Wednesday, December 8, 2010

30 Hoops

This post is part of the National Women's Law Center blog carnival: Rally for Girls' Sports Day 2010.

It’s safe to say I would not be who I am today without basketball. I’ve told this story a hundred times, but I’ll say it again: I’ll never forget the day when I – a completely insecure and overgrown 3rd grader – was asked to play basketball at recess with the 6th graders. It wasn’t out of the kindness of their hearts, it was pure logistics. I was taller than most of them, and they needed six people to play 3-on-3.

From that time forward it was part of my identity. Basketball was my saving grace. It gave purpose to my age-inappropriate height and weight. On the court, I was valuable, powerful, unique, strong. Funny thing is, I wasn’t particularly talented. But I worked really hard, and had this major physical advantage, which made me fairly successful through middle & high school.

In addition to all of this, I was in the middle of four children in my family. My success in basketball gave me the attention I craved at home as well. All of them were talented musicians, and although I wish I had stuck it out in high school band, it wasn’t really my thing.

Every young girl, especially in this country, suffers greatly while developing her own relationship to her body. Knowing that there were people like my teammates and coaches who put stock in having a nearly-6-foot-tall 13-year-old in their camp helped me stand up straight – literally. I constantly see young women who display their insecurity through slouching, trying to bring themselves down to a “normal” height. I stood up straight, had a great group of friends, and am exceedingly proud to this day that I was a student-athlete.

Just imagine if we could find one thing for every 10-year-old girl that made her feel valuable, powerful, unique, and strong. The world would be a different place.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Guest Post: Building an International Youth Movement for Sex, Rights and Climate Change Solutions in Cancún

Today's guest post comes from Cassie Gardner, a Public Health Student at UCLA, and a previous National Youth Organizer with the Sierra Club. Here she writes about her experience at the International Climate Change Conference in Cancun this past week.

Two weeks ago when I bought my flight to attend the International Climate Change Conference in Cancún Mexico (COP 16), my classmates at my UCLA Masters in Public Health Program thought I was crazy. They knew that I’d worked for nearly four years as a Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program National Youth Organizer, to advance global women's rights, reproductive health and sustainable development solutions. But what did that have to do with reducing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing communities’ resilience to the economic, health and environmental impacts of climate change around the world?

For the past two years I’ve
worked with friends and colleagues to help design a collaborative policy statement for COP 15 in Copenhagen and COP 16 in Cancún, “Global Youth Support Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as Just and Equitable Climate Change Solutions.” Co-sponsored by twelve youth leadership, population and reproductive health, and environmental organizations like Advocates for Youth, Population Action International and Sierra Club, this statement makes the case that investing in women's voices and choices-- especially young women in developing countries who are often most vulnera
ble to climate change impacts, having to cope with drought, flooding, disasters and disease-- will help to build more healthy, resilient communities to climate change impacts. Sexual and reproductive health solutions that are also climate change solutions include but are not limited to educating girls and boys, empowering women, ensuring access to comprehensive sexuality education, meeting the demand for voluntary family planning, and strengthening communities’ resilience to climate change impacts—thus empowering people to choose healthy families and a healthy planet.

Over the summer I volunteered for two months with a Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program in Quintana Roo, Mexico, GoJoven, run by International Health Programs of the Public Health Institute. Working with youth leaders in the environmental, reproductive health, media, NGO and political fields, we strategized their involvement in the International Climate Change Conference (COP 16) from November 29th-December 10th in Cancún, Mexico. In the end we accredited six GoJoven youth leaders to officially attend the conference and more than ten to attend and speak at unofficial side-events like the Conference of Youth and Kilmaforum. While in Cancún, we also attended a PAI-run workshop on “Strengthening the Linkages between Population, Reproductive Health, Gender and Climate Change Resilience” along with youth and adult leaders from the Philippines, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Nepal. There, we shared ideas and created action plans involving public education, online networking, and social media to take this movement forward leading up to the COP 17 in South Africa next year.

Although I’m a busy graduate student, I’m honored and thrilled to work in collaboration with friends and fellow activist leaders from around the world on global justice, human rights and sustainability issues that I’m passionate about. Now it’s time to return to Los Angeles for my final exams, and to somehow find time for much-needed research, public education and continued coalition-building over the coming year to strengthen these linkages. Ideally by next year we will have built more awareness and identified new leaders for these issues, to have an even greater turn-out for COP 17 in South Africa!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stop Campus Racism and Pass the DREAM Act

Earlier this week there were a few changes made to the DREAM Act bill, which included increasing the years of temporary status from 6 to 10, barring DREAMers from health care subsidies, decreasing the age cap from 35 to 30 and removing the section that would punish states for offering in-state tuition. After Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) delayed the bill because of Republicans pledge to block it, it is expected that the DREAM Act will be voted on by the House and Senate sometime next week.

Although the DREAM Act is close to receiving its vote, many people are still uneducated on what the bill will actual do and why it is beneficial (it will reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over the next 10 years) Because they are unaware, people continue to criticize and stereotype those involved with the DREAM Act and AB540.

Recently I was browsing my campus newspaper, the Santa Monica College Corsair, when I came across an illustration that was published in the Opinion section. The pencil drawing was titled "The Dream Act" (seen above) and included two students who were portrayed as average American students looking at a blatantly Mexican student who was sitting between them and raising his hand. I did not assume the student was Mexican due to physical features but rather I knew he was Mexican because he was illustrated as wearing a sombrero and a poncho.

What accompanied this insensitive and racist photo, was an article that was uneducated about both the Dream Act and AB540. The article's main point was to question why, "Joe from Massachusetts is stuck paying $50,000 to attend UCLA while Jose, here illegally from Guatemala, is paying $20,000 because he immigrated to California when he was 15." It fails to mention that Jose and his immigrant parents would have to live in California and would also have been paying taxes, without any benefits of a tax return, since they first relocated to the United States.

They also complain that immigrant students take a special preference over other students, "If the problem is not the flood of illegal immigrants coming to America, it must then be that they can so easily slip through the cracks to gain special preference over natural born American citizens and the lawful foreigners who completed the arduous process of immigration." As far as I know immigrants take no special preference. Yes, because of AB540, the are able to attend school for the in-state price but they are not eligible for student loans, they cannot apply for scholarships, receive financial aid, or legally apply for a job. If the author is referring to the statistic they used that states there are 400 immigrant students in the UC system (10 campuses) then I'm not sure I would call that preference considering there are about 150,000 students who attend UCs.

This article is just another example of how uneducated people are about AB540 and the DREAM Act. In opposition of this article, several student groups at Santa Monica College--including several Latino groups and the FMLA--will be hosting a march to show the Corsair that we are against a newspaper that would publish an article and illustration like this.

What can you do to support the DREAM?
Call (866) 529-7628 and tell both of your senators and your representatives to vote YES on the “DREAM Act”!