Feminist Friday: Diet Racism and How Little Actions are Still Racist

A few months ago, I saw a video from College Humor called “Diet Racism”, in which micro-aggressions and implicit racial biases from white people are satirically marketed as not full out racism but diet racism. I love this video because in my opinion, it comically points out the racism in many actions that many of my fellow white people don’t see as racist. The video uses satire to highlight the fact that racism is no longer just explicit prejudice based on skin color but also involves implicit biases and micro-aggressions. (Although it is important to acknowledge that the acts of diet racism explained in the video are still racist acts.)

It took me several years to realize that the microaggressive acts described in the video are still acts of racism and that there’s this incredible societal pressure for many white people (myself included) to not acknowledge race and the implications of a “post racial society”. I believed that good people weren’t racist and racism was something that ended in the 1960s (which is so beyond false). Rachel Shadoan makes the better point of what I’m trying to say with her post that “I am racist and so are you”, saying that:

Here’s the deal. Racism isn’t just guys in white robes and Paula Deen shouting racial slurs. Racism is subtle, racism is insidious, and our culture is so deeply steeped in it that it’s impossible to grow up in the US and not be racist. It’s a kind of brainwashing: a set of default configuration files that come with the culture. It’s a filter, built up from birth, that alters our perception of the world. (Literally–racial bias makes people see weapons that aren’t there.) Racism isn’t just conscious actions; it’s judgements that happen so fast that we may not even be aware of them. Even people who are horrified by the idea of racism see through this lens, have this default programming.

I’ve definitely noticed a trend in many of the fellow white people in my life to differentiate between “true racism” and microaggressive acts based on race. I had an argument over Facebook with two fellow white people a few months ago, particularly over the fact that racism is not the explicit KKK behavior that we learn about in history books. I held this problematic view for so much of my life and as white people, we’re conditioned to be willfully accepting of the problematic view of racism. The micro and macro aggressive acts that white people as a whole have not seen as racism is in fact racism whether we like it or not. There’s no such thing as “true racism” and as Travis Alabanza argues, we should start dropping the word subtle when talking about racism.

New York City’s Stop and Frisk program also involves racism, whether the police officers intentionally do so or not. Recently, the director of the FBI, James Comey, acknowledged the racial bias that everyone (particularly police officers) experiences. It is incredibly important that we start acknowledging the fact that there are unconscious racial biases that exist within the US today and that the microaggressive acts of stereotyping are still prevalent and harmful.

Michelle Alexander wrote an entire book titled “The New Jim Crow”, arguing that the mass incarceration of people of color (particularly black men) is the new Jim Crow system within the US. There is so much wrong with the prison industrial complex (including that many industries profit from people being locked up) but one of the biggest is that there is a significant disparity between people of color and white people within prisons. One in seventeen white men will be imprisoned at some point in their life, compared to the one in three for black men and one in six for Latino men. (A similar situation is happening in the UK, where a disparity in prison populations is also occurring.)

My entire point with this is that the racism we tend to believe in as white people isn’t what racism is today and whether we like it or not (or even acknowledge it), racial biases influence so many different actions in everyday life. People of color are significantly more likely to be imprisoned; one study found that resumes with black sounding names were more likely to not get callbacks or interviews than white sounding names (despite being equally qualified). I agree with Ron Lester Whyte when he argued that mandatory anti-racism education needs to be implemented here in the US and I’ll leave you with some of what he wrote:

A recent article by Rachel Shadoan entitled, “I am racist, and so are you” is a perfect illustration of the problem we’re facing. According to Shadoan, the health, well being, and prosperity of people of color are almost entirely dependent upon the goodwill and soul searching capacities of white people. Unfortunately, laws meant to protect fundamental human rights of Black people, for example, never translated into any meaningful anti-racist cultural renaissance for white Americans. Self reflection and self examination are wonderful, but many people simply choose not to do it.

Feminist Friday: Urban Farming, Permaculture, Accessibility, and Organic Farming

IMG_4150My family lives on half an acre in an urban setting and uses part of the land to grow a garden filled with veggies and raise four chickens. I grew up on farmers’ markets and usually eating locally; there are dairy farms close to my hometown, chickens are becoming more regular for families in the city, gardens are a staple for many of my family friends. Every summer, my mom (and usually with my sister and I in tow) goes berry picking at a local farm for a couple hours and comes back with pounds of berries to make jam or freeze. Urban farming hasn’t always been the significant portion of my diet but it has been a big part of my life. Being able to provide for ourselves with some veggies every summer and eggs year round not only feels amazing but for me, everything tastes significantly better as well.

There is one documentary that I am excited to see related to urban farming and reminds me of the post I wrote a few weeks ago about food deserts and food forests. Occupy the Farm is about a local community in Berkeley that worked to reclaim some land for a farm in the middle of an urban setting and the challenges they faced by reclaiming the land.

Permaculture is also important in any discussion of farming and “is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, environmental design, construction and integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems” (from the wiki page about permaculture). A big part of permaculture is working with the surrounding nature to grow food and having a mixed system of plants and animals in the area rather than a single product system.

It’s also really important to address accessibility issues within the food movement and urban farming. Of course, not everyone has access to the amount of land allows me to garden and raise chickens but it is possible to grow herbs in small places that have no access to a yard (apartments, condos, etc). The Boston Food Project works to not only help farms thrive but widen the access to fresh, local food to low income communities and teach youth how to farm. Being able to afford local and organic food also is a luxury and privilege for the upper middle and richer classes because the cost can be incredible prohibitive.

Local and organic food also comes with the catch that the yields of organic farms aren’t as large as non-organic farms, leaving the issue of feeding a world with several billion people. There was a meta-analysis study done a few years ago that looked at the yields of organic farms versus non organic farms and found that the yields of organic farms are typically lower but are highly contextual. (Unfortunately couldn’t access the entire article.) Additionally, Roger Cohen wrote an opinion piece titled “The Organic Fable” and while I don’t agree with everything he wrote, he does bring up the great points that being able to buy organic food is an affluent luxury of the upper middle and richer classes and that:

“even if it’s not better [nutritionally] for you, organic farming is probably better for the environment because less soil, flora and fauna are contaminated by chemicals (although of course, without fertilizers, you have to use more land to grow the same amount of produce or feed the same amount of livestock.) So this is food that is better ecologically even if it is not better nutritionally.”

So there needs to be that balance between feeding the world’s population and taking care of the earth. Plus, buying local and/or organic food also needs to be more accessible for those who want to buy it. And there are so many other things that go into farming and food that can and have filled books and books, like how the capitalistic nature of our society means so much food goes to wasted despite the hunger of so many around the country and world. But having real conversations that come up with sustainable solutions to the many dilemmas of farming and hunger is incredible important at this point for both the earth and humanity.

Feminist Friday: Environmental Justice 101 and Ecofeminism

Environmental Justice.

… the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies … It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

From the EPA website

Environmental justice is an incredibly important issue; with climate change impacted different environments, natural disasters causing serious damage to many communities all over the world, and clean water becoming more scarce, serious and sustainable solutions to environmental issues need to be implemented. Plastic is killing wildlife and completely changing the oceans, especially the Pacific Ocean with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The National Geographic wrote that the Garbage Patch wasn’t really what most people might immediately think:

For many people, the idea of a “garbage patch” conjures up images of an island of trash floating on the ocean. In reality, these patches are almost entirely made up of tiny bits of plastic, called microplastics. Microplastics can’t always be seen by the naked eye. Even satellite imagery doesn’t show a giant patch of garbage. The microplastics of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can simply make the water look like a cloudy soup. This soup is intermixed with larger items, such as fishing gear and shoes.
The seafloor beneath the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may also be an underwater trash heap. Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70% of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean.


I just saw (and recommend seeing) the documentary Plastic Paradise, which covers the history of manufacturing plastic, the forces behind them, and the impact that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is having on the ocean and wildlife within it. Animals are eating the plastic and dying because of the trash put there by humans.

Growing forests and farms in sustainable ways can also help stop desertification and deforestation happening around the world. Yacouba Sawadogo has done amazing work in northern Burkina Faso since 1980 by reviving an old African technique called zai and has revived acres and acres of forest with numerous species of trees.

Other environmental justice issues include:

  • Air – pollution, greenhouse gases, acid rain
  • Climate Change
  • Emergencies – natural disasters, hazardous substances spills
  • Land and clean ups – super funds, brown fields, landfills
  • Pesticides, chemicals, toxics
  • Waste – garbage, hazardous waste
  • Water – wetlands, oceans, estuaries, watersheds, drinking water
  • Energy – oil, coal, etc

In a photography series titled “Futuristic Archaeology,” Daesung Lee captured the impending desertification of Mongolia. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked the 10 best and 10 worst states in the US for clean energy last October. Andy Keller, an environmental activist, created the Bag Monster – a monster completely made of the single use plastic shopping bags – to highlight the waste and damages that come from those bags.

Other advocacy approaches include:

  • Political and legal channels
    • Political advocacy
    • Litigation
    • Electoral politics (voting)
  • Direct Appeal to the public
    • Public education
    • Direct action
    • Media events
    • Community organizing


Combining the words ecology and feminism, ecofeminism embraces the idea that the oppression of women and the oppression or destruction of nature are closely connected. Elements of the feminist movement, the peace movement and the environmentalist and green movements can be seen in ecofeminism.

Winifred Fordham Metz

Environmental justice and feminism are two philosophies that in my opinion, should often go hand in hand and ecofeminism is that center between the two. Offering women around the world access to birth control/family planning, education, and jobs can help lower the global population/large family sizes and climate change. Women are also a big number of farmers and agricultural workers, especially in developing countries, but own only a fraction of the land and wealth.

Some resources include:

  • Women and Life on Earth
  • The Green Fuse: Ecofeminism
  • How Ecofeminism Works – How Stuff Works
  • What is Eco-Feminism? – Everyday Feminism

And it’s of course important to see the racist and capitalist nature behind the driving forces destroying the earth. People of color are often disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards, often described as environmental racism. Greed from corporations raking in millions and billions of dollars also creates an industry that causes significant landfill waste and damage to the environment.

I could easily continue to rant and rant about environmental issues and will write more in the future. But for now, I’ll leave it here with the motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Feminist Friday: Violence against Trans Women

A few months ago, I wrote about intersectionality and included a PDF of the research that I did for a class during my senior year of university, in which I found academic research that trans women of color are significantly more likely to experience violence than other identities of the LGBTQ+ community. (Most of that research came from a report done by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.) And with only a month and a half into 2015, this year has unfortunately continued the harsh trend of violence towards trans women.

There were Valentine’s Day protests that focused on the violence addressing the violence against trans women of color (particularly black trans women) in several cities, including:

  • St. Louis, MO
  • Oakland, CA (#Love4QTPOC)

Janet Mock also wrote a piece on her site where she writes about the visibility of trans women of color in the wake of 6 murders of trans women in 2015. There’s a different piece on The Root that acknowledges the fact that the disproportionate violence against trans women goes largely ignored. Princess Harmony Rodriguez wrote a piece for Black Girl Dangerous titled “Whose Lives Matter?: Trans Women of Color and Police Violence”.

And there are so many issues that come into play with this, including:

  • Homeless shelters can be unsafe for trans people experiencing homelessness and finding a place to live can be difficult as well. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has a guide to transitioning homeless shelters.
  • Sex work. Janet Mock wrote about her experiences in sex work in her book, Redefining Realness, and in a piece on her website, including that:
    • Sex work is heavily stigmatized, whether one goes into it by choice, coercion or circumstance. Sex workers are often dismissed, causing even the most liberal folk, to dehumanize, devalue and demean women who are engaged in the sex trades. This pervasive dehumanization of women in the sex trades leads many to ignore the silencing, brutality, policing, criminalization and violence sex workers face, even blaming them for being utterly damaged, promiscuous, and unworthy. So because I learned that sex work is shameful, and I correlated trans womanhood and sex work, I was taught that trans womanhood is shameful. This belief system served as the base of my understanding of self as a trans girl, and I couldn’t separate it from my own body image issues, my sense of self, my internalized shame about being trans, brown, poor, young, woman.

It’s so important to start addressing the violence that trans women are facing in society today. And to be an ally to the trans community (particularly trans women of color), it’s also important to realize that being an ally isn’t an identity but constantly acting in solidarity. There are organizations that need support, including the Trans Women of Color Collective, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, The Leelah Project, and so many more.

Feminist Friday: Vulnerability

Roughly two years ago (almost to the day now that I think about it), I was involved in a student movement on my university campus surrounding legal rights for the LGBTQ+ members of the community. Because the university was Catholic (like, extremely so), there were so many complications and microaggressions that often made many LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff feel slightly unwelcome. A few comments one night from the university president that alluded to the “don’t ask don’t tell” tone of the campus ignited the movement into a semester long call for legal protection and inclusion of the marginalized community.

At the beginning of the movement and shortly after the president made his remarks, I wrote an open letter to him on a now nonexistent blog. I wrote about how as a queer student, I often felt unsupported, alienated, and unwelcome by the administration and most of the school. I loved the school, from the soccer team, location, social justice, and so much more but it often felt like the school just hated me in return. This open letter was written in frustration and late at night. I opened myself up and was vulnerable, not thinking about what would happen in the future.

Over the course of the next few weeks, that letter was read and shared hundreds of times. Friends from the university shared and reshared the post on Facebook and an edited version ended up in the student newspaper later that week. So much of the feedback I received from friends and random faces was positive but through it, I had unintentionally become one of the leaders for the movement from this post.

To make an already long story a little shorter, the next couple months ended up being incredibly emotionally taxing. I wasn’t sleeping very well, barely eating, and generally not taking care of myself as I worked with other students attempting to get legal protections added for the LGBTQ+ community on campus. I was constantly vulnerable, opening myself up to friends and strangers in the hopes that my story of pain could help strength the community to be better.

And while legal protections for sexual orientation (but sadly not gender identity) were added to the university’s policy a few months after the movement, I was left to pick up the broken pieces of myself. By consistently putting myself in vulnerable position with no chance for self care, I completely broke myself down and was utterly burnt out. In the midst of all the positive feedback, I was also critiqued, bullied, and intimidated and with an ever shrinking support system and an increasing amount of limelight, I had no idea what to do.

The point of this post was to talk about how vulnerability can be incredibly amazing but learning from my own mistakes, I realize that vulnerability on a larger scale should go hand and hand with self care. Being open and vulnerable can help to create community and deep connections with others but it could very easily destroy someone. So it’s important to take care of yourself in whatever way you accomplish that.

I also write this as someone who is incredibly privileged in so many ways – being vulnerable never meant I feared for my physical safety. I’ve never worried that I’d be disowned from my family and close friends or that I would be in a dangerous position if I shared my story.

And while it’s been two years after this movement and I’m still trying to pick up the pieces of myself, it was through being vulnerable that I learned a lot about myself and activism. I learned about how there were others who went through similar experiences of microaggressions for not only their sexual orientation and gender identity but also for their race, ethnicity, disabilities, etc. It was through this that I learned so much about myself, about activism, about those around me.

Being vulnerable allowed me the space to grow and learn from the mistakes I made and hopefully become a better person for it. But it was also being vulnerable that let me know that activism and the fight for justice cannot be done alone – community is so incredibly important.