Feminist Teacher Now Education Commentator on Feminist Magazine, Pacifica Radio

Feminist Magazine, KPFK 90.7, Pacifica Radio

Over the summer, I joined the exciting roster of new commentators at Feminist Magazine on KPFK Pacifica radio. I will be sharing perspectives on social justice and feminism in education.

If you missed my first commentary in July, I’ve posted the audio archive here as well as the transcript below. Watch my Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates on upcoming commentary dates.

Transcript of my first commentary on the invisibility of teachers as leaders in the media and the need to re-position our voices in political and educational discourse follows below. Continue reading

Feminist Teacher Featured on Melissa Harris-Perry Show

My national television debut on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show (photo credit: Cheryl Coward).

Yesterday, I was honored to be on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC. The show’s focus was on what makes a good education. Other guests who joined me throughout the four segments on education were:

Watch the first segment in which I talk about my class on feminism and activism for high school students. Watch the second segment in which I talk about the need to create safe schools free of bullying and harassment.

Feminist Teacher Featured in The Atlantic

During my time as a scholar at the Aspen Ideas Festival earlier this summer, I was interviewed by Conor Friedersdorf from The Atlantic on teaching my students how to make their writing a part of a larger public discourse through blogging. The result: engaged young writers who learn that their voices matter.

Spoke at AAUW Release of Sexual Harassment in Schools Report (VIDEO)

Last fall, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a report titled Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment in Schools at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The report presents new data on sexual harassment, including cyber-harassment, in middle and high schools based on a 2011 nationwide survey of students in grades 7-12.

As part of the release, I participated in a panel along with report co-authors Catherine Hill and Holly Kearl, both of the AAUW; Kedrick Griffin, senior director of programs at Men Can Stop Rape; and Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes.

In addition to providing key findings, the report highlights four promising practices that schools can take action on, including teaching women’s studies at the high school level. Teaching gender and women’s studies to high school students not only increases girls’ knowledge of sexual harassment but also shows that “girls [feel] more self-empowered to respond to incidents of sexual harassment.”

As part of my remarks on the panel, I pointed to this promising practice of addressing sexual harassment in schools as part of my own women’s studies classroom. Key components of my course on women’s and gender studies include:

  • Collaborating with advocacy and activist organizations such as Girls for Gender Equity to address sexual harassment in schools; Men Can Stop Rape to engage young men; Hollaback! to teach high school students to address street harassment via blogging and social media; and the Center for Anti-Violence Education, to teach my students self-defense.
  • Learning about intersectionality: As the AAUW report shows, the intersection of race, class, and gender can cause some students to fare worse than others when they experience sexual harassment. In my own classroom, teaching students how to analyze various systems of oppression, including sexism and racism, leads students to build respect for each other and in the end, decreases incidents of gender-based violence in schools.
  •  Building consciousness for boys and working with them as allies. We cannot overlook the importance of bringing young men into the conversation in terms of helping them understand societal messages about masculinity and hyper-masculinity that leads to the kind of homophobia, transphobia, sexual harassment, and other gender-based violence we see in schools and on the streets.

WBAI’s “Joy of Resistance” Features Feminist Teacher and Students

My student Carina Cruz shares her experience learning about feminism in high school. (photo, Ileana Jiménez).

Earlier this week, my students and I were guests on the radio show, Joy of Resistance, a feminist, multicultural radio show on WBAI hosted by Fran Luck and Jasmine Burnett (@blkfeminst). My students and I spoke on the importance of learning and teaching feminist theory and activism in high school classrooms.

Each of the students who joined me have done important feminist work both in the high school women’s studies class I teach as well as outside of the classroom. Carina Cruz, junior, is a SPARK bloggerSexualization, Protest, Action, Resistance, Knowledge—for a youth-led movement to stop the sexualization of girls and women in the media. Junior Dinayuri Rodriguez’s blog posts on our feminist class blog, F to the Third Power, have been so successful that one of her posts connecting Virginia Woolf’s argument in A Room of One’s Own to today’s low-earning feminist bloggers earned her a comment on the post from well-known feminist author and blogger Courtney Martin, of Feministing fame.

Emma Stydahar, junior, is also a SPARK blogger who recently spoke at the Meet Us on the Street anti-street harassment rally in New York. Finally, senior Grace Tobin found her voice testifying at last year’s New York City Council hearing on street harassment, landing her an interview with CBS, which led to a blogging internship with the Women’s Media Center. Grace also spoke at the anti-street harassment rally with Emma.

I was particularly moved and inspired listening to my students speak about how taking the feminism course has made an impact on their lives. Fran asked students if they could share how learning about feminism allowed them to name one thing in their lives that they could not name before, leading them to a feminist click. Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading

Create an Anti-Street Harassment PSA With Your Students

The success of last week’s International Anti-Street Harassment Week was astonishing. Organized by leading anti-street harassment activist Holly Kearl, founder of the well-known blog Stop Street Harassment, the week featured the work of the most cutting-edge activists in the field, including dance performances by Sydnie Mosley and her Window Sex Project and a viral video featuring Joe Samalin and other male allies telling men to just stop harassing women in both English and Spanish.

As part of the week’s events, two of my students, Grace and Emma, and I spoke at the Meet Us On the Street rally in New York. Grace shared a portion of the testimony that she read to last year’s New York City Council hearing on street harassment and Emma, who is also a SPARK blogger against the sexualization of girls and women in the media, shared her own vision for safer streets and communities not just for herself but also for her own sister.

I spoke about the importance of engaging teachers in the global movement against street harassment as an education and health issue for schools.

But the work doesn’t stop there. It’s important to show students that activism needs to be consistent, and not done in a flavor-of-the-month style. That’s why last fall, students in my high school feminism course partnered with other students at our school to create their own anti-street harassment public service announcement (PSA).  Their goal: to educate their peers about the gravity of street harassment in their daily lives.

As part of the background work to create the video, I invited activists from Girls for Gender Equity, Hollaback!, The Line Campaign, Men Can Stop Rape, and Right Rides to talk to my students. Activist Shelby Knox also visited to talk about her film, The Education of Shelby Knox. Each of them shared their expertise, provided students with materials, and ultimately inspired them to create their PSA.

You can create your own PSA with your students too. Start, as I did, with educating your students about the issue by inviting activists to your classroom. Then have students envision a PSA that would be relevant and engaging for your school community. Screen the PSA at an upcoming assembly. Then join the revolution.  See above for inspiration.

Spoke at Barnard Center for Research on Women: Activism and the Academy (VIDEO)

Earlier this school year, the Barnard Center for Research on Women celebrated its fortieth anniversary by holding a conference titled Activism and the Academy: Celebrating 40 Years of Scholarship and Activism. I sat on a panel titled Writing, New Media, and Feminist Activism along with other inspiring activists such as Mandy Van Deven of Girls for Gender Equity; Veronica Pinto of Hollaback!; and Susanna Horng of Girls Write Now.

The inimitable Courtney Martin, former Feministing editor and author of such books as Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, moderated the panel. Courtney framed our conversation with three compelling questions:

  • What is one thrilling success you or your organization has had at the intersection of writing, new media, and activism?
  • What is one good failure?
  • What is one question you’re still “living your way into”? Ala R.M. Rilke:  “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

It was an honor to to be a part of this exciting conversation with inspiring women who are at the forefront of working with young people at the intersections of gender and equity, writing and feminism, activism and advocacy.

Even more exciting was bringing the high school juniors and seniors in my feminism class to the conference; they all sat in the front row of Barnard’s Diana Center eagerly scribbling notes as they listened to the panel. Each of them wrote excellent blog posts on their feminist class blog, F to the Third Power, about their experience at the conference.

I think you will be left inspired by my students’ posts, as they ponder what feminism means to them, including Dinayuri, who wrote: “Feminism is not broken. It does not need to be repaired. It isn’t tainted so much so that the grounds from which it was built has to be destroyed and created all over again. But rather there is a need to expand feminism to include as well as recognize and fight for more diversity. Feminists can no longer be ignorant to other factors of oppression that come into play and which thwart one from being fully free of all discrimination.”

A video of the panel is now available:

http://vimeo.com/31753926

Feminist Teacher on the Radio

Feminist Magazine, KPFK 90.7, Pacifica Radio

Within the past few months, I’ve had the terrific honor of being a guest on two feminist radio shows: Digital Sisterhood Network’s Feminism Online Project and Feminist Magazine. Last night, Feminist Magazine co-hosts Celina Alvarez and Christene Kings interviewed me during their show on KPFK 90.7 Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles. Calling in from México, I was thrilled to talk to Celina and Christene about my work with young people in high school.

One of the points I made was that the reason why students are attracted to feminism is because they can use its tools in their everyday lives: “What I do in the classroom not only focuses on gender and sexuality but also race and class . . . Students get excited because it’s about them . . . they face sexism, they face racism, they face classism, they face homophobia, transphobia, all of it, and feminism is the perfect launching point for those kinds of conversations. They want their education to be personal but they also want it to be useable, and I think that feminism is one of those things that you can teach that is so useable and young people just grab it.”

In case you missed the show last night, here’s the archive: my segment starts at 28:24 and ends at 42:18.

Earlier in May, I was also invited by Ananda Leeke from the Digital Sisterhood Network to be her guest for the entire hour (just press play). I was able to talk at length with Ananda about the Fulbright research I’m doing in México on LGBT youth in schools as well as my work in schools in the U.S. During the course of the show, my student and fellow Twitter fiend, Steven Susaña, joined the chat section of the program. Steven took my feminism course last fall, and since then, has been a committed feminist activist and male ally. It was so wonderful to have him as part of the conversation about teaching and learning feminism at the high school level.

Throughout both of these interviews, I was reminded again and again how important feminist media is and how important it is to lift each other’s work through our blogs, op-eds, radio programs, television appearances, and the like. We have to be the ones to invite each other to be guests on our blogs and programs if we want to change the landscape of voices. We have to be the ones to invite a different conversation for a different world.

Spoke at Smith Women in Education Conference (VIDEO)

In March of this year, I was invited to sit on several panels as part of the Smith Women in Education conference at Smith College in Northampton, MA. I was thrilled to be back on campus even if just for a few days, as it took place right in the middle of my Fulbright time in México; it was absolutely invigorating and inspiring to be among Smith sisters in education making change in their classrooms and in their communities.

One of the things I talked about during a panel titled Teaching in the 21st Century, that was moderated by Smith alumna Joan Sigel Schuman from the class of 1962, was the importance of teachers coming to the classroom as whole people, especially along lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Our students know when we are not being real or true with them, and we as teachers also suffer when we are not our whole selves with our students, our colleagues, and our school communities.

I went through a time of not being a whole person myself when as a young teacher, I was not completely true to my students during my time in girls’ schools between 1997-2004. There I was, teaching young women to be empowered and to become self-actualized as young feminists, and I was not even out to my students; as a result, I was not a whole educator or a whole person in my profession. I was not self-actualized. Continue reading

Spoke at Mexico City’s First International Conference on Bullying

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It was a complete honor to be a part of Mexico City’s first international conference on bullying earlier this week. Bringing together speakers from around the world—including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Spain—the Congreso Internacional de Bullying was hosted by the office of Mexico City’s Secretary of Education, Maestro (Mtro.) Mario Delgado Carrillo.

As the opening speaker, I shared the context of some of the most tragic bullying stories the U.S. has endured these last few years, especially in the form of bullycides, which is the preferred term when referring to suicides that have resulted from bullying. Stories such as those of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, Phoebe Prince, and Tyler Clementi, have catapulted us into an even more pressing era for making change in our schools.  Continue reading