The Top 10 of 2013: Change From Within’s Year in Review

Happy New Year!

2013 was a transformative year for me and my writing.  My business and my blogging have changed and grown a lot in the last 12 months.  In a lot of ways, my writing here at Change From Within has taken a back seat to my writing for larger platforms, namely Everyday Feminism and The Good Men Project, which has been cool to see. As is my yearly tradition, it’s time to reflect on my writing of the past year and highlight those pieces that were most widely-read.

Over at Everyday Feminism, three of my pieces really stood out in terms of reception and hits:

‘That’s Racist Against White People’ A Discussion on Power and Privilege was by far my most popular piece of 2013 at EF with more than 80,000 hits.

Also worthy of mention from my Everyday Feminism writing in 2013 are Intent vs Impact: Why Your Intentions Don’t Really Matter and So You Call Yourself an Ally: 10 Things All ‘Allies’ Need to Know.

At The Good Men Project, I had a few different pieces go bananas in 2013.

The Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Kids Consent, Ages 1-21“, a piece I co-wrote with Alyssa Royse, Julie Gillis, and Joanna Schroeder, was by far my most-read contribution of 2013 with more than 1 million hits on numerous platforms.

My Open Letter to the Rapey Frat Brother and the ‘How to Get Laid’ Generation also was widely read, getting picked up by the Huffington Post.

Change From Within’s Top 10 Articles of 2013

Over here at Change From Within, the posts that were most read speak to the changes in my own work.  More and more, I have tried to highlight the writing and perspectives of the amazing people in my community, and that’s reflected in the most-read articles of the year.  4 of the top 10 articles of 2013 were composed by friends and mentors!

Without further ado, here are the top posts from Change From Within in 2013:

10. Shaking Off the “Harlem Shake” Meme – Tools for Resisting Cultural Appropriation

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 4.35.47 PM

After “Racism, Appropriation, and the Harlem Shake” (coming in at #2 below), lots of readers were asking questions like, “So what are we supposed to do?  How do we actually resist cultural appropriation?”  In response, I wrote out a list of simple actions that we can all take to resist cultural appropriation around us.

9.  Standing Up to Racial and Religious Profiling

Kadra Abdi

After being racially and religiously profiled by the TSA in June of 2013, my dear friend Kadra Abdi wrote this powerful call to action with ways that we all can stand up to racial and religious profiling.  Her compelling story challenges us to think critically about our own judgments and how we can be part of the solution to this pressing problem.

8.  Rethinking Lisak & Miller: Checking the Math

After much criticism for my piece entitled “Preventing Sexual Violence – Rethinking Lisak & Miller,” I wrote a piece that tackled some of the math being used in criticizing my reconsideration of the groundbreaking Lisak & Miller research.  My friend Rida helped me run some mathematical scenarios that rethink the “predator theory” for who exactly we should be focusing on in our work to prevent sexual violence.

7.  Coming Out of the Woods: On Hugo Schwyzer and Accountability

In August, Hugo Schwyzer, a man who I have defended in the past, showed everyone who he truly is: a misogynistic, racist fraud.  In turn, I owed a lot of people apologies for my defense of this indefensible man.  Here is the public version of that apology.

6. 33+ Suggestions for Action After the Zimmerman Verdict

Justice for Trayvon MartinFor me, like many people, the “not-guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial was devastating.  It wasn’t particularly surprising, but it was devastating emotionally and in its wider implications.  Thus, I was incredibly thankful when my friend and mentor Daniel Escalante emailed me with a list of suggestions for action that he (and others) put together. Now, a few months after the verdict, it is good for me to revisit these suggestions and recommit to action in 2014.  I encourage you to do the same.

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No Justice, No Peace. Justice for Trayvon Martin.

From the first moment an African was first brought to this continent, one thing has been clear: Black lives are worth less. Worth less in the laws of the land. Worth less in the justice system. Worth less in the collective consciousness of White supremacy. Worth Less.

This verdict only makes clear how little has changed.

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition.

But when they get angry, they bring about a change.

You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X

Guest Post: “Colorblindness” is Denial

I spent the vast majority of my week working hard on a piece for Everyday Feminism (look for that one next week, as my post here will be a link to that one).  In the midst of that and preparing for a business trip, I didn’t have time to write something just for my readers at CFW.  Thus, I am excited to share a guest post from Warren J. Blumenfeld, associate professor in the School of Education at Iowa State University.


Post Racial Obama

With the ascendency of Barack Obama during the primaries and his election as the forty-fourth president of the United States in 2008 and to the current time, on numerous occasions the media have asserted that the United States can now be considered as a “post-racial” society, where the notion that “race” has lost its significance, and where our country’s long history of racism is now at an end.

For example, National Public Radio Senior News Analyst, Daniel Schorr, during the presidential primaries on January 28, 2008 on All Things Considered noted that with the emergence of Barack Obama, we have entered a new “post-racial” political era, and that Obama “transcends race” and is “race free.”

And according to MSNBC political analyst, Chris Matthews, responding to Obama’s State of the Union message on January 27, 2010: “He is post-racial by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and past so much history, in just a year or two. I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about.”

These commentators and others imply a number of claims in their statements: The first that we have become a “race-blind” or “colorblind” society – that race has become unimportant, that we don’t see “race” anymore. The second implication states that racism (i.e., prejudice along with social power to enact oppression by White people over People of Color) is a thing of the past.

Is the United States now a “colorblind” society? Or even more importantly, should the United States be a “colorblind/race-blind” society? I find the very notion of “race-blindness” as deeply problematic.

"I don't see your race;"

“I don’t see your race; I just see you as a human being.”

Though when we tell another that “I don’t see your race; I just see you as a human being,” may seem as a righteous statement, what are we really telling the person, and how may this come across: “I discount a part of you that I may not want to address,” and “I will not see you in your multiple identities”? This has the tendency of erasing the person’s background and historical legacy, and hides the continuing hierarchical and systemic positionalities among White people and racially minoritized people.

In addition, the assertion that we have fully addressed and finally concluded the long history of racism in the United States with the election of Barack Obama is simply unfounded.

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CFW’s 2012 Year in Review

2012 was a big year of blogging for me.  I branched out in my publishing by partnering with a few amazing blogs, and my readership has grown tremendously.  In 2012, Change From Within had approximately 59,000 page views, and the blog had 59 new posts, some short and (hopefully) pithy, and some long and more complex.

There were a few posts from years past that continue to garner huge views on the blog.  In case you missed those, check them out!

Redskins, Sambos, and Whities: Racism in Sports Mascots
Speak American: Multilingualism and the English-Only Movement
It’s Not Just Rap – Misogyny in Music

As we head into 2013, though, it’s time to take stock of the 10 most widely-read pieces of 2012 in case you missed any the first time around.

love-is-a-verb-300x25910.  In October, I had the incredible pleasure of serving as the officiant of my close friend’s wedding.  After the wedding, I posted the message I shared at the wedding.  Coming in at number 10 is that message, Love: Endlessly Selfless and Powerfully Selfish.

alonzoashley9. Unfortunately, my former home of Denver, CO has a serious problem with police brutality.  In July, I attended a rally against police brutality that commemorated the death of Alonzo Ashley, a young Black man who was killed by police at the Denver Zoo.  The piece that came afterward encouraged White people to begin to consider the ways that our relationships with police (on the whole) are vastly different from the relationships of communities of Color.  Coming in at number 9 is Talking Privilege: Waking White People Up to Police Brutality.

FL Tray George Zimmerman smiling 2012 3-238. One of the more important stories of 2012 was the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman.  In my piece entitled I am George Zimmerman, I encouraged White folks to understand the ways that everyone who is socialized in our system of White Supremacy is taught to see Black men of any age as the dangerous other.  If we want to prevent future murders like that of Trayvon Martin (or Jordan Russell Davis), we have to understand the ways that each of us are trained to fear Black men, and then we must work to uproot that socialization.

Chick-fil-A-logo7. Sometimes I just have to rant a little, which is what the piece that comes in at number 7 felt like.  After their CEO spouted virulently anti-gay hate speech, activists targeted Chick-fil-a for boycotts and protests.  Those on the right claimed that such activists were attacking his freedom of speech.  In Chick-fil-a: Censorship or Freedom of Speech?, I lay out just how silly that argument actually is.

IMG_0046-203x3006. One of the best ways to share intimacy with your partner, whether this is a long-time partner or a short-term hook up, is to take steps to ensure that your sexual relationship is healthy and driven by sexy consent.  One way to do that is through a Yes, No, Maybe Chart.  My Valentines’s piece laid out just how to use one to ensure your sex is healthy, fun, and fulfilling.  Coming in at number 6 is, This Valentine’s Day Try a Yes, No, Maybe Chart.

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I am George Zimmerman: Reflections on Zimmerman, Trayvon, and the White Racial Frame

I have spent a great deal of time in the last few weeks arguing the semantics of the Travyon Martin murder with friends and family who do not believe race had anything to do with the case and who think that George Zimmerman was likely justified in his shooting of Martin.  We have gone back and forth about Travyon Martin’s past (suspensions from school and accusations of theft) and George Zimmerman’s past (history of aggression and paranoia).  We have gone back and forth about what the 911 calls say about what happened and about whether Zimmerman’s injuries justified his violence or were merely an excuse for the murder.

These conversations had been frustrating the hell out of me, but I didn’t realize quite why until this weekend at the 13th Annual White Privilege Conference.

I was in a workshop led by the incredible Lee Mun Wah, and he remarked, “I’ve seen a lot of people saying or posting, ‘I am Trayvon Martin.’  I think that misses the point.  I want to see people saying, ‘I am George Zimmerman’ because whether or not we want to admit it, every single one of us is socialized in a system of White Supremacy that says, ‘FEAR BLACK MEN.'”

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Justice for Trayvon Martin: 3 Things You Can Do

Do I look suspicious to you?

How about now?

Of course I don’t.  I’m white.  And that is one of the most powerful privileges that I have in this country.  I can generally rely on the adage “innocent until proven guilty.”

But this person couldn’t.  To one White vigilante, he looked “suspicious,” like he was “on drugs” and “up to no good.”

And it got him killed.

As I am sure you know by now, Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old young man who was found guilty by a White vigilante of the crime of walking at night while Black.  He was unarmed, carrying only an iced tea and a bag of skittles for his sibling.  Immediately after Trayvon was shot in the chest, George Zimmerman admitted to the killing.

He was not arrested.  He was not tested for drugs or alcohol, as in common in cases such as these.  He was not even detained.  Why?  He claimed self defense in a state that boasts one of the nations vaguest “stand your ground” laws, and the police on the scene decided that Zimmerman was telling the truth.  They didn’t follow up with witnesses (some of whom say they heard Trayvon screaming and begging for his life), and they didn’t follow up with Trayvon’s girlfriend, whom he was talking to at the moment he was attacked.

It has now been nearly a month, and Trayvon’s killer walks free.

I have been wanting to write about this case for a few weeks now, but I wasn’t sure what I could add to the conversation.  I couldn’t sum things up better than Mother Jones.  I couldn’t address the related issue of White Privilege as well as Michael Skolnik at the Global Grind:

I will never look suspicious to you. Even if I have a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white sneakers on…in fact, that is what I wore yesterday…I still will never look suspicious. No matter how much the hoodie covers my face or how baggie my jeans are, I will never look out of place to you.  I will never watch a taxi cab pass me by to pick someone else up. I will never witness someone clutch their purse tightly against their body as they walk by me.  I won’t have to worry about a police car following me for two miles, so they can “run my plates.”  I will never have to pay before I eat. And I certainly will never get “stopped and frisked.”  I will never look suspicious to you, because of one thing and one thing only.  The color of my skin.  I am white.

Despite all of the evidence that Zimmerman killed Trayvon in cold blood, Trayvon was presumed guilty until proven innocent.  One of our good friends at Faux News even have the audacity to blame Trayvon (or his parents) because he was wearing a hoodie and he was looking “thuggish.”

It’s time for us to take action.  Here are three easy things you can do to pressure those in power to arrest and prosecute Zimmerman.

  1. Sign the petition started by Trayvon’s family.  With 1.5 million people having signed, the more voices that sign this petition, the harder it is to ignore.
  2. Pressure the state’s attorney responsible for the 18th district to do everything in their power to prosecute Zimmerman to the full extent of the law.  You must call between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday – Friday.  Get to an operator and ask to speak to the receptionist for Norm Wolfinger.
    Here’s a potential script: “Hello, my name is _________________.  I am calling regarding the Trayvon Martin case.  I just wanted to register my voice in support of Trayvon’s family as they seek justice in the murder of their son.  We ask that State Attorney Wolfinger publicly endorse the efforts to arrest and prosecute George Zimmerman, even before the Grand Jury has made its decision.  Thank you, and have a great day!
  3. Contact the original sponsor of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” legislation, Rep. Dennis K. Baxley, and encourage him to sponsor a process of revision of the law so that murderers like Zimmerman cannot hide behind such a vaguely-worded piece of legislation in the future.  Here’s an example that you could use (but try to make it personal):
    Hello, my name is ______________.  I am writing to encourage Rep. Baxley to consider formally revisiting Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law that he sponsored, the vaguest of it’s kind in the nation, on the floor of the House.  Please open an investigation into ways that this law can be used to shield murderers from prosecution, just like it has done for George Zimmerman after he murdered Trayvon Martin.  You told the CBS Evening News that you would be willing to revisit the law if changes were needed, and we hope that you will hold to your word and at least investigate this possibility.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  Sincerely, ____________

JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON MARTIN.  Please take action today.