People Who Make America Great for Everyone (Part II)
"Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn't make a corporation a terrorist."
Winona LaDuke is a hellraiser and #forceofuckingnature. She was the former Green Party vice presidential candidate in 2000 alongside Ralph Nader. LaDuke is from the White Earth Nation of Northern Minnesota. She is sought after by Universities, grassroots organizations, tribal governments, and media outlets for her consultation and expertise on a variety of topics ranging from environmental sustainability to politics. As a renowned international speaker, writer, environmentalist, and political activist, she even appeared on the Colbert Report and held her own with her sharp sense of humor. She handed the funny guy $24 and a replica of her nation's flag as an offering in order to finally earn sovereignty for her people. Here's how Bush describes tribal sovereignty in the 21st century. We've had some bright white guys in office here in 'Merica.
LaDuke was on the front lines of Standing Rock and has appeared on Ted Talks. She is the program director of Honor the Earth and speaks to indigenous economics. She works nationally and internationally on issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. She is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based non profit organizations in the country, and a leader in the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems.
In 2007, LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, recognizing her leadership and community commitment. In 1994, Time magazine nominated her as one of America’s fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age. She was awarded the Thomas Merton Award in 1996, Ms. Woman of the Year, and the Reebok Human Rights Award. She graduated from Harvard and Antioch, is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and is presently an advisory board member for the Trust for Public Lands Native Lands Program as well as a boardmember of the Christensen Fund.
Adrienne Rich was an American #forceofnature, poet, essayist and feminist called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century.” Rich studied poetry and writing at Radcliffe College and after graduating in 1951, her first collection of poetry entitled, A Change of World, was selected by W.H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets award. During the 60s, Rich’s work became more political and confrontational, dealing with themes including women’s role in society, civil rights, and the Vietnam War. In her brilliant 1982 piece, “Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity,” Rich wrote, “The experience of motherhood was eventually to radicalize me...”
Rich is so rock n’ roll that she made headlines in 1997 when she refused the National Medal of Arts for political reasons. “I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or the White House,” she wrote, “because the very meaning of art as I understand it is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration.” Fuck yeah. And because it's just too damn good not to re-publish, we want to share with you more of Rich's explanation for why she refused the National Medal for the Arts:
"Both major parties have displayed a crude affinity for the interests of corporate power while deserting the majority of the people, especially the most vulnerable. Like so many others, I've watched the dismantling of our public education, the steep rise in our incarceration rates, the demonization of our young black men, the accusations against our teenage mothers, the selling of health care--public and private--to the highest bidders, the export of subsistence-level jobs in the United States to even lower-wage countries, the use of below-minimum-wage prison labor to break strikes and raise profits, the scapegoating of immigrants, the denial of dignity and minimal security to our working and poor people. At the same time, we've witnessed the acquisition of publishing houses, once risk-taking conduits of creativity, by conglomerates driven single-mindedly to fast profits, the acquisition of major communications and media by those same interests, the sacrifice of the arts and public libraries in stripped-down school and civic budgets and, most recently, the evisceration of the National Endowment for the Arts. Piece by piece the democratic process has been losing ground to the accumulation of private wealth."
- Adrienne Rich
“Give yourself over, give yourself over for the good of the world,” sings the inspiring #forceofnature, Jasmine Amara. On Friday June 23, 2017, Amara and fellow photographer and poet, Jen Fedrizzi, hosted their first “About Water” exhibition in Bishop, California. The event took place inside Sierra Shanti yoga studio off Main St. where many attendees slipped off their shoes and learned about the tragic abuse of water in America.
Inspired by their relationship with water, and the knowledge that Los Angeles is draining the Owens Valley, Amara and Fedrizzi teamed up to create conversations about living harmoniously with our planet’s most precious life source. The work includes images from Payahüünadü, or the Owens Valley, which is one of L.A.’s main water sources today, as well as images of food trucks and concrete landscapes that contribute to water decimation.
“At this time it feels increasingly important for me to use art, music, and poetry as an avenue for healing, informing, and resisting,” reflects Amara on her personal website. Amara is also an intuitive who provides her services as an Intuitive Consultant, offering guidance and insight toward personal empowerment, self-love, abundance, awareness, and fulfillment. She has been using art for spiritual transformation and ecological activism for 15 years and currently offers art sessions as a means of healing at Wild Iris Crisis Center in Bishop.
“About Water” is a traveling series which will be in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County next. You can support their mission by attending and bringing cash to buy one of their beautiful zines of poetry, notecards, or gorgeous prints.
Georgie Abel is a freelance #forceofnature, writer, editor, and yoga instructor based in Moraga, California. Her work frequently appears in the Climbing Zine, Moja Gear, and on her personal blog. Abel graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in Writing and Linguistics. She specializes in health, outdoor sports, and women’s issues. Abel is also the author of two books, Modern Redpointing, and Go West, Young Woman.
Georgie Abel crushes the patriarchy of the outdoor industry like she crushes boulders in the Buttermilks, or inspiring lines in Ten Sleep. Her words cut truth from fiction like a sharp crimp at the crux of a route. She writes with conviction, and her commitment to the feminist movement is clear in pieces like, “An Open Letter to Climbing Gyms: You Need Sexual Harassment Training,” and “When Feminism Doesn’t Go Far Enough.” A beacon of light for many women in the climbing community, Abel has been fearless about using her writing and voice to speak out about the all too often swept-under-the-rug problems of outdoor culture. Without pause, she calls attention to the pervasive sexism of the climbing community. In one of her arguably boldest pieces, “An Open Letter to Andrew Bisharat,” she exposes a disagreement the two had about race and gender and how these things affect our realities.
Our fave lines:
“…and to suggest that female climbers are responsible for holding themselves back is not only misinformed, but it’s also offensive.”
“I also disagree tha the key to breaking down gender barriers in climbing is for women to put up more FAs and to downplay their first female ascents. I think that the way for women to empower themselves is to do whatever the fuck they want to do.”
Awww, hell yaaaaasssss!
Shola Lynch is an award-winning #forceofnature American Filmmaker known for her feature documentary, FREE ANGELA and All Political Prisoners (2012), the Peabody Award winning documentary, Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed (2004), and We the Economy: 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss (2014). Shola is a highly respected public speaker, lecturer and panelist.
She was named the Curator for Film, Moving Image and Recorded Sound at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Shola holds a Master’s in American History and Public History Management from the University of California, Riverside as well as a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia Univeristy. In 2013, The Sundance Institute selected Shola as one of five women who show great promised to be mentored in their prestigious Women’s Filmmaker Initiative. Shola was awarded the Creative Capital Award for her next film, a narrative on the great liberator Harriet Tubman. In 2016, she was elected to the Documentary Jury of the Sundance Film Festival.
Sarita Santoshini is an independent journalist #forceofnature breaking barriers.
Santoshini is a Bitch Media writing fellow. Her focus is in reproductive rights and justice. She was born in the state of Assam in Northeast India. She studied Mass Media at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Her work has combined her passion for travel and writing: She wrote for Travel Secrets magazine, interned with Condé Nast Traveller India, and was the content editor for the travel startup SaffronStays. In June 2015, she moved back to Assam to focus her writing on the Northeast region, where she reports on human rights, including child trafficking and witch hunting. Her work has been published in Al Jazeera, Roads & Kingdoms, and National Geographic Traveller India.
In her essay, Birds, Bees, and Beyond: Toward More Inclusive Sex-Ed in India, Santoshini writes, "Sex education isn’t simply about being able to name body parts and processes, or learning about reproduction. It’s also crucial for teaching young people about respect, boundaries, and self-advocacy." Oh my, could public schools learn from this writing.
“People are supportive about women getting together, laughing, climbing, and having a good time, but when you research sexism in the climbing gyms and you write an article about it many people don’t want to hear it,” says #forceofnature, Shelma Jun, the founder of Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival. Jun is referring to her article published in Outside Magazine, How Gender Affects Your Experience at the Climbing Gym. Jun is the founder of the first women's climbing festival, which started in 2016 in Bishop, CA and has grown to bring 300 women together over a weekend of climbing, panels, clinics and more. In just it’s second year, Shelma will be adding an additional festival location in Chattanooga, TN this fall.
Her writing has appeared in Climbing Magazine, Outside Online and other publications. Jun has spoken on panels and at dinners for the American Alpine Club and the Access Fund. In 2017, she was named one of 40 women who’ve made the biggest impact in the outdoor world by Outside Magazine.
In the past there has been efforts towards rallying women to get together, take up space, and climb, but Jun theorizes that her advantage was the internet. What started out as Instagram posts of her friends climbing in the gym under the name, “Hey Flash Foxy,” has now become a revolutionary act of women gathering for a weekend to climb, discuss the lack of opportunity in the outdoor industry through panels and breakfast conversation, and to participate in workshops run by the most accomplished women in climbing.
Thank goodness for Jun's fearless drive and effortless ability to bring people together. The climbing community is improving exponentially in the realm of social justice because of her inclusive contributions.
Catherine Young is a bomb #forceofnature who runs her own website complete with writing, podcast, interviews, and features. Young is also a Bitch Media writing fellow. Where she talks about all things from The Year in Black Girl Magic, to Male Tears for Fears - we just can't get enough of her gleefully unapologetic writing.
Catherine Young is a Trinidadian writer currently based in Tobago, and the creator of the feminist pop culture blog BattyMamzelle. After graduating from Boston University in 2012 with a BA in Photojournalism, she returned home, abandoned her camera, and focused on writing with a focus on the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and media representation. In 2013, her essay “Solidarity is for Miley Cyrus: The Racial Implications of her VMA Performance” (originally published on Jezebel’s Groupthink) went viral, garnering more than one million unique views. Another essay, “This Is What I Mean When I Say White Feminism,” continues to be cited as an explainer on intersectionality. Her work has also appeared on Persephone Magazine and Bitch Flicks. She is currently pursuing her MA in Mass Communications at the University of Leicester (by distance learning), and hopes to continue writing about media representation, its effects on larger culture, and its power to change social attitudes.
MEL Y. CHEN
University of California, Berkeley is lucky to have this #forceofnature. Mel Y. Chen is Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and an affiliate of the Center for Race and Gender, the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society, and serves as a core member of the Haas Institute’s Disability Studies and LGBTQ Citizenship Clusters. Chen's research and teaching interests include queer and gender theory, animal studies, critical race theory, Asian American studies, disability studies, science studies, and critical linguistics.
Chen's book Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Duke UP 2012, Alan Bray Memorial Award), explores questions of racialization, queering, disability, and affective economies in animate and inanimate “life.” Further writing can be found in Women’s Studies Quarterly, GLQ, Discourse, Women in Performance, Australian Feminist Studies, Amerasia, and the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. With series coeditor Jasbir K. Puar, Mel recently inaugurated a new book series called “Anima” highlighting scholarship in critical race and disability post/in/humanisms at Duke University Press. A special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies on “Queer Inhumanisms,” coedited with Dana Luciano, appears in 2015.
Chen has given many distinguished public lectures from topics including, "Thing About Race and Education in a Time of Toxicity," and "A Fraught History of Slowness." Chen is a ground-breaking scholar working on the intersections of queer and gender theory, animal studies, critical race theory and Asian American studies, disability studies, science studies, and critical linguistics.
Chen examines toxicities that we inhale from the air we breathe, the seemingly innocent act of spraying perfume on our bodies, the kind of detergent we use to wash our clothes, and even the candles we light to set the mood. In this day, we are all walking around in toxic bodies. Through breath and touch, we are constantly exchanging molecules, much of the time they are toxic. In an article about Chen's studies the author, Karli June Cerankowski, notes, "This molecular intimacy really gives us pause to rethink our social hierarchies: how and why do we classify certain people, based on race, ability, gender, or sexuality, as more or less worthy? And how do these hierarchies affect how we treat non-human animals, plants, and inanimate objects? And vice versa: how does our treatment of non-human animals, plants, and objects perpetuate racist, ableist, sexist, and heterosexist categories?"
Florynce Kennedy (1916-2000) was an American lawyer, activist, civil rights advocate, lecturer and one of the pioneers of second-wave feminism. She was a #forceofnature as a founder of the National Organization for Women. Kennedy came up on the scene in the 60s and 70s, and helped repeal New York's restrictive abortion laws. She was well known for her radical political organizing. Kennedy was one of the few women and even fewer black people to get into, and out of, Columbia Law School in the fifties.
Kennedy has been too often erased in most feminist narratives about her time period, but she was certainly a legend. She was not only involved in mainstream feminism, but also closely allied with the Black Power struggle.
Gloria Steinem wrote about Kennedy in 1973 in Ms. Magazine. She reminisces about first meeting the powerhouse in 1969: "...she had become well known as a founder of the National Organization for Women–though, characteristically, she had left to form other feminist groups when NOW’s rough early days were over and the going got too tame."
The best of Kennedy:
“Angela Davis is accused–only accused–of buying a gun for somebody, and what happens? She spends months in solitary confinement and hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal defense before she can go free. Lieutenant Calley is convicted of slaughtering kids and women in Vietnam and what happens? He gets confined to very comfortable quarters, not even sent to jail–and Nixon defends him in public. It makes you wonder: does femicide pay?”
“Being a mother is a noble status, right? So why does it change when you put ‘unwed’ or ‘welfare’ in front of it?”
“Oppression has at least four dimensions: The personal or psychological–like when you yourself believe that you’re a big zero because society keeps telling you so. The private–like when some employer tries to make out with you when you ask for a job. The public–like when the government takes the money you need for child-care centers, and uses it to kill people in Indochina. And the cultural–like when the history books attribute everything we did and invented to some guy we worked for.”
“Some people say they won’t work ‘inside the system’–they’re ‘waiting for the revolution.’ Well, when the ramparts are open, honey, I’ll be there. But until then, I’m going to go right on zapping the business and government delinquents, the jockocrats, the fetus fetishists, and all the other niggerizers any way I can. The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.”
“The innocence of good people is inexcusable. Naivete is a luxury only the pigocrats can afford.”
“Women have at least three kinds of power: Dollar Power, to boycott with; Vote Power, to take over structures with, and maybe even get somebody elected; and Body Power, to get out and support our friends and make a damned nuisance of ourselves with everybody else.”
“We don’t say a word when Madison Avenue makes millions off us, but we get all resentful and suspicious when somebody in the Movement gets attention or makes a dime.That’s Nigger Nobility. If you have to lose to prove you’re a good person, we won’t get anywhere.”
“If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”
“My parents gave us a fantastic sense of security and worth. By the time the bigots got around to telling us that we were nobody, we already knew we were somebody.”
“I may seem radical, but I’m not. I’m just a worm, turning.”
“I know we’re termites. But if all the termites got together, the house would fall down.”
“You’ve got to rattle your cage door. You’ve got to let them know that you’re in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you’ll sure have a lot more fun.”