Thursday, December 6, 2012

Women's Will to Change

In chapter 8 of "The Will to Change" bell hooks explores how media portrays masculinity and the effect on our societies expectations of men. In summary she finds that media does not believe in an alternative to patriarchy. In most situations media perpetuates patriarchy with hyper violent male heroes. Hooks offers an analysis of the hulk as an example. Young boys when asked what they would do if they were the hulk said they would smash their mommies.

This theme of rage is a focus of Ch. 9 in which hooks discusses the lie of the patriarchy. She quotes Barbara Deming: "I think the reason that men are so very violent is that they know deep in themselves, that they're acting a lie, and so they're furious. You can't be hapy living a lie, and so they're furious at being caught in the lie. But they dont know how to break out of it, so they just go further into it."

She also criticizes women for their reactions to moments of vulnerability from our partners. If men turn to women to express emotions women are often unable to hear because it breaks with their ideas of the patriarchal masculinity, because women have bought into patriarchal masculinity. She says this of herself: "I did not want to hear the pain of my male partner because hearing it required that I surrender my investment in the patriarchal ideal of the male as protector of the wourded. If he was wounded, then how could he protect me?"
However, women will benefit from accepting men as emotional beings. Hooks claims that the love women experience with patriarchal men is a lie because we cannot truly know men, all of men.

Monday, December 3, 2012

MISS Monday December 3 2012 (Hannah, Denali, Jacqui, and Bri Husky Cheer 2010)

While trying this new Los Angeles experience, I wanted to “find myself” while keeping my heart at home. The mission statement for the MISS Movement organization had lingered in the back of my head the entire time. How can I use what I’ve learned to apply it to what we are trying to accomplish? What is the most efficient way to project the mission without making it about me? 

I want to make the organization about only what we are fighting for. Not about me and not about my partner Hannah. However, the only way I can get people to start speaking is to share stories of my own. When I had begun writing my pieces to help the girls who go through what I have, I tried to balance a personal relationship with the audience while educating them. 

In high school, I only remember having a one-class period sexual education class. This absolutely stumps me because every adult brings up the bad statistics of our region and question WHY? This doesn’t make sense. No one talks about this. I hear teachers, board members, and parents bitch about having to find a way to make this all stop. Um..... what? It’s because of the lack of education. Education in general, not organized high school education. 

When I heard stories spreading around town and heard comments about the so-called slut I mentioned in What Is Sexual Coercion?, I was furious. The types of things that rolled out of these guys’ mouths and the jokes they made about rape, girls, and being “manly” made my blood boil. I have dealt with them from the inside looking out but have never heard their comments from the outside looking in. At one point I found myself at a party watching them physically make a joke about rape. The weird thing is that I’ve known this joke for years but laughed at it up until this exact moment. 

Here’s where education rolls in. Let’s take a step back and look at the high school’s sports programs, how much effort is put into them, and the social norms of these teenagers. While in high school, I wanted to make my name recognized by something like my older brothers but we all know I couldn’t do it the way they did. I put all my effort into the cheer program working to make it turn around after being publicly embarrassed at my freshman year regionals in Barrow. KHS cheerleaders was the region’s joke and not even our own basketball teams supported us. 

My motivation was the wrestling program. They have already scored 10 regional banners and a couple state ones. They have almost an entire wall dedicated to their accomplishments and I had to be the gymnasium’s joke while I stood and stared at them every weekend all 4 years. I only remember missing one weekend for orthodontic appointments. For my last two years, I made it a point to not miss practice. The guy I dated in high school had done the same and received not only awards but gifts for doing what I had just done. Both years. He had his name placed on the statistics plate that hangs on the wall near the concession stands. The big “Welcome to Bush Brawl” sign hung where I had to get my concession stand tickets. I just couldn’t escape the fact that my hard work wasn’t acknowledged no matter where I went all high school. 

This is not to say these guys deserve respect and pride for these titles. I admire the hard work the wrestlers put themselves through and the dedication they put into the sport for their entire lives. However, I do not respect the way the sports programs are handled and judged. 

During my freshman year of college, I had emailed the cheer coach at the University of Idaho on my own and promised to work my hardest at making the team. She had emailed me back right away and told me I can begin going to practices for a while to learn how to be a flyer and how to do a back hand spring. These were the two main requirements for making the squad. I spent about a month committing to learning how to trust a guy throw me into the air and catch me by my ass. I worked on the strict techniques of how to do a cheer back hand spring (completely different from the wrestling back hand spring, by the way). 

“You did an amazing job at the other parts, though! It’s too bad we can’t keep you for that.” the coach told me while I got cut. I called my mom and cried like a big baby. It was not that I was bad at being a cheerleader, I just hadn’t ever received the right education. 

All throughout high school, when I’d make comments about the wrestlers having more, the same comebacks would occur over and over. People compared their 12 year experience to my 4 year half-assed Husky Cheer experience.

The team had the passion but the school didn’t give the resources, the recognition, or the support. I had made my statements throughout the years but was never recognized. We needed a BA coach who didn’t take no for an answer to really get the ball rolling. One that actually believed in us. This led us to attending our first cheer competition that was not the regional tournament, ever. The first place trophy was laughed at because our category didn’t have any competitors. What mattered was that we got our judgment scores a month before the state tournament and finally had the right constructive criticism from the experts. 

Cheerleading is far too often viewed completely wrong by the audience. We are supposed to be as perfect as we possibly can in order to win. Our success relies solely on what the judges want and expect while at the same time wow-ing the audience. 

Without an expert choreographer and these judgement scores, of course we were never going to see any improvements. Without seeing what the other teams outside of our region have to offer, of course we were never going to see any improvements. 

At the state tournament, we had placed 2nd in our category behind the grand champions of 2010 and won the state academic award. This was our 4th academic award. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a regional cheer tournament since the tournament was in Unalaska. Funding wasn’t available. The scores weren’t posted on ASAA’s website so we have no idea if we had potentially won Husky Cheer’s first regional award. 

When asking about the possibility of banners getting hung up the answers were obviously no. The reasonings were lack of funding but when we offered to fundraise, they said that means we will have to go back and do that for every other sport, too. The following year, our Lady Huskies had strongly placed 2nd at the state tournament and their banner is currently in the gym while everyone’s parading the phrase First In Lady Husky history. Excuse me? Am I not a lady? Are Denali Whiting, Hannah Atkinson and Brianna Triplett not ladies, too? Did the four of us not work our asses off since Sophomore year to win these titles?

Let's compare these girls to the wrestlers that we all admired so well they fought against. Think about it. Where are they now? The smartest decision I've ever made was to leave for college without strings attached. If I were to do what my boyfriend wanted to do, I can say with pure confidence that I would not be here today. I would be cheering him on from the sidelines while he made me feel unworthy. I finally had the nerve to seek answers the day I got home last week. He wasn't even aware of how hurt I had been. He did have the right morals to apologize and offer to help me, though. What about the rest of them? You've read about them already. So many times.

Are you still wondering why our region has a patriarchal problem? In high school, people want to fit in. To fit in, the girliest sport is an embarrassment to the town while the manliest sports are our pride and joy. The only difference is that our progress is kept behind the cafeteria doors and only our final product is displayed for the audience at the games. In any other sports, we watch the progress within each match or game so the success is a lot more obvious. 

Let’s step back into MISS specifics. After writing What Is Sexual Coercion?, we received a comment making suggestions on our approach to the organization stating that in order to make it work, we also need to involve men. My approach with this piece was targeted towards the women I am trying to empower with my own open dialogue to create my identity while still educating them on what is right or what is wrong. 

I felt beat up after reading this. My message was completely mistranslated by a male and I was told my approach was completely wrong. I stepped back from getting too personal until I realized that I’m placing myself right in the position I’ve been fighting against. I let myself and my actions be controlled by how a guy felt about how I felt. 

Rape is a huge problem in our region. But rape culture is even more dangerous. Rape culture is a culture in which sexual assault is normalized and accepted. Here though, not only is it accepted, there is a joke that was made up as a “wrestling move” where one guy gets on top of the other guy and physically rapes him. High school guys and girls are circled and laughing about it. 

I had just recently found out that this joke has made its way to the middle school. I found out that girls I don’t even recognize understood that rape is viewed as a joke to everyone. 

Since I’ve graduated high school, the Husky Cheer team has won 2 regional and state championship titles. The underclassmen cheerleaders I remember as a senior have gone out and began cheering in college. Elizabeth Ferguson is currently a freshman cheerleader at the Minnesota State University Moorhead.

This is still not to say the wrestlers are doing an awesome job. I just believe that this new generation has a completely different set of social norms than they had while the wrestling team was fighting to reach the “decade of dominance.” By the way, tshirts were purchased and worn that year but if you look closely they didn't do the math right. 

It is so very unknown to the parents, board members, and teachers. 
My opinion is that parents should not tell their children what sport they are supposed to be good at to keep the family reputation. This leads them to thinking that they are unworthy when they do not meet up to their expectations. My father had stopped bothering me about sports as soon as I began cheering because I didn’t have trouble believing in myself like I had with Volleyball, Basketball and Cross Country. All the sports I couldn’t find myself loving. I just had the right talent for them but hated these different perspectives. I didn’t put any effort into being serious. 

Once the parents begin believing in their children and letting them prove themselves, they will see what their full potential really is. 

When I went around to tell people about my mom’s community christmas tree event, people began complaining about how it starts at the same time the wrestling finals were. This tree is to help the community heal about losing their loved ones and people are worried about seeing who wins the matches when we already know who it is. That’s fucked up. 

I have stopped caring about what people think about what I write if it is true. The truth is what we need to hear in order to really fight our social issues. There are far too many women in the region who are rape victims that believe they are alone in the battle of healing. When, in reality, we’re just unaware of who’s been hurt because they are too afraid to say who’s done the wrong thing. 

Click here to watch a video of Hannah Denali Jacqui and Bri as senior cheerleaders 2010

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Partnership: How to Achieve Gender Equality with Feminism

As my book The Will to Change by bell hooks comes to a close the last couple chapters had me more than engaged, beginning with the concept and seventh chapter "Feminist Masculinity." Bell hooks answers the question: how can feminism relate to men. As hooks has been advocating throughout the book, patriarchy makes life and loving difficult for men: "Patriarchal masculinity teaches males to be pathologically narcissistic, infantile, and psychologically dependent for self determination on the privileges (however relative) that they receive from having been born male." In this chapter bell hooks takes it a step further by claiming feminism as an alternative to our patriarchal systems.

"The core of feminist masculinity is a commitment to gender equality and mutuality as crucial to inter-being and partnership in the creating and sustaining of life. Such a commitment always privileges nonviolent action over violence, peace over war, life over death."

Hooks argument contends that patriarchal masculinity is based in domination. She does not want to end masculinity, or replace it with femininity but instead calls for a transformation from masculinity centered on domination to masculinity centered on partnership. This emphasis on partnership echoes the values of equality and balance. As in the above quote hooks makes the argument that if we transform masculinity in our society, a focus on partnership, equality, and balance could end violence against women.

More on the concept of partnership: "In a partnership model male identity, like its female counterpart would be centered around the notion of an essential goodness that is inherently relationally oriented."

What got me so excited about this argument is that hooks talks about a feminism that does not exclude men. Feminism in my opinion is about equality. For hooks feminism does not exclude/dominate/control/change men; feminism can liberate men.
Gender relations do not have to be a power struggle. It can be a partnership.

MISS Defines Feminism

MISS has been building a dialogue this fall bringing up many issues that are affecting our friends, family, community, and society. Throughout our blog you may be seeing feminism or feminist discourse pop up. I thought it would be good to get some of MISS’ thoughts on feminism out and on the internet.
In sociology Feminism is defined as a way of viewing society in which gender pervades all aspects. I agree with this because I think in our society a majority of things are seen in the two categories of female and male. Feminism as a movement has been through many different phases. I will provide a brief history of feminism to my knowledge so you can see the evolution of thought that has happened and how the current paradigm of feminism came to be.

Feminism is thought to have originated in the early 1900’s with Women’s Suffrage. This was the first instance of women joining together to demand rights that men had had for a long time. With women’s suffrage, women gained, most notably, the right to vote. 

Second wave Feminism happened later in the century when women wanted equal treatment in the workplace. More and more women were seeking careers and alternative lifestyles to the stay at home roles that had been the norm in the past but were not treated the same. In this movement women joined together on the sole basis of womanhood and did not acknowledge differences between women of different cultures. This wave was focused on equal treatment for women, was successful in gaining rights for women in the workplace, but excluded women of color.

Third wave feminism brought intersectionality to the movement, and is the most current ideology of the movement. Third wave feminism recognizes that gender pervades all aspects of social life but that women are not the only people oppressed, and that not all women are oppressed in the same way. It recognizes differences of culture and differences in the meaning of gender. Third wave feminism is a movement for equality for all people, and breaking down the ideas that society tries to confine us to (such as Tony Porter’s “man box”).

MISS is a feminist movement in the way that we seek equality for all people. We are not focused on a feminist agenda, but we do use some third wave feminist dialogue to discuss issues affecting our people. Bell hooks, the author of “The Will to Change” being reviewed in Men for Miss is a famous third wave feminist, writing in a feminist perspective on the issues of race, gender, and education. I am currently studying indigenous feminism for a research paper and hope to post more about that in the future.  I have been looking at the works of Andrea Smith, one of the more published indigenous feminists. Here is a quote from a piece by her talking about the real history of true feminism:

The feminist movement is generally periodized into the so-called first, second and third waves of feminism. In the United States, the first wave is characterized by the suffragette movement; the second wave is characterized by the formation of the National Organization for Women, abortion rights politics, and the fight for the Equal Rights Amendments. Suddenly, during the third wave of feminism, women of colour make an appearance to transform feminism into a multicultural movement.
This periodization situates white middle-class women as the central historical agents to which women of colour attach themselves. However, if we were to recognize the agency of indigenous women in an account of feminist history, we might begin with 1492 when Native women collectively resisted colonization. This would allow us to see that there are multiple feminist histories emerging from multiple communities of colour which intersect at points and diverge in others. This would not negate the contributions made by white feminists, but would de-center them from our historicizing and analysis.

If you are interested in feminism and how it relates to Native communities I’d suggest checking out the whole article that can be found here:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hooks on the Worth of Men: The Ability to Love and be Loved

This weeks chapter "Work: What's Love Got to do With it?" really hit home, I feel in regards to challenges in rural Alaska. Bell hooks in her book The Will to Change addresses the relationship between patriarchy and capitalism.
Hooks claims that the patriarchy in our country has defined male success, male worthiness, as earning money. She defines the patriarchal message: "If a man stops working, he loses his reason for living." Citing Victor Seidler in Rediscovering Masculinity: "This is the only identity that can still prove our masculinity by showing we do not need anything from others."
Throughout reading this chapter I am brought back to the NANA Region. Our region is facing high rates of suicide, and young men are the most frequent victims. This statistic represents our challege, from an article in ADN published this summer: "Alaska Native males between the ages of 20 and 29 had the highest suicide rate, at 155.3 per 100,000 people."
The numbers are astounding, and in conversations with community leaders like Reggie Joule and Martha Whiting I have heard the sentiment that men no longer know purpose, or fulfillment in a transition from providing through subsistence hunting to earning pay checks. Reggie, as we chatted this summer said, our men need to find their purpose.
Bell hooks claims that men need to focus on their ability to love and be loved: "In actuality individual men are engaged  in the work of emotional recovery every day, but the work is not easy because they have no support systems within the patriarchal culture." At the end of the chapter she calls on the Elders in our country provide guidance: "The elders who can speak to younger generations of men, debunking the patriarchal myth of work; those voices need to be heard. They are the voices that tell younger men, 'Don't wait until your life is near it's end to find your feeling, to folow your heart. Don't wait until it's too late."

I am compelled by her argument. As men find their way in modern rural Alaska, what if they are allowed to love? What if they are celebrated for their ability to love? Can we rethink what it is to be a man, from ability to provide to ability to love and be loved?

Read more here:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Are you for MISS?

Female advocates for true independence may refuse to take in their husband’s last name in order to continue branding their maiden name. They have plenty of respectable reasons for keeping their last name but I am personally influenced by the women who can take in a new last name and make it personal to herself. 

This summer, I had stepped into former NWAB Mayor Siikauraq’s office to speak to her about the MISS movement and ask for her advice. She told me the story about taking in her husband’s last name. Siikauraq is a part of the big, local Wilson family and had grown up making something of her name through sports and activities. After college, she got married to Alex and had one daughter, Denali. Together, they were the only three Whiting’s in Kotzebue. 

Siikauraq told me about the first time she ran for borough mayor and how unknown her last name was to the region. She was advised to add her face to her campaign in order to be recognized with her new name. Through this process, she began to create a well-known last name for her daughter to now identify herself with. 

I am also deeply influenced by Siikauraq’s passion and drive for a brighter future in the NANA region. She gets involved and does as much as she can because she believes in it, but at the end of the day, too, it may not really be enough. It is not enough because there’s always a different direction to reach towards. 

MISS was founded by the passionate drive behind seeing something wrong and speaking up about it. It drives to make people more comfortable with being aware of the social ills so we can begin learning what we can do to fix the problem. It is a movement towards combating rape culture, a culture in which rape and abuse is normalized or accepted. The MISS movement should provide outlets to the victims in order to bring these women (or men) another step closer to healing. 

Since the debut of MISS, I have already been a personal outlet for 5 victims. Three of them weren’t considered “close” friends but they admitted they felt more comfortable speaking to me because I have already spoken up about being against it. Just being against it. Two of them were opening up for their first time in almost 5 years to me. One of them I had known for my entire life and had no idea (at all!) that she was affected by it. Each of them admitted being able to tell someone who offered to just listen helped them more than they thought it really could. 

I don’t want MISS to be the only outlet. There is only so much that the two of us can do. I believe that there are a lot more people out there who believe in the same things I do and want the same change, too. It begins with admitting what you are fighting for. Speak out about being against rape culture through MISS by simply writing “I am for MISS.” on the Facebook page. 

Writing this message on our public page will provide the victims an idea of who they can turn to. Sometimes, the only thing they need is someone who is willing to listen but they may not know who to begin with. If you are uncomfortable with publicly admitting it, please let your close friends or family know privately. Just in case. 

The first step to making a change is by speaking out. You have recently read about the difference Teressa Baldwin has made by simply telling her story with Hope4Alaska. Savanah Kramer has also done the same through No Make Up Mondays. 

Are you for MISS?
  • Rape culture is a culture in which rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence is normalized or accepted. 
  • This is not just a “women’s issue” and we must recognize that not all men commit the crime and not only women are the victims. 
  • The only step to improvement is if both sides work together. (Women AND Men)
  • Supporters should not stay silent and are encouraged to reach out to peers. 
  • Violence is a choice. It should not be excused. 
  • We must raise awareness of the possible and simple supporters. Let the victims know there are more outlets they can speak to. 
  • Showing support is helping the victims in the healing process by allowing them to not be silenced. 

Write “I am for MISS.” on our Facebook wall.

-Jacqui Lambert

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Let's Talk About Sex

In ch. 5 "Male Sexual Being" hooks discusses sex as integral to manhood. She proposes that our society builds expectations of men having sex: sex is something that men simply must have. I appreciate her analysis of what sex means in our society, and found her distinction of sex and love interesting. Hooks writes that love is more taboo in our society than sex. Men in a patriarchal society are more encouraged to have sex than to love. Hooks claims that men need to be loved, and seek satisfaction for this need through sex. They fail to find love in sex, creating frustrations, and in short, disconnects between society, sex, and love create sexual violence. I think that the answer to this problem is more talking about sex in society. I don't quite agree with hooks' claim that love is more taboo than sex, because I think that sex isn't discussed enough. Perhaps our society talks about sex, but it is more of a fetish, dramatized in media and glossed over in high school than a dialogue about what sex is, what sex means, what it doesn't mean.

As a graduate of Kotzebue High School I can tell you that they did not talk to us about sex. In health class we talked about "the danger zone" which came after kissing and petting. I can tell you from experience as a high schooler at KHS, just because you don't say it out loud doesn't stop it from happening. Young adults are exploring sex whether their parents/teachers like it or not. Isn't it better to equip them with knowledge of how to have a safe and healthy sex life? Open discourse and education will lead to a better understanding of our values and allow young adults to make an informed decision about when and with who they will engage in sexual activity.

--Hannah Atkinson

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Privilege of Race

There is only one Sunday left before our performance of the Race Monologues. I am getting nervous, but more excited than nervous. I think I have a lot to share and I am excited to have a venue to express myself. I didn't make it to the last meeting, and right now we are refining our final pieces to perform, so I want to keep it a secret, but I thought I'd give another prompt for all you MISS followers. Write on what privileges your race gives you.

I've been lucky enough to experience being white in two very different worlds. When I moved to Alaska at 13 I became the minority. In high school I was the only white girl on the cheer leading team for a while. Living in Kotzebue, this difference was never very important to me and I rarely noticed. At college I was given time to reflect on who I was in high school. I realized that my difference affected my experience a lot. There were a lot of moments of exclusion based on my whiteness.

Even though I was a minority and faced exclusion based on that, I have come to the ultimate realization that being a minority in a small corner of Alaska did not erase my privilege in the world. Our country has a lot of power, and within our country who has that power? This country was created for Caucasians despite the fact that it already belonged to Native Americans. Through time as our population has expanded to include a large population of Latin Americans, African Americans, and Alaska Natives our country remains focused on Caucasians excluding other populations all together.

Coming to the realization that I have this privilege that I did not earn, that sometimes I feel that I don't deserve, simply because of my race, was difficult for me to deal with. But I realized that what I do with my power is more important than how I got it. As a person of power in this country I will always fight for others who don't have as much, in order to make this a more inclusive country. In my mind, when life gives you opportunity it is your responsibility to pass it on.

-Hannah Atkinson

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is Stopping Male Violence Impossible?

This week's chapter from bell hooks' "The Will to Change" was entitled "Stopping Male Violence." I wasn't expecting an answer but I also wasn't expecting to come away so disheartened. Hooks makes a clear distinction that male violence is not caused by individual men, but is instead a product of the patriarchy. In fact, she argues that women enact this patriarchal violence just as frequently as men. The violence that she is discussing is not driven by the individual. It cannot be attributed to anger. She argues that violence is used in the continuous power struggle that our society has created. One part of her argument that I found interesting and true to my life is the inclusion of emotional manipulation as violence. She discussed instances as in the relationship between a mother and her son, or in the relationship between a man and his girlfriend where emotions are withheld as being just as violent as physical abuse.

Hooks directly links violence/power struggle to rape in the following example: "When researchers looking at date rape interviewed a range of college men and found that many of them saw nothing wrong with forcing a woman sexually, they were astounded Their findings seemed to challenge the previously accepted notion that raping was aberrant male behavior. While it may be unlikely that any of the men in this study would became rapists, it was evident that given what they conceived as the appropriate circumstance, they could see themselves being sexually violent." Reading this quote I thought back to chapter 2, "Understanding Patriarchy." For men, violence is sanctioned, even celebrated in the "appropriate" circumstance. As is evident in the above quote, our society has decided that sexual relationships are an "appropriate" circumstance. This needs to change. 

As I came to the end of the chapter I didn't feel very hopeful. Hooks does not offer step by step instructions for how to stop male violence because it is an issue of changing our society. However, bringing it back home, I am again brought to the culture inherent in the lifestyle of the NANA region. Our culture is a hybrid of American and Inupiaq values. How can the NANA region heal from within, pulling from traditional values to work towards stopping male violence?

-Hannah Atkinson

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hannah Gets Mad

This Sunday I was asked to write about something that makes me mad. I had a hard time with this, I don't usually get very angry. I had to think back to the last few times in which I was really frustrated.

Kotzebue, my home.
Kotzebue, which you spit on. You don't deserve to be here.
You have been here 8 weeks, 3 months, 9 years.
You have 3 birch bark baskets which you keep your car keys and extra change in. You have tried the local delicacy of muktuk once. You spit it out.
You comment on the children, how sad. They run ammock in the muck with no shoes. Where are there parents?
You condemn the streets littered with pepsi cans after snow melt "if people around here knew how to take care of this place."
You walk to work everyday with your synthetic fur ruff covering your eyes. Keep your head down, wouldn't want to damper your day with their poverty.
You will never be a part of this community which you judge through the window of your government housing.
What really grinds my gears, boils my blood, and gets me fired up: we are the same.
But I am different.
Kotzebue, my home. I will not let you spit on it.
You have been here 8 weeks. You refuse to open yourself to any part of this community.
There is bad here, but there is also good.
You wouldn't know. You can't judge what you haven't lived.
Pull yourself up by your boot straps bullshit
I will not let you talk about my best friends brother, my ex lover, or the guy who cheated off my tests in high school like losers.
You remain ignorant to your privilege. Ignorant to the systems built for you and forced on them.
You don't deserve to be here. You don't want to be here.
Go back to the lower 48, you aren't cut out for this.

-Hannah Atkinson

Friday, October 19, 2012

Being a Boy

Ch. 3 in "The Will to Change" is titled "Being a Boy." In this chapter bell hooks discusses the way that the patriarchy raises boys to become men: "Patriarchal culture influences parents to devalue the emotional development of boys. Naturally this disregard affects boy' capacity to love and be loving." She goes on to argue that  we must build a culture that is accepting of male expressions of emotion.  The argument does not wholly translate to the NANA Region because of cultural differences in raising children, but in a time when young men in rural Alaska are committing suicide at a higher rate than any other demographic, I think it is important to consider: what is being a boy like?

I think that bell hooks argument rings true of our society as a whole. Tony Porter shares his personal experience of becoming frustrated with his crying five year old son: "As soon I would hear him crying, a clock would go off. I would give the boy probably about 30 seconds which means, by the time he got to me I was already saying things like 'why you crying, hold your head up, look at me, explain to me what's wrong... and out of my own frustration of my role and responsibility of building him up as a man to fit into these guidelines and these structures that are defined in this man box, I would find myself saying things like 'just go in your room! Sit down, get yourself together, and come out and talk to me when you can talk to me like a man.'"

Our patriarchal society does not tolerate emotional expression from males starting at boyhood. Because men cannot freely express frustration and sadness through things like crying or talking about feelings this translates to anger and violence. This anger and violence is more socially acceptable than the frustration and sadness.

Living in the NANA region I have been fortunate enough to see how a different culture raises children. In the Inupiaq culture, traditionally, parents raise their children with more love than discipline. Compared to western culture, children are much more free to do as they please. Bell hooks' argument may not ring as truthful in Kotzebue, because of this difference in culture, but I think that the societal pressures of what a man should be still start from a young age. Even if boys are not raised in a household in which they are disciplined for expressing emotion they are taught how to act through media and their peers.

How does the Inupiaq culture raise boys? Is male emotional expression socially acceptable in traditional Inupiaq culture? Why or why not? Has western culture changed expectations of young men in our society? How do we want to be raising our boys?

-Hannah Atkinson

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MISS Monday October 16 2012 (Teressa Baldwin)

MISS Woman of the Week
Teressa Baldwin, Kotzebue 

In high school, Teressa Baldwin made herself a list of goals and one of them was to save 100 people from committing suicide. She did not sit back and wait for the opportunities to knock on her door. Instead, Baldwin started her own campaign, Hope4Alaska, and traveled across the state of Alaska to tell the story of how suicide has affected her. She gave a speech at the end of her senior year where she mentioned that she has reached out to the Congress, 24 senators, 6 governors, 4 states, over 6,000 Alaska teenagers, and even to President Obama himself. 

Teressa Baldwin is the daughter of Sarah Randall of Ambler and Clyde Baldwin of Kiana. She grew up close to her step-father Peter Reich Sr. and his parents Herman and Della Reich. Baldwin grew up in Kotzebue and is a 4-year Mt. Edgecumbe High School alumnus. She is grateful for the experiences both places have given her; Kotzebue showed her the true cultural triumphs and hardships Rural Alaska faces today while MEHS acted as a bridge to different cultures and opportunities as well as providing an environment that helped her prepare for college. 

Baldwin first got involved in Mt. Edgecumbe’s student council when she was a Sophomore. That year, she was appointed as the Secretary/Treasurer by the Alaska Association of Student Governments. These involvements led to Baldwin’s interest in giving back to Alaska and, more specifically, getting involved in suicide prevention. Along with her collaboration in student governments both locally and across the state, she participated in cheerleading for two years, served as the president of both the National Honor Society and LEADS, a community service group on campus. As a Junior, Baldwin was chosen by Governor Parnell to be the Youth Representative of the statewide suicide prevention council. She was a unique voice in this adult-based council and, with the help from them, she decided to begin Hope4Alaska. 

Throughout her senior year, Baldwin traveled nearly every week to hold school assemblies where she told her story to students of all ages. Her speech described how suicide has affected her life, starting from the story of losing her uncle at the age of five to an ex-boyfriend committing suicide when she was sixteen. She would also tell of how these students can help with preventing suicide through simple acts of kindness. Being a strong advocate of community service, Baldwin also provided opportunities for the schools to volunteer through student councils and youth leader groups. 

Throughout the process of her campaign, Baldwin received the Lu Young Leadership Award from the Alaska Federation of Natives, President Obama’s Champion of Changes Award (which was personally awarded by Obama himself!), Student Leader of the Year from Alaska Association of Student Governments, and the Alaska Marketplace Award which rewarded up to $25,000 to the efforts of Hope4Alaska. Baldwin is humbled by these awards and recognitions but admits that the morals and values she’s learned during the process have benefited her more. The lessons she’s learned and the relationships she’s formed through Hope4Alaska gave it its true worth. 

Hope4Alaska is now in the hands of 3 teens from across Alaska as Baldwin attends her first year at the University of California, San Diego. Hope4Alaska has the goals of going national with the help from the Center for Native American Youth when she finishes school. Next month, she will be speaking on the issues of Indian Country at the Center for Native American Youth. She is also a new, proud sister of Chi-Omega, a sorority of 100 sisters who support her at UCSD. Baldwin currently works at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography where she is continuing her research on the acoustics of Bowhead whales. She holds interests in environmental systems, earth science, and sociology but has yet to determine what she would like to major in. One thing she is sure of, though, is her return back home when she is done with school. 

“I really believe that the best way to help out our community is to bring back what I have learned, whether it be an environmental aspect or a social aspect.” Baldwin said. 

Baldwin mentions that she could not have gotten here without the support and inspiration many adults have provided for her. Baldwin says she is most influenced by her mother, Sarah Randall, who graduated college in 2011 while also working full time and raising a family. Baldwin is also motivated by Carol Waters, Rosie Ropell, Sonnie Anderson, Corey Butler, and Emily Sexton who provided her support throughout the year while working with Hope4Alaska. Mt. Edgecumbe High School made is possible for Baldwin to pursue her passion in suicide prevention while also making sure she graduated. Baldwin says Marie Greene and Martha Whiting helped her learn that she can be a strong Inupiaq woman who fought for her people. 

“I am not telling you these stories for you all to feel depressed. I am telling you these stories because it is time for all of us to know that it does happen. When you belong, you feel safe and accepted and you become yourself. Our current environment with rape, suicide, and abuse isn’t a safe environment. Someone at your school can’t be themselves because they don’t have a safe environment. Society tries to hide these things that happen every day.” Baldwin says in her closing speech for Hope4Alaska in spring 2012. 

“It has been proven that if you talk about an issue and make it known and spread awareness, the epidemic problem can be solved and lives can be saved.” She says later in the speech, “Alaska held the highest suicide rates in the nation for almost all our lives. Now, we are number two in the nation because of how many people have pulled together to make it an everyday awareness.”

Remember, if there are any influential women of the Arctic you would like to nominate to be featured as the MISS Woman of the Week, you can e-mail us the name and a way of contact to We would love to feature women from all over the region to celebrate their lifestyles and accomplishments.

MISS Quote of the Week
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” -Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the US 

MISS Song of the Week 
Unwritten- Natasha Bedingfield 
-Jacqui Lambert

Monday, October 15, 2012

When People Look at me I Wish They Saw

This week I was instructed to do a free write, but it must begin with the phrase "when people look at me I wish they saw...."

I used to think: when people look at me I wish they saw a small pink wildflower
Aqpik means salmonberry
Nauyak means seagull
Pamiuqtak means fireweed.

"Do you know everybody's Inupiaq name?" I asked Sigaurak in awe, as she picked her nieces and nephews and neighbors up one by one and called them by their Inupiaq name, their real name, their name rarely said. "I try to, and I try to call them by it. Do you have an Inupiaq name?" I shook my head and she continued to look into my eyes as she thought, I used to think, of the animal that I most closely resembled. "Allaitchaq," she said finally.
"What does it mean?!" I asked in wonder. Had she named me after an animal, a plant, or a bend in the river?
"It's just a name! Allaitchaq was the name of Hannah Gallahorn, the Reich's late grandmother. She was a wonderful woman, very active in establishing the education here in Kotzebue."

I tried to hide my disappointment
Aqpik means salmonberry,
Nauyak means seagull,
Allaitchaq is just a name.

The next time someone asked me if I had an Inupiaq name, I lied. At a basketball game, Argagiak and I began to talk about names. I asked him to give me one. He narrowed his eyes and the corners of his mouth turned down, after a while he said "Allaitchaq. After Hannah Gallahorn, one of the great elders, her portrait is in the cafeteria."
I didn't have to ask what it meant. 

It took me three years to find my utting. Last summer I tagged along one afternoon to camp with a friend. Climbing in his boat, I realized across the bow was my name, Hannah, after his ahna Hannah Gallahorn. On the beach across the sound I saw her old camp. Her grandson shared stories with me about being young at camp with Hannah.

Later that night I walked down the beach to a neighboring camp to meet my friend, camping out with her cousins and making smores. The little girls were excited about something as I walked up. One girl emerged from the group and my friend said, "Hey Hannah, this is my friend Hannah, she's your ut." Hannah smiled shyly at me and gave me a hug.

Aqpik means salmonberry
Nauyak means seagull
Allaitchaq connects me with a place through the wisdom and kindness that has come before me. It connects me with all the people who were touched by Hannah Gallahorn, and it connects me to generations in the future. It gives me something to honor.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gender Roles


This video from Tony Porter's "man box" is directly inline with what bell hooks describes in her book as the patriarchy.
In Ch. 2, “Understanding Patriarchy,” bell hooks elaborates on the concept of the patriarchy. She uses her personal experience, growing up in a traditional household to delineate how she and her brother were socialized differently, and how the roles that they were taught sometimes didn’t fit.
“My brother and I remember our confusion about gender. In reality I was stronger and more violent than my brother, which we learned quickly was bad. And he was a gentle, peaceful boy, which we learned was really bad.”
I’ll offer a summary of the societal pressures bell hooks experienced in her life, which she claims are a direct effect of the patriarchy.

  • weak
  • “free from the burden of thinking”
  • caretaker
  • nurture others
  • cannot be violent: violence for women is unnatural

  • the bible teaches that men were created to rule the world
  • to be served and to provide
  • think, strategize, plan
  • violence can be appropriate
  • boys should not express feelings

I think hooks brings up an interesting point when she describes the consequences of not abiding by their gender roles. Gender roles are defined by Blackwell sociological Encyclopedia as "attitudes regarding the appropriate roles, rights, and responsibilities of women and men in society." I do not claim that gender roles are bad, I personally think that they serve a purpose in our society. I do think that when society enforces these gender roles on all individuals across all cultures and across changing times that tensions are created. People are dynamic, and putting them in a box has consequences. In the case of the patriarchy or "man box" as described by Tony Parker, the consequence is violence against women, rape culture, and sexual assault. 

What are the gender roles enforced by society? What are the gender roles enforced by Inupiaq culture?  How has the NANA region seen tensions or felt consequences of the strict gender roles enforced in changing times and on a diverse group of people?

Here is a link to a spoken word piece about the pressure to "man up"

Monday, October 8, 2012

MISS Monday October 8, 2012 (Kelsey Wallace)

MISS Woman of the Week
Kelsey Wallace, Bethel

[photo from:]

“Ciugutnguunga. Maairpak University of Alaska Fairbanks-aami elitetuunga taugaam Mamterillermiunguunga. Aanaka Cingarkaq Sheila Wallace-auguq aataka-llu Apassangayaq John Wallace-auluni. Kenkaqa Cungauyar Alfred Wallace-auguq.” Kelsey Wallace of Bethel, Alaska introduces herself in her Yup’ik language. 

Wallace began learning how to use the Yup’ik language when she was a kindergartener at the Ayaprun Elitnaurvik, an immersion schooling program she attended through 6th grade. She went to high school at the Bethel Regional High School where she participated in events such as student government, drama club, cheerleading, volleyball, speech competitions, honor society, and BRHS’ first Yup’ik dance group in over ten years. Wallace is currently in her third year at the University of Alaska Fairbanks studying Rural Development with an emphasis on Community Development and a minor in Communications. She is involved in the Inu-Yupiaq dance group and works at the Alaska Native Language Center. 

Wallace held leadership roles in the activities she participated in and has received multiple awards recognizing her hard work. She served as a class representative, advisory school board representative, secretary, cheerleading captain, volleyball captain, drama lead role, and dance group chair. The awards include: Internship in the Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (2010), Two British Petroleum Principle and Commissioner Scholarships (2010), Member of the Alaska Native Education Panel for the Alaska Federation of Natives (2009-2010), Alaska Student Leader of the Year (2010), Academic Honor Roll (2007-2010), Alaska State Cheerleading Squad and All-State Individual Champion (2010), Alaska Regional All Tournament (2008), and 6 Speech Meet Champion Titles (2006-2008).

Wallace’s hometown provided her a connection to the native culture through a school that offered both language and dance lessons. She attended Ayaprun Elitnaurvik for seven years and learned the vocabulary and structure to speak with her teachers, peers and family members. She has continued building fluency by taking courses at UAF. 

“Although it is my second language, I still feel that it is an utmost importance to use my language whenever possible.” She explained. “Imagine in ten years when our elders are gone and we’re forced to re-learn our language without the guidance of fluent speakers! I can only imagine the difficulty students and community members will have in continuing the use of any indigenous language. We all need to step up, stop talking about how we need to start using our language, and actually start putting to use that motivation to continue these languages.” 

Wallace began dancing in kindergarten, too, through a class that lasted about an hour a day. It began as a task that was required through school but as she grew up, she really found herself as a person through recognizing dance as a part of who she is. In high school, she was a part of BRHS’ first native dance group in over 10 years and currently dances with the Inu-Yupiaq group in Fairbanks and Acilquq (meaning our roots) dance group in Anchorage. 

“When I hear the drum, it’s like a spirit takes over me and I feel the beat of the drum and the beat of my heart drumming together in unicon. Everyone has that one thing that gives him or her a feeling of utmost happiness; Yup’ik dancing is my energizer” Wallace said. 

Her family also plays a big role in defining her identity. Wallace’s dancing headdress is made of beads left behind by her grandma who passed away before she was born. Her grandfather taught respect and patience through unspoken words during visits at the retirement home where he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Her mom helps with building her language fluency by incorporating Yup’ik into her English sentences while speaking to her and her brother. It gives them a better understanding of their second language with the help of their first language. Wallace’s father was the teacher of the family on how to properly cut fish. He taught her mom when they got married and what surprises most people is that he is white but still participates in native cultural activities. Wallace was taught by her father the sense of motivation, the competition with herself rather than others, and to strive to reach her potential. 

These roots of Wallace are what inspires her the most today. The small community of Bethel and her close-knit family drive her to succeed at her full potential while encouraging her to push herself. Because of the impact of her strong family, she encourages parents and communities to always put effort into reminding the youth of dreaming big. 

Wallace takes a piece of her culture wherever she goes and shares it with people. She teaches people her native language, how to make traditional foods, how to sing songs, shares traditional foods and it usually come as second-nature for her. She also shares by telling stories of growing up and telling about the environment. 

Wallace is currently pursuing a degree in Rural Development with an emphasis on Community Development with a minor in Communications. She learned she was not interested in taking a communications direction after her experience as an intern for Calisto. The intern opportunity instead helped her realize she would like to be more involved in cultural awareness through development. Wallace believed the younger generations can be provided with healthy, successful lifestyles through education. She advises parents and communities to focus on giving the younger generations hope for the future through encouragement of reaching for something more. 

“I cannot stress how important it is for our younger generations to remember that we need to look passed the statistics; look passed the peer pressure and use obstacles in life as a reminder and motivator in knowing that we CAN succeed! We can all achieve our goals and dreams.” 

Kelsey Wallace was nominated by co-founder of MISS, Hannah Atkinson. Wallace was one of her best friends in middle school during her first year in Alaska and she opened up to her and welcomed her to the native culture. Wallace took Atkinson to the heritage center to watch dancing. 

“She was cool because she always wore her mukluks to school and basketball games. Her mukluks were probably the first pair I ever saw.” Atkinson explained. 

Remember, if there are any influential women you would like to nominate to be featured as the MISS Woman of the Week, you can e-mail us the name and a way of contact to We would love to feature women who are making a difference in Alaska to celebrate their lifestyles and accomplishments. 

 [Wallace was crowned as the 2011 Miss WEIO. She organized a culture camp located at Howard Luke’s camp and taught students how to tell stories using Yup’ik story knives. She got involved in gatherings around Alaska. She served as Master of Ceremonies for the Festival of Native Arts and Alaska Federation of Natives Quyana Alaska performances. She organized an akutaq making workshop. She participated in the AFN Elders and Youth conference. She co-organized the Mr. and Miss Cama-I cultural pageant. “One of the beauty’s within cultural pageants are that young men and women showcase and demonstrate their ability to perform cultural activities while serving as a role model for the younger generations.” Above is a video of Kelsey Wallace’s performance for the 2011 Miss WEIO Talent Show]

MISS Quote of the Week
“Don’t wait for something big to occur. Start where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead you into something greater.” -Mary Manin Morrissey, New Thought Minister

MISS Song of the Week 
Pretty Girl Rock - Keri Hilson 
-Jacqui Lambert

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Race Monologues

The leaders of my race monologues workshop asked us last week think about race in our everyday lives and bring a moment from our week to share with the group. Do you ever stop and think about how often race comes up in your daily life? When I stopped to think, I realized it happens quite frequently. Maybe it's just me, a white girl from a small native community, going to a very white college. The prompt for the week was to write about your family history. Here is my piece

"Why are you here?"
asks big black/brown eyes
full moon frost bitten cheeks
hair down her back

Les hommes francais!
fur economy exploitation
empty waters where sea cows once grazed

a nomadic people making more and more rips into fur trading posts
I am a relic of colonialism

you named my father eagle
the same as on the dollar bills
your children hand
to their cousin at the cash register
no nikipiaq Ahna!
black meat with seal oil, I want a snickers bar

astounding faith
North to the Future
manifest destiny

-Hannah Atkinson

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Men for MISS: Loving in the Patriarchy

In ch. 1 of "The Will to Change" bell hooks discusses pressures society puts on men in the form of Patriarchy. Patriarchy is --> Defined by the Blackwell Encyclopedia: “Patriarchy is most commonly understood as a form of social organization in which cultural and institutional beliefs and patterns accept, support, and reproduce the domination of women and younger men by older or more powerful men: Literally the “rule of the fathers.” (
hooks relates the pressures of the patriarchy to men's ability to express emotions, specifically love. Because we live in a patriarchal society we have built up a notion of manhood that is related to the qualities of a strong leader/provider. She describes the patriarchal notion of manhood: strength, domination, even violence. All of these qualities can make for a great leader/provider but they also have effect of demoralizing the weakness and vulnerability that comes with feelings. In this way, hooks proposes that our society pressures men to hold back their love. Because men are pressured to hold back their love, women are frustrated, because they want that love more than anything.  If the problem is lack of love, she proposes that more love, unconditional love, is the only answer:
"Only a revolution of values in our nation will end male violence, and that revolution will necessarily be based on a love ethic. To create loving men, we must love males. Loving maleness is different from praising and rewarding males for living up to sexist defined notions of male identity. Caring about men because of what they do for us is not the same as loving males for simply being. When we love maleness, we extend our love whether males are performing or not." (page 11)

How do men and women love differently? How does this create tensions between the genders?
Do you think that the cultural pressures of men to be providers has created performance based love? How does one overcome performance based love? 

-Hannah Atkinson

Monday, October 1, 2012

MISS Monday October 1, 2012 (Maija Lukin)

MISS Woman of the Week
Maija Lukin, Kotzebue

This past summer, I spent an evening listening to Maija Katak Harris Lukin tell stories in a little confined area behind her house that is devoted to drying meat. There were strips of ugruk hanging above us, piled on the table in front of us, and even hanging on a recycled bunk bed frame. We were about to leave until we realized the door was locked from outside and there was no way out. Lukin had used my phone to call her husband, Dean Lukin, who was in the house at the time. 

“Help!!!! There’s a fire and we can’t get... Oh” Lukin giggled and looked at us “He hung up! He must have believed..”

Lukin’s voice was cut off as we heard the footsteps of her husband running towards us. He stopped in his tracks as soon as he realized we were completely safe and there was no fire. Lukin kinda giggled at her husband, knowing her humor was taken a little too seriously. 

“What if there was really a fire though? At least we would have been safe, my husband made it back here in less than thirty seconds.” Lukin said. 

From the sounds of it, this is how the Lukin house is brought up. To finish the work that needs to be done but to have fun while you’re at it. Maija Katak Harris Lukin is a very active community member of Kotzebue that lives accordingly to the seasonal rotations. She gets involved in any event, she holds events to have something to do, and she hunts, fishes, cooks, and sews in the meantime. 

To really understand who she is, you need to hear the roots of her being. Her Finnish-American grandmother grew up in the 30’s and 40’s and raised her six kids in places like Turkey and Iran before making it to Anchorage and eventually making a home in Chickaloon. Her Inupiaq grandmother, Katak, grew up at Sisualik until they moved to Kotzebue for her husband to work. 

“And my mother. My mom probably inspired me most of all. She grew up an Inupiaq girl, being punished for speaking Inupiaq. She grew up doing both ‘male’ and ‘female’ chores. She went hunting, chopped wood, picked berries, drove the boat. She ended up with three girls and raised us the same way. My mom has always worked hard and rarely gotten the attention for it. She volunteers for everything too. I probably get that from her. She was always busy, as am I.” Lukin says. 
Lukin currently works with the Communications and Public Relations for the Maniilaq Association. She graduated from Kotzebue High School in 1995 where she participated in anything she could. She was raised on the belief that experiencing bigger things, like Washington DC, is always a good thing. Her mother was involved in everything so Lukin was the little kid who followed along and always had something to do. Along with volunteer work, Lukin was raised by the importance of her Inupiaq culture; she learned to shoot a gun, pick berries, igitchaq ducks, making paniqtuq, fillet fish, kavraq ugruk, play kick in the can, beat her cousins at run races, play Norwegian, hang beluga, and make qaugaq. 

Today, Lukin raises a family of her own. Her family consists of herself and her husband along with four kids and two dogs. Her family grows up with her extended family as most of her cousins are still in Kotzebue too and have children of the same age. She makes it a point to raise her kids through the Inupiaq culture, but also to grow with the Western culture too. 

“I hope that my children appreciate their cell phones as a way to connect with things we never thought possible, but still know to put them away when it’s time to hunt or berry pick or go to camp to relax.” Lukin says. 

Lukin has been the coordinator of the Arctic Circle Spring Festival where she devotes a long weekend during the Kobuk 440 Sled Dog race to providing things for the community to do. She wants to give new and old residents time to go out to experience the beautiful Spring weather and have fun. She admits it’s hard work to coordinate, but the Inupiaq value of “sharing” is easily incorporated into her life and it feels great to share the piece of culture with everyone. Lukin spends a great amount of her time volunteering and does things that are fun and relaxing. She bakes and sews for people, hosts bake sales, teaches sewing classes, skin sewing, she coaches, reads, and works with the kids in attempt to to make the community a better place for the residents. 

While she believes it’s extremely important to be deeply rooted in the Inupiaq culture, Lukin believes the youth with no dependents should jump at an opportunity to experience an out-of-state education, at least for a little while. She had spent some time living in Orlando, Florida and later attended the Eastern Oregon University in La Grande with her cousin Josie. She encourages high school students to do as much as possible before being forced to become an adult after graduation. In order to help encourage this, Lukin has been an advisor to raise money for graduations and senior trips, she’s been a coach, a referee, and helped several students with scholarships and jobs. 

Advice that Lukin carries with her is that she always has a choice.
“You have a choice to get up in the morning. You have a choice to be happy or mad. You can choose to let something keep you down, and you can choose not to. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you’re ultimately responsible for all of your actions. Because, really, life is hard. But how you react to life situations is what people remember.” Lukin advises 

Lukin concentrates on being a good person who genuinely cares about other people above anything else. She believes that being an Inupiaq woman is not only hard right now, but it always has been in generations before us because you’re constantly pressured to be a good wife, mother, sister, Inupiaq, baker, seamstress and so on and so on. Being a good person and genuinely caring about others reflects being a good leader. Lukin encourages you to get involved in your community. 

“When you put the effort into the kids of the community, and give them a sense of person, that they’re important, they grow up feeling good about themselves, and learning from you. Stop complaining about nothing to do and go do something about it!” 

MISS Quote of the Week
“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.” -Diane Mariechild, author of “Mother Wit and Inner Dance”

MISS Song of the Week
Sisters are Doin’ It For Themselves - Eurythmics 

-Jacqui Lambert

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Race Monologues

Lewis and Clark College holds a multi-cultural symposium ever year in which one event is especially catching. The Race Monologues gathers students from all over campus, people who I walk by everyday on my way to class, to tell their stories about race and how it has affected their lives. The last two years I have attended the Race Monologues I have laughed, cried, and related to students of all different colors, cultures, and upbringings. Every year I went I knew that I had a story just as powerful as them, I just wasn't sure how to tell it. I have always felt that I had something to share, and I think this year I finally have the words. Not only do I want to share it with all the members of my community in Portland, OR, I want to share it with the community that built me.

Every Sunday I will be attending a writing workshop much like is shown in the linked video above. We write a piece and bring it to share and discuss with our peers. I will be posting my weekly piece every Sunday evening. I'll be posting the prompts they give me, so feel free to follow along and write a piece for yourself. On November 9th we will be preforming a longer piece at the symposium in a spoken word format. I will hopefully be able to video tape the performance and post it to the blog.

MISS aims to empower women through exploration of culture and identity. Here is the beginning of my journey.

This first piece was written in response to the prompt: write a letter to someone or some institution with the things you wish you would have said to them/it. This is the little bit I got down on paper:

I had seen pictures of Alaska. 
Back in Washington angsty and 13, my family crowded around the desktop to see our soon to be home, creating a pixel deep understanding. Two years later when I met you, I was still looking at life like internet pictures. Laughing with you was like looking through old film slides. Holding this little arctic community up to the sun, you were the light shining through the film. A culture, a community,  and a family, illuminated before my eyes. 

-Hannah Atkinson