Activism opportunity: #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies

woman holding sign that says

I often think about how much time, energy, and money are wasted on the weight cycling industry, which is worth $66 billion/year in the US alone. Imagine what we could do with those resources if we directed them toward making the world a better place instead of making our bodies smaller!

In that spirit, I propose this: let’s take the time and money we might have used on dieting, and instead donate it to organizations and causes we care about.  Let’s show what a difference we can make with even a fraction of the resources that people waste every year trying to force their bodies into a socially acceptable shape. And let’s use the hashtag #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies to tell each other, and the world, about what we’re doing.

To start, I gave $10 to Scarleteen, and then tweeted: “I just donated $10 to @Scarleteen instead of the weight cycling industry. #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies.” Feel free to use the hashtag on any form of social media–Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

I know that not everyone has time or money to donate–hell, I even wrote about it recently. If you can’t contribute, no worries; but if you can give even $5 or an hour of your time, that would be awesome. And of course, signal-boost!

You can donate to/volunteer with whatever organizations you choose–make the world a better place in whatever way feels right to you! That said, I have a few suggestions, both of things to keep in mind and of specific groups I recommend.

Things to keep in mind when choosing an organization

– Consider donating to a small, independent organization that doesn’t have a big fundraising budget, and therefore needs the money a lot more than a big non-profit (which Heather Corinna of Scarleteen talks about here and here).

– Look for organizations run by marginalized groups rather than for them.

– It’s good to analyze the efficacy of organizations, but the percentage they spend on overhead is not necessarily a good metric to use, as non-profits need some overhead to be sustainable.

– Personally, I try to avoid donating to non-profits that depend on unpaid internships, aka free labor. Continue reading

Thoughts on Mia McKenzie’s letter to white liberals

Earlier this week, Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous wrote about being saddened by her own lack of empathy toward the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, which she attributed to burnout from all the times when white people ignored violence against people of color.

My first thoughts were: I can’t. I just can’t. This is raw and honest and important, but I just can’t deal with anyone expressing a lack of empathy for the victims–no matter how understandable her reasons, no matter how clearly she wants to be able to empathize. Not after last week.

Then, a few days later, it showed up on my Facebook newsfeed, and I read it again.

It still hurt to read. Not only because of the lack of empathy that still hit me viscerally, but also because of McKenzie’s assumption that only white people were harmed by the bombings. In fact, one of the three people murdered at the Marathon was Lu Lingzi, a student from China. I’m not ok with erasing her.

Also, the effects of the bombings and the subsequent scary-as-fuck manhunt were felt city-wide. This wasn’t a white-Bostonians trauma: it was an all-Bostonians trauma.

That said, I still think McKenzie’s piece is important, and I’m glad she wrote it.

It’s a painful read, especially as a Bostonian.

And I really wish she had acknowledged that people of color were in fact affected by the bombings.

But that doesn’t change her immediate, visceral reaction, or the very real circumstances that led to it.

That doesn’t change the truth that racism kills children like Trayvon Martin.

That doesn’t change the truth that many white people ignore the suffering of people of color, and that even those of us who are trying hard to fight racism can do better.

McKenzie’s pain–and that of her friends who reacted similarly–is real. Boston’s pain, both individual and collective, is real.

As hard as it is to hold them both in my mind, to simultaneously honor both kinds of suffering, I will try.

Because I want to work toward a world in which neither has to happen.