I love my friends and family, I love my earth, and I love people (in small doses). Here are three things that I am passionate about:
When living in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois years ago, my husband and I befriended two wonderful people, Peter and Rebecca, now married and living across the country from us. Peter is a wealth of knowledge and dedicated his life to service. He is now the medical director of Wuqu’ Kawoq, a non-governmental organization “committed to facilitating excellence and linguistic competence in medical care delivery in the indigenous highlands of Guatemala. There are currently few medical programs in Guatemala that provide care or educational in indigenous Mayan languages.” (quote taken from the website, linked above). Peter directs; Rebecca has painted and beautified the clinic. They are two of the most talented and resourceful people I know.
In many countries, we are blessed with a variety and abundance of food. In others, there is difficulty in getting enough nourishment to grow and thrive, and even medical care. Please look at Wuqu’ Kawoq’s website and consider the amazing things that the people involved do.
Ever wonder what to do with the junk you throw away? Recycle! But what can you make? Build toy ships? Make purses? Perhaps some fairy wings? Brian Yanish, a friend, wedding best-man extraordinaire, and talented artist shows you how with his Scrap Kins creations. Check out his Scrap Kins Build-It Book and blog to consider how to live your life greenly and creatively while teaching the kids how to develop these skills for a lifetime. Plus, he’s a really cool dude.
Racial justice / intersectionality – What is this? Why is this important? Historically, the lighter one’s skin, the more privileges s/he has because of the social construction of racism. We are all people, no matter what we look like or where we are from, who deserve to be treated equally. Much of the U.S. likes to think it is past racial divisions, but it’s not. Equity means that white privilege needs to be dismantled. We need to back up.
One important concept often lost on white people is intersectionality. It considers all of the factors that constitute our political identities: gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, physical abilities, age, etc. There is a long history of feminism where privileged white feminists did not consider ALL women and these identities. In my mind, rather than a flat, two-dimensional view of oppression, intersectionality gives it body, depth, basically a soul and color. We don’t share all aspects, obviously. But they all need to be considered for a more fruitful and harmonious understanding of each other.
This is obviously a very short list of resources. If you have some to share, I would love to hear about them. Here are a few resources that I have read or started to read:
For reading on feminism and intersectionality, there are so many authors from whom to choose. Try Kimberle Crenshaw, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks (a link to a free primer by bell hooks in PDF) to start.
The non-profit organization Community Change Inc. in Boston does great work with education on racial equity. The executive director, Shay, also has a nicely-written blog at blackgirlinmaine.com sharing her unique experience as one of the few black people currently living in Maine. You can also follow her on twitter at @blackgirlinmain.
Prolific writer Sarah Kendzior covers topics from racial injustices, politics, the economy, culture, just about everything. Her Ferguson coverage is unparalleled. She is a voice for parts of America that many push aside. She wrote for Al-Jazeera English with well-researched, engaging Op-Ed writing that has forever changed how I see the world. Because of infrastructure changes in AJE limiting content, creativity, and research guidelines for writing, she announced her leave from the organization on September 20, 2014. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahkendzior. Her website is sarahkendzior.com.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Engaging and necessary conversations.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. A classic.
On this Tumblr blog, people tell stories of their white privilege on this blog in hopes to open the eyes to those who don’t see it: http://million-stories-white-privilege.tumblr.com
Debby Irving wrote a book about her journey to understanding her white privilege called Waking Up White. It’s available on Kindle. Understand it is *her* journey. It helps others, like me, to understand the process, how to listen (and basically learn to shut up), how to be an ally.
A great resource on the details of Ferguson and a wealth of links, check out http://neuronbomb.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/the-ferguson-masterpost-how-to-argue-eloquently-back-yourself-up-with-facts/ .