Category Archives: Pay Attention!

Call for Bloggers!

Sharing this so that interested bloggers may participate.

Dear blogger friends,

You’re invited to take part in a Planned Parenthood Blogger Bee!

On Wednesday, Dec. 2, Planned Parenthood will be holding a National Day of Action to lobby the Senate for health care reform that ensures women’s access to reproductive health care. In order to get the word out as quickly and widely as possible, Planned Parenthood is asking bloggers to write about the National Day of Action and the negative impact that the Stupak amendment would have on health care reform if it is included in the final legislation.

Under the Stupak amendment, millions of women would lose benefits that they currently have and millions more would be prohibited from getting the kind of private sector health care coverage that most women have today. It is imperative that women and their allies make their voices heard, so that they do not become second-class citizens in a newly reformed health care system in the United States. The first step will be to make sure everyone has the tools they need to inform themselves and others about the new health care system under the House-passed bill and the Stupak amendment.

We ask that on Wednesday, Dec. 2, you use the key points (after the jump) to inform your readers and spread the message that we will not accept health care reform that leaves women worse off than before.  To participate, send the name and url of your blog and your Twitter name if you have one, to Constance DeCherney at constance.decherney@ppfa.org by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1. If you sign up, your blog will be listed and linked on Planned Parenthood’s Action Center and included in a special Planned Parenthood (@PPact) Twitter List.

For more information on health care reform and the Stupak amendment, visit us at http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/healthreform.

We need to hear from you! Help us protect women’s access to reproductive health care!

Best,

Christie Petrone
Senior Press Officer – Health Care
Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Click here for some Key Points to include in your post

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Filed under current events, Health & Wellness, Pay Attention!

hoodwinked

I’m pretty disgusted right about now. I was asleep, knocked out due to my sickness and woke up at midnight to find that the House had passed a health care reform bill (HR 3962). Sounds good at first, especially since we have been trying to get SOME form of legislation moving through the process. Unfortunately, this is not what I was hoping for. I get the feeling that most people had/have no idea that today, in what felt like a backdoor sneak move, Representative Bart Stupak put forth an amendment on a Saturday morning to the proposed health care bill. Oh, it got passed, by the way. What is this bill that you probably didn’t know was even being discussed?

“The Stupak/Pitts amendment violates the spirit of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for all. In fact, this amendment would create a two-tiered system that would punish women, particularly those with low and middle incomes, the very people this bill is intended to assist. The majority of private health insurance plans currently offer abortion coverage, and the Stupak/Pitts amendment would result in the elimination of private abortion coverage in the ‘exchange,’ the new insurance market created under health care reform, as well as in the public option, if one is created.

“The Stupak/Pitts amendment would purportedly allow women who want comprehensive reproductive health care coverage to purchase a separate, single-service rider to cover abortion.  But such abortion riders do not exist because women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies or medically complicated pregnancies that require ending the pregnancy.  These so-called ‘abortion riders,’ which would be the only insurance policy through which abortion care could be covered in the ‘exchange,’ are discriminatory and illogical.  Proposing a separate ‘abortion rider’ or ‘single-service plan’ is tantamount to banning abortion coverage since no insurance company would offer such a policy.*

Take some time. Read that again. How ridiculous is that? While folks were on Twitter talking about brunch, football and #threewordsaftersex, anti-choicers were hijacking health care reform and using this opportunity to revolutionize American health care as a stage for their anti-abortion agenda. Dude… not here. Not this fight. SMH. Don’t be mistaken, taking away abortion coverage (in both private insurance plans and the public option) will not deter people from having unprotected sex. It will not result in a significant decline in abortions sought or performed. It will not only hurt the people you think it might hurt.

Abortion is legal. Until Congress passes a law otherwise (that passes Constitutional scrutiny by the Supreme Court), it is legal. I can’t get hype about HCR, and trust me I WANT to be so hype about HCR, when people are trying to use the backdoor to chisel away at my rights. It’s sneaky and I don’t want my government to work that way. Please believe that the NRA folks would not be down for this. You see how they get when someone even breathes gun control. The Second Amendment gets trotted out like it was the 11th Commandment.

I took a Legislation & Public Policy course in law school. I’m currently taking Politics & Policy in my MPA program. Even without those classes, I know some BS okey doke when I see it. Game recognize game, right? This is a CLASSIC example of how you get a piece of legislation to FAIL. Instead of coming out and saying no to HCR (which will make you look bad, for sure), you say yes but also get on board with an amendment that will alienate so many people that it’s sure to bring down the whole house. This is some back to the drawing board shit if I’ve ever seen it, yet so many folks are just happy to have something, I bet they won’t raise a fuss. You are so used to accepting crumbs from the gov’t that you’re not willing to fight for what you believe in. Meanwhile, those that are AGAINST what you believe in are up ALL night, working hard. No, really. They’re up ALL night. Crazy does not sleep. But listen yall, don’t drink the kool aid. This is not the HCR we want. It’s the HCR we’re settling for.

Find out how your representative voted on the Stupak/Pitts Amendment. If they were on board with the amendment and you are not, please call your rep and let them know how poorly they’ve represented you this weekend.

Definitely hit up your Senators. Ball’s in their court now.

*Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Read the whole statement here.

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Filed under current events, Health & Wellness, I'm Judging You (reviews & criticism), Now I'm pissed, Pay Attention!, Politics, Swiped, What kind of fuckery?

focusing on healthy relationships

Today is “Taking it to the Streets” day for Strong Start, an organization dedicated to educating young people about healthy relationships and ending teen dating violence. Eleven organizations in Atlanta,, Austin, Boston, Bridgeport, the Bronx, Idaho, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Oakland, Providence, and Wichita will be helping spread the message about healthy relationships. According to the website, Start Strong is also encouraging people to join the conversation online – “We are asking for your best thinking, your best advice, your best observations to get this country learning about healthy relationships, how to have them, build them, keep them and ensure that violence and abuse are never tolerated.”

It’s great that Start Strong is doing this work and even greater that they’re taking it to the streets today during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to help people see that teen dating violence is truly related to domestic violence overall. A lot of the time we focus on the negative when trying to create awareness by telling people what they should NOT be doing or by showing them how jacked up their lives and relationships are. This campaign builds off of what many advocates know already and what President Obama said in his official National Domestic Violence month proclamation on Oct. 1:

During this month, we rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence. By providing young people with education about healthy relationships, and by changing attitudes that support violence, we recognize that domestic violence can be prevented. We must build the capacity of our Nation’s victim service providers to reach and serve those in need. We urge community leaders to raise awareness and bring attention to this quiet crisis. Together, we must ensure that, in America, no victim of domestic violence ever struggles alone.

Even amidst all this positivity, I’m kind of saddened. As a soon-to-be 28 year old woman (Nov 1!), I realize that neither I nor many of my peers know how to articulate the characteristics of a healthy relationship. So few of us have seen them or been in them. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll see that this is a true statement. How can we be mentors and teachers to young people starting out? Start Strong’s target audience is 11-14 year old boys and girls. Good, it’s not too early. Clearly we all needed some help learning how to love ourselves and one another in a supportive, encouraging, uplifting and healthy way.  I’m going to keep an eye on this organization and I hope that you do too. Try following Start Strong on Twitter.

Here are ways that YOU can participate ONLINE on October 22nd.  It’s easy and will only take a few minutes of your time:

  1. Give Start Strong your relationship feedback. They need to know what you know. Click Here to give your feedback!
  2. Post a conversation starter to your Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/yfxr7yl) or Twitter profile. This will have a major impact.

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Filed under Domestic Violence Advocacy, Pay Attention!, relationships, Spotlights

DV Awareness: Remember My Name

As posted to the Domestic Violence Awareness: Making Advocacy Accessible Facebook Cause (to which I am a contributor).

As human beings we are blessed with the ability to express ourselves through language and, by extension, the written word. From the beginning of time, words have been used to capture the mundane details of life, identify objects, show the way to hidden places, record history, and foretell the future. There is also power in words where they allow us to share our innermost thoughts, feelings and ideas. Writing let’s us harness our energy, both positive and negative, and our words will bear witness to our lives. While we all have the ability to write ourselves into diaries, essays, blogs, journals, articles and poems, there comes a time when an individual will so accurately capture the essence of a movement with their words. Over a decade ago in 1995, Kimberly A. Collins wrote Remember My Name, a poem that has been used by Domestic Violence Awareness Month [DVAM] observances to memorialize victims that have lost their lives to domestic violence (take a moment to view the names of homicide victims across the U.S.).
For DVAM 2009, we share this poem with you in the hope that through written words we will never forget the names of those lost to domestic violence and that we should all heal through our shared connections and experience. You can read more about the author after the jump below.

Remember My Name

When you remember my walk upon this earth
Look not into my steps with pity.
When you taste the tears of my journey
Notice how they fill my foot prints
Not my spirit
For that remains with me.

My story must be told
Must remain in conscious memory
So my daughters won’t cry my tears
Or follow my tortured legacy.
Lovin’
is a tricky thing
If it doesn’t come
from a healthy place,
If Lovin’
Doesn’t FIRST practice
on self
it will act like a stray bullet
not caring what it hits

You may say:
Maybe I should’ve loved him a little less
Maybe I should’ve loved me a little more,
Maybe I should’ve not believed he’d never hit me again.
All those maybes will not bring me back – not right his wrong.
My life was not his to take.

As your eyes glance my name
Understand once I breathed
Walked
Loved
just like you.
I wish for all who glance my name
To know love turned fear – kept me there
Loved twisted to fear,
Kept me in a chokehold
Cut off my air
Blurred my vision
I couldn’t see how to break free.

I shoulda, told my family
I shoulda told my friends
I shoulda got that CPO
Before the police let him go
But all those shoulda’s can’t bring me back
when I lied so well
To cover the shame
To hide the signs.

If my death had to show
what love isn’t
If my death had to show
that love shouldn’t hurt
If my death had to make sure
another woman told a friend
instead of holding it in
If my death reminds you
how beautiful
how worthy
you really are
If my death reminds you
to honor all you are
daily
Then remember my name
Shout it
from the center of your soul
Wake me
in my grave
Let ME know
My LIVING was not in vain.

Copyright 1995 Kimberly A. Collins, Washington, D.C., reprinted with permission. Click to read more about the author

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Filed under Domestic Violence Advocacy, Pay Attention!, Spotlights, Swiped

Brick City

I’ve been watching the Sundance Channel’s miniseries Brick City about the struggle of Newark, New Jersey’s mayor and residents to live in the city and bring it out of crime, poverty and despair into the city of progress and hope it once was. According to the Sundance Channel,

Created and directed by the award-winning filmmakers Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin, BRICK CITY, is a five-part documentary series that fans out around the city of Newark, New Jersey to capture the daily drama of a community striving to become a better, safer, stronger place to live. Against great odds, Newark’s citizens and its Mayor, Cory A. Booker, fight to raise the city out of nearly a half century of violence, poverty and corruption. In the five one-hour episodes of BRICK CITY the lives of Mayor Booker, citizens on the front lines, and key figures re-making the city – from developers to gang members and youth mentors – intertwine in a portrait of a city at a critical moment in history.

Creep & Jayda

This is true reality television, minus the roses, foxtrots, hot tubs and eliminations. Episodes 1 & 2 introduced us to the shows dynamic personalities. There’s Mayor Cory Booker in his second term, Police Director Gary McCarthy, Earl Best aka Street Doctor, a community advocate, and then there’s the story of Jayda and Creep. I bet viewers will be sucked into the couple’s story because it’s so real, gritty and unusual. Jayda’s a former member of the Bloods gang and Creep is an ex-Crip. The story of these star-crossed lovers is like a real-life Romeo & Juliet or Westside Story. It’s captivating seeing them turn their experiences into positive messages mentoring Newark’s youth, but there’s also real drama in their relationship with one another. Continue reading

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Filed under Pay Attention!, Politics, Routine Ramblings, television

strong women, strong world

Bill Gates Sr. (dad to richie rich, Bill Jr.) made the following comment while reviewing the book, Half the Sky:

When a man partners with a strong woman, everyone benefits…. What I find remarkable is that more men around the globe don’t realize how much stronger they would be if partnered with a strong woman. Way too often and in too many corners of the globe, women are denied the opportunity to reach their full potential. It’s wrong and it’s backward, and of course, the irony is that by keeping women down, men lose out too.

The book, and the movement, seek to illustrate how educating and empowering women can help fight poverty and extremism. Seems like a simple notion, right? Reminds me of the oft repeated quote by Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General,

Achieving gender equality and empowering women is a goal in itself. It is also a condition for building healthier, better educated, more peaceful and more prosperous societies. When women are fully empowered and engaged, all of society benefits. Only in this way can we successfully take on the enormous challenges confronting our world…

These aren’t just cool quotes and soundbites. It’s the plain truth. Strong women make up the foundation for strong communities. That is why I cannot understand why some continue to dis-empower women and perpetuate patriarchal/misogynist policies. If you think women aren’t that important and occupy a second-class status, there might not be much success in convincing you otherwise. Still, misogynist, racist, classist, whoever and whatever you hate, I doubt that you hate money too. That’s why it sometimes helps to show people the bottom line results of their bigotry. Why do you think suing people helps? Getting folks in the pockets is a great persuasive technique. So what ‘s the bottom line when it comes down to empowering women? Continue reading

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Filed under current events, Pay Attention!, Routine Ramblings

Spotlight: SaltPepperGarlic

SaltPepperGarlic is a nonprofit catering company run by a sister/brother team, Jasmine & Nathaniel Baker, to raise funds to cover Nathaniel’s tuition at the Culinary Institute of America.  Like many other families, the Bakers are struggling in this economy and have had to get creative to fund their education. According to their FB site, Nathaniel is the #1 junior chef in Delaware, and #14 in the country! This man wants to cook and deserves that CIA education!

I stumbled upon SaltPepperGarlic via a Facebook pal’s profile. Working on my second post-grad degree, I know all about trying to pay for school. I’m also from Poughkeepsie, NY and the Culinary Institute (although in Hyde Park) is part of my neighborhood, about 15 min from where I grew up. I know it’s a great place to go to school.

It’s great that this family has come together with a unique idea – Utilize Nathaniel’s talent. Cater some corporate lunches and other meals. Use the money to pay for the semester. The goal is to raise at least $2,500 to start the semester on September 29th and then to raise up to an additional $8,500 for the remainder of the semester.

When I start working at my new gig, I’m going to suggest that we order lunches from SaltPepperGarlic. For those of you who currently work in the NYC area, check out the menu of soul food favorites. You and your coworkers have got to eat anyway, right? At present, the Bakers are focused on office lunches in Manhattan & Brooklyn from 12pm – 6pm. If you’d like to arrange something outside of that time/location, contact them (spg.catering@gmail.com) and see what you can work out. Click to view menu

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Filed under Good Eats, Pay Attention!, Routine Ramblings, Spotlights