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Category Archives: Community


I’ve been away.  Not away, per se, but away from writing.  I took a writing break.  A pause.  There is no reason except to say I needed a break.  Maybe it’s because I write about social justice and sometimes you just need to take care of yourself.  Maybe I was overwhelmed with all the killing of black men and women.  Maybe my work was calling my attention.  Maybe I needed to be present for my stepmother’s cancer journey.  I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but I just couldn’t force myself to sit down and comment on the world.

I’m giving myself permission to take that break.  I wouldn’t have done that before going to an ACPA  (American College Personnel Association) Mid-Level Management institute a week ago.  It was there that I realized it was OK to take care of yourself.

So how do I make up for the last six blogs I haven’t written?  How do I comment on the strange that is our present moment in this world?  I can’t.  I can only try to look at the positive (one of my strengths, by the way) and hope that all this sadness is taking us to another level.  A recent poll stated that 60% of people were concerned about race relations in the U.S.  Three years ago, it was only 30%.  I think that is positive.  The more folks are concerned, the more they will, hopefully, begin to look inside themselves and uncover what their own biases and internal oppressions are.

I love this post by a colleague  The Perpetrator was Caught, but the Killer is Still at Large.  She says everything I think and feel and said years ago.  I wrote an op-ed in the local newspaper after the Jonesboro shooting in 1998.  17 years later, here we are.

Painful realities like this are the ones that call me to escape, to use my privilege and drive away, running to nature where you can feel protected from the hostility and hate in our world.  As much as I would like to do that, I know I am called, instead, to speak out against injustice and to educate others about it.

I was a witness and a participant last night at our First Year Orientation’s program by the Social Justice Institute.  It was moving and powerful.  I never expected that a group of almost 400 students could come together over their differences and similarities in a large group format like that.  The facilitator did an activity similar to the “Step Forward/Step Back” activity where he would read a slide and students would stand up if the slide resonated with them.  I was astounded by the numbers, students who spoke more than one language; students who grew up in homes with violence; students who knew someone who had attempted suicide; students who had attempted suicide.  That moment gave me pause.

What have we adults done to allow this world where so many young people are witnesses to violence and anguish?  I wanted to run through the crowd and hug everyone one of them and say “You are here now.  You are loved.”  But I can’t save any of them.  I can only continue to be a model and a guide.

How are you adding to the conversation to make this world a better place?


Hey, Neighbor!

Tuesday three women were released from 10 years in captivity in a suburban neighborhood in Cleveland.  If I lived in Cleveland right now I would be throwing up.  How can three teenagers go missing and the police just give up?  Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I think if they were three young men, the search would’ve been a bit more thorough.  What’s three less women on the planet anyway?  Girls go missing every day to human trafficking, right? Who needs girls?

We don’t think this happens in the United States. And maybe fifty years ago it wouldn’t have.  That was back when neighbors talked to each other and knew each others comings and goings.  I have a neighbor who we jokingly call “Mrs. Kravitz” from the old sitcom Bewitched because she knows all the comings and goings of the neighborhood.  In fact, she knew our next door neighbors were moving before I did.

Do you know your neighbors?  Take a step outside.  Look to your left.  Know them?  We were friendly with our neighbors to the left, they moved and new neighbors moved in.  They were nice, but we didn’t click the way we did with their predecessors.  But even though we didn’t click, we still were nice to each other.  We picked up their newspapers when they went on vacation. And they’ve gotten our dog George in when he’s left the back yard.  Look to your right.  Do you know them?  For me, it’s a Pickling Factory, so I’m good on that one.  Look across the street.  I know both sets of neighbors whose houses are across from mine. We hang out with the neighbors directly across to the left.  We’d all do anything for each other, from watching dogs, making dinner, having after-work drinks, and getting together to play our famous game of washers, or Pennsylvania horseshoes as some call it. When we have our annual summer party, the houses adjacent to mine and two houses down all get an invitation. The people across the street always bring a cooler of beer and leave it for the night.  I want to build community while alerting the neighbors that there will be lots of cars and really awesome music playing. 

All the news I heard yesterday on this case was how quite a few people claimed to have called the police on suspicious things happening in this house over the years.  What kind of a neighborhood is it?  Is it one where the police avoid?  We know there are “those kinds of neighborhoods” in this racially charged world.  Class and race play out in the criminal justice system in such an expansive way we cannot even begin to analyze how people in poorer communities get arrested for minor infractions or ignored for major needs, like this very case.

One can only hope this blip in our history is a teachable moment.  One can only hope that these young women (who aren’t girls anymore, by the way, media!) get the psychiatric help they need to heal from this horrific decade in their young lives.  And one can only hope that people will begin to look out for each other in a different way.  A bystander is someone who is neither a victim nor a perpetrator.  It is someone who can call for help, stop an action, intervene.  We need to build a community of bystanders so that a story like this is never told again.

my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.