uncertain times at the moment and it scares the hell out of me. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter where you live, what nation you call home, what’s happening at moment isn’t right and if you have a voice, use it.

2) Do you have a personal story of being bullied that you leaned on as you wrote? No need for identifying details!

Steuri: I think most people have experienced some form of bullying in their life. There's no one story that helped craft the book other than Ole Tangerine Man himself. However, I wanted to ensure empathy was laced in throughout the story. This book identifies all sorts of bullying behavior, but also attempts to explain what might be going on inside Ole Tangerine Man, as a way to make sense of his antics.

My editor has a Masters in Early Childhood Education and I leaned on her and other teacher friends for their guidance and feedback to ensure the bullying messages were all on point.

3) Some people don't like to see politics in children's books. What do you say to people who might be offended by your book as being too political?

Steuri: Most parents I know are struggling with how best to discuss the current political climate with their kids. This is a conversation starter for just that. I think the elephant in the room needs to be called out because there’s no hiding from it. For those that might be offended, I would encourage them to read the story. It’s not an anti-Ole Tangerine Man attack on him or his followers, it’s a rallying cry to bring all fruits together.

For a very young child though, it’s simply a funny, whimsical little book that empowers them to stand up against bullies and protect one another. The story and illustrations are very playful with lots of rich imagery and the metaphors/puns are only for the adult reader. It was cathartic for me to write and helped me process Ole Tangerine Man's behaviour myself. And from what others have told me, it's quite satisfying and inspiring to read because I think we all need this message right now.

4) Why is it important to you to support women running for elected offices? Is that a message in your book? Perhaps a message for your next children's book?

The book ends with a brave, young blueberry girl challenging Ole Tangerine Man for his crown, as the future Miss Captain AMAZING. So there's that link.

I looked to many different types of organizations who are making it their mandate to stand up against this bully, which is so very important. But I chose to support an organization inspiring women and girls to consider a future run in politics because it felt like a positive, future-oriented approach.

The Ole Tangerine Man and Planet campaign ends in less than two weeks, so hurry and help this book become reality! 

16 May 2017

The Battle of the Sexes trailer is out!



Battle of the Sexes is a new movie that depicts the legendary tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The trailer was released today and it looks pretty awesome.



I gotta say that I think Steve Carell NAILS Bobby. Normally I want to smooch Steve, but in this clip I wanna slug him! The trailer also teases plot lines about Billie Jean's love life. She kept her sexuality private for a very long time, as almost every professional athlete has done pretty forever. I got to meet Billie Jean King a few years ago at a luncheon. She has always been an inspiration to me so I am really looking forward to this movie. Hopefully Emma Stone's cultural baggage doesn't weight this movie down, but we'll see won't we?

30 April 2017

100 Days after the Women's March

While everyone is obsessed with how much damage the Fake Tanned One has done in 100 days, I'm more interested in what WE have done in the 100 days since the Women's March.

panoramic photo of the Chicago Women's March and skyline

Let's recall that 250,000 women, men, and children descended on Grant Park on one of the most beautiful days Chicago has seen in January. This so exceeded expectations that the march part of the March was officially cancelled, but you know when you have a quarter million people show up somewhere and they move, it's kinda a march.

I've been to a lot of marches and few compare to the optimism this one had. I know it was too happy for a protest and all the marches had issues, but the turn out was a great way to kick off four years of resistance. And the diversity of those in attendance made me hopeful that no matter how bad things would be getting, we would fight every fight and maybe even win a few. 

Crowd in front of Chicago skyline. People holding signs and banner reading "Power to the People"

I think in 100 days feminists have put on quite a resistance.

I truly believe that the March and the turnout at the March helped people who normally don't get engaged in politics empower themselves to act. How?
  • Protesting at airports: After signing the executive order Muslim travel ban thousands of people ran to their airport to protest the detaining of people. Countless lawyers joined the rush to offer pro bono services to reunite families. The immediate backlash was supported by court decisions that ended the ban. 
  • Community organizing: Barely a week goes by without me seeing a notice about a community action team starting. Most are focused on finding ways to educate undocumented people about their rights. Some are largely on fighting hate by putting up signs. All are about talking to neighbors and creating space where we know each other and have each others back.
  • Defending Obamacare: While I know Obamacare is far from perfect, the loss of Obamacare without a real replacement would be devastating to millions of people. While a lot of attention was placed on the far right Freedom Caucus, I was inspired by Senator Warren's perspective that we protested, called, wrote, and showed up at town halls and congressional offices enough that the moderate Republicans did not dare to support the repeal. I wish I could find that interview from public radio. 
  • Gorsuch: Yes, he is on the Supreme Court where President Obama's nominee should be sitting, but our outrage gave the Senate Democrats to actually do something. Our outrage was enough to force the Republicans to move to the nuclear option and kill the filibuster. They had to change the rules to get what they wanted. There is more than just a moral victory in there. 
  • Women Will Run: Thousands of women who never considered running for office before or who had been putting it off are getting off the bench and into the game. I personally know two women who won elected office in the last 100 days and one more who is planning for a run soon. If the 2016 election did anything is possibly kill the idea that one needs to be well prepared to run for office. No more "I need more experience!" excuses ladies. 
  • Democrats Must Support Body Autonomy: When the DNC launched a unity tour with Tom Perez and Bernie Sanders hitting the road, they hit a speed bump when it came to vocally supporting reproductive justice. Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards, NARAL's Ilyse Hogue and their supporters hit back furiously. 
  • We're Still Marching: Even before the Women's March was over pundits were wondering if it would be a one off thing. It wasn't. In the days after the march we had other national marches announced such as a Tax Day March, March for Science, Climate March, Pride March, and so on. Chicago has been participating, as have I, in Resist Trump Tuesdays. These are far smaller protests, but they were great at maintaining a conversation about funding the EPA, working to protect Obamacare, and supporting public education. There's even a march from Chicago to Springfield, the Illinois state capital, beginning on May 15th.  
I try to keep these things in mind as we pass our 100 days mark. As we get deeper into the long four years of the current administration, as we anxiously await the next episode of "The Handmaid's Tale" (OMG, so creepy and gooood!), and as we hear the drum beats of war come out of the mouths of our so-called leaders...see, I got myself depressed right there. But we are strong, we will not win every fight, but gawd damnit, I know we will win this war. It is said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice...and we will bend it with the weight of our fight.

What is keeping you resisting and persisting?


This post is made possible by support from Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
All opinions are my own.



18 April 2017

For Academic Success, We Need to #ProtectPE [sponsored post]

This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

My favorite class was gym or PE. Even though I got As in math & science, gym was still my favorite. I loved being able to run around, hit balls, jump, & just move. Now I know I can thank gym class & recess for my good grades. See, research shows that kids who are physically active, even for just an hour a day, do better in school. For many years my daughter’s school did not have recess and only weekly gym class. That is why I joined the Protect PE campaign as I see all physical activity as part of restoring and maintaining our children’s overall health.

Sadly, when our public schools have their budgets cut, physical exercise – gym and recess - is one of the first things to go. According to the Voices for Healthy Kids, only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools provide daily PE or its equivalent for the entire school year. And we all know whose budgets get cut first – the schools in communities of color. With those budget cuts come no PE and perhaps after a doubling up on reading and math because these are the same schools that likely score low in those areas. It’s a vicious cycle for children of color. The less PE they get, the less likely they can focus to score well on tests, and then the more likely time sitting at desks in those classes increase. Not to mention, less PE sets our kids up for a more sedentary lifestyle that can lead to an increase in heart disease and diabetes later in life.

This is why it is encouraging that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes PE in its guidelines. ESSA is different from previous federal education laws because it includes PE and health as part of a well-rounded curriculum.

This federal law requires that all states must develop a comprehensive plan to ensure all students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. ALAS! This does not mean that all states must include PE in the plan. That is where we come in. As parents, teachers and community leaders, we can advocate for PE to be included in our state’s plan. We need to advocate to our state leaders that they must not just create a plan of action, but they need to put physical education into the plan and get access to significant federal funding to support PE.


First step is to find out if our kids are getting enough PE. We can do that by joining the PE Action Team. If we find out our kids are not getting enough PE, then start working in your community to increase PE. For resources, please visit http://physicaleducation.voicesforhealthykids.org/

We need to talk to our principals, school boards, fellow parents, and elected officials.

We can do this! This is not about world peace! This is getting our kids the necessary PE they need to be successful students and reach their fullest potential.

So PE on three…ONE…TWO…THREE!!! PE!!!!!!!!

02 April 2017

Review: Abortion: Stories Women Tell

According to the CDC,  664,435 legal abortions were performed in 2013. The Guttmacher Institute states that in 2014 1.5% of women aged 15-44 had an abortion. On average 1 in 3 women will have had an abortion over the course of their lifetime. This makes abortion or pregnancy terminations one of the most common surgical procedures, but most likely the only medical procedure that requires armed guards to ensure the safety of professionals performing them. The virulent attacks against reproductive justice - including medically accurate sex education, birth control, and abortion - has resulted in an atmosphere of fear. Fear that providers are assassinated in their churches or homes. Fear that providers being harassed outside their own homes. Fear that loved ones won't understand. This has resulted in silence.

And this silence has resulted in people worrying if their decision to abort means they are terrible people or if the fact they valued the lives of their children over their pregnancy means they are terrible parents.

In Abortion: Stories Women Tell these stories are here for consuming. We hear from women who have had abortions and now work in clinics to support other women. Women who regret their abortions and who are now those harassing women outside of clinics perpetuating abortion stigma.

For me, the most touching scenes are with those who chose adoption. The debate over abortion is often pitted against having one and not having one as if carrying a pregnancy to term is easy. But pick up an adoption narrative and one will know that allowing your child to be adopted is a tougher choice for many people. In fact in one scene the mother of a young woman admits that she could not be with her daughter as she gave birth because she needed to keep an emotional distance in order for the adoption to take place. That young woman made a decision to carry her pregnancy to term and her mother could not find the strength to be at her side as she gave birth and let her child join a different family. That is heart-wrenching. That pain is often ignored when anti-abortion advocates and law-makers scoff, "Just give it up for adoption!" as if it was as simple as dropping off a bag of donated clothing.

Abortion: Stories Women Tell beautifully highlights how abortion rights, especially in light of waiting periods, is a class issue. Considering how in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election pundits waxed on about the Democrats returning to economic issues and dismissing race and "identity" politics, few of those economic Democrats are running to include reproductive justice under the economic tent. Keeping the economics of "choice" out of the framing of our political agenda leads to not only Democrats throwing reproductive justice under the bus, but allows for upper class white women to think they are safe even if they vote for Trump. It also leads to the young white woman we meet who organizes against abortion even though she had zero personal experience with someone who had one. I bet she has a friend who had one, but can't trust her enough to reveal themselves.

This is not an easy documentary to watch. It is emotional and you will most likely cry and scream at the TV. I'm holding back tears as I write. But this documentary is one you must watch, especially for those in the mushy middle of the debate and don't have a friend who has outed themselves as having had an abortion. Tracy Droz Tragos, the director, does not pass judgement on those who fight to make abortion harder to access, but the humanity they provide to the women who do choose abortion is fiercely feminist and pro-reproductive justice.


premieres on HBO
Monday, April 3rd at 7 pm Central

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In light of the class issues discussed in this film and my longtime activism to support those who choose abortion, I am asking you to please donate to my effort to support the Chicago Abortion Fund who financially assists those seeking to terminate their pregnancies. Thank you! 
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Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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