5th Tuesday Guest Post // Food Insecurity: The Hunger Next Door

“I cannot feed the world. But I can do my best to make sure fewer people have to stare down the last can in their pantry.”

Huge thanks to Vershal Hogan for offering to write a second guest post for us! You can see his first Tuesday Justice post here: The Day I Became a White Man Was the Day I Became a Black Man: A Story About Race.

by Vershal Hogan

I will never forget that can of stewed tomatoes and okra.

The pantry in our dingy-walled apartment, where the rent was late but we were still within the grace period, was empty. Margaret-Holmes-Tomatoes-and-Okra-14.5-OZ

Except for that can. 

It had come, I think, from a box of government commodities my grandmother had received. I am not sure how it ended up in our pantry, but it sat there, waiting for someone to figure out what to do with it. It was not appealing.

For the past couple of days, my wife and I had been slowly scaling back how much we ate to make sure our children didn’t go hungry and that the groceries would last. That evening, the family had eaten the last of everything, and I had quietly skipped the meal. Payday was the next day.

Everyone else was in bed, and I was alone in the pantry, staring at that can, the last food in the apartment. Hunger finally said, “Enough.”

I took it off the shelf and walked over to the counter where I slowly opened it, and — crossing the room to sit at the table — ate one of the worst meals of my life directly from the can.

How I had gotten there was a mix of personal mistakes and bad timing. I’d left my former job to return to school, but the national recession that almost immediately followed that decision had made finding work difficult; I had three over-the-table jobs (my wife also had an under-the-table childcare arrangement) and still didn’t work enough combined hours to be considered full-time. Rent claimed most of that (minimum wage) money, fuel prices were high and we lived without frills. Because work was slower than anyone anticipated when we made our plans, we were forced to eat the savings we had.

We were able to buy groceries the day after I ate the tomatoes and okra. We came close to repeating that story a few times — our pastor even pulled us aside in a couple of instances and said we could avail ourselves of the church’s food pantry if we needed to — but we never got quite that desperate again.

That experience changed how I saw food security, and it has remained with me in better times.

What is food security?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food security and insecurity in four categories:

Food Security

  • High food security (old label=Food security): no reported indications of food-access problems or limitations.
  • Marginal food security (old label=Food security): one or two reported indications—typically of anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in the house. Little or no indication of changes in diets or food intake.

Food Insecurity

  • Low food security (old label=Food insecurity without hunger): reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
  • Very low food security (old label=Food insecurity with hunger): Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

Reports at the USDA’s Economic Research Institute show that in 2016 12.3 percent of households in the U.S. — nearly 15.6 million people — were considered food insecure at some point that year, and 7.4 percent of households — 9.4 million people — were considered to have low food security. The ERI reported that, like in my own story, parents and caregivers worked to shield children from reductions in food intake, but 298,000 households still saw children face disruption in how often they were able to eat. 

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So why is this a justice issue?

It seems obvious on its face, but many people don’t realize how critical food — especially healthful food — is to a functioning society. People who are hungry are very often people who are not healthy, and people who are hungry and unhealthy are not going to be able to function as well in their jobs or in their schools.

Food insecurity likewise tends to affect groups that are already in danger of disenfranchisement, which means — because they are less likely to perform well or be healthy — they will continue to be marginalized.

The rate of food insecurity for all groups is 12.3 percent, but as the USDA statistics note, some groups tend to face it at higher rates than others:

  • All households with children (16.5 percent),
  • Households with children under age 6 (16.6 percent),
  • Households with children headed by a single woman (31.6 percent),
  • Households with children headed by a single man (21.7 percent),
  • Women living alone (13.9 percent),
  • Men living alone (14.3 percent),
  • Black, non-Hispanic households (22.5 percent),
  • Hispanic households (18.5 percent), and
  • Low-income households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold (31.6 percent; the Federal poverty line was $24,339 for a family of four in 2016).

Issues of food security are especially high among those with disabilities, with 33 percent of households with a person with a reported disability keeping them from the workforce reporting food insecurity.

But even for those who fall outside the groups typically identified as marginalized, food insecurity mostly likely means whole-life insecurity. Studies have associated food insecurity with diminished mental health status.

So what can I do?

First, be aware that many people are hiding their own food insecurity. I volunteer at a local food bank every week, and one of the things that strikes me is how very normal most of the people look. Many come through after finishing a shift at work, or in their work uniforms. In some cases, people who qualify for the assistance have someone else picking it up for them, often because they are unable to do so themselves. 

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Second, recognize that it is likely not a choice. While an adult with food security issues may look typical, they may in fact have a hidden disease such as a mental illness or neurological condition that may have good and bad days that makes consistent or full-time work difficult. They may be a caregiver for someone with a disability, or they may be stuck in a cycle of unemployment or trying to exit an addiction. They could be a child or young person without the capacity to fully provide for themselves.

Third, donate. Give money or food to a local food pantry or a backpack program, which — in cooperation with local schools — distributes backpacks of food to students in need before they leave each weekend.

When you donate, don’t send expired food or food you wouldn’t eat yourself. While some food banks have some wiggle room on expiration dates, it’s not much and they will have to throw them away. Besides, what are you really saying if you’re giving a food insecure person a can that expired in 2014 and telling them, “I wouldn’t eat this, but you can.”

You should also likewise consider giving a little variety of food. Food drives tend to bring in lots and lots of cans of corn and green beans. Those are needed, but man does not live on grain and legumes alone.

While many food banks need most of their food to be shelf stable, some — including the one where I volunteer — have freezers and can put up meat and dairy. Check to see if they can accept those items. Families appreciate being able to receive items such as cheese or butter.

Desserts are also a nice donation. Some people might want to gripe about poor people eating sweets (thinking that being poor is a moral failing that deserves to be punished), but if they’re coming through our pantry, they’re receiving other foods. When life is hard, sometimes a piece of cake may serve its own purpose. food-pantry-northjerseyDOTcom

And one final thing on donations — consider cash. I mentioned it above, but it bears repeating. Food donations help stock shelves, but during some seasons (i.e. when it’s not Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter) they tend to slow down. Having cash on hand helps the pantry not only keep the lights on but restock when needed.

Fourth, donate time. I know not everyone can do this, but food security organizations — whether they are independent or linked to a faith community — overwhelmingly rely on volunteer labor. It’s not glamorous, but someone needs to move boxes and stock shelves.

Fifth, vote for people who are going to support food security policies. Many pantries are able to operate in part because they participate in USDA commodity programs or other local, state and federal initiatives. Discussions in recent years have hinted that funding for those services may be reduced or ended altogether.

I cannot feed the world. But I can do my best to make sure fewer people have to stare down the last can in their pantry.

 

Answering YOUR Questions: Part 2

We answered several of the questions we got during the survey in Answering Your Questions, Part 1 back in February. That set of questions dealt with us personally and the blog itself. This week, we’re tackling the content questions!

What are some of the answers to these justice problems in your opinion?

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Michelle:  I’m not sure how answerable this question is, but I love it! This is what we answer in each post. From the beginning of Tuesday Justice, our model for most posts is “here’s the problem, here’s what’s being done about it, here’s how you can get involved.” Whether or not what’s being done is going to solve the problem is another story, but hopefully, it’s at least helpful on some level, and we do our best to vet those solutions before we publish our posts.

For a lot of what we talk about, the ultimate solutions would require equal treatment before the law, poverty alleviation, equality in education & opportunity, and other such development goals. But there’s an element of symptom treatment in some of this. While we want to fix the root causes of injustice, we also want to alleviate some of the immediate suffering people are facing. We have to use a both/and approach.

What situation have you been made aware of which had a “perfect storm” of factors such as poverty, slavery & immigration as the root cause?

Michelle:  I came across this report from Verite, Forced Labor in the Production of Electronic Goods in Malaysia, which included a case study that illustrates these three factors coming together. (You can find more info in the Research Findings section of the report, beginning on page 83.)

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The problems started when the factory asked their broker to raise the workers’ wages to meet the new legal minimum wage standard. The broker initially agreed to the wage increase, but was disingenuous with them about how many deductions would be taken from their base salary, having them sign a contract written in English and Malay, languages that none of the three understood. When the workers got their first payslips, they realized that their wages were much lower than they had agreed, and complained about it to the factory management. The factory apparently confronted their broker about the issue, because only days later, they were informed by the broker that they were being pulled from their jobs, that the factory was ‘throwing them away.’ Days later, they were made to pack their bags and move to a new housing area in Balakong, about 50 km away from their previous residence. […] After some time, the workers were informed that they must start working at a new, much less desirable factory. The workers knew this factory to have a poor reputation and objected to the new assignment, repeatedly asking the broker to return their passports to them, but the agent refused to give their passports back. At the time of the interview, the workers had not received pay for their final two weeks of work at the original factory, nor had they been paid at all since moving to Balakong. Instead of paying them their back pay, their broker offered to loan them money to cover their living costs. Since nothing had been resolved regarding the new factory job yet, while winding down the interview, the researcher asked them what they wanted to happen. They said that they were not asking for more than they deserved, and that they wished to remain in Malaysia to continue working since they had not been able to save money yet, due to spending their first two years in the country paying off their debts. They said that they do not want to run away because they wanted to get their passports back. They just wanted to be respected and protected by the agent, and if that was not possible, they wanted to be able to transfer to another agent.”

How do you build friendships with people of another race?

Channon:  I think the most important thing to remember is that people are just people! We are all human beings and are all on this journey called life. We all experience love, joy, sadness, pain, heartache, healing, etc., and if we can always remember that in the back of our minds, then it will be easier to relate to people, even if they aren’t the same race as you! Take for example me and Michelle:  cc7We met in the UK, doing the same Masters degree, learning more about a subject that we both are passionate about. And we instantly clicked and became good friends (and are still to this day)! We also connected through our shared faith and ultimately because Michelle is just a great person and someone who I wanted to have a lasting friendship with. Even though we are black and white, we don’t dwell on that, instead we choose to focus on our shared interests, passions and genuine like of each other! So focus on the shared and similar interests with someone from another race and not your differences or the fact that you’re from different races.

Michelle: Yes, yes, yes to what Channon said! There are times when I, as a white person, need to understand how Channon’s experiences, as a black woman, are different than mine. And while it’s important to recognize that, when it comes to beginning a friendship, we often connect with others based on our shared experiences.

What do you think the most important way to prevent social justice problems is?

Channon: I don’t think there is one single, important way to prevent social justice problems. I think a couple of things need to be implemented in order to find success in preventing these issues globally. First, we must acknowledge deep-rooted hurts from the past. Brokenness within certain communities needs to be dealt with and forgiveness and healing needs to happen. Safe spaces have to be created for underrepresented groups’ voices to be heard and their opinions and ideas acknowledged. Also, I believe policies and laws have to be more strict when it comes to dealing with issues such as trafficking, modern day slavery in all of its forms. Also, plans have to be put in place so that poverty can be eliminated, so that people can live their lives comfortably without having to worry about where their next meal is coming from or whether they can afford to send their children to school. Looking at all of these things that have to be done is a HUGE task and slightly overwhelming, but Michelle and I have hope that one day we will get there!

Do you feel people should do more due diligence on what is being reported on the news before forming opinions on the issue? Also, we sometimes have dirty grids from past hurts that skew our opinions. How can we separate opinions from facts to not make an immediate emotional judgment?

Michelle: To answer the first two questions, YES. Yes, we should all do our due diligence before forming opinions. And yes, we all have dirty grids. (I’ve never heard the term “dirty grid” before; I’m just guessing it’s meaning from context.) Depending on where you grew up, who you’re around, which news gets to your feed, it’s tough to separate fact from opinion and take varying viewpoints into consideration. No one is completely neutral, and we all need to start from the understanding that our viewpoints on social justice issues HAVE BEEN affected by a number of variables. That’s key in beginning to understand why things are the way they are and how others could be viewing the same situation differently than we are.

The media we consume plays a huge role in this (see here: Political Polarization & Media Habits from Pew Research Center). So, the next step, and answer to the third question, is to make sure that you’re getting input from “the other side” (if you have a particular bent left or right) or both sides (if you feel like you don’t belong on the spectrum at all or if you feel stuck in the middle). It’s important that wherever you’re spending time getting news and information, you don’t create an echo chamber. As a liberal person in a deeply conservative region, I don’t need to curate my timelines too strictly; it happens naturally for me, both online and IRL. If the people around you mostly agree with you, it’s easy to only see the facts that confirm your opinions. (That being said, I’m not above blocking someone who regularly posts vitriol or fake news.) If you’re getting your news from TV, switch channels once in a while. If you get your news online, go to multiple sites. If you get your news via social media, follow multiple (reputable) sources. (Also, check out these tips:  Five Ways to Break Out of Your Online Echo Chamber.) It does take some effort, but it’s incredibly important to see from multiple perspectives in order to have a well-rounded, compassionate view of the issues. 

I looked up some charts to find the best news sources on either side. Obviously, this is somewhat subjective, but I didn’t see huge discrepancies. (Google “media bias chart” to see what I mean.) News sources like The Economist, The Atlantic, and Wall Street Journal both scored very well in terms of fact-reporting and minimal bias across most of the charts I saw (see photos).

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I am always interested in what we can do to help and ways we can use the information you have given us to get involved. Now that my social justice flame has been lit by a post, tell me what to do with that flame. You do this already, but I am definitely for it! // How can I get involved in social justice in my local area?

Channon:  What a great question!! There are many ways in which you can get involved in social justice in your local area.

  1. You can volunteer your time at a local organization that is working towards a specific cause.
  2. You can donate your financial resources to organizations who are doing great work locally, nationally or globally.
  3. You can choose a book that discusses social justice issues and create a book club and invite friends, family, your community, and those who may be interested in learning more about social justice and how they can help. (Our resource list has some great options for this!.)

Michelle also wrote a great blog post titled, “2017: But What Can We Do?” which lists some more ways in which you can get involved in fighting for social justice in your community. If you’re looking for something specific, but can’t seem to find it, get in touch with us and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Michelle:  What Channon said, plus protest and most importantly, vote!


If you didn’t get to ask us that burning question back in August during the survey, don’t hesitate to ask us now! Comment below or shoot us a message on Facebook.

The Purpose of Protest

Protesting isn’t super convenient, and it’s not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, but it’s important and awesome and worth it.

by Michelle Palmer

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On Saturday, March 24th, I joined hundreds of others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and hundreds of thousands across the country (and the world) in protesting gun violence. It was my first “real” protest march (and Lord willing, not my last). As I drove down, feeling a little anxious, I thought a lot about whether or not it’d be worth all the effort. “Why am I doing this? Will it matter that I’m there? I hope the letters don’t fall off my signs. Where am I going to park?”

Now, I would loooooove to have the time and energy to dig really deeply into the gun control debate and lay out a clear summary of the arguments. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In the time that I actually have, I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the complexities of the issue. Instead, I’m just going to tell you why protesting is a good idea based on the experience I had at March for Our Lives and give you some resources if you want to learn more about the gun control debate. Channon has already discussed The Power of Peaceful Protest, but here, I want to share my first-hand experience and give you some ideas about why protesting is a pretty darn good idea.

  1. It pushes the conversation forward. In the wake of many school shootings, the script is the same. It’s a tragedy, we lament, people call for stronger gun control, others tell them it’s not the right time to politicize the tragedy, and nothing changes. In the wake of Parkland, there has been a momentum shift – more people talking about the issues, more people joining organizations like Everytown and Students Demand Action. Protests make a splash, they make headlines, and they get people talking.IMG_1455
  2. It’s a visible statement to politicians. Calling your politicians is great, showing up at the voting booth is ESSENTIAL, but I think showing up, in public, makes an impactful statement that the constituents have a passionate and vested interest in change. (Also, at our event, there were at least a dozen volunteers getting people registered to vote.)
  3. It gives people a platform to speak. In Baton Rouge, we had speakers (students, parents, politicians) who were able to share their hearts for change and their plans for action. The speeches given at the DC march were heard by thousands on the day and millions more after the fact. Here are a couple of the most moving: Emma Gonzalez, Naomi Wadler, D’Angelo McDade.
  4. It’s a visible statement to the public. When I told people I was going to march in Baton Rouge, a lot of folks gave me the “are you sure you wanna do that?” look. Like, “It’s Louisiana….how many people do you think will be there? Is it gonna be just you or what?” But there were nearly 1000! I think it was even bigger than the organizers anticipated. It shows the skeptics that there are people who care. And for every protester, there are others who want change but aren’t able to march. IMG_1479
  5. It’s good for the protesters. How? 

So no, protesting isn’t super convenient, and it’s not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, but it’s important and awesome and worth it.

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And if you go to a protest, here are my (super practical, mostly obvious) tips:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen.
  • Bring water, sunglasses, and a poncho. (In other words, be prepared to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at you.)
  • If you have trouble standing for long periods of time, bring one of those nifty portable stools. (I seriously could’ve used one.) 
  • If you can’t make a sign, go anyway. There will be extras. And even if there aren’t, your presence without a sign is a billion times better than nothing! 
  • Speaking of signs, white poster boards aren’t the same color on both sides. You think they are, but they’re not. IMG_1457Finally, I wrote very briefly about gun control last year. You can read the full post here, but the gun control bit is re-posted below:

The issue of gun control has come up (again) in light of the Las Vegas tragedy, as it so often does.

[SIDENOTE: If this seems like a particularly controversial issue for us to be tackling without much context, consider this: The majority of Americans are in favor of sensible gun control measures (reports here and here). And according to the CDC, there are an average of 33,880 gun deaths per year from 2011-2015, and those numbers are on the rise for 2016 and 2017.]

When I looked for organizations working for gun control, I found several lists, but there were four organizations that appeared on every list I saw. (This article from Bustle is particularly helpful.) These organizations are linked below, and each website has an action section.

I also came across an article that I found particularly interesting, “What If We Made Gun Culture Uncool Like We Did Cigarettes?” Here’s an excerpt:

“On the legislative front it seems America has made its choice and there is little chance for legal reform in the near future except at the margins deemed acceptable by the gun industry and a current generation of gun owners who believe that ‘things happen’ is an appropriate reaction to gun deaths. When lawmakers can’t lead, a social solution is certainly worth a shot.”

 


For more information…

Black Dresses & White Roses: Turning #MeToo Into Positive Change

by Michelle Palmer

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.”  – Oprah

I first remember seeing #MeToo back in October. I specifically remember a particular post by Aisha Bain. I think this excerpt from that post sums up the heart of it better than I ever could:

I have said me too.

In the quiet spaces.

With a friend, when we discovered – yes, me too.

With other women bold in their sharing of their experiences to provide space and place for others to seek support.

I’ve said it silence.

When I lock eyes with another woman on a train or in the street when some guy is cat-calling or yelling horrible things.

When I wait to make sure my friend is in her home with the door closed before driving away.

When I walk down a street at night with keys in my hand and my head on a swivel.

When I walk behind all my women friends, always, using my height to keep track of everyone, using my brain to scenario plan what I would do to protect them.

When I avoid eye contact with a man. When I make eye contact with a man just be friendly and civil, and then regret it.

When I was silent, or polite, or laughed off some man’s advances just to stay safe.

When male hands grouped with entitled possession and you can’t even find the who did it in a crowded bar, train, or public space.

When I spoke out against it and the situation became more dangerous.

When I freaked out when I playfully wrestled a boyfriend, and he pinned me down, and somewhere, something so deep emerged, a panic, a fear so severe – I couldn’t control it, I didn’t understand it, and I couldn’t communicate why, all logic evaporated in my terror.

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I remember thinking, hoping, as I read her post (and countless others) that maybe a viral hashtag could somehow turn the tides. “Maybe this will help people understand.” But I think I doubted it deep down. I worried that it would fade from the headlines and fade from our social media feeds, the momentum would be short-lived, and no real change would happen.person-of-year-2017-time-magazine-cover1

But then it seemed to keep going. The Silence Breakers were Time’s Person of the Year. From Tarana Burke to Alyssa Milano. From Sandra Pezqueda and Isabel Pascual to Taylor Swift and Terry Crews. That was at the start of December.

It didn’t stop there. In January, actresses wore black to the Golden Globes, the first awards show of the season, a season when celebrities have even more visibility than usual. And it wasn’t just a fashion statement. It was the launch of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. Actresses didn’t just wear black in solidarity, they spoke out (and spoke up) and brought activists as their dates; they shared the platform and passed the microphone.typorama (1)

And then, the movement reached the Grammys with white roses, Janelle Monae, and Kesha’s performance of “Praying.”

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s cover the basics. This is about both equality and ending sexual harassment. If you don’t know why it’s a big deal, read on. (And/or check out our earlier post on feminism.) These stats come from the Time’s Up website, and each has links to its source.  

  • 1 in 3 women ages 18 to 34 has been sexually harassed at work. Sexual harassment is pervasive across industries, but especially in low-wage service jobs. For example, more than 25% of sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC in the last decade came from industries with service-sector workers. Source.
  • Nearly 50% of men think women are well-represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman. Source.
  • 1 in 5 C-Suite leaders is a woman. Fewer than 1 in 30 is a woman of color. Source.
  • White non-Hispanic women are paid 81 cents on the dollar compared to white non-Hispanic men. Asian women are only paid 88 cents on the dollar. Black and Hispanic women are only paid 65 cents and 59 cents on the white male dollar, respectively. Source.
  • Only about half of the world’s working-age women participate in the labor force, compared to around three-quarters of their male counterparts. Closing that gap could add an estimated $12 trillion in global GDP by 2025. Sources: http://www.ilo.org/gender/Informationresources/Publications/WCMS_457317/lang–en/index.htm; https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/how-advancing-womens-equality-can-add-12-trillion-to-global-growth
  • Nearly half of working women in the U.S. say they have experienced harassment in the workplace. Source.
  • Research has shown that women in male-dominated occupations, especially those in male-dominated work contexts, are sexually harassed more than women in balanced or in female-dominated ones. Source: Berdahl, JL. (2007). The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women (p. 427).
  • Approximately one-third of women think women are well-represented when they see one-in-ten in leadership positions. Source.
  • From 2007 to 2016, 4% of top-grossing directors were female. Just 7 were women of color. 1 in 1,114 directors across 1,000 movies was Latina. Source.
  • More than one-third of the world’s countries do not have any laws prohibiting sexual harassment at work—leaving nearly 235 million working women vulnerable in the workplace. Source.26063717_922994241203884_6359613113973307075_o

When I was prepping this post, I came across this photo on Facebook. It specifically says, “ladies.” I thought, “If that’s not a sign we need change, I don’t know what is.”

One of the most common requests from our survey last August was more info on what to do in light of whatever issue we dealt with in the post. Our top two suggestions are very often the same for every injustice we tackle. The first is this:  When you see it, call it out. If it’s happening in your vicinity, it’s your responsibility to give a voice to the voiceless, to bring light to the situation, to seek rectification, to do something.

The second is to find an organization already doing great work, donate your resources (time, energy, money, talent), and partner with them! Here’s a list to help you:

And last, but certainly not least, for lots more info on being an ally, check out the Better Brave website (and memorize it!).


For more information…

 

 

The Best of Tuesday Justice (So Far)

by Channon & Michelle 

As we look ahead into 2018, we wanted to reflect on some past Tuesday Justice posts: our most viewed, Channon’s favorites, Michelle’s favorites…. If you’re new to the blog or haven’t read any of the posts mentioned below, please take a look!

Most viewed post: Desktop6-001History or Hate? The Confederate Statues of New Orleans” Written by Channon in May 2017, the post has received over 300 views, most of which came after the attack in Charlottesville in August. The views came primarily from internet searches about Confederate statues. It’s a privilege that one of our posts could provide information to people seeking out a greater understanding of hot-button issues that dominate the news cycle.

Guest Posts: Desktop6-004We’ve also had four fantastic guest posts this year, and we hope to have more in 2018. (Let us know if you’re interested or have an idea for a great guest post!)  Our most viewed guest post was “When They Get the Story Wrong: Muslims, Ideology & Terrorism” by Tom Pettinger. 

 

Channon’s Favorite Post by Michelle: “White People, Let’s Fix This

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What did you learn?

Reading through the many blog posts we’ve done since October 4th, 2016, I must say that my favourite post from Michelle is “White People, Let’s Fix This”. What I learned from this post is that empathy and education are the two things that helped the people Michelle spoke to, understand the plight and oppression of others and racial injustice. I also got to see Michelle’s and other people’s view of how they saw racial injustice and what they do and would do to help fight it.

Why did you like it?

I loved how Michelle talked about her family history, how she grew up and just brought that personal element to the post. After reading this post, I began to understand more why Michelle is the way she is (compassionate, kind, empathetic, amongst other great qualities 😊) and that she comes from a family who has always and continues to fight against social injustice, intolerance, racism and discrimination. I also really liked that she compared what was happening then, in the book “12 Million Black Voices,” in 1941 (racial oppression, etc. against black people), to what is still happening now in 2017 to black people, both in America and internationally. I also liked that Michelle shared her “woke” moment with readers – the moment her “eyes were opened” and she could connect with what was happening to black people. I also liked that Michelle took responsibility and urged others also to take action to do something about the racial injustice happening in the world today. Michelle said in her post, “The photo also reminded me that racism isn’t someone else’s problem. Those people were MY people, MY blood, MY history. And it’s my responsibility to undo the damage. Continually.”

I thoroughly enjoy Michelle’s posts every time she writes for Tuesday Justice! She is a talented and passionate person and that shows through in her writing. She is transparent when she writes and leaves you feeling empowered to take up the cause of whatever social justice issue she is discussing.

Channon’s Favorite Post by herself: “The Power of Peaceful Protest

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What did you learn?

What I learned from this post is how relevant and timely protests still are today in 2017. It also made me a bit sad when researching for this post to know that things have not changed very much from protests back in the 50s and 60s. It made me sad to know that we as black people are still fighting against the same injustices that we were fighting back then. But I was also hopeful when writing this post because I learned how powerful protests can be, when people unite together and have the same mindset, views and voice about a particular issue.

Why did you like it?

I really liked how I was able to do a compare and contrast with protests from 60 years ago (sit-ins, marches and freedom Rides of Civil Rights Movement) to protests now (Black Lives Matter, halting of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, etc.). It put into perspective what has and has not changed about protests then and now. I also loved looking back and researching the Civil Rights Movement era and the different methods that were used to get their point across. Whether it was the non-violent approach of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or the more violent approach like Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, black people have used the tool of protests for decades. Overall, I really enjoyed writing this post and doing the research for it!!!

It was a pleasure for me to write this post and I was happy to inform people (if they weren’t already aware) why protesting is so powerful, what it meant historically to groups of people and what it still means now to those same groups of people.

Michelle’s Favorite Post by Channon: “I’m rooting for everybody black.” The Importance of Supporting Black Businesses 

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What did you learn?

I learned more about the social and economic dynamics of black business within black communities. Channon was so thorough in this post with statistics about the economy within the black community, like unemployment and spending habits, but she also connected it on the social level with commentary on the (misguided) idea that black products are inferior. I feel like I understood the topic so much more fully after reading this post!

Why did you like it?

I saw several lists come across my timeline with titles like this one: “15 Gifts From Black-Owned Businesses Your Loved Ones Deserve This Holiday Season.” And I thought they were awesome, and I felt like it would be a great thing to support black-owned businesses during the holidays, but I was worried that if I shared those lists, people who think this was somehow anti-white. I wasn’t confident that I could articulate the truth until I read Channon’s post. It’s not about being anti-white; it’s about supporting the black community “in a system that is meant to keep [them] down.”

I often tell Channon that I want her posts to be more personal. She is so smart, but also she’s SO passionate about what she writes about, and I always want that to come out more. I feel like this post not only displayed her brains but also her heart and passion for the strengthening of the black community.

Michelle’s Favorite Post by herself:  “Racism in America and the Danger of Colorblindness

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What did you learn?

In researching for this post, I learned the importance of confronting racial injustice and inequality. The answer to ending systemic racism isn’t ignoring it or trying to be “colorblind.” Thinking and talking about race can be incredibly uncomfortable. Many of us were raised to believe that’s a taboo topic to be avoided at all costs, but the more I thought about what I’d read in preparation for the post, the more I realized that we have to confront the reality of the situation if we hope to make it better.

Why did you like it?

I think because of my own experience of “waking up” to racial injustice, I want to help others see it too. And working on this post helped me to think through and recognize how I can help others move forward, especially folks with kids. It’s hard to navigate how to talk to kids about race, and it’s easier to just teach them (and subsequently, ourselves) that race doesn’t matter and should be ignored altogether. I think this post helps me articulate why that line of thinking is ultimately unhelpful.

I was worried about what kind of negative responses I might get on this post. I start out by discussing the problems with an adorable viral video about some super cute kids! But I didn’t. People seemed to respond very positively to it, and I hope it helped others think through their views on race and racial injustice.

 

Desktop6But by far, one the best things we did this year wasn’t written by Channon or Michelle. It was written by the Tuesday Justice Community. It was our Freedom Post! Maybe it wasn’t our most popular post, but we are so thankful for all of you who have joined us on our journey for the full freedom of all people! 

 

2017 Tuesday Justice Holiday Gift Guide

by Michelle Palmer

This year there are plenty of ways make a difference with your gifts! Here are some of my favorites:

DSC_1357_square_cb805d68-fe7e-49eb-885e-d9bd082fe2ff_1024x1024LottoLove – I think this one is so cool! I was first introduced to scratchcards at Christmas while I was in England when I received several in my stocking from Father Christmas. Pretty sure I won £3, and I realized how fun they are, no matter how much you win. Anyway, even the most anti-gambling gift-giver could probably get on board with these: Each card is a guaranteed winner. How? Each card donates something via a partner charity:  clean water, solar light, literacy tools, or meals. They run $10 each, but they’re currently advertising Black Friday and Giving Tuesday deals, which I’m FOR SURE keeping an eye on.

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Sevenly – When you shop with Sevenly, you can either shop by collection (if you’re looking for a specific item) or by cause (there are over a dozen to choose from), including human trafficking, women’s empowerment, and refugee care. There’s apparel, jewelry, and a ton of cool mugs!

162858ec13ef8d893_800x80031 Bits – Think of these guys as an alternative to Anthropologie. Their mission: “We use fashion and design to drive positive change in the world by providing artisans with dignified job opportunities and inspiring customers to live meaningful lives.” 

Better World Books – “The Online Bookstore with a Soul.” Think of these guys as an alternative to Amazon. 

05236Charity Pot Lotion by Lush – AKA “Philanthropic Skin Softener” I would legit love this! There’s an $8 size and a $28 size. You know it’s quality because it comes from Lush, and 100% of the proceeds go to “small grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights.”

Lip-Smoothie_1024x1024Thistle FarmsThey have tons of great gifts, but I’m especially here for the STOCKING STUFFERS! 6 items under $7. Never heard of Thistle Farms? Here’s their mission: “…to HEAL, EMPOWER, AND EMPLOY women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. We do this by providing safe and supportive housing, the opportunity for economic independence, and a strong community of advocates and partners.”

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Macy’s – Yes, THAT Macy’s. I’ve never lived near a Macy’s, but as an avid Thanksgiving Day Parade Watcher/Miracle on 34th Street Fan, it will always be dear to my heart. And they have an entire line dedicated to “Gifts That Give Hope.” They also have what is possibly my favorite gift on the whole list….A NARWHAL ORNAMENT. How precious is he?!

GlobalGiving Gift Cards – These gift cards are the coolest. You choose the amount (starting at $10), the recipient chooses the project. And there are TONS of worthy projects to choose from.

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Preemptive Love Coalition – I previously wrote about the amazing work that Preemptive Love Coalition does, and they have an entire catalog of cool gifts, many handmade by the refugees they support, t-shirts, and other cool ways to donate!

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Heifer International – Heifer’s gift catalog has a wide range of options from the adorable ornaments pictured to the right to actual flocks of geese and chicks for communities in need! “Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.”

If none of those suit your gift-giving needs this year, check out the socially concious businesses below:

And a few more lists for good measure….

And if all that wasn’t enough, consider me your personal GOOD GIFT concierge!!! Seriously, Channon and I would be MORE than happy to help you find the perfect gift that gives back.

Happy Holidays!


For more information….

Find the Helpers: From Outrage to Action

 by Michelle Palmer

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” 

Some weeks it’s really easy to know what to write about. There’s one thing dominating the headlines that deserves some thoughtful unpacking. Other weeks, increasingly it seems, there are so many it’s hard to even think about them all without losing hope.

So, today, I just want to remind us, like I did in the post on Syria, of what Mr. Rogers said:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

In the midst of so much tragedy, so many events that outrage and infuriate us, I want us to look for the helpers. My purpose in this is twofold.

  • First, I want to give us some hope. (There are helpers. There are people doing something to make things better.)
  • Second, I want our outrage to lead us to action. (We can be helpers too.)

Gun Control:

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The issue of gun control has come up (again) in light of the Las Vegas tragedy, as it so often does.

[SIDENOTE: If this seems like a particularly controversial issue for us to be tackling without much context, consider this: The majority of Americans are in favor of sensible gun control measures (reports here and here). And according to the CDC, there are an average of 33,880 gun deaths per year from 2011-2015, and those numbers are on the rise for 2016 and 2017.]

When I looked for organizations working for gun control, I found several lists, but there were four organizations that appeared on every list I saw. (This article from Bustle is particularly helpful.) These organizations are linked below, and each website has an action section.

I also came across an article that I found particularly interesting, “What If We Made Gun Culture Uncool Like We Did Cigarettes?” Here’s an excerpt:

“On the legislative front it seems America has made its choice and there is little chance for legal reform in the near future except at the margins deemed acceptable by the gun industry and a current generation of gun owners who believe that ‘things happen’ is an appropriate reaction to gun deaths. When lawmakers can’t lead, a social solution is certainly worth a shot.”

Puerto Rico:

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Full disclosure: My love for Lin-Manuel Miranda knows no bounds. However, I can honestly say his Twitter account is an amazing resource for finding ways to help Puerto Rico. His feed is chock-full of ways to help, donation drop-off locations, and links for donating money. Click here: https://twitter.com/lin_manuel

Lin’s twitter feed can get a little overwhelming, so here’s a more concise list from NBC:  How To Help Puerto Rico Right Now

Also, go listen to “Almost Like Praying” on your iTunes or Spotify or Amazon or wherever you listen to your music. It’s catchy, it’s beautiful, it has Gloria Estefan, and all the proceeds go to hispanicfederation.org.

And if you need a smile on your face, check out THIS VIDEO of Stephen Colbert’s #PuberMe challenge to see how much he and Nick Kroll raised for Puerto Rico.

NFL Protests:

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Despite all the arguments regarding secondary issues (respecting the flag, the right to protest), the purpose of the protests from the start has been to bring attention to “systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system.” (Source.) If you’re still unsure about the protests, this is the best thing I’ve read on the issue, “What You Might Be Missing in the Kneeling Debate” by Ed Uszynski. And if you’re unsure about the issues being protested, we have lots of information on our Resource List page, and Channon and I would be more than happy to answer your questions.

The organizations below tackle the very issues that led to the protests, and again, each one has ways to support and get involved.

 


There is so much heartbreak in our world, so much to be outraged about today. If the thing pulling at your heartstrings right now hasn’t been addressed here, and you have little hope or don’t know how to help, let us know, and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. You can email us at tuesdayjusticeblog@gmail.com or message us on Facebook.

Whatever you do, don’t give up hope. Let your outrage move you to action.