What #Issues are/were YOU are the “Right” side of?

Being on the “right” side of so many issues, for his/herstory, is exhausting but satisfying.

So, VOTE and make your voices heard in EVERY election, especially local ones.

voting-matters

Why?

First, they call us crazy.

Then, they say we’re “conspiracy nuts” (a less vague variation on “crazy”) because, of course, our government/ those priests/ the leaders of whatever institution can’t all be lying or wrong…

Next, “popular” opinion starts to sway because FACTS are on our side, but most people aren’t persuaded, yet.

So, the media starts to report that maybe, just maybe, we “outliers” and “extremists” could be correct.

The media’s hesitancy is paid for by the politicians and corporations who are promoting the other side/maintaining the status quo, so most still say we’re “unpatriotic,” or “angry,” or (when we are women) “bitches,” and when we are not white, “terrorists.”

Then, more FACTS on our side emerge, having actually (oh, horrors! so shocking!) been suppressed, denied, lied about and otherwise hidden from public view prior to having been irrevocably exposed, usually (now) by a hacker (or, in the olden days, by a brave reporter or other whistleblower who often ended up dead or imprisoned, as hackers do, now).

Then, lawsuits and riots and protests and demonstrations are occurring regularly, still mostly not covered or not covered accurately by the media. And, we are still RIGHT and now we are WINNING.

Finally, usually a long time before “popular opinion” completey changes, a few brave and prescient lawmakers create bills which pass into laws, or the majority of the Supreme Court happens to agree on a sane and rational decision (for a change), so laws force change. Slowly, and not without detractors, protestors, idiots and others who NOW are the “crazies” and “terrorists,’ society moves ahead.

AND (whew!), many dead bodies and ruined lives later, we “win.”

Yippee.

Then, see how they all relate? “Intersectionality” is the understanding that one oppression /one injustice links to many others—perhaps ALL others.

intersectionality

Add to my list of issues you are/have been on the “right” side of, here in the comments on my site: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

I WAS/AM WE ARE/WERE RIGHT ABOUT THESE ISSUES:

Pro Voting Rights and Access to Honest and Fair Elections for all

which goes with

Anti Dakota Access Pipeline

dap-protests

which goes with
Pro Environment = Pro Clean Air; Clean Water; Pro Arable Land; Anti Pesticides; Anti Poisons and Pollutants; Anti GMOs and Seeds Stealing; Recognizing Climate Change as REAL; Pro Organic/Healthy Foods, Medicines, Hygiene products, Household cleaners, etc.; Anti Vaccinations (until properly vetted and proven more beneficial than harmful); Anti Chemotherapy (until proven more beneficial than harmful)

and

Pro Alternative Energies/ Less reliance on oil/gasoline

and

Anti Fracking

and

Pro Green Burials and Cremations

and

Pro Green Housing/Offices

and

Pro Electric Cars

and

Pro better Public Transportation

which also go with

Pro Natives’/ Indigenous Peoples’ Freedom and Autonomy in the West and other countries/continents

and

Pro Black Lives Matter (and, no: it is NOT the same as “All Lives Matter,” so stop saying that!)

black-lives-matter

which goes with

Pro Civil Rights for all = Anti Racism

and

Anti Imperialism

and

Pro Freedom for Tibet

and

Anti Colonialism

and

Anti Apartheid

and

Anti Royal Rule/ Dynasties everywhere

and

Pro Palestinian Independence (if nonviolent)

and

Anti Israeli and Palestinian violence

and

Anti Sharia Law

which go with

Anti Imprisonment according to Race/Economic Status and the “Three Strikes” Laws

and

Anti The School-to-Prison Pipeline

school-to-prison-pipeline

and

Civil Rights also goes with

Pro Access = ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) = Anti Disabilities discrimination

and

Pro Marriage Equality

and

Pro Affirmative Action = Anti Racism/ Anti Classism / Anti Religious Discrimination

and

Pro Human Rights and Anti Human Rights Violators

and

Pro Women’s Right to Choose/Reproductive Rights of all kinds (birth control, women’s health check-ups, Planned Parenthood Clinics, abortions

and

Pro Single-Payer, Government-Sponsored Health Care for All

and

Anti Genital Mutilation of both males and females (“circumcision”)

and

Pro Women’s autonomy (access to individual credit, access to all types of work, equal pay, etc.) = Anti Sexism

and

Pro Regulation and Monitoring of Sex Workers /Legalization of Prostitution

and

Anti Weight Loss drugs and industries

and

Anti Brassieres/Bras unless necessary for sports/exercise and comfort purposes

ill-fitting-bras-symptoms Symptoms of Ill-Fitting Bras

and

Anti Make-up/Cosmetics (except for costuming/theatrical and fun purposes)

and

Anti High Heels

and

Anti Cosmetic surgery

and

Anti “Welfare Reform”

and

Anti “Right to Work”

right-to-work-is-wrong_issuebanner

and

Pro Affordable Day Care

and

Pro Free and Equal Public Education, from Pre-School through Community and state College levels

and

Anti Sexual Harassment

and

Anti Domestic Violence and “women as property” of husbands/men

and

Anti Child Abuse/Child Labor and “children as property of adults”

and

Anti Sexualization of Children

Pro Legalization of all recreational drugs, particularly marijuana

which goes with

Anti Addiction demonization and “treatment” industry

Anti War (all of them) and Pro Peace

peace-movement
Photograph by Leif Skoogfors, used with permission, 1970

which goes with

Anti Nuclear power plants and weapons

and

Anti Weapons proliferation

Anti Corporate greed and malfeasance, including “Citizen’s United” law

which goes with

Pro better Banks’ Monitoring and better Regulations and Enforcement

and

Pro Wall Street’s Monitoring and better Regulations and Enforcement

and

Pro Transparency

Pro Meditation

which goes with

Pro Emotional Intelligence

and

Pro Music and Arts Education

and

Pro Recess and Physical Education for Youth

and

Pro Science Education (especially for girls/women and minorities)

occupy-everything

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Honoring World #Poetry Day, March 21st, with a review of Ursula K. Le Guin’s latest collection

World Poetry Day is March 21st, 2016: Celebrate Poetry Globally

To honor this day and #Women’s History Month, both, I’m reviewing and discussing some of the poems from one of my favorite poets and authors, fellow #feminist/#Buddhist Ursula K. Le Guin. Her latest collection, Late in the Day: Poems 2010-2014, is a delight.

late in the day real
Late in the Day: Poems 2010-2014, by Ursula K. Le Guin
http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Index-LateInTheDay.html

Ursula K. Le Guin is my favorite writer. No contest. In fact, I wrote a review of another poetry collection early this year, which I enjoyed enormously: https://sallyember.com/2016/01/19/homage-to-and-review-of-ursula-k-le-guins-finding-my-elegy-new-and-selected-poems/ Some of the explanations of my connection to Le Guin are repeated from that post, below.

I have enjoyed, admired, appreciated, envied and learned from her novels, novellas, short stories, essays, and poetry for over forty years. She is about my mom’s age (in her early 80s, now) and still going strong. She is my idol, my mentor, and my role model. I also found out, after reading a recent collection, that she and I share not only a love of writing, speculative fiction, feminism, social justice, pacifism and environmentalism, but also, Buddhism and meditation. Frabjous day!

Poetry is meant to be read aloud. I enjoy reading poetry aloud as if I am the poet, wondering as I hear each word, line, idea, image, stanza, what the poet was imagining and how this exact turn of phrase came to capture it. Knowing how long many poets take to conjure the precise manner in which to describe and evoke every part of their intention, I want to savor it.

I do NOT read in that artificial, almost-questioning (upturned inflection on the end of lines), drawling almost-monotone that many poetry readers make the horrible mistake of using.

No.

I read poetry aloud as if each poem is its own story, because this unique version of that story is interesting, new, and not mine. I use the line breaks and punctuation as suggestions to help me go with the poet’s flow. I smile, I laugh, I pause, I taste the words on my tongue.

Try it. You’ll like it!

In her introduction, Le Guin discusses the interdependent relationships among seemingly inanimate objects (whose apparent lack of sentience she and others challenge), places, humans, animals, life events and circumstances with eloquence and grace. As in all of her public writing and speeches, she has a way of turning things around with her verbal kaleidoscope to inspire us to see things from new perspectives with each turn. Her unique points of view become more accessible as one continues to read and ponder her body of work, which I’ve been doing for over forty years (she’s been writing for over 60).

This collection is divided into eight sections: Relations, Contemplations, Messengers, Four Lines, Works, Times, The Old Music and Envoi, but I couldn’t explain them or why some poems are in one but not another section. I was very impressed, though, with her poems about things, especially kitchen objects. Amazing.

Enough of all that explanatory stuff. You can get that elsewhere and any time. Let’s enjoy some of her poems!

I marked pages of this book with pieces of scrap paper so I’d remember which stanzas, poems, titles, lines caught my heart. Here are some, in no particular order. I sometimes annotate or explain. Find your own parts to love and for your own reasons.

Le Guin has many poems rooted (pun intended) in nature, and those in this collection follow that trend. She is also the child of two anthropologists and somewhat of a social and physical scientist herself. I love this opinion she expressed poetically and eloquently, from the introduction to this volume (excerpted from a speech she gave in May, 2014, at a conference that occurred at the University of California/Santa Cruz, “Anthropocene: Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet”), in which she explained her view of the relationship between poetry and science and why we need both:

Science describes accurately from outside, poetry describes accurately from inside. Science explicates, poetry implicates. Both celebrate what they describe. We need the languages of both science and poetry to save us from merely stockpiling endless “information” that fails to inform our ignorance or our irresponsibility.

By replacing unfounded, willful opinion, science can increase moral sensitivity; by demonstrating and performing aesthetic order or beauty, poetry can move minds to the sense of fellowship that prevents careless usage and exploitation of our fellow beings, waste and cruelty. (p. ix)

One of my favorites from this collection, Constellating, situates relationships between people as if between stars:

Constellating
Mind draws the lines between the stars
that let the Eagle and the Swan
fly vast and bright and far
above the dark before the dawn.

Between two solitary minds
as far as Deneb from Altair,
love flings the unimaginable line
that marries fire to fire.

How beautifully she depicts that intangible bond humans create to connect us which is like nothing else, yet she finds the commonality in constellations.

In The Games, Le Guin manages to indicate our views on aging and reflecting on past accomplishments in a perfect metaphor:

The Games
The crowds that cheered me when I took the Gold,
who were they then? Where are they now?
It’s queer to think about. Do they know how
you look at the hurdles, long before you’re old,
and wonder how you ever ran that race?
I’m not sorry, now all’s said and done,
to lie here by myself with nowhere to run,
in quiet, in this immense dark place.

Definition, or, Seeing the Horse is the type of poem about poetry that I usually eschew. But, one stanza from it is so perfect I have to share it, here, because it perfectly captures the limitations of poetry:

Definition, or, Seeing the Horse
from iii. Judith’s Fear of Naming
To define’s not to confine,
words can’t reach so far.
Even the poet’s line can only hold
a moment of the uncontainable.
The horse runs free.

Le Guin has written many essays, books and articles about the art and craft of writing, but never have I read or heard her convey what she feels about being a writer so well as in this poem, My Job. She lyricizes about writing’s being something she first learned as a child (“I started out as a prentice”) and is still learning. My favorite of her sentiments are these:

from My Job
Sometimes the pay is terrible.
Sometimes it’s only fairy gold.
Then again sometimes the wages
are beyond imagination and desire.
I am glad to have worked for this company.

Two poems, side-by-side in this book (which cannot be an accident), show her wonderful deployment of language and imagery: Sea Hallowe’en and Between. In all of her poems, she demonstrates her mastery of many different poetic forms: rhyming and non-rhyming, exploding into free verse and staying within those more formally ruled for meter, line length, repetition and other constraints. She calls herself a “caperer,” in her essay about her poetic choices and learning to write in various forms in her Afterword, meaning, one who moves among all forms and free verse as she wishes. She also writes here about how a form can “give” her a poem. Fascinating stuff. Love to read about her process.

From Between, I especially admire this final couplet:

A winter wind just whispers where
two winter trees stand tense and bare.

And, from Sea Hallowe’en, who can’t love this whimsical phrasing that ends each of the stanzas?

west to the tide rising,
cold, cold and wild.

a ghost on a north wind blowing
wild, wild and cold.

At best, I am a mediocre poet, despite having been published and won poetry prizes at a younger age, having written songs that were performed, and including my poetry in my science-fiction books as if written by its protagonist, Clara (http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners for more information). I make no claims to being an actual poet if Ursula K. Le Guin is an example. I yield and bow to her and many others for entertaining, informing, inspiring and enlivening us with their use of words and images.

She writes and speaks often about the rewards of writing and art and the politics and capitalism that haunt the industry. This poetry collection is ended with a speech she gave on these topics. The final lines are very moving:

I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds, but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. its name is freedom.

Yes.

Ursula K Le Guin photo
image from her website, photo ©by Marian Wood Kolisch

Thank you, Ursula, for sharing your deep and soulful moments with us all. May your contributions to our literary and emotional landscapes always be known as blessings while you still live and after you die, and may all beings benefit.

Find these poems, this and all her other work here: http://www.ursulakleguin.com


For more information about poetic forms and World Poetry Day:

Poetry adds moments of beauty to our everyday lives, connects our emotions in unique ways, and helps people everywhere express themselves in amazing ways. Poetry of all kinds is definitely something to celebrate, so join us in looking around the world for inspiration. In honor of World Poetry Day, we (The New Rivers Press) wanted to share with you some unique global poetry styles.

Ghazal: an ancient form of poetry dating back to 700 CE in the Arab lands, and later Persia. It is fairly intricate, but contains anywhere from 5 to 15 independent couplets that create a beautiful whole, all with lines of the same length, meter, or syllable count. It is an extremely well-known form in Iran, where the 14th-century Persian writer, Hafez, published his famous ghazal collection, the Divan of Hafez. For examples of ghazals and more detailed information, visit http://poets.org or The Ghazal Page.

Haiku: arguably one of the most well-known types of international poetry forms, this form comes from ancient Japan. It consists of three short lines with five, seven, and five syllables each. The subject of a haiku was originally restricted to nature and the seasons, but that later was opened up to many different subject matters. Some of the most famous Japanese haiku writers include Basho (the “saint of haiku” in Japan), Buson, and Issa. For more in-depth history of the haiku, check out Poetry through the Ages or Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Doha: another ancient form of poetry common in India. It is a 24-syllable couplet, typically in Hindi. The lines are split unevenly, with the first line having 13 syllables and the second having 11 syllables. It was made more famous by such poets as Kabir and Nanak at the end of the 15th century and beginning of the 16th century, as well as Goswami Tulsidas, whose work, Ramcharitmanas, is still famous among Hindus across northern India. To find out more about this and many other poetry forms, explore the book A Poet’s Glossary, by Edward Hirsch.
from The New Rivers Press‘ newsletter, Riverine, Volume 3, Issue 7, http://www.newriverspress.com/

Also, the Poetry Foundation has a great website and mobile phone app that can put almost any poem and poet right into your hands any time: http://www.poetryfoundation.org They also put out Poetry Magazine and a poetry podcast.

Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident about two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the third in a series about my experiences here. This third one is on poor people’s rights. The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL). The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

This post is important because it looks at the underlying issues that make a difficult situation (being poor) worse or better for each person. The intersections of perceived or claimed race/ethnicity, perceived or claimed gender, perceived or claimed social class, perceived or claimed age, home/best language, physical and mental health and (dis)abilities, perceived or claimed religion, perceived or claimed sexual orientation, and economic status in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in the mid-20teens, can adversely influence, improve or neutrally affect one’s experiences every moment.

“Intersectionality” is an important part of understanding how poverty impacts each person and family differently. Therefore, in this series, I need to bring in the politics of social identity. We all have to learn to address these overlapping oppressions and unfair treatments to help ourselves understand how everything is NOT actually “equal” regardless of the similarities in two people’s incomes.

intersectionality
Intersectionality includes all of these components of one’s social identity.

It’s not “all good.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It ISN’T what it IS “naturally”: people and then institutions run by people make things this way and create/perpetuate systems that keep them this way.

Missouri is one of the worst places to be if you’re poor, but it’s not even the worst by any standards. Your experience all depends on the other components of your social identity. If you’re believed to be a white male, seemingly in good health and able-bodied, perceived to be heterosexual, assumed to be Christian, speaking mid-Western-accented English like a native, have at least some college education and otherwise seeming to be a USA “mainstream” guy between the ages of 25 – 65, you are going to be much better treated and fare better even when you’re poor than if you do not claim or cannot pull off having others believe you have all or any of those social identities.

If you’re also not a felon, have a place to live (a legal address) and (the use of) a car, you’re probably not going to be poor for very long.

Unless you’re obese. Unless you’re smelly. Unless you’re an addict. Unless you’re perceived to be “not one of us” in whatever way “us” is defined: then, you’re in some trouble. But, even with those cards stacked against you, as a poor assumed-to-be-white & -Christian with some education who speaks adequate English and can pass for straight and male and under age 65, you’re still going to be better off than anyone who isn’t.

no isms allowed

Change one aspect—gender—and things automatically get much worse. Change two—ethnicity/race and gender—and you’re doomed.

Check this out, from Everyday Feminism, June 20, 2015 by Carmen Rios “These 5 Statistics Prove That We’re Feminizing Poverty (And Keeping Women Down in the Process)” http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/feminizing-poverty/
— “Despite the overall poverty rate declining in America, 18 million women remain below the poverty line.”
—“Women are poorer than men in every state, regardless of education or geographic location. And for women of color, elderly women, and LGBTQIA+ women, it’s even worse.”
—“The poverty rate for Native American, Black, and Latina women is almost double the poverty rate for white women.”
—“For women, and especially women of color, the fight to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 or $15 is very personal—and could be the difference, for them, between barely surviving and finally thriving.”
—“…over a lifetime, women lose an average of $434,000 to the wage gap.”
—“One of the most important aspects of intersectional feminism is the understanding that when we fight for the most marginalized women, we liberate all women along with them.”

And, from other sources (see below) that add in education and other factors to race/ethnicity and gender with income levels:
—“White households take home between $10,000 to $20,000 more per year than their Black counterparts in every age bracket”
—“Enrollment in ‘high poverty’ schools for Black children is 41 percent, 38 percent for Hispanic children, 31 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native and a mere six percent for Whites.”
—“Even when Black and minority children attend mixed schools, they are more likely to be tracked into remedial or basic classes while their White counterparts take advanced, honors level courses.”
—“70 percent of students arrested or referred to law enforcement for school-related infractions were Black or Latino.”
—“While people of color only comprise about 30 percent of the US population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.”
—“There is no such thing as unbiased, unpolitical education.”
—“People with ‘Black’ or ‘ethnic-sounding’ names are less likely to get callbacks for interviews.”
—“Blacks are more likely to be born into poverty and are less likely to escape it.”
—“Whites are 2-3 times more likely to make it into the middle class in their lifetimes compared to their black counterparts.”

poverty-is-violence
from http://iamarevolutionary.wordpress.com
Poverty IS violence. It has to stop.

Find a well-vetted nonprofit that advocates and works to end poverty and understands intersectionality and contribute, volunteer, blog about their work! Here is one: http://www.results.org/

Good news! We made this mess; we can clean it up.

Mandela quote about poverty
Nelson Mandela, Audre Lorde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and so many more have spoken out about the nature of the human-made elements of our social and political systems and the oppressions they systematize.

WE are the ones who must advocate, complain, recognize that we are entitled to better and that so is everyone else, and ACT!

—Do not sit by and watch passively when others are mistreated, disrespected, unfairly scheduled or managed, especially when you are in any position of better privilege: it is your DUTY to advocate whenever you are able.
—Write letters, blog, make phone calls, picket, march, show up and let those in power know you are not satisfied with the “status quo.” Be specific.
—VOTE! It is your DUTY and responsibility as a USA citizen who can vote (if you are one) to use that right in EVERY election. It is the LOCAL elections that most affect people who live near you, and regional and state office holders who make laws that affect us all. Federal elections matter, too, but not as obviously or as immediately.

WIN_20141104_095753 I VOTE! And, as of early March, I am working as a election-day supervisor at a local polling place!

—THEREFORE, do not ignore bond issues, council and mayoral elections, county positions, state office holders’ elections and only vote on presidential ballots. ALL VOTES MATTER!

Want to know more? Have a read:

From October, 2015, inGenere.it: “Intersectionality. Putting together
things that are often kept apart” by Jeff Hearn
http://www.ingenere.it/en/articles/intersectionality-putting-together-things-are-often-kept-apart

From February, 2015, NPR: “Study: Black Girls Are Being Pushed Out of School” by Karen Grigsby Bates
http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/02/13/384005652/study-black-girls-are-being-pushed-out-of-school

From February, 2015, the the Frisky: “18 Things White America Needs To Reconcile To Truly Become Colorblind” by Tiffanie Drayton
http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-02-26/18-things-white-america-needs-to-reconcile-to-truly-become-colorblind/

If you appreciated this series, please reblog/share it, comment, ask to be a guest blogger and contribute your own point of view or write on a related topic: http://www.sallyember.com

This third post was on advocacy and intersectionality (published on February 23, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2).
The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL).
The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

“Best of 2015” Book Lists from several sources, including PASTE online zine’s “30 #Best” in #Fiction, #Nonfiction and #YA Fiction from 2015

“Best of 2015” Book Lists from several sources, including PASTE online zine’s “30 #Best” in #Fiction, #Nonfiction and #YA Fiction from 2015

I present only the lists, here, with titles and authors for fiction and a brief categorization for nonfiction. Go to the links to read each reviewer’s summary and opinions of each entry, below. I also present a few alternative lists and authors, just so you know some of what else is out there.

Read! Enjoy! Buy/borrow books! Write reviews!

(NOTE: PASTE also provides the 30 best cookbooks, 18 documentaries about writers, and more at http://www.pastemagazine.com/books )


30 Best Fiction of 2015 from PASTE
[20 of 30 are male. Sigh.]
http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/the-30-best-fiction-books-of-2015.html
By Frannie Jackson & Tyler R. Kane | December 16, 2015
1. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
2. Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos
3. The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
4. City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
5. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
6. The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle
7. The First Bad Man by Miranda July (short story collection)
8. So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano
9. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman
10. Woman with a Blue Pencil by Gordon McAlpine
11. Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
12. Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson (short story collection)
13. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
14. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
15. The Incarnations by Susan Barker
16. The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus
17. Sweetland by Michael Crummey
18. Suitcase City by Sterling Watson
19. Submission by Michel Houellebecq
20. Paradise City by Elizabeth Day
21. The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway
22. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
23. The Rocks by Peter Nichols
24. Girl at War by Sara Nović
25. Golden Son by Pierce Brown
26. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (short story collection)
27. Golden State by Stephanie Kegan
28. Morte by Robert Repino
29. A Poet of the Invisible World by Michael Golding
30. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Here are some other fiction lists “best of 2015” from different perspectives, which I appreciate enormously. Please go peruse these annotated lists at the links provided, below, to pick from each a few to read yourself! Ask your local library and bookstores to carry your favorites! Write reviews!

—-

“Top 10 Feminist Books of 2015” 12/23/15 by Kitty Lindsay from Ms. Magazine
Has a mix of fiction, poetry and non-fiction with titles almost no one else lists (big surprise), with several written by some of feminism’s iconic leaders and award-winning authors (even has two male authors!), including:
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (Fiction)
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Autobiography; poetry) (a re-issue from 1969, commemorating her passing in 2015)
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood (Fiction; short story collection)
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (Memoir)
Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA by Roberta Kaplan with Lisa Dickey (Non-Fiction)
How To Grow Up by Michelle Tea (Memoir)
Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy (Non-Fiction)
Octavia’s Brood: Science-Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements Edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown (Science-Fiction Anthology; including authors Tananarive Due, LeVar Burton, Terry Bisson and essayists, activists, artists, filmmakers, journalists) ALSO, editor adrienne maree brown, “an independent science-fiction scholar and a social justice activist, has been chosen as the 2015-16 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellow. Brown lives in Detroit, Michigan…. The Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship, now in its third year, is sponsored equally by the Center for the Study of Women in Society, Robert D. Clark Honors College, and the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. The award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in the Knight Library”; AND editor, Walidah Imarisha wins the Tiptree Award (named for feminist female author who wrote under the name “James Tiptree, Jr.,” in order to get published in the sci-fi world as a woman) and cash prize for 2015!
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer (Non-Fiction)
Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism by David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon (Non-Fiction)
http://msmagazine.com/blog/2015/12/23/your-holiday-reading-list-top-10-feminist-books-of-2015/

AND another “best of” list from Ms. Magazine: “15 Women Writers Every Badass Woman Should Read” by E. CE Miller on 12/14/15
Ths list includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and cross-genre feminist authors, some of whom appear on other lists, here, but several who do not. Enjoy!
http://www.bustle.com/articles/128770-15-women-writers-every-badass-woman-should-read

—-“55 Best Indie [Self-Published] Books of 2015,” 12/2/15, from Indie Reader‘s year of reviews. Their lists are divided into subgenres of fiction, including: Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Inspirational, Kids, Literary, Mystery/Thriller, Science-Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult (YA). They also have nonfiction (which includes poetry) in a separate list.
http://indiereader.com/2015/12/56-best-reviewed-self-pubbed-books-2015/

What’s fun about this self-pubbed list is that I am “friends” with one of the authors on social media sites! Mazel Tov to D. Hart St. Martin (Blooded, in YA).

AND, I now have an entirely new list of authors to invite to my online video talk show for 2016, CHANGES conversations between authors (see https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/ for past and upcoming shows and details about how to watch an Episode or how to be on one.

CHANGES Trailer Image_3

I resume my almost-weekly Wednesdays at 10 AM Eastern USA time one-hour live format on January 20 with returning guest, author John Howell.

Three other fiction lists:

—-“My Favorite African Science-Fiction and Fantasy (AfroSFF) Short Fiction of 2015″ by Wole Talabi, 11/28/15 https://wtalabi.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/my-favorite-african-science-fiction-and-fantasy-sff-short-fiction-of-2015/

AND

—-“Best Books 2015: Genre Fiction” on the Library Journal Reviews page, has several genres (African-American, Christian, Historical, Mystery, Romance, Thrillers, Women’s Fiction and Science-Fiction/Fantasy).
http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2015/11/best-of/best-books-2015-genre-fiction/

The African-American Fiction list by Rollie Welch includes:
Mama’s Boy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Caught Up by Shannon Holmes
Playing for Keeps by Deborah Fletcher Mello
Stand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murray
Stone Cold Liar: The Misadventures of Mink LaRue by Noire

The Science-Fiction/Fantasy Fiction list by Megan M. McArdle & Jessica E. Moyer includes Water Knife (see Paste‘s list), and:
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan
Uprooted by Naomi Novi
Trailer Park Fae by Lilith Saintcrow
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp

AND

—-Entropy mag‘s “Best of 2015 Fiction Books” from 12/8/15 includes only one or two that overlap Paste’s list and is a much more multicultural/global (includes several translated-into-English novels) and fascinating group of 50 titles, plus one “Honorable Mention.”
http://entropymag.org/best-of-2015-best-fiction-books/

AND

—-Let’s get political, please! Here are lists created by The Guardian and The Observer‘s reviewers, which they endearingly call “2015’s master list” of books, from 12/11/15, subdivided into: Fiction [Thrillers, Science-Fiction/Fantasy, Children’s, Graphic Novels (no one else remembered these, apparently!)]; non-Fiction [Sports, Food, Drink, two lists for Biographies, History, Nature, Politics, Music, Poetry, Architecture, Art, Photography, Science, Celebrity Memoirs]; and a few groups by odd categories [Paperbacks, Stocking-fillers (size-related? cost-related?), Novels].
http://www.theguardian.com/books/ng-interactive/2015/dec/11/all-of-the-best-books-of-2015

You can also go cruise on Google for other “best of 2015” fiction lists, such as those from or by Small Presses, Independent Publishers, more Indie/ Self-Pubbed authors, Debuts, Flash Fiction, and on and on. Have fun! https://goo.gl/itQw0i

AND

—-Brain Pickings has several “best of 2015” lists. Here are links to two of them (Children’s, list of lists and All Books):
https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/12/15/best-childrens-books-2015/
http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=13eb080d8a315477042e0d5b1&id=60eab78aa3&mc_cid=773f043fba&mc_eid=3da2b98925
https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/12/21/best-books-2015/?mc_cid=773f043fba&mc_eid=3da2b98925


Also from PASTE:

30 Best Young Adult (YA) Fiction of 2015
[only 4 male out of 30 writers here…hmmmm…]
http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/the-best-ya-books-of-2015-1.html
By Eric Smith | December 10, 2015
1. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
2. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
3. Blood & Salt by Kim Liggett
4. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
5. Joyride by Anna Banks
6. The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
7. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
8. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
9. An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
10. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
11. Winter by Marissa Meyer
12. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
13. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
14. My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
15. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
16. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
17. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
18. Hit by Delilah S. Dawson
19. The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
20. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
21. Shutter by Courtney Alameda
22. Those Girls by Lauren Saft
23. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
24. Tracked by Jenny Martin
25. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
26. Golden Son by Pierce Brown
27. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
28. Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
29. For the Record by Charlotte Huang
30. Half Wild by Sally Green

—-How about a YA list of the best of 2015 from the United Kingdom? 12/15/15 from Martin Chilton, Culture Editor of The Telegraph, Rebecca Hawkes and other reviewers/ contributors, offers 45 titles in this genre, with a few overlapping from the above list.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/young-adult-books/best-of-2015/

AND

—-Bustle‘s YA best fiction list from 12/10/15, Caitlin White
http://www.bustle.com/articles/116096-the-25-best-ya-books-of-2015

AND

—-Pop Crush‘s 10 best YA from 2015 posted on 12/7/15 by Emily Maas, here:
http://popcrush.com/10-best-young-adult-books-2015/

AND

My favorite, from an fantastic site that promotes excellence in girls and young women with daily info posts (subscribe!), MIGHTY GIRL, offers: “Top Read-Aloud Books Starring Mighty Girls,” which gives you and your favorite child a lot of choices for spending time together. Become and share being inspired by the amazing achievements, courage, insight, smarts and talent of these MIGHTY girls and women! This site also reviews TV/films (by category), toys (by category, type and ages), music ((by category) and clothing. MIGHTY GIRL also provides an incredible list that they call their “Character Collection,” which you have to peruse, their “Best of…” lists of almost everything, and offers resources to educators and parents.

If you’re (your girls are) really into reading, join the MIGHTY GIRL Book Club!

There are 172 books on this list. Some are for younger, some are for older, many are for all ages. These books are selected from several decades and countries, but all are available in English (although many have been translated into several other languages and you can find those versions easily).

The left menu bar lets you sort the list by target age (88 are for younger and 73 are for teens), award-winners (National Book—12, literature [Newbery—39], civil rights [Coretta Scott King—2], Parents’ Choice—15, and others), and price (free to under $20, and over $20 [only 2], but don’t forget: most are in local libraries as well).

Many of the older books have been turned into films, TV specials and series, so you can share the stories together aloud, then go watch some on screen together.
http://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-girl-picks/top-read-alouds


30 Best Non-Fiction of 2015 from PASTE
[18 male authors for 17 of the books; a bit more balanced, gender-wise, here]
http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/the-30-best-nonfiction-books-of-2015.html
By Frannie Jackson & Tyler R. Kane | December 23, 2015
1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates—memoir/current events
2. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein—music history/memoir
3. M Train by Patti Smith–memoir
4. Red Notice by Bill Browder—biography/social commentary/current events
5. Missoula by Jon Krakauer—social commentary/current events
6. The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper—music criticism collection
7. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell—history
8. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari—social commentary
9. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander—memoir
10. Dead Wake by Erik Larson—history
11. One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad—biography/social commentary/current events
12. The Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret—radio journalist’s collection
13. The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck—memoir/history
14. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson—memoir
15. Country Soul by Charles L. Hughes—history
16. Dime Stories by Tony Fitzpatrick—print journalist’s collection
17. We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War by Doug Bradley and Craig Werner—history
18. On the Move by Oliver Sacks—memoir
19. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello—autobiography
20. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough—biographies
21. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery—about octupi
22. Once in a Great City by David Maraniss—history
23. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson—poetry, philosophy, criticism, memoir
24. Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt—memoir
25. Madness in Civilization by Andrew Scull—history
26. Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso—essays/opinions
27. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon—autobiography, of Sonic Youth founder/member
28. The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits—memoir
29. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald—about hawks
30. Gumption by Nick Offerman—profiles of 21 individuals

—-In case you want another set of opinions about Non-Fiction (but they duplicate many of Paste‘s), here you go:
EarlyWord‘s Best Non-Fiction of 2015 from 12/8/15
http://www.earlyword.com/2015/12/08/best-books-nonfiction-2015/

—-Also, several more lists from EarlyWord: http://www.earlyword.com/category/best-books-2015/


—-For those of you who haven’t caught up with your reading and don’t much care about being trendy or up-to-date but keep looking for good books to read, try this list from 5/22/15, by Nina Bashaur, posted on HuffPost Women:
“21 Books From The Last 5 Years That Every Woman Should Read” (but I would say every PERSON…).
[Oh, oh: I’ve only picked up 5 of these and actually read only 3. Sigh.]
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/19/recent-books-women-should-read_n_7314166.html

buy-books-and-feel-good

Bisexual, Female, Western and Buddhist: There are a lot more of us than you might think!

Bisexual, Female, Western and Buddhist: There are a lot more of us than you might think!, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.: written in response to Black, Bisexual, and Buddhist: Zenju Earthlyn Manuel is not afraid to embrace who she is. by Kimberly Winston, August 05, 2015
http://www.tricycle.com/blog/black-bisexual-and-buddhist

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel relates that she “often sees surprise in the faces of the students as she is introduced.” She believes this is due to the fact that “she doesn’t look like many of them expect. She isn’t Asian. She isn’t a man. And she isn’t white.”

ZenjuPic4
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, photo from TRICYCLE article in online Buddhist magazine, http://www.tricycle.com/blog/black-bisexual-and-buddhist

She recently published: The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender, known here as “her second book of dharma, or Buddhist teachings, published in February by Wisdom Publications. In it, Manuel, who follows the Zen tradition, calls on Buddhists not to ignore those ways they may be different, whether it’s because of their color, gender, or sexual orientation.”

She and others call this idea a “‘multiplicity of oneness’—–[which] is somewhat controversial within Buddhism, where the teachings have tended to focus on moving beyond the physical to find the spiritual. But Manuel and a handful of other Western Buddhists—–including a number of African-American teachers–—are embracing the idea as crucial to enlightenment, a state free from anxiety that is the ultimate goal of Buddhism.”

Manuel and I have a lot in common, so I felt moved to respond to this article about her and her teaching, her writing and her spiritual life. I resonate with some aspects; others are quite different for me.

Manuel is 62; I am about to be 61. That means we are contemporaries who are natives of the same country.

She reports that she “has had a multiplicity of lives, all of which inform her work.” My C.V.—my academic and total resume—is over seven pages long. I have also moved over thirty times, having lived in states on both coasts, the midwest and the southwest of the USA. These varied aspects of my professional and personal lives must constitute a “multiplicity,” don’t you think?

Her personal history includes “violence, poverty and prejudice,” which my life contains, also. Heavier on the violence and prejudice than the poverty, for me, but all were there.

Manuel states that she has “been an activist since the tumultuous 1970s”; I started being a vocal, active feminist activist while still in grade school, moved into anti-war and anti-nuclear power activism, continued with feminism and got into reproductive rights activism and other issues as well. I started earlier by about 10 years, but then we both kept on keeping on.

Manuel says that she “has also known fear and rejection because she is bisexual,” but I mostly do not have that experience, perhaps because I didn’t “come out” publicly as bisexual until the 1990s, when it seemed almost no one cared anymore and I was a confident adult with a supportive community and family. I did lose a female friend in college in the early 1970s when I clumsily invited her to be my lover, but usually I did not experience either rejection or fear due to my sexual orientation. Not everyone I approached agreed to be my lover, but their rejections had nothing to do with my being attracted to both genders. So, our lives diverged there significantly.

She “was raised a Christian but discovered Buddhism in 1988,” whereas I was raised Jewish and discovered Buddhist in the early 1980s. However, I had already been meditating in the Transcendental Meditation (T.M.) tradition since 1972. Similar, but not the same, here.

Mostly, though, we share significant components of our cultural, personal and historical location and background. The major difference is that she is Black and I am White/Anglo. Our other intersecting social identities create affinities that few other commonalities could, especially since our experiences led us both to become immersed seriously and deeply in Buddhist practice.

Appallingly, however, she had the misfortune to have had a couple of Zen teachers who “suggested if she ‘dropped the labels’ of ‘African-American,’ of ‘bisexual,’ of ‘woman,’ she would ‘be liberated.’ That is ridiculous and has nothing to do with authentic Buddhism. I’m sorry she had those teachers or allowed them to affect her. Obviously, by trying to accomplish this (the impossible), she was not “liberated.” Furthermore, these attempts did not ease her suffering; in fact, she reported that she became more unhappy.

Eventually, she discovered on her own what Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism (my tradition) has always taught: embrace everything, cling to nothing. While bushwhacking her own path through Zen traditions that were not friendly to her, she arrived at, in her words: “’complete tenderness’—–the experience of walking through her pain, knowing it, living with it, but not being controlled by it—–by confronting her suffering caused by her upbringing and identity as an African-American bisexual woman.”

I challenge this idea, though, that her suffering was “caused” by her identities at that point. I would conclude instead that her suffering was exacerbated early in her Zen journey by the ignorance and arrogance of those Zen teachers who misdirected her, then aggravated by her willingness to follow their misdirections for too long. It isn’t who she was that was the problem; it’s he ways a few teachers positioned who she was with respect to her spiritual path that caused her pain.

Despite being misled by some teachers, Manuel continued within Zen all the way to becoming ordained as a Zen Priest, when she was “given the name ‘Zenju,’ which means ‘complete tenderness.’” She now leads a small, all-female sangha that meets where she lives, in Oakland, California (near San Francisco), many of whom are also identifying as women of color.

I’m glad she found a way through all that, but it was so unnecessary. There are many USA-based Zen sanghas, some right near her that I am personally aware of, in which she would not have had those experiences. We could say it was her karma to have had those encounters, and we’d be correct, since everything we experience is always due to our karma.

But, it is not inherent to the nature of Zen or Buddhism to treat students in those ways. I need to emphasize this truth, since it appears from this Tricycle article and perhaps her book (I haven’t read it, so I’m not sure) that it is inevitable that students of backgrounds similar to hers will encounter prejudice and extreme difficulties due to their social identities everywhere they go in Buddhist communities. Simply not true.

I have observed, though, that too many Buddhist communities in the USA and Canada are populated by a disproportionate number of middle- and upper-class Whites/Anglos in comparison to the number of participants from other ethnicities and class backgrounds. I’m glad to say that these imbalances have been recognized by most leaders and other members: many sanghas are doing extensive outreach to rectify them.

I don’t know if Manuel’s Oakland Zen sitting group is deliberately all women or intentionally mostly women of color; perhaps it is open to everyone, but her being who she is, as the teacher, attracted more practitioners similar to her. That does happen, that spiritual teachers attract students who see themselves as similar to their teachers.

The only similarity that actually matters, though, is that we are all human and we all need to train our minds, develop more compassionate hearts, and liberate ourselves from delusions that cause suffering. Therefore, I believe deliberately segregating ourselves by gender, class, background or any other social identity is a mistake when it comes to creating and maintaining spiritual community. I know there are specific occasions when such segregation can be useful or necessary, but mostly, let’s not.

Clearly, the Buddhist path works well for Manuel and she believes it can work well for other women of color, bisexual or not. In that, we agree.

The Buddha supposedly taught over 84,000 types of meditation so that each individual who wants to practice will be able to find a path that works. In a large enough community with sufficient numbers of paths and teachers, I’m sure that is possible: everyone who wants to learn to meditate in the Buddhist tradition could do so.

Northern California, USA, is such a locale, with dozens or even hundreds of Buddhist teachers and sangha options scattered throughout the rural, suburban and urban areas, each slightly or very different from the other. I used to live there and I miss it a lot.

St. Louis, Missouri, USA, is not such a locale. It is not bereft entirely of Buddhists or Buddhist communities, but there is none in my exact tradition. I find that I am not so interested in attending the groups that are dissimilar. I enjoy meditating on my own just fine. I do miss my sangha and those important, guiding interactions, but not enough to join some other group, yet.

Meanwhile, this female, bisexual Buddhist who was raised Jewish and is White/Anglo is meditating and attempting to liberate in this lifetime alongside or including, but not despite, my social identities. I am lucky to have occasional conversations with my spiritual teacher, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu, by telephone, and regular contact with geographically distant sangha members via SKYPE, social media and email.

May all beings benefit. I wish you all the best in your practices.

Buddha thinking creates happiness

2015 GLORIA AWARDS (in honor of Gloria Steinem) from the Ms. Foundation for Women

Can’t say enough good things to and about these #feminist leaders, innovators, advocates and authors. read about and support this year’s group of honorees!

There is a great GALA on May 11 at 6 PM in New York City, USA, and an “after party” from 9 – 11 PM at the same location. Both cost money.

See below for more info, but mostly, I’m posting about the Honorees, who ROCK!

2015 GLORIA AWARDS
Ceremony is on May 11, 2015, in New York City, Pierre Hotel, 6 PM, 2 E 61st St, 10065
Contact: events@ms.foundation.org or 212.709.4436
Purchase tickets, get more info here:
http://www.forwomen.org/gala

the Ms. Foundation for Women

msfoundation logo
to celebrate and honor
ACT FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS
Ms. Foundation Grantees
2015 Woman of Vision Award Winners

****CENTRO DE LOS DERECHOS DEL MIGRANTE
Ms. Foundation Grantee
Woman of Vision Award

CDM logo
http://www.cdmigrante.org/

CDM supports Mexico-based migrant workers to defend and protect their rights as they move between their home communities in Mexico and their workplaces in the United States. Founded in 2005, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) is the first transnational migrant workers’ rights organization based in Mexico.”

****SUZANNE LERNER
Co-Founder and President, Michael Stars, Inc.
Woman of Vision Award

Suzanne Lerner
http://www.michaelstars.com/

Suzanne Lerner is an entrepreneur, political activist and philanthropist. She is currently the president of Michael Stars and owner of Lerner Et Cie. Suzanne Lerner boasts decades of experience in business, as well as a background in dozens of causes, primarily centered around female empowerment. In 1983, Lerner founded Lerner et Cie, a wholesale fashion showroom, currently with four locations nationwide. Lerner co-founded and currently serves as President of retail clothing company, Michael Stars. Lerner primarily oversaw sales and marketing until 2015, when she was appointed President. Lerner’s second career is philanthropy – both personal and with the Michael Stars Foundation. Lerner serves on the board of Women Thrive Worldwide, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Prosperity Catalyst and Children Mending Hearts. She is also a member of Women Donors Network and Women Moving Millions. Lerner funds a number of NGO’s that focus on women’s empowerment, economic stability, gender reconciliation and gender-based violence. She resides in Los Angeles.”

****GOLDIEBLOX: Construction Toys for Girls
Corporate Innovation Award

gb_about_goldie
http://www.goldieblox.com/

“Debbie Sterling is the founder and CEO of GoldieBlox. She never knew what engineering was until her high school math teacher suggested she pursue it as a college major. Debbie couldn’t figure out why her math teacher thought she should be a train conductor! Nevertheless, she gave engineering a try during her freshman year at Stanford. Four years later, she graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering / Product Design. Bothered by how few women there were in her program, Debbie became obsessed with the notion of “disrupting the pink aisle” with a toy that would introduce girls to the joy of engineering at a young age.”

****JANET MOCK, Author and Advocate
Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award

janet-mock-redefining-realness-available-now
http://janetmock.com/

“JANET MOCK is the New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. She considers herself a Beyoncé scholar but is widely known as a sought-after speaker and prominent advocate for trans women’s rights. A native of Honolulu, Janet attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, earned her MA in journalism from New York University, and worked as a Staff Editor for People.com (People magazine’s website) for five years. In 2012, Janet launched #GirlsLikeUs, a social movement that empowers trans women and celebrates the diversity of womanhood. In 2013, Janet joined the board of directors at the Arcus Foundation, a leading global organization advancing social justice and conservation issues. She lives and writes in New York City with her boyfriend, photographer and filmmaker, Aaron Tredwell and their cockapoo, Cleo. Currently, she hosts the weekly culture show “So POPular!” on MSNBC’s Shift network and serves as Contributing Editor for Marie Claire.”

And, a special award:
The Free to Be Foundation gives its first-ever
Peggy Charren/Free to Be You and Me Award to
JOAN GANZ COONEY, Co-Founder, Children’s Television Workshop

Joan GanzCooney

Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder in 1968 of Children’s Television Workshop (renamed Sesame Workshop in June 2000) and originator of the preschool educational series, Sesame Street, served as President and Chief Executive Officer until 1990. She is currently Chair of the Executive Committee of Sesame Workshop‘s Board of Trustees and in November 2007 introduced the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, dedicated to investigating the potential of digital media to help children learn and collaborating with educators, media producers, policymakers and investors to put this research into action.

Sesame Street, which began as an experiment, is the first preschool program to integrate education and entertainment as well as feature a multi-cultural cast. It has been broadcast daily since 1969 in the U.S. on the more than 300 stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and is seen by millions of children in more than 150 countries. Indigenous co-productions of Sesame Street reflecting local languages, customs and educational needs are produced for audiences all over the world.

“Following the successful launch of Sesame Street, Ms. Cooney and her colleagues created other award-winning children’s series on network and public TV including The Electric Company, 3-2-1 Contact, Square One TV, Ghostwriter, CRO, Big Bag, Dragon Tales, Sagwa the Chinese Cat and Pinky Dinky Doo, each offering educational opportunities around science, mathematics, reading and bringing new experiences to life.

Sesame Workshop programs have been awarded over 150 Emmys and have received scores of other honors presented here and around the world. The Workshop’s activities also include publishing, digital media, product licensing and community engagement efforts such as the award winning program — Talk, Listen, Connect — launched in 2006 to help military families with young children between the ages of two and five build a sense of stability and resiliency during times of separation and change.

“Ms. Cooney is presently a Director at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and a Lifetime Trustee of the Paley Center for Media, The New York Presbyterian Hospital, WNET Channel 13/Educational Broadcasting Corporation and of the National Child Labor Committee and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.”

In 1968, children’s television programming was revolutionized with the creation [by of the Children’s Television Workshop – the force behind Sesame Street, The Electric Company and many other award-winning educational programs.”
Peggy Charren was the founder of Action for Children’s Television, which lobbied broadcasters, advertisers and legislators to create quality educational programming and TV commercials that promote healthy eating and positive child development.

Also being honored:
ACT for Women and Girls as Women of Vision
http://www.actforwomenandgirls.org/

ACT Logo

“Based in Visalia, California, ACT for Women and Girls works to transform women of all ages into leaders for reproductive rights and health care. Through the Female Leadership Academy, ACT engages women from the community to take active roles in eradicating the oppression that lies deep in the roots of California’s Central Valley region – addressing poverty, teen pregnancy, unemployment and environmental issues.

“The Ms. Foundation for Women is proud to be a longtime supporter of ACT for Women and Girls, and honors them as Women of Vision for their innovative efforts to promote and protect reproductive rights.”

ACT is located in Visalia, California, the epicenter and largest metropolitan area of Tulare County. Led by Erin Garner-Ford, ACT‘s mission is to engage women of all ages in leadership opportunities to promote social and personal change. ACTwas founded in 2005 with the creation of the Female Leadership Academy (FLA) program. From the inception of FLA, it was evident that reproductive justice issues demanded to be addressed, as participants were often misinformed about reproductive health, justice, and access.

“Unlike Southern California and the Bay Area, Tulare County has few resources and is the most adversely impacted region in California regarding social issues, such as poverty, unemployment, teen pregnancy, and environmental degradation. ACTtakes an active role in eradicating the oppression that lies deep in the roots of the Central Valley. Through one young woman at a time, ACT makes an impact.

ACT engages young people ages 14-24 through three program areas: The signature eight month leadership program, FLA, which develops young women leaders to actively engage in the reproductive health and justice movement; ACTion Teams for young women and men to educate their peers on sexual health information in the community through events, street outreach and education; and Teen Success, a support group for pregnant and parenting teen moms. ACT’s program participants come from every rural community in Tulare County.

“Through ACT’s programs, young women are prepared and energized to actively participate in shaping the future of their communities (both locally and globally). ACT focuses on reproductive justice leadership, developing young women leaders to engage in civic participation projects and partners with state and national groups for policy advocacy work. The overarching vision of ACT’s reproductive justice work is to INCREASE ACCESS to reproductive health education, contraception, abortion, and protection against sexually transmitted infections. ACT strives to promote services that are comprehensive and culturally competent, influence legislation, and provide a voice from the Central Valley on important bills that impact women and their health.

“Each of ACT’s program participants contribute to ACT’s grassroots campaigns to increase awareness of reproductive health and justice. One of the cornerstones to developing young women’s leadership is through direct action and organizing opportunities. Participants help shape and implement three signature reproductive justice campaigns annually: Pharmacy Access; Comprehensive Sexual Health and Education Initiative; and ‘Don’t Let a Hot Date Turn Into a Due Date.'”


Ms Afterparty eVite 42215
Link to purchase tickets for the “after-party”: http://forwomen.org/afterparty
($75 in advance; $100 at the door).

Why I write about #politics, #elections, #issues and support Emily’s List #feminist #candidates

I WILL write about #politics, #elections, #issues and support Emily’s List #feminist #candidates…and so should you!

feminist activist causes
image from: http://www.list.co.uk

Maybe you think “social media” should just be for posting pictures that are funny or cute. Maybe you don’t want to offend or alienate anyone. Maybe you’re a coward. Maybe you’re undecided. Maybe you’re ignorant and don’t know enough about anything political to write about it. Whatever your reasons or rationales, cut it out.

If you are a USA citizen or a citizen of any country that allows you to vote and you do not exercise that duty and right for EVERY election, informing yourself (which is easier to do than ever before with information EVERYWHERE) and taking a stand on candidates and issues as adults who care are motivated to do, than I want you reading this post to inspire and educate yourself.

If you’re already politically active and savvy, great: SHARE!

First of all, there is a sea of candidates out there for almost every elected post and many campaigns of mis- and dis-information attempting to muddy the waters further. What’s an interested, concerned citizen to do? Utilize the groups that vet candidates and issues FOR us, that’s what. Find a group/entity who screens, analyzes, evaluates and presents, according to YOUR values and interests, those you’d want to vote for, complete with reasons, and information about whom and what to vote against as well.

Propaganda v science
image from: http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com

Better yet, if you’re so inclined, RUN for office. Offer yourself to serve on a Board or Commission. Join/donate to/volunteer for a local or state chapter of the League of Women Voters, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), the National Organization for Women (NOW), or whatever else strikes your fancy. Start small and keep going, because city council members, school board members, mayors, sheriffs, judges and many others in local offices later become state or federal senators, congressional representatives for the state or federal government, state governors, Supreme Court judges, presidents!

As a life-long feminist committed to environmental, social, educational and other more radical values/components that mesh with my Buddhist, nonviolent foundations, I choose appropriate news sources (mostly nonprofits to boot) to help me learn and decide.

Here are a few I use and recommend:

  • Emily’s List http://www.emilyslist.org/, whose mission is: “We elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.”
  • Mother Jones magazine http://www.motherjones.com/, which has been analyzing and reporting from the center of core issues, reporting what many do NOT report and reporting truthfully, paid off by NO ONE, for decades
  • B*TCH Media, whose tagline is “Outsmart the Patriarchy,” which I love even though I do not like their name, and whose mission is to respond to “pop culture,” but does so much more than that http://bitchmagazine.org/
  • The Daily KOS, which has a weekly open thread on ELECTIONS, and with whom I often disagree but respect http://www.dailykos.com/
  • Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzales and the team at Democracy NOW!, independent, ad-free, on TV and public radio http://www.democracynow.org
  • Dissident Voice, which is “a radical [online] newspaper in the struggle for peace and justice,” that sees itself as providing “hard-hitting, thought-provoking and even entertaining news and commentaries on politics and culture that can serve as ammunition in struggles for peace and social justice.” http://dissidentvoice.org/
  • Upworthy.com, which is a curation site, gathering from many sources, including YOU, if you submit, to re-present “things that matter.” http://www.upworthy.com/
  • The Feminist Wire, with an inspiring and laudable mission: “to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally. Of particular critical interest to us are social and political phenomena that block, negate, or limit the satisfaction of goods or ends that humans, especially the most vulnerable, minimally require for living free of structural violence. The Feminist Wire seeks to valorize and sustain pro-feminist representations and create alternative frameworks to build a just and equitable society.” http://thefeministwire.com/

JFK quote
image made from John F. Kennedy quote

What else can we/should we do, if you believe, as I do, that change is necessary and that many important changes do occur via our elections and efforts in those directions? Here are some ideas. Comment and add your own, please! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

  • Some of you are lucky enough to have an alternative newspaper right in your area, still publishing in print and/or online (The Valley Advocate (New England, USA sites), The Bohemian (CA, USA, San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast sites), The Boston Phoenix, Women’s Voices Magazine (many locations around the world) are some of my favorites).
    Read them. Subscribe. Submit comments online. Submit “Letters to the Editor.” Tell others. Buy ad space. Distribute or allow your business to become a site for distribution.

  • Donate to and support National and local Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, other alternative online or actual broadcasting entities. They are fewer and further between than ever and are always operating on shoestring budgets with many volunteers. YOU could volunteer!
  • Maybe you want to get your news from a culturally, ethnically or group-specific source, like Al Jazeera, The Advocate (LGBTQIQ), Univision, The St. Louis Jewish Light, Black Press USA, or whichever you prefer.
    Support them. Donate. Buy ad space. Volunteer. Comment online. Support their advertisers.

social change
image from: http://mariamuir.com

Use my sources and ideas or get your own, but get informed and work for the candidates you support, for the issues that matter to you.

It is UNACCEPTABLE to be passive and silent, more worried more about being controversial than effecting necessary changes. Be bold! Just because you are an artistic sort doesn’t mean you get to hide!

artist as activist
image made from quote by Larry Neal

Get involved. March. Demonstrate. Speak. Donate. Host. Participate. Invite. Write. Solicit.

VOTE!!!!!