Guest Post – Standing Up to Racial and Religious Profiling

Kadra AbdiKadra Abdi is originally from Somalia and Kenya, and grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She obtained her Master of Public Policy degree with an emphasis on Gender and Global Policy and a minor in Human Rights from the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College in Anthropology, and Women and Gender Studies. She has a strong background and interest in international development, social entrepreneurship, and community-based organizations. She has worked with diverse communities in Kenya and Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota with a focus on program development and the creation of healthy relations across cultures. Follow Kadra on Twitter at @JESUISKADRA ———

“We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants.  That’s who we are — in our bones.  The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that’s always been one of our greatest strengths.  It keeps our workforce young.  It keeps our country on the cutting edge.  And it’s helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.”

– President Barack Obama

 In June 2013, I traveled to Stockholm, Sweden as a grantee of the U.S. Government, specifically of the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm. The purpose of this travel was to present a workshop at the 2013 Nordic Somali Youth Summit, “a project that continues to strengthen and connect engaged youths across the Nordic borders and promote cross-national cooperation on education, employment, social entrepreneurship and political participation.”

 During the summit, I led a workshop titled, “Modern Somali-American.” I discussed the dichotomy of traditional and modern social norms and how they are reconciled day-to-day in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I also shared stories about efforts to engage community members as active participants in creating solutions to community concerns.

 I was proud to be an American in Stockholm. I was proud to emphasize my American-ness more any other part of my identity.

 I shared stories from my four, formative years at Luther College. It was at Luther where I learned to be comfortable in my skin and with my identity, which was not exactly mainstream in a Norwegian-American Lutheran college.

 I identify as a Muslim, Somali, American, and a feminist. At Luther, I learned that the intersection of those identities is not only possible, it is a strength.

 Over the years, I became much more self-aware. I became aware of my ability to comfortably navigate and shift between cultures and identities. I learned to be at peace with being a perpetual insider and outsider.

 My Somali counterparts in Sweden could relate to my stories. We connected on our shared narrative. I left the Summit feeling inspired. I made friends, and potential collaborators. I made connections that would last me a lifetime.

 Sadly, upon returning to my own borders, the same values I was espousing to foreigners abroad about America’s tolerance of immigrants were not extended to me.

 I traveled back to Minneapolis on Sunday, June 9th. Upon returning, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport conducted an unnecessary, unjustified, illegal, and degrading search.

 I understand that for some people, searches at airport checkpoints might seem routine, but let me explain to you why this was not.

 It was not a random security check upon my arrival into the United States. After the initial questions, the officer referred me for additional screening without explaining the process. I was the only passenger chosen for the additional screening, and the screening took place in the open area, not in a private room.

 The Officer said my name and country of origin were “red flags” and that people with my name do “bad things.” He said “there is always an issue when people are entering the United States.” Simply put, I was the target of racial, ethnic, and religious profiling.

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Your First Time: A Sexual Guide for Girls and Women

Last week I posted a link to a piece that I wrote for Everyday Feminism.  The piece attempts to offer young men and boys some information and advice to make their first sexual experiences more healthy, fulfilling, and safe for them and their partner(s).

The next day, Melissa Fabello offered some fantastic information for girls and women!  Check it out…

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Most sexuality education is terrible.

Like, beyond terrible.

And if you’ve received a formal sex education at all, it likely went a little like this:

“Sex is defined as intercourse, which involves a penis going inside of a vagina. But you probably don’t want to do that because then you’ll get pregnant and ruin your entire life and – oh hey! – here are some terrifying pictures of STI’s.”

Sex Ed: Mean Girls Style

Sex Ed: Mean Girls Style

Uhh, and we think that it’s time we change that.

Sex ed has to change.

Because if we don’t do a better job of teaching healthy sexuality, we leave it up to pornography, television, music, and movies to do our job – and none of those areaccurate, comprehensive sources of sexuality education.

It’s time we teach our young people about more than just biology, STI’s, andabstinence.

It’s time we teach about how to have amazing, fulfilling, consensual, and healthy sex.

It’s time to give them an accurate depiction of what sex should look and feel like.

And hell, if schools don’t want to do it, then fine. Everyday Feminism will. More specifically, the brilliant Jamie Utt and I will. Because it needs to get done.

And since I identify as a woman, I’ll finish what Jamie started yesterday by talking to the girls and women out there.

That said, let me be absolutely clear that I am a cisgender woman, and as such, many of these lessons come from a cisgender perspective and should be treated as limited in that way.

So what are some steps to take before diving into sex for the first time? What are some important facts to know? And why are they important?

Let’s take a look.

1. Get to Know Your Body

I know it sounds obvious, but hear me out.

The number of women who have approached me, as a sex educator, asking how to make sex more pleasurable without the slightest clue as to what their vulva lookslike – let alone feels like – is staggering.

Their explanation of this is usually along the lines of “it’s my partner’s job to take care of me sexually, not mine.”

My counter to that is: If I was leaving my pet cat in the hands of my partner, you’d better believe he would come with a to-do list, an explanation of his idiosyncrasies, and a score of emergency contact numbers.

Your body should be no different.

Unfortunately, we’re taught in our society that our vulvas and vaginas are gross, are dirty, are forbidden. We’re taught from birth not to touch, smell, or taste them. We’re discouraged from even looking at them.

So being told all of a sudden to masturbate can be kind of scary.

I get it.

But seriously. Masturbate.

Because you need to know your vulva. You need to understand your orgasm.

And if you’re not sure where to start, try here.

And that’s not to say that all sexual pleasure is achieved through only your genitals.

Because despite what mainstream media would have you believe (more on that next!), that isn’t true.

Maybe a foot massage or having your back kissed will work better for you. And that’s perfectly okay!

The point is: You’ll never learn if you don’t allow yourself to explore your body and the sensations that make you go ahh.

But you need to learn what makes you tick before you ever step foot into a bedroom with a partner.

And I promise that you’ll be far better equipped to talk to your partner about sexual pleasure.

2. Question Your Media Consumption

Growing up, I had a really good understanding of my body. I started masturbating at an early age, and by the time I hit puberty, I knew that this totally-awesome-wowfeeling was associated with sex. I felt wise beyond my years. And excited for what was to come.

Read the rest at Everyday Feminism.

Your First Time: A Sexual Guide for Boys and Men

Let’s face it: Most sexuality education is terrible.

If you’ve received a formal sex education, it likely went a little like this:

Don't have sex because you will get pregnant and die.

Mean Girls

Sex is a special covenant between a man and a woman. Here’s a little information about the biology of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. And here are a bunch of horrifying pictures of STI’s that will scare you into remaining abstinent until marriage.”

And we think that it’s time we change that.

Sex ed has to change.

Because if we don’t do a better job of teaching healthy sexuality, we leave it up to pornography, television, music, and movies to do our job – and none of those are accurate, comprehensive sources of sexuality education.

It’s time we teach our young people about more than just biology, STI’s, and abstinence.

It’s time we teach about how to have amazing, fulfilling, consensual, and healthy sex.

Cynthia Kane already wrote a fantastic guide for having great sex on the first time, but since some of the most effective sexual education is split up by gender, the brilliant Melissa A. Fabello and I are here with a two-part article to amplify Cynthia’s message.

And since I identify as a man, I will start things off by talking to the boys and men out there.

That said, let me be clear that I am a cisgender man, and as such, many of these lessons come from a cisgender perspective and should be treated as limited in that way.

So what are some steps to take before diving into sex for the first time? What are some important facts to know? And why are they important?

Let’s take a look.

1. Get to Know Your Body

Amazing sex starts with you knowing a bit about your body and what you want and need from your partner. So before you head into the bedroom with another person, you need to spend some time by yourself.

Yup. I’m telling you to masturbate.

But I don’t mean the “jerk off quickly in the bathroom before someone catches me” kind of masturbation.

I mean taking your time, exploring your whole body, figuring out what does (and doesn’t!) feel good.

How do you like to be touched, where do you like to be touched, and in what ways do you like to be touched?

More and more, young women are being told to familiarize themselves with their bodies (which they should!), but young men aren’t being told the same thing.

The idea that a man would take the time to light some candles, draw a bath, and explore his body for maximum masturbatory pleasure is considered laughable. Let’s change that!

Too often, we just treat male pleasure and orgasm as being easy. Having fulfilling sex, though, means having a much more comprehensive knowledge about your own pleasure.

Did you know that one of the most powerful orgasms a man can have has virtuallynothing to do with his penis?

It’s called a prostate orgasm, and most men never experience this tremendous joy because of the taboo around anal play being “gay” and thus “terrible and disgusting and eww.”

Whether it’s a prostate orgasm or neck kissing, you won’t know what works best for you, though, if you never take the time to explore.

2. Interrogate Your Media Consumption and Expectations

Read the rest at Everyday Feminism.

Guest Post: Undermining the Social Order? Yes Please!!

This week’s post comes from a powerful poet and teacher that I met while speaking on the “Harlem Shake as Blackface” panel at Hamline University.

Ryan Williams-Virden

Ryan Williams-Virden is an artist and educator from Northeast Minneapolis.  He began writing after graduating from Hamline University in 2005 when he  joined The Poetic Assassins and Sai Werd Ink as BUGS (Better Under Gods Supervision). As a member of Poetic Assassins, he toured the country performing, lecturing, and facilitating workshops on social justice issues at colleges, universities, high schools, and community organizations. Poetic Assassins won the VERVE Grant in 2009.  Also in 2009, Poetic Assassins won the Best Spoken Word Production and were nominated for Best Collective at the Minnesota Spoken Word Awards. In 2011 Poetic Assassins was featured at the legendary NuYorican Poets Cafe as well as won the Morrill Hall Rachel Tilsen Social Justice Grant from the University of Minnesota.

Ryan believes in the power of art and education. Since Poetic Assassins, Ryan completed his Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies culminating in his thesis “Keeping it Real: discourses on privilege in mainstream hip hop.”  He has dedicated his academic energies and career to understanding the intersections of race, class, and gender in order to effect change and help foster a different reality for his community.

He bases all of his work, academic and artistic, in his personal experience. Growing up in the densely immigrant working class neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis Ryan has intimately experienced  these systems of domination at work on a daily basis.

You can keep up with him and contact Ryan at www.ryanwilliamsvirden.com.

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Undermining the Social Order? Yes Please!!

Recently Lou Dobbs and an all-male conservative panel freaked out.

Normally this wouldn’t inspire me to dedicate any more time or effort than it took to laugh. Today, though, it did.

Lou and his panel were up in arms about the new Pew study that shows 4 out of 10 households have women as the primary moneymakers. They pontificated about the erosion of society and how this country’s families are being torn apart. Juan Williams even declared it was “devastating Minority families” worse.  Erik Erickson claimed the natural world and science support the dominance of males, and Doug Schoen ended the segment by claiming “bottom line it could undermine our social order.”

To that I say, Good!

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