Obstacles to Community Care

by Christa, Philly       Sorry the post is so link heavy!

I recently read this fabulous piece by Yashna Maya Padamsee entitled “Communities of Care, Organizations for Liberation”. I found that I had too much to say about it to just post it on facebook so I decided to dust off the ole blog.  I have been thinking, studying, writing, and workshopping about community care for the past 3 years. Unfortunately, I still feel a bit lost on how to tackle these issues, especially if it means simultaneously waging a campaign, planning actions, and going to events. Thankfully, I feel more supported and valued in my current organizing than I did when I was an undergrad doing student organizing.

One of the major obstacles to community care that I have observed (both in myself & in others) is the fear to ask for help. People are afraid to be burdensome or don’t believe they deserve assistance/support. This is because other people don’t ask for help so it is not a community norm [1]. This is not only true in activist communities but in society as a whole[3]. If you ask for help, especially if it is deemed excessive, you face social sanctions (in the form of shame, ridicule, criticism, disapproval and social exclusion).

Community members and organizations don’t make it known that support is available. Many groups would at least try to step up if someone expressed their needs, but people keep quiet. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem and I think we all need to work on breaking the cycle.

Read more…


Celebrating the 38th Anniversary of Roe v Wade in a City in Mourning

The Pro-Choice Movement is the radical idea that women own their own bodies

Photo of a woman wearing a t-shirt reading: The Pro-Choice Movement is the radical idea that women own their own bodies

by Robin

Today is the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling that gives people in the United States the right to legal, safe abortions. I’ve had abortion on my mind a lot the past couple days. More than usual, which is saying something, because I work at a sexual health hotline where I talk about abortion pretty much all day long. The hotline I work at offers general information on sexual and reproductive health, but the majority of callers I talk to are young, poor, Black women who are seeking abortions. I have worked there for six months, and in that time I’ve talked to a lot of women in desperate, sad situations. Situations that most people don’t want to think about. Situations that people like Sarah Palin don’t want to acknowledge when they make their self-righteous, moral declarations that abortion is wrong, and/or that women who choose to have an abortion are bad women.

As I was saying, I’ve had abortion on my mind more than usual the past couple days, and that’s because of the breaking story in Philadelphia (where I live and work) about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a man who ran an abortion clinic in West Philadelphia (my neighborhood) for 30 years. At his clinic, Dr.Gosnell performed illegal, unsanitary procedures. I’m not going to go into all of the horror stories that are emerging, but the report released by a grand jury investigation on Wed states that Dr.Gosnell and his staff used unsanitary equipment, had animals and litter boxes in procedure rooms, performed abortions far past the national legal limit of 24 weeks and 6 days, over-drugged women, restrained women who had changed their minds about the procedure and held them down while they were drugged, and aborted viable fetuses which he would murder if they appeared to be breathing by cutting their spinal chords with a pair of scissors.

Read more…

Guide to Surviving the Holidays with Racist Family Members

For many of us, going home for the holidays is anxiety provoking.  Ever witnessed a relative making a racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, etc. comment during a family gathering? What do you do? Avoid the whole situation? Go in with your fists up? Drink enough to kill a small horse? Xanax?

This post is in response to this post on Feministe. This is post is framed around race. I have a lot of white privilege and its the issue I feel most responsible for.  However, these tips can apply to any “ism” or fucked-up comment.

I am trying to work on calling out racist family members, but confronting it is still a struggle for me. I believe it is (my) white people’s responsibility to confront/educate other whites, especially relatives. POCs should not be burdened with the sole responsibility to confront racism and/or educate white folks.  They have enough shit to deal with.

It may not change a relative’s mind to call them out on a racist comment, but they may think twice about saying something racist in front of you again. Second, by calling a family member out, everyone else in the room sees that it is not okay to say racist (or other fucked-up) shit.  This includes family members who are also likely to say racists things, thought it was racist but didn’t say anything and most importantly, young folks in the room. I want my nieces and nephew to know a comment is racist, that it’s not okay to say racist things, that they too can confront racism. I want to help them develop good race politics.

Different situation require different strategies.  Is the racism blatant or more covert? Was the comment malicious in intent or just ignorant (like grandma talking about that “nice oriental woman” who does her nails)?  Did a family a member present one of the tenants of being an “open-minded” non-racist white person? (color blindness, positive stereotypes/myths, etc)  All of these happen in varying degrees in our families and they are all problematic.

So your ___(fill in the blank) says something racist at the dinner table. What do you do?

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Will Jazz Hands Persuade Fresh Grocer to De-shelve Israeli Hummus?

WHAT: Philly BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), a new coalition working to end Israeli Apartheid, surprised store shoppers and employees at the Fresh Grocer with a choreographed flash dance Sunday.
Performers sang their message to stop buying and stop selling Sabra and Tribe hummus products because of their connection to human rights abuses of Palestinians.

See the Flash Dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6dO9eVOY2I

WHY: Sabra & Tribe products subsidize Israeli human rights abuses through their support of the Israeli Defense Forces and infrastructure of the occupation, respectively.

“As a customer and a Jew, I hope that Fresh Grocer will heed the concerns of it’s community members and consider ceasing to distribute these products. Not only would this a be a huge step toward supporting the human rights of Palestinians and working for a more just and peaceful Middle East, it would also serve to educate the community about the power of our consumer choices,” says Hannah Schwarzschild, a member of Philly BDS.

“This campaign marks a new and exciting era of Philadelphia’s involvement in the growing global BDS movement, which is building strong support amongst labor unions, NGOs, religious organizations,
universities, grocery stores, and individuals worldwide,” says Mendal Polish, another member of Philly BDS.

WHO: Philly BDS is creative partnership, including Muslim, Jewish, and Christian, and Arab organizations working to stand up for human rights in Israel/Palestine.


* Share the video with your networks! Make it go viral!

* Tell your friends to stop buying Sabra and Tribe products and buy local!

* Endorse this campaign as organizations or individuals (see http://www.phillybds.org to endorse)

* Bring this campaign to your community (see http://www.phillybds.org for Toolkit)

Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace; SUSTAIN!: Stop U.S. Tax Aid to Israel Now!; Adalah-NY: The New York Coalition for the Boycott of Israel; Al Quds Day Organizing Committee; Brandywine Peace Community; Build Bridges Not Walls: Grandparents for Peace in the Middle East; Catholic Worker Philadelphia Chapter; Global Women’s Strike-Philadelphia; Hudson Valley BDS; Ilm Institute, Ink Paper Mosaic, Jews Say No!; Lancaster Avenue Autonomous Space; Middle East Crisis Response; Network of Arab-American Professionals in Philadelphia; Nico Amador, Training for Change; Oppression.org; Payday Men’s Network; Temple Students for Justice in Palestine; Whites in Anti-Racist Solidarity; and Working Group for a Grassroots Movement.

Philly BDS: “No Justice, No Chickpeas”

Mental Illness & Job Performance

by Christa

–I wrote this last spring but have been sitting on it awhile– 

I recently had a meeting with my supervisor and the program manager (the highest ranking person at my office/branch) about my slipshod paperwork.  For my job I need to write a “progress note”  for every client session I have and then turn them in by 9am every Monday at the office (I work at a school and only go to the office for this reason).  The progress notes are complicated and there are about a billion rules because if it isn’t perfect then Community Behavioral Health (CBH) will refuse to pay for that session and my organization loses that money (because they are still required to pay me for that session).  So if something is incorrect they make you rewrite the progress note and turning in paperwork late is frowned upon.

Anyways, I had handed in things late, forgotten to fill out sections of the paperwork and lost some of the notes (although it turned out they had gotten misfiled and it was not my fault). So there I was, sitting with my superiors, waiting for the ax to fall.  They were actually fairly nice and understanding but the result was that I have to take documentation training again* and my job security is slightly less stable.

Read more…

Schooldays: The Cure for a Huge Cat

by Christa

About Schooldays: I work in a school which means I can see first hand how gender, race, and other forms of oppression are reinforced (but also sometimes smashed!). This series is a quick glance at things I hear or see in school that are funny, fucked up, or just plan fantastic.


I saw this picture in a 5th grade display about science. I regret not including the cat in the picture, I was taking it with my phone and wanted to get as close to the text as possible.


Cure for a Huge Cat

text in pic reads: My scientist is studying a cure for a huge cat. You notice scientists don't have to be boys.


I wish I had an analysis about the gendered workplace when I was 11!

My Two Cents on the “Gay” Suicide Epidemic

by Christa

“Gay”* Suicides.

Basically any queer or straight ally has been seeing the issue everywhere -facebook, blogs, youtube, newspapers. What I have thought about most in these past two weeks is the amount of press this issue is getting. Let’s be clear, this isn’t something new nor (speculatively) that unusual.  In  2007,  4,140 youth ages 14-24 succeeded in committing suicide.   That is a little over 11 suicides per day.  My guess is that at least one out of the eleven is either queer, trans or gender-nonconforming to some degree.  The media/blogs have been talking about the recent ‘rash’ of suicides.  Six gay* suicides in less than a month. Sounds a little low to me actually.  So what gives? Read more…