Wednesday, December 21, 2016

5 Ways You Can Fight For Equality Right Now

Since the dust has settled on the election fight, a lot of people have expressed feeling a bit helpless. Here are a few ways that you can get engaged and speak out on the issues that are important to you.

1. Get Informed (and watch out for fake news)

For those of use who are becoming more engaged with politics after this election, getting informed on which pieces of legislation and appointments are going to impact the issues and people we care about. First, identify which you are concerned about, whether it be freedom of the press, immigrant rights, women's reproductive rights,or preventing gerrymandering. You can google organizations that are fighting for those rights (such as the ACLU, MALDEF, Planned Parenthood, and the YWCA) visit their website to see what legistlation they are fighting, what they support, and which politicians to contact. You can also follow them on social media for news.

Also, whenever you are receiving news from social media make sure you check to make sure that it is legitimate. Buzzfeed has an informative article on how to detect fake news. You should also check anything you read against fact checking sites, like and

Support legitimate news sources! Buy an online or print subscription to news organizations like the New York Times, the Boston Globe, or the Guardian (UK). Watch unbiased reporting from Al Jazeera, The BBC, or PBS.

Read up on history of marginalized communities, feminism, black lives, and religious intolerance to recognizes the signs and know when to take action.

2. Call government officials and participate in actions
Taking an active role in government is essential. You can visit sites like Common Cause to find out who your elected officials are and how to contact them. You can let them know how you'd like them to vote on upcoming bills, thank them/condemn them for past votes, and ask them to take action on things like the Crisis in Aleppo, defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. You can stay informed on upcoming votes by going to

Those who are able to can also participate in direct actions such as rallies for peace, protests and marches, blockades, and boycotts.

3. Support organizations that are already fighting the good fight
Go back to those organizations that you found in step one and donate! Non-profits subsist on grants and donations and any little bit counts. Make sure you make your support heard by setting recurring donations, and fowarding calls for action or donations to your network of friends and family. Grants from the government for this kind of work may dwindle in the coming years, so this is especially important.  Buzzfeed has a pretty good list of organizations for a variety of issues.

Donate your time as well! Volunteer, join a march, serve on a committee, anything to further the work of great organizations. Even attending an event such as our Talking the Talk series, or Planned Parenthood's workshops can show that you're engaged and listening.

4. Offer help to those closest to you in marginalized communities
Make sure you are available to those among your aquaintances in vulnerable communities. Reach out to your friends, family, and co-workers who are women, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, or Muslim and check-in. Ask them how they are doing and make sure you LISTEN. Try not to say that everything is going to be ok, listen to their concerns and make realistic suggestions on what they can do to address them if that's what they want, or just let them vent and feel heard.

Also take care to listen to those outside your circle. There are a myriad of voices on social media from marginalized communities who's perspective are probably outside of your purview, seek them out and amplify them. Retweet and Share their messages against hatred, bigotry, and it really means to live in an America that discriminates against them.

Don't just make empty gestures such as wearing a safety pin or changing your avatar on social media, actually BE there for those who are most affected by discriminatory policy, hatred, and bigotry.

5. Take Care of Yourself.

While it's important to do everything I've enumerated above, make sure you take time away from social media, the news, and political discussion. Whether it's by reading a book, taking a walk, or having a good meal with friends or family, you have to make sure that your mind is not so burdened by the fear and sadness that you get overwhelmed and burnt out. Make sure that you also have a network of people that you are able to reach out to when it gets to be too much. The support of family, counselors, religious leaders, and mental health organizations can be crucial to staying healthy and protecting your mental health.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Discover the YWCA Girl's Empowerment Program

November was a month for a bit of travel, new art techniques, cultural enrichment and civic engagement.

The girls were able to take 2 field trips this month during TechGyrls. Through a partnership with the Audubon Society of Pasadena, the girls were able to learn about birds and do a bit of local birdwatching. Kim and Kathy from the Audubon Society brought binoculars, notebooks, and backpacks for the girls to be able search for an record different birds. They the talked about some of the birds that were native to the area. Later, girls split off into groups and went on a scavenger hunt for different birds. It was a great experience where they were able to explore an activity that had never done before.

They were also able to go to the Apple Store here in Pasadena in partnership with STEAMCoders. There they were able to work with iPads to create their own iPads to make their own songs. Apple store employees were there to help, but the girls impressed everyone by getting out of their comfort zones and creating a 
pretty professional product. The Apple Store and STEAMcoders where generous enough to give the girls t-shirts, earphones, certificates of completion, a usb drive bracelet, and a drawstring backpack. 


Mujeres de Maiz once again imparted some wisdom with 2 workshops during the month of November.

The first was a workshop on the importance of posters in movements and how artwork can be used to send a message and spark change. The girls were able to design their own images which related to their own lives and experiences as a form of empowerment.  The facilitator, Felicia, then showed them how to print their creation through the screen printing technique.


Felicia also facilitated a workshop on medicinal and therapeutic plants entitled Decolonizing & Centralizing Ancestral Ways : Ancestral and Abuelita Knowledge for today. This workshop emphasized the importance of knowledged passed down through the generations for healing. The girls were able to share their own experiences with homeremedies that their grandmothers, mothers, and aunties passed down to them to treat their illnesses, learn uses for different types of herbal teas, and make their own tea to take home. It was a very special workshop that is usually reserved for college level pupils, but was adapted by mujeres de maiz especially for our girls. 


Xitlalic also returned this month to facilitate a workshop on creating stamps for greeting cards. The once again created their own image, and Xitlalic encouraged them to use something that was relevant to their own lives like an inside joke, a meaningful quote or image, or something that they say all the time. She then took them home and carved them out for them on linoleum blocks which they stamped on to cards.


Here's to another month of great programming. See you next month!