Friday, January 23, 2015

Whoot, Whoot! My Thesis is in Comsuming/Culture: Women and Girls in Print and Pixels Conference

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." - Cyril Connolly

The quote above really resonates with me because as a writer, I want an audience, but every writer knows first and foremost you should write for yourself. The story should be the one you want to tell. 

Last May, I completed my thesis, "A Post-Feminist Look at HBO's Girls: A Critical Analysis of Characters, Career, Gender, and Sexuality" and it was published by ProQuest in August. I was really excited to have that accomplishment, but of course I couldn't stop there. I wanted the paper to get more exposure in the academic community. Gender bias is a topic of great interest to me and my paper provides an overview of how television has been and continues to be a tool that perpetuates gender role stereotypes for women and men in our society. I want to be a part of this narrative and keep conversations going because I believe this topic impacts our society and culture.

Not long after I finished my thesis I came across a conference called Consuming/Culture: Women and Girls in Print and Media. I read the conference overview and thought my paper would be a perfect fit so I submitted. Looks like I was right. My paper was accepted and I have the opportunity to present as part of session on post-feminism. The conference will take place at Oxford Brooks University, United Kingdom on June 5-6.

I've looked at the agenda and love the session topics. There are sessions on self-representation, body image, teenage sexuality, fashion, motherhood, contemporary celebrity and much more. Great discussions to be had for sure.

While I'm estactic about my acceptance, the one drawback is the conference location. I'll have to figure out if I have the budget and the time to get out there. Traveling across the Atlantic for a two-day conference is going to be a stretch. 

In the meantime I'll focus on the positive. I've been accepted to my first academic conference post grad school. Holla!

Thank you to the programing committee at Consuming/Culture. I hope to see you in June.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why I'm Proud to Be an #AetnaEmployee

Out of all of the blog topics I envision writing, today's blog was definitely not one of them. If you follow financial and business news, this blog post may not be new news to you.

Today, Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, announced  that the company is boosting the pay of its low-waged employees. Beginning in April, the lowest earning employees will get a minimum of $16 an hour. Aetna will join the ranks of the city of Seattle, Gap, Ikea and a handful of other companies that will pay $15 or more an hour. Holla!

This is good news for approximately 5,700 Aetna employees who primarily work in customer service and billing. 

Will this be a game changer in the health care industry and in the business world in general? I'm not sure, but I believe it's a conversation starter for the business community and our government about what actions the corporate sector can do to ensure Americans have a livable wage to support their families.

Five, 10, and even 12 dollars is no longer cutting it for the American worker and his/her family across our nation. It hasn't been for some time. The data on income inequality illustrates this. To make the necessary monthly bills, many low-wage and middle-class Americans have to work two and sometimes three jobs to pay their bills, keep food on the table, and a roof over their and the heads of their family members. 

I'm proud to be an Aetna employee and work for a company that recognizes the importance and significance of increasing wages for its lowest waged employees. I hope to see other companies and industries follow this trend.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why I'm Seeing Selma This Weekend

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Selma, the film that chronicles Martin Luther King's struggle to pass the Civil Rights Act through organized protests in Selma, Alabama hits theaters tomorrow. Holla! Can't wait to see it this weekend. I'm ready and have been ready since I saw the trailer back in early December of last year. 

This film is directed by Ava DuVernay, a journalist turned film director and the script was written by Paul Webb. Acto, who plays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, signed on to take the role seven years ago. That's right, it took seven years for this film to get made. This film was made without the rights to King's speeches, which made the storytelling a bit of challenge, but from the critics I've listened to, a challenge that was capitalized on and met. There have already been murmurs of Oscar nominations. Kudos to DuVernay for her vision and the tenacity to get this film made and nationally distributed in theaters. 

I can't help but juxtapose this film to the recent protests regarding police conduct and abuse of power in many cities across our country. 51 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, people of color are still fighting for justice in America. Sadly, the vision and hopes Dr. King hoped for have not been fully realized in America. The fight for justice and progress has always been here and will always be here but the look and feel of it has changed. Racism, like everything else in our lives evolves and adapts.

As a person of color that has grown up in America and has seen and achieved many benefits in my own life, I can also say I've been exposed to racism and discrimination based on the color of my skin. I've been followed in stores, been called the n-word as recently as 2006, and when my mom moved to her current home back in 1993 I will never forget when I was followed by a police car as I walked to a friend's house. Mind you, I'm a Yankee, a black woman that grew up in the Connecticut valley. The police car followed me all the way to the door step and didn't turn around until I entered the house. I often wonder how the situation would have been different if I was a young black male walking to a friends house.

I'm not saying all cops are bad. They're not. However, I will say that I recognize a problem not only with law enforcement and our justice system, but how our society views black men in general. Since G.W. Griffiths film, "A Birth of a Nation," black men have had to struggle against stereotypes in the media that have given the public perception that they are savages and need to be feared by society. Are there black men who are no good and dangerous, yes, but the same can be said of men in general regardless of class, race, ethnicity, or religion.

For me, a real conversation on race needs to happen in America. The media has tried and failed and it's a part of the problem. 

We need to begin at the local level. We need to be accountable as individuals and recognize that America has many different faces and that class, zip code, and race will impact your experience for better or worse. White privilege is real. Money and wealth is also a privilege that can be a game changer despite race. America may be the land of opportunity but the scales aren't balanced. How we deal with our history will dictate how we move forward. 

Acknowledging the disastrous impact slavery and Jim Crow has had on the lives of black Americans and the legacy of these unfair and unjust practices in policies embedded in our public and private systems whether it be education, social services, the military or the criminal justice system needs to happen. The work ahead isn't easy but history tells us nothing worth achieving ever is. 

See Selma this weekend and then have a conversation about the film. Dialogue can lay the foundation for change.