This Week: Advancing Justice for Women and Girls of Color Through Research, Student Activism, and Rosa Parks’ Papers

November 15, 2015

Here’s our pick of news, writing, and research this week that investigates political questions at the intersections of gender, race, and region.

1. “Advancing Justice for Women and Girls of Color”
Melissa Harris-Perry: “Recognition is an organizing need within democracy, and one too frequently denied women of color. Mutually affirming recognition allows citizens to operate as equals within the confines of the social contract and is a core feature of the relationship between citizens and the state… This is not just a matter of hurt feelings. The stakes are high and the consequences potentially deadly when women and girls of color are misrecognized… Substantive and sustained research improves recognition. Research lacks the sexy, high profile appeal of programming interventions, but it is foundational… Too often we approach systemic injustice with a headlong rush to bring solutions before we fully understand the problems… Research helps us test assumptions. It helps us refine our assessments.

One of the most exciting events on Friday will be the announcement of the Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research… a voluntary affiliation of American colleges, universities, professional schools, seminaries, research programs, publishers, and public interest institutions committed to taking meaningful action to support and improve research about women and girls of color. The Collaborative of 24 institutions will announce combined commitments of $18 million over the next five years… These commitments are consequential. As the Collaborative grows and as the work produced by and supported by these institutions gains wider audiences, perhaps we can begin to see more clearly, to recognize more fully, and to advance more steadily the cause of equity and justice for women and girls of color.”

2. “White House to announce $118 million public, private effort to improve the lives of women and girls of color”
“The Ms. Foundation and Prosperity Together, a collaboration of 20 women’s foundations, have pledged $100 million over five years to develop programs to lift women and girls out of poverty… Another $18 million has been pledged by the Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research, which will study and collect data to help identify challenges faced by women and girls of color and solutions to those challenges.” The Council on Women and girls also released a new report with updated information about policies and programs intended to advance equity for women and girls of color.

3. “Student Activism Is Serious Business”
Roxane Gay: “In the protests at Mizzou and Yale and elsewhere, students have made it clear that the status quo is unbearable. Whether we agree with these student protesters or not, we should be listening: They are articulating a vision for a better future, one that cannot be reached with complacency… We cannot ignore what is truly being said by both groups of protesters: That not all students experience Yale equally, and not all students experience Mizzou equally. These conversations were happening well before these protests, and they will continue to happen until students are guaranteed equality of experience. They are still being forced, however, to first prove that it is worth opening a conversation about either.”

4. “#PublishUP: Beacon Press in Conversation with Jeanne Theoharis”
An interview with Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, about her findings in the newly available archival materials on Rosa Parks: “Two things struck me. First, the collection contains a small set of personal writings and speech notes that seem to date from during and right after the boycott. These give a very up-close sense of what Rosa Parks was thinking at the time of the boycott—her ideas on the nature of white supremacy (what she called “walking the tightrope of Jim Crow”) in Alabama, the context of her own rebellion, why they were boycotting and how difficult it was to be a rebel. She wrote about how lonely and crazy she felt, of how much pressure was brought to bear on “troublemakers” and how “startling” the community’s reaction was following her arrest. The second thing that struck me was the depth of her sacrifice, how deep her poverty was for a decade in the wake of her arrest and the health issues that resulted from it.”

5. “Access Denied: 2015 Washington, D.C. Trans Needs Assessment Report”
A new report by the D.C. Trans Coalition. Among the findings: 57% of trans persons of color living in Washington, D.C. who participated in the survey earn less than $10,000 a year; 36% of trans persons in DC respondents reported being unemployed – a number that jumps to 55% for black trans persons; 54% of black and 60% of Hispanic trans persons had been physically assaulted; 47% of black and 56% of Hispanic trans persons had been sexually assaulted compared. The report includes findings in the areas of housing and homelessness, employment, and health care.

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