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100 Days after the Women's March

22 February 2016

Stopping HIV in the Latino Community One Conversation at a Time


I am proud to be part of the CDC's national communication campaign - We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time / Podemos Detener el VIH Una Conversación a la Vez - to bring awareness of HIV and encourage conversations about HIV prevention in the Latino community as a paid ambassador.

The numbers can be scary. Hispanics/Latinos continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. Although representing 17% of the total US population, Hispanic/Latinos account for 21% of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States and 23% of new diagnoses.

What the Latino community needs to realize is that the first step to stopping HIV in the our community is talking about it, but so many people in our community still remain silent. Research indicates that talking openly about HIV can be a simple but powerful way to eliminate some of the stigma, negative stereotypes, and shame that are too often associated with HIV within some segments of our community that prevent many from talking, getting tested, disclosing their HIV status, and seeking treatment.

To help Hispanics/Latinos start these critical conversations, the campaign provides resources, including a dedicated campaign website and practical tools and tips to help families and friends begin or continue important conversations about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.

I joined other One Conversation ambassadors for a Twitter chat last week. It was fun and enlightening to see what others were thinking about HIV awareness in our communities.  A lot of people cited the stigma Latino families have around sex. I have always found that so ironic that we are stereotypically seen as hypersexual. But it is true, Latinos find it difficult to talk to their children about sex, much less HIV prevention.

I hope that the CDC's campaign site helps parents who need support talking to their kids about HIV prevention. We can bring down the rates of infection One Conversation at a Time.

17 February 2016

Review: Race


EDITED 2.23.2016:
There was something about the film that kept poking at me over the weekend. It took a lot of stewing in my head and reading of other reviews to realize what it was. We rarely hear from Jesse himself. We get a lot of scenes where Jesse is the center of conflict, but other people in the movie resolve it or explaining it. This movie is still beautifully shot and can be the start of a larger conversation. My daughter and I had a good chat about whether or not the Olympics should had been held at all. We also talked about the choices that athletes need to make sometimes, about their social responsibility. I think it was having these conversations that I realized I did not really know what Jesse was thinking, outside of a few dramatic scenes. This leads me to be very conflicted about the film. 
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I took Ella to see Race tonight. I won a pair of passes to the Chicago sneak preview and thankfully she did not have a lot of homework. Now while I am a sports fan and I knew Jesse Owens, I did not know details of his story. Sure, I knew that he went to the Berlin Olympics and kicked Nazi butt, but that was about it. I saw that to say I have no deep historical record to compare this beautiful film to.

Owens was the world's fastest man during a time when most of the world would rather not acknowledge the existence, much less the accomplishments of a Black man. The movie picks up a few years before World War II, meaning that the US is still stuck in the Great Depression. Owens' father has been out of work for a long time and that clearly weighs on both of them. When we meet Jesse he is on his way to Ohio State University to start his college career. At one point his brother makes a comment about him being a college boy - but not in a supportive way either. Ugh...

There is so much conflict in this film that it made my heart hurt. Owens is torn about leaving his family, including his girlfriend and toddler daughter at home while he heads off to college. Racism runs amok on the OSU campus including the locker room the integrated track team shares with the apparently all-white football team. Of course then we have the build up to the Berlin Olympics. Should the US boycott or not? The politics of this decision seems to be fairly well depicted, including the pressure that Owens later receives from the NAACP to not compete. There is an obligatory "there are no politics in sports!" moment that is there to make it clear that sports is all about politics.

Overall I enjoyed the film. As a politically minded sports fan, I always love a movie that does a good job at depicting especially hot political moments.

RACE stars Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, Carice van Houten, Shanice Banton, and William Hurt, in the incredible true story of Gold Medal Champion Jesse Owens opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, February 19th!

15 February 2016

Review: Unslut by Emily Lindin

Emily Linden is either the bravest woman or the dumbest. It is brave to think you could transcribe your middle school diary & be celebrated. She is dumb to think it wouldn't matter. Emily may also be a far better person than I ever will be. But first let's get to her book, Unslut: A Diary and A Memoir.

Unslut is the diary & memoir of "Emily Linden.""Emily Linden" is a pen name as the real Emily did not want to put her name on the project, for obvious reasons, and then also changed the names of her friends from that moment of time.  In the sixth grade Emily went to a friend's house to hang with her boyfriend and another guy friend. One thing lead to another & kissing occurred. Then a little more. While no intercourse happened, there was sexual contact - third base. Yes because this is a middle school diary a lot of the sexual contact is referred to by its baseball equivalents. After letting her boyfriend go to third base he of course tells others, not to mention the other guy friend in the room and thus begins her multi year journey through slut shaming.

What makes this book is powerful is not just the fact she transcribed her middle school diary so you can watch her deal with the slut shaming, but also the fact that "Future Emily" is annotating the diary. It takes the whole "what you would say to your 13-year-old self" though exercise to the next level. Future Emily is remarking not only on the lingo of middle school from the turn of the century, but also talking her middle school self down when she starts to slut shame herself. Take for example when Emily is walking with friends and a guy she is not dating grabs her breast. She writes furiously how sorry she is that she cheated. Future Emily is having none of it.

Moments like that will strike a chord with every girl who was every slut shamed and still carries around scars. This means that if you still do, I warn you that you may flashback to those moments in the hallway when that guy who always put his hand on your butt and you could never find a way to stop it. Or you reflect back on why you could never find the right words to say, "No," because as Emily puts it, sometimes there is social power in just letting things happen.

Emily is not the only "slut" in this diary. A few of her friends have slut moments and her reaction to those moments will kill you. They kill you because you are invested in her pain and then she lashes out at the other girls. They kill you because you might have done the same when you were her age and you regret the hell out of it. As Future Emily does.

I am torn as to whether or not giving this book to a teenage girl or boy would help them be kinder to themselves and each other. I wonder if Future Emily's annotation is too "parental" for a current teen to understand as anything other than mature reflection. I have no idea, but I am giving this to my 12-year-old daughter who is a year older than Emily was when she labeled a slut. The book is explicit in its depiction of teenage sexuality. She uses phrases to describe sexual activity that made this mother cringe. Then I had to recall what kind of language I used then. The flipping back and forth between mom-mode and survivor-mode was exhausting.

Eventually I finished reading this book as I ate dinner by myself in a restaurant.  I assumed it was busy and dark enough that I was invisible. Alas, my despair at the book ending and all the feelings that were dredged up was clearly visible on my face. After taking a selfie with the book to mark the occasion the couple next to me asked me what I was reading. "A powerful account of one girl's journey as she was slut-shamed in middle school." And that is exactly what this book is. Powerful.

I guess I am still unsure if Emily is a genius or dumb to not know how much we needed this book.

Please purchase your own copy of Unslut from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from a publicist.  

GIVEAWAY

I have one copy of "Unslut" to giveaway!

GUIDELINES:
  1. To enter, simply comment with your email address. Seriously, without an email, I can't get a hold of you.
  2. Extra entries awarded if you share this review on Twitter (tag me @veronicaeye) or Facebook (tag me @vivalafeminista).
  3. Once all entries are in, I will number the entries, toss into Random.org and that magical machine will select a winner.
  4. This giveaway is limited to shipping addresses in the USA and Canada. 
DEADLINE is Wednesday, February 24th at 10 pm Chicago time

Good luck!

13 February 2016

Beyond Balance Storify

In case you weren't able to attend Women Employed's "Beyond Balance" conversation, I Storified it. Enjoy!


08 February 2016

Beyond Balance: Work, Family, Life in 2016 in Chicago


One of the top questions I get from students is "How do you balance work and life?" My top response? "I don't. There's no balance, it's a constant juggle." And I have it good in that I have a partner who is active in our daughter's life, pulls his share of domestic duties and we have jobs with paid vacation and sick days. So what are the steps to making our juggle less illogical and allow others to enjoy the benefits we participate in?

This Thursday Women Employed hosts a conversation moderated by their executive director, Anne Ladky with Susan Lambert, University of Chicago, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, Iliana Mora, COO at Erie Family Health Center and WE Board member, and Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune journalist of the popular workplace column, "I Just Work Here."I plan to attend and live tweet the conversation, so keep an eye on my Twitter feed that evening! But to prepare, I was able to ask Iliana Mora a few questions about the topic:

1) The challenges that women face in the workplace change as our lives change. How can we best discuss this issue without it focusing solely on mothers?

First we need to recognize that our identity is much more than our job and to give equal or even greater value to the other parts of a woman’s life. We also need to start from the basic belief that everyone’s time outside of work is equally valuable and equally important. While work-life balance can admittedly be a challenge for me, I expect it and protect it for the women who work with me, regardless of their personal situations.

2) What changes has Erie Family Health Center made to help women address the challenges of the work-life juggle?

At Erie we have almost 600 employees, about 90% of whom are women. They range from housekeeping staff to Medical Assistants to physicians. We are always learning from them how to best support this juggle. Right now we offer career-track part-time work at all levels of the organization as well as evening and weekend work and parental leave to new fathers to support the women in their lives. We are also very flexible about staff’s needs and commitments outside of the job. As a leader and manager, my priority is an excellent and timely work product – not on whether it gets completed between 9 and 5.

3) As someone who works in not just a large organization, but one that serves a lot of Chicagoans, what is one thing that Erie has done to help the people you serve with their own juggle?

We know that our patients are juggling a lot and sometimes their health comes last. So we make our services as convenient, accessible and patient-centered as possible. That means evening and weekend hours, urgent care, access to medical advice 24/7 and a patient portal where patients can do their medical business online whenever they have time. Erie case managers also help our patients to address their barriers to making their medical appointments, such as offering transportation and assisting them with getting released from work.

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While registration is closed for Thursday, if you have a question you would like to ask this ace panel about work, life, family balance/juggle, please leave it in the comments or tweet me so I can pass along your questions.

07 February 2016

Whirlwind Wrap-up

WHEW!

It's been quite a few weeks for me. Let this gif speak for me:

I feel like I forgot something and well, that's how much of a whirlwind the first few weeks of 2016 has been. For transparency sake, it hasn't all been ups, but for privacy sake, the downs are communicated in person. Over bourbon.  Or cupcakes. 

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


Veronica's favorite books »
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