People & Their Flaws

People. People are complicated. People value things differently. People feel responsibility in different areas. People have different priorities. People can be disappointing. Not only has my work challenged me as a community organizer, but in my everyday relationships with people. As a community organizer, I have recognized an inherent flakiness in people. We are conditioned to leave a little room for possibility in order to be polite, even if we know we can’t fully commit. We can agree to something and see its importance, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to do anything on an individual level for the cause. That’s okay because we can’t fight for every single cause we see as important. Stretching oneself too thin is all too real, especially at a university like Duke. giphy

Along with learning the importance of the type of work I want to do with my life to be more than just satisfied, I have been evaluating the types of people that I want to surround myself with. I am an extrovert and I tend to feed off the energy of other people. I am a very happy person in general and I am even more happy when the people around me are in a positive mood. My colleagues are so supportive and passionate that my workplace experience has been incredibly fun. I can work daily on street harassment and the beginnings of gendered violence while debriefing with the people in my organization and then discussing the pros and cons of the TV shows that we all watch. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel while at work because it’s about recognizing the obstacles but pushing them to the breaking points. A major thing that I have learned this summer is that I can’t force people to show up or follow through with things they aren’t fully committed to, and that’s okay. This type of work relies on the word of the community, and sometimes the values, responsibilities, and priorities do not match up. It’s a hard feeling to deal with because I don’t want to be a hypocrite considering there are countless events, programs, and meetings that I have RSVP’d to and not shown up and kept my word. A lot of the time, I would look at or listen to the description and think, “oh that sounds pretty cool,” but that’s where my attention ended. We live in a world of hierarchies and that applies to what we give our attention to.


People are flawed, depending on the lens you’re looking through. However, my summer hasn’t been just about recognizing their flaws, but about recognizing their passions. Everyday I go to work with people who are so dedicated to what they are doing. And they all want to work themselves out of a job, an interesting concept that a lot of people may not understand. I’m starting to learn what is it is to make a commitment when you have a real life, a profession, a family. You have to have an abundant amount of passion and energy to work in this field and you have to have a fraction of that to participate in the campaigns. I appreciate the exposure to reality and at the same time to people who whole heartedly dedicate their lives to making a change at the community level. This recognition is helping me figure out how I want to be my best self and what that will entail in the future, because it won’t be without its own flaws.



Now that I have been in New York City for a month, I feel like a local, whatever that means. I can walk up and down Fifth Avenue and not think of the fancy, large shops in a grandeur manner, but rather as just some shops that have way too many products to shop for in one visit. (Moment of silence for the fact that I can walk on Fifth Avenue basically whenever I want.)anigif_enhanced-7597-1407435327-4 I can get on the metro and use whichever train to get to my destination without plugging the address into a map. I can do hot yoga in the morning and chill in the evening, without feeling like I’m missing out on something. I feel comfortable, which in a sense makes me anxious because DukeEngage is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable and challenge you. The program itself is challenging by nature because we discuss topics such as the relationship between sexual orientation and capitalism, sexual terrorism, reproductive rights, and our greatest weaknesses. We are challenged to grasp the facts and take a stance. We are pushed to figure out the type of person we want to be in the world with all of this information. We are encouraged to see the society as a whole and its implications along with the individual and its implications. Lately, I have heard from other Moxies that it has been draining to do this on a daily basis, since we discuss these issues in our free time too. However, this also hasn’t made me incredibly uncomfortable or drained. I have been been discussing systematic and institutionalized oppression since I was young; I have been questioning how I as an individual fit into and challenge that system and institution since I was young; I have been forming my stance on a lot of these issues since I was young. 9cde0969-d9a0-438b-84b2-7ffdf9995e18 I had the opportunity to grow up in a household where we talked about all of these things. My mother never left anything up in the air and she told me the way the world worked; I had at least two things working against me, I was brown and a woman. However unfair that was, it just meant that I had to work ten times as harder to measure up and be ten times better than my peers while never forgetting who and what got me there.

On a daily basis, I think about my position in the world and how I can use that to succeed and help others succeed. I think about how my education of the systems and institutions we live in will inform my actions to break down the racist and sexist (among other things) world and culture we interact with. In a way, I’m trying to refine my thoughts and actions more so than learning about how to think and act about certain things. It is a different type of challenge, one that doesn’t drain me, but that drives me. It makes me more comfortable to be in an environment that challenges me to do so because this program is dedicated to making us more informed and critical about the world around us. Since I have been more exposed to this information for whatever reason that may be, I have felt like a veteran participating in certain discussions. I have already had to time to form an opinion and understand a theory; I have already had an experience that exemplifies certain topics; I have already done extensive research on systematic oppression. I have the ability to be articulate on certain topics because I have had time to digest and think about them.

On the other hand, I am able to better frame the way that I talk about certain things because of the discussions I have with other Moxies. I am able to learn about a different way of approaching the issues because other Moxies have grown up with different experiences. I am learning a lot from everyone else on the program because everyone thinks and processes in different ways that inform the way they discuss certain issues. I have decided that I want to focus on not just refining my thoughts and actions, but on the application of those thoughts and actions. I want to focus on the professional track on implementing those informed thoughts and actions. I am able to have firsthand experience as a community organizer, I am going to meet with a social activist that makes a living doing what they love, and I am going to meet with a human rights lawyer. I want to get a better sense of the paths that are possible in the future that will include my passions in the actual work I do. However, lately it seems like there are more options that I can see myself doing, which is just making the future foggier and foggier. Even though I have been able to consider myself a veteran in an exposure and academic sense (although I am nowhere near completely educated about any topic because I am 20 years old and there’s not enough time in the world), I sure have no idea what the future holds and I am still trying to figure out how my professional life can exist in a way that has been informed by my academic pursuits. Accepting

Threatening Choice

While touring Choices, I couldn’t help but be reminded of an event that happened over Winter break. I went with my two older sisters and mother to eat pizookie one night while my dad was out of town. We all split one Oregano’s pizookiepizooki, which is not very big. For outsiders, we eat very quickly and aggressively. Towards the end, my mother pulled the pizookie towards herself in order to secure some cookie and ice cream without my sisters and I stealing it from her spoon. I was a little snippy and was slightly angry that she took the pizookie for herself because I still wanted some. My oldest sister then eloquently said, “It’s okay for her to choose herself over you now. You’ve had your time.”

As I thought about it, I realized that obviously my mother can choose to eat something and not give it to me; it was very trivial of me to be upset. However, I don’t think I understood the depth of my sister’s words until I started thinking about reproductive health this week and being reminded about how important a woman’s right to choose is. My mom, from the moment of my conception (whenever that was in the process of gestation), had chosen to put me before herself and showed that every day since. In a small example, if she had food and I were hungry, she would give me the food and not have as much for herself. In most cases when a woman decides to have a baby, she is deciding to put that life first from the moment she accepts carrying a fetus for nine months INSIDE HER body. She is allowing something else to take space that has previously been only hers.

Bringing life into this world should not be a decision that is made lightly. Nowadays, with the media and businesses bombarding everything we can see with sex, it is much more accessible because people know about it at such a young age. Couple that with NOT being bombarded with safe sex practices, or really any healthy, standard sexual education at all, and that’s a recipe for disaster. At an elite college campus, some people are still unaware the condoms are not 100% effective and are better used for protection against STI’s and STD’s. The safest measure is to be on birth control, of which there are over a hundred to choose from and many different types, and use a condom. The goal of reproductive health clinics is to eradicate the need for abortions. They are there so people can get access to safe sex information, birth control, pre-natal care, and most of all they’re cheap for the people that cannot afford to go to private doctors for their healthcare needs.

To the people that consider themselves pro-life and anti-abortion, most people that are pro-choice are also pro-life and anti-abortion. We want people to live happy and successful lives, in whatever way they CHOOSE. That is contingent upon whether or not they decide to become a mother. No one can dictate whether something should grow inside another person for nine months. No one can dictate whether that something should grow up in a household of abuse, whether that be physical, emotional, sexual, economic, social, etc. If every person that got pregnant were to have the child, then the world should provide, free healthcare, free (and substantial) public education, free children’s clothing (i.e. diapers, baby wipes, onesies, socks, etc.), and much more. Every woman that gets pregnant is not always able to provide for another life, and if we decide to bring another life into the world, then we sure as hell better be able to support it or have the necessary access to organizations/people that can support it. Most pro-choice people are also anti-abortion. No one wants abortion to be a thing. The only difference is that most pro-choice people want it to be an option since there are a lot of social factors working against women to protect themselves in the first place from becoming pregnant and there are a lot of social factors working against women to help them thrive after the pregnancy. It is a matter of who can choose what happens to someone’s body—not just during pregnancy though. Who is going to help that child once it’s actually born? Ideally, there would be no abortions because the people that decide to have children will be able to provide for them with all the necessities to have a happy and successful life.


(that’s me convincing people that I am not the ONLY one who thinks about these kinds of things)

Expanding my pro-choice stance, I was finally able to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. This past Saturday, I escorted at Choices. Every Saturday, Choices has 15-30 protestors that stand outside their facility on the sidewalk. Each protestor has pamphlets filled with scientific error and religious rhetoric to convince people entering the clinic to not have an abortion. Keep in mind that the majority of people that access reproductive health clinics are NOT there to have an abortion. Reproductive health clinics, contrary to what religious right-wing politicians would have you believe, have LOWERED the number of abortions (legal and illegal) because they provide cheap birth control, access to an affordable OBGYN, pre-natal care, and safe sex practice education.

Anyways, I stood in between the main entrance to Choices and the place where the preachers would stand and spout their opinions. (On a side note, I did this while running on two and a half hours of sleep, which was not my best idea.) At 7:15am, we were out there standing on both sides of a client to escort her/him into Choices without being harassed too much by the protestors. To describe the picture: one preacher was speaking non-stop about everything and nothing while there were people scattered with their pamphlets and then there were the blown up posters of aborted fetuses every 10 paces. No one that was walking or driving NEAR the street, let alone walking into the clinic, could miss the posters. The first preacher called the escorts all kinds of names, but my favorite was definitely “Hitler’s henchmen.” It was hard to drown out his voice, but the escorts were standing around and having conversations about all sorts of things such as, politics, social issues, school, other clinics, marriage, TV, and the list continues.

Every time we saw a potential client, we would pause the conversation to escort the client and deflect the protestors. For me, this was the embodiment of what I had been preaching about pro-choice for the last ten years. I was physically creating a space where women could access a reproductive health clinic without judgment. Obviously, it wasn’t me creating the space, but I was helping and hopefully I was an encouragement for the women entering that someone supports them and whatever choice they make.

One of the most poignant moments for me that morning was seeing a young woman bawling her eyes out, being separated from the partner she brought by the protestors, and then watching the protestors swarm her and shove pamphlets into her hand. She was obviously distressed making the decision to even go to the facility, and these protestors just made it even harder and more traumatic! It was a situation where I thought about how much thought and effort she must have put into the decision to go to Choices and how she still wasn’t satisfied with the options in front of her. I quickly stepped to her side to block the path of one of the aggressive pamphlet-handers from continuing next to her. I walked her to the door and her partner followed with a solemn head down while the protestors were shouting about how killing babies is wrong.

9072937_origWell, shit. Let me check my privilege really quickly. I have an OBGYN for a father; my family has talked about sex since I was probably 6; my family has talked about safe sex practices since I was probably 6; I was able to talk to BOTH of my parents about starting/stopping birth control without hesitation. My education about sex and reproductive health was incredibly extensive (read: there were diagrams involved).

Even if people get the “sex talk,” it’s rarely the kind of education I was fortunate enough to receive. If people are unable to be educated about SAFE sex, then how can we expect them to know what to do? If people are unable to talk about sex without being stigmatized, then how can we expect them to know how to act? If people cannot talk to their sexual partners about birth control because they’re not educated themselves, how can we expect them to take preventative measures? Abstinence-only education DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Honestly, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE SEX. We may as well teach them how to do it safely and reduce the chance of pregnancy.

Reproductive health clinics are necessary, and the need isn’t less for preaching abstinence-only. If you don’t teach someone about safe sex or preventative measures, you can’t be upset or surprised if they get pregnant. You are taking away EVEN MORE CHOICES by withholding important information. This summer is about looking at the big picture, as opposed to just through one lens. There is a cycle relating sexual health education, pregnancy, and abortion. If we continue to withhold information and access, it is only going to backfire. Providing choices for women, whether that be ALL the information we need to live a healthy life that includes sex or providing access to safe a legal abortions, will only improve society. We’ll have educated women that are agents in their own bodies. Crazy thought.

Challenge Me

It was my first day working in the big city. I had to take the subway from Manhattan to the heart of Brooklyn. Now, keep in mind, I am not from a big city so I’m very new to the experience of street harassment. I also pride myself on having a resting bitch face, especially when I’m focused on where I need to get. Going to work, there were only two instances where men called out to me that didn’t really get to me. I have heard the stories of the New York street, so I prepared for that part. When I was returning to Manhattan a little after 6pm, I got on the subway hoping to just get back to my dorm as soon as possible to go to sleep. There was one seat on the edge of the 3 seats together, closest to two that are perpendicular to it. There was a man with his bag closest to the window and his body splayed out into the aisle, and touching the only open seat in the row of three. I decided to sit down and said excuse me, although not as forcefully as I’m normally wont to. I bumped a few of the papers he was reading and he got angry and said “you could at least say sorry.”

imageI smiled and said “my bad,” while thinking, hey you little sh*t, you’re taking up too much space on the subway, it’s f#€£ing cramped and people are going to touch your sh*t if you’re invading the space of 4 different seats. Obviously, it was a long day and I was jet lagged. Then he kept talking as if to explain why he was reading the papers I had bumped, and he said that he was going back to college to become rich. I just smiled and looked forward, not as to comply with his speaking but to make sure nothing escalated if I were too rude. At this point, I’m not sure where polite, naive, bitch, and smart intersect. No one is entitled to my time, personal space, or body. Yet at the same time, social cues of politeness are to interact with someone that is trying to converse with you. Is there really a perfect or set time to have that type of conversation? Anyways, he was silent for a little bit while I just stared at my phone trying to figure out the subway lines/trains from a map. After the next stop, he leaned over and apologized for being so angry and told me that he wasn’t normally like that, it wasn’t him. Then he asked me for my name. 3 times. I politely smiled, because I wasn’t sure how to proceed in all honesty, and told him I didn’t really like to give that kind of information out. He told me his name and I said nice to meet you. He then apologized and I thanked him, said not to worry about it because the subway is cramped and then stared back at my phone. I could feel his eyes on me and knew that he wanted to keep conversing but he stopped. He was able to read that I didn’t want to converse and I actually appreciated that because I have heard subway stories that ended very differently. At the next stop, a homeless man asking for money got on the train. He went up and down the train asking for spare change, talking about how he hadn’t eaten in four days. I kept staring at my phone, not feeling comfortable engaging with him or giving him money. The only person on the train for two stops who even moved to give him money was the guy who had apologized for getting angry about me bumping him.
It is not always bad people that street harass. It is not always people who decide they can’t take no for an answer that street harass. Sometimes there is a fine line between responding to street harassment and politeness along with street harassment and talking to a stranger.
The street harassment that No Disrespect is challenging is the one that has to do with power and entitlement. It is when a cisgendered man (most of the time) decides that he can talk to and demand a response from someone that he sees/notices on the street, in a car, on a train, etc. Newsflash: no one is obliged to feed your ego. Just because one person wants to start a conversation does not mean that another person has to engage in that conversation. It’s not anyone’s job. That should be respected as opposed to being seen as rude. Entitlement is something that I have to challenge in myself everyday, but it’s different than a man’s type of entitlement. This summer, I want to work on checking the entitlement I have while challenging the entitlement that men have. I want to explore why men think it’s okay for them to expect a response from someone they’ve never met.
The next two days with the subway were a breeze. I can even listen to my music on low without fear of missing a stop, which I’m proud of. My organization is run by intelligent, driven, and compassionate people. I’m beyond excited to learn everything they’re willing to teach me. I’m getting the actual experience of working for a local non-profit and how little things matter. There is a beautiful connection between how change can start and what change can mean. My experience this summer will see change at a local level. We will challenge the assumptions of the people of BedStuy to think critically about why they feel such entitlement. Change starts on the local level and engaging our communities. Only then can change actually affect a whole population. There is a domino effect that is possible when change comes from a community. This summer is about challenging the way that I see things. One is how I see and react to street harassment and to understand the different sides explaining it. Another is to see how change occurs in the individual and particular communities as opposed to the population and laws.




3 Patriarchy, 2 Oppression, 1 Woman

Carina is a junior at Duke studying Women’s Studies and Global Health; she will be interning with the Brooklyn Movement Center this summer.


While I was contemplating how to start this blog post, all I could come up with were phrases about tearing down the patriarchy and what I do besides that. At this point in my educational career, I have been pointing out patriarchy, oppression, racism, ableism, etc. to every one of my close friends and family members. It has gotten to the point that people will come to me with stories starting off, “you would have loved this,” or “you would have loved him,” and then proceed to tell me a story in which they pointed out something in the language or attitude that represented or fought against oppression. I distinctly remember one of my friends relaying a date in which the male asked if she wanted to split the bill even though he wanted to pay for her, but he gave her the option. She told me in a joking manner, but every time someonfry-can-t-tell-meme-generator-unsure-if-friends-actually-listened-or-if-they-pretended-to-listen-fa387ae tells me a story like that I feel a type of satisfaction. I have talked about societal problems so often and with so many people that they are now able to point out things that don’t feel right or where they can finally see something that is not okay. In other words, people closest to me have become much more aware of their surroundings and what happens because I never shut up about it or stop pointing it out.


Starting at Duke, I was planning on being a pre-med Neuroscience major and to dabble in Women’s Studies. Little did I know that my Women’s Studies class would be the class I told every person that would listen to me about it. Every class since has made me think differently about my daily interactions and about my place in the world. I always ask myself how I can change the culture that I see hurting so many marginalized voices. I chose this program because women’s justice advocacy is something that has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a house of women with two older sisters and discussing the problems facing women, especially women of color. This summer, I am interning with the Brooklyn Movement Center and it will be my first experience doing local community organizing. I am extremely nervous about entering a community as an outsider and being someone that is handling the actual organization of bike patrols. I want the community to know that I understand I am there as an extra set of hands and want to do whatever I can while respecting the establishment and flow of the organization. I am excited to be working with a community that is tight knit and that understands the concept of learning from one another while being held accountable. *tries to insert culturally competent meme but can’t find any that aren’t offensive*

I want to learn the inner workings of a local community organization that is aimed at changing a culture that pervades every part of society. I want to strengthen my faith in being able to change one comment that will lead to one action and then having it spread from there. I want to be someone that brings a fresh perspective on what will work while also respecting that they people I’m working with know the community much better. I will learn how to manage a blog and post substantial and interesting pieces. I will also learn the best way to train community members while understanding that every person learns differently and will teach the material differently.resized_creepy-willy-wonka-meme-generator-yes-yes-put-all-your-life-in-your-fight-against-patriarchy-you-ll-totally-destroy-it-some-day-860632

All in all, I’m beyond excited to arrive and start working in Brooklyn. Fighting the patriarchy one step at a time, because not fighting is not an option.