Creating a Culture of Fear

For some time now, our political and social climate has been transforming into one of outspoken voices creating change in diversity and inclusion. This shift recently gained fierce momentum with the brutal murder of George Floyd by a police officer. The gruesome video, which has now circulated all over social media and news outlets, shows Floyd pleading with the officer to breathe and calling out to his mother, knowing he is at death’s door. The officer abuses his position of power and kills Floyd amidst onlookers begging him to let the man breathe. The reality we face today of cruel racism is jarring and bone-chilling for people within communities of color. However, the reactionary anger is just as frightening when trying to imagine a future devoid of racism. 

Recently, the organization I’m working with, Sanctuary for Families, started a lot of discussion on how to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace and throughout the work of the organization. In these meetings, orientations, and even conversations with other Duke organizations I’m a part of, I’ve noticed an obvious fear – the fear of being wrong. The fear of saying something potentially offensive, of being on the wrong side of the argument, of causing harm when there is zero intention to hurt. 

I was in the legal intern orientation meeting today, and the law students present brought up their own experiences with concepts of diversity and inclusion. One common ground between many of them was that they repeatedly prefaced their thoughts by statements of, “I don’t mean this offensively” or “I’m not sure if this is correct, but..”. 

I couldn’t have been more surprised. These were students of law, working for a domestic violence nonprofit. In order to get into law school and develop an active interest in a social issue such as domestic violence and the patriarchy fueling the injustice, they would have had to undergo significant learning along the lines of classes about social justice or in-depth discussions with mentors passionate about prevalent inequalities. Most definitely (or you would hope), they would understand underlying structures and prejudices better than the average American or even a STEM student uninterested in class and structure issues. These law students should feel confident in their discussions of discrimination and inequality because they have undergone such in-depth and oftentimes intensive training on how our society fails people in the lowest brackets. Why, then, are they afraid of giving their opinion, telling their story? If someone who is knowledgeable on social problems is reluctant to speak on social issues for fear of being wrong, what does this say about individuals who may feel even less socially aware or be slightly more introverted and terrified of saying something insensitive?

In the meeting, students raised in Spain, Mexico, and Peru all questioned their thoughts and whether it was right for them to be thinking the way they thought. They were afraid of being wrong about a social problem because oftentimes the outcomes of speaking insensitively, even without intention, can be dire, including public call outs, negative opinions, and punitive correcting words. The issue is – you can’t fault someone for their way of thinking; it’s a consequence of where they grew up and the beliefs of the people closest to them. 

The battle for social change often includes harsh, scathing criticism that is given by people striving for a more just system. It’s not fair for us to demean or insult someone in any way because of how they think. This can in turn be counterproductive because it turns individuals away from the side of a debate that is not welcoming or kind and willing to teach. There is going to be a constant fear, especially for people that are more reserved in nature, of being wrong, being spoken down to, or being thought less of. 

from scottlang.net leadership

Therefore, someone has two options: either don’t join a fight for social change because you are not good enough and don’t understand the underlying issues well, or just keep all thoughts to yourself. Both options are detrimental to the general wellbeing of society. Rather, individuals who are more knowledgeable on matters of social work should attempt to meet others in their headspace. Explain to them that it is okay they aren’t aware, it’s not their fault, you can’t be born knowing what is right to say and what is wrong, but the effort that they show to be more aware is what is crucial, and from there attempt to alter a more racist/sexist/etc way of thinking. 

My fear is that one day, only a singular portion of the population will speak out about social wrongs, and the other half will be silent or fearful of voicing their opinions. Not only will this create echo chambers, in which individuals seek out like-minded peers to avoid embarrassing interactions and, resultantly, have their ideas parroted out to them, but we won’t ever be able to have the power and strength of minds working together. Our current culture alienates people and ideas that could be our biggest allies. Fear is a dangerous thing.

The Grey

This week I sat in a seminar titled “Rights Now” with members of Legal Momentum and college aged peers to discuss the intersectionality of Black Women and voices during this time. I noticed that I often think in very black and white terms. For example, If we’re discussing economic inequalities leading to inadequate health outcomes for certain groups of people I see the answer as pouring funds into these areas. Simple as that.

Come On No GIF by What the FashionHowever, I’m learning that social issues occur in the grey. I’ve been able to learn about gender identity versus expression, and making spaces more inclusive for womxn. I’ve simultaneously looked at situations of social justice as multifaceted ones. I specifically looked at how  women’s rights movements sometimes exclusively benefitted high-middle income white women by not addressing the intersectionality of race, class, gender expression, etc. These experiences made me look at my work as a member of on campus organizations as well as my continued work within my internship differently. As I research information to assist victims of teen dating violence, I wonder if I consider the intersectionality of victims in my research to ensure that one specific person isn’t being represented and advocated for.

Love Is Love Gay GIF by INTO ACTIONCurrently I am struggling with being a part of organizations created for change but being minimally politically involved on my part. I have the opportunity to be a part of amazing organizations unafraid to speak out against injustices and show their political activism. I have always said that I don’t see myself as a political being because I have associated politics with choosing to be republican or democratic, but I am learning that being political means making sure the social change and inclusive environments I want to promote are possible. This shift made me see that my intentions and my actions could contradict each other, and I plan on spending time researching my actions towards political activism and what that means for my future work within issues of social injustice.

Doing more harm than good?

Did you know that certain non-profit organizations could actually be harming their communities in the long-term? This past week in our Moxie seminar we read Paul Kivel’s “Social Services or Social Change.” In the piece, Kivel breaks down what he calls “the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC).” Essentially he argues that many non-profits address symptoms of societal issues without getting to the roots of the problems. In this way, by not ever solving issues in their entirety, the non-profit industry maintains jobs for its employees and continues to be able to “do good work.” The following TED talk from Dan Pallota doesn’t discuss NPIC specifically, but does address some of the other problems about the way we approach charity that are interesting to think about.

As I’ve continued to work at the Lower Eastside Girls Club (LEGC) of NY, I’ve tried to think about the ways in which their work attempts to look at the root of the issues they address. LEGC provides education, wellness, and leadership training services for girls located in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan as well as other boroughs around New York City. It was originally founded by local women to give young women of the Eastside an organization similar to that of other boys’ clubs around the city. 

In the past week, I sat in on meetings working to plan summer programming for middle and high school students as NYC begins to open up post-quarantine. For middle school, LEGC offers classes in all different areas from textile arts to science to radio broadcasting. However for high school, the team is working on creating opportunities for students to engage with their local communities and gain professional experience. This place is where I specifically see the organization working at the root of an issue and working against Kivel’s idea of the industrial complex. Kivel also emphasizes that non-profit organizations need to empower their target communities with the skills needed to help themselves. LEGC is providing a safe and productive environment for students to learn and grow this summer, but also giving resume-worthy experiences to boost college applications and/or future job opportunities.

As someone who has engaged with lots of community service in the past, Kivel’s argument really made me think about how I have approached service in the past and how I want to think about it in the future. Some reflections questions I’ve started to think about while doing community service:

These questions certainly don’t solve the issue of the NPIC, but they can help to think about why we are doing what we are doing. Ultimately, I don’t think many nonprofits work with malintent; most believe and are doing good and helpful work. But as Kivel says, nonprofits need to be accountable to those that they serve, rather than the people who fund them.

Women’s Rights: The silent victim of the pandemic

This week, I actually wanted to digress a little bit from my work at Choices Women’s Medical Center and talk about something that’s been bugging the heck out of me.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, school was cancelled nationwide. At an individual level, the choices many families made to cope with the shift makes sense economically. What do children need? Taking care of. What do older people (grandparents) need? Taking care of. What do patients fallen ill with the virus need? Taking care of. Care. And, all this care—unpaid emotional labor—WILL fall most heavily on women because of the current structure of society. But, according to Clare Wenham, an assistant professor of Global-health policy in London, it’s not just about social norms. It’s also about practicality: “Who is paid less? Who has the flexibility?”.

It all dates back to a structure created as early as the 1950s—something which Erin Hatton talks about in her book, The Temp Economy. Hatton describes how temp work strengthened gender stereotypes. Because temp work is paid too little to be considered a living wage, women were further established as a secondary earner. Thus, the dominant image of temp work promoted the image of the male “breadwinner”, further confining women in the domestic sphere. Additionally, by defining women as only “secondary earners”, employers justified paying women lower wages.

What is sad is that, according to the British government, 40% of employed women still only work part-time, compared to only 13% of men. The disparity that Hatton described from the 1950s STILL exists. Women are STILL considered socially to be secondary earners.

Unpaid Domestic Labour And The Invisibilisation Of Women’s ...

But even if women leave their jobs to go home, will they be appreciated for their sacrifice? The answer is NO, all thanks to the historic undervaluation of domestic labor. Arlie Russel Hochschild analyzed the wages of care workers such as nurses, babysitters, and other care facilities in 2002, describing how “the unpaid work of raising a child revealed the abidingly low value of care work generally—and further lowered it”. Hochschild suggests that because care work was not paid for most of human history, it lost its value.

Let’s apply this analysis to the pandemic. Because women are more likely to be the lower earners, their jobs are naturally considered a lower priority when disruptions come along. If Hochschild’s analysis is correct, it means that as women during the pandemic are forced to quit their jobs and lose their ability to earn money, the classification of their “caring work” as “nonwork” and themselves as “dependent” in their relationships with their husbands will grow stronger.

American Civil Rights for women: A Women’s Rights... | Sutori

Thus, the pandemic is going to reinforce prehistoric, dinosaur-age societal roles. And this particular disruption could last months, rather than weeks. Some women’s lifetime earnings will never recover. Some fathers will undoubtedly step up, but that won’t be universal. Women’s independence WILL be a silent victim of the pandemic. 

A new world

Am I a feminist? I’m not really sure. The word in my mind, unfortunately, has a negative connotation. I hear feminist, and I see images of third wave feminism – movements like #freethenipple, the idea that being in a relationship is anti-female, and women being told not to wear a hijab because it’s oppressive. These feminist objectives work to disenfranchise a large population of women. Many females at even liberal colleges and universities feel uncomfortable when faced with these highly left-leaning feminist ideals. It can be argued that women who are uncomfortable with these movements are only so because their upbringing and environment deeply ingrains notions that girls should act a certain way. 

On the other hand, a movement that serves to free women from a patriarchal society ought to be one that a majority of the female population can support. Examples include equality focused rights, such as the right to vote, abolishment of the wage gap, gender violence termination, and issues of self-esteem (such as if a girl feels more afraid to speak up with boys in the room because she feels inferior/unequal). If a woman is okay with a man holding open a door for her, this etiquette shouldn’t be an issue. Some feminists might criticize her for allowing a man to help her, but if the woman in question feels no loss of power, she shouldn’t be told that the right way to act is to open the door herself. 

From
Rachel Hatzipanagos
on TheLily.com

None of this is to say that I don’t believe in equality, in the fair and equal treatment of men and women. A woman can’t be denied a job because of her gender. She shouldn’t feel unsafe in leaving the house after dark because of her gender. I hate that in India, being outdoors alone at night as a female is deadly, and in many rural districts, widows are still burned at the pyre along with her dead husband. I am a woman. I want women to be treated with the same respect and dignity that men don’t even have to bat an eyelash to receive. However, some of the current ways of achieving this respect are only making the movement harder to support. Who knows, though? This summer might change a lot of my opinions. I hope it does. I know there are inspirational, passionate, and intelligent women behind the current feminist movement. Gaining a better grasp of the logic behind certain individual fights under the push for feminism might better help me get an understanding of why feminism has evolved to where it is today.

I’m working with Sanctuary for Families this summer, a non-profit directed at primarily reducing gender violence and helping survivors of domestic violence. I don’t know too much about the organization yet, but from my short first impressions, every single member that I talked to are some of the most passionate, down-to-earth, kind, and helpful people I have ever met. I love asking them questions about how things work and why they work that way, and every question I ask gets at least a half hour detailed response. The teams I’m working with never get tired of answering. They genuinely care about the work they do, the organization they work for, and passing on crucial knowledge to a later generation. I might be wrong, but I can’t see this as being the case for an intern at a for-profit company. If the intern asks too many questions, I feel like the supervisor might try to start speeding up replies and finishing up their job because they aren’t paid to be a teacher.

This kind of care can be expected of non-profits (although, my experience is super limited, I just rationally deduced that in my head). The employees are not working at a non-profit for the sake of money. They could probably care less about their monthly paycheck. It seems like the work they do, in these large non-profits with more administrational duties, is pretty similar to the work they would do in the corporate sphere, but, with the nature of the non-profit, they likely earn much less. This difference is interesting because a lot of times, America is characterized as this cutthroat, capitalist, profit-seeking, individualist country. But if you dig a little deeper, people like the Sanctuary staff probably could not care less about their own profits. Their sole purpose, joy, and contentment from life comes from genuinely helping other people, even if they aren’t directly involved. They know their work, whether fundraising or communications, further down the line will help someone fleeing an abusive relationship.

That is so beautiful.

The non-profit sphere astounds me. Altruism is something that, in my life, I have been very scarcely exposed to. If someone was helping their community, it was for volunteer hours that they could log and report to get into a top college. However, genuinely helping just for the sake of helping, with no personal benefit in mind, besides the satisfaction of living a fulfilled life in the service of others is (honestly, I am embarrassed to say this) so foreign, but so darn refreshing. We live in a world filled with other people. What is the point of just living for yourself and making the most money possible? Making someone’s life a little less difficult has so much more meaning.

“Me too!”–A Cry out Against the Patriarchy

Link

“Me too”– Ever since movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault, those two simple words have become a rallying cry. All together—women, men, and everyone in between—used it to share personal stories of sexual harassment and assault: stories that few previously believed or chose to share due to societal stigma against victims of sexual violence. The hashtag burned all over twitter after Alyssa Milano called out to other victims so that “we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” But the movement didn’t really start with Alyssa Milano. It started 10 years ago with Tarana Burke, a feminist activist against sexual assault. An interview with Ms. Burke reveals her story:

“For the next several minutes this child [I met at my camp] … struggled to tell me about her ‘stepdaddy’ or rather her mother’s boyfriend who was doing all sorts of monstrous things to her developing body. … I couldn’t help her release her shame, or impress upon her that nothing that happened to her was her fault. I could not find the strength to say out loud the words that were ringing in my head over and over again as she tried to tell me what she had endured. … I was horrified…I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper … me too” (Tarana Burke, “#MeToo: An activist, a little girl and the heartbreaking origin of ‘Me too’”).

#MeToo movement: These 7 facts show its impact - Vox

Burke’s interview with CNN was released along with shocking statistics—one in every three women in the United States has been sexually assaulted and one in every five report complete or attempted rape, while 1 in 71 men have been raped (“National Institute Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report”).

Countries with the most rape cases | India News - Times of ...

Psychologist Dr. Noam Shpancer provides some “insight” on these statistics: in popular media “the male sex drive was considered so explosive and animalistic as to render men unable to control themselves when stimulated… Men are considered dominant to a woman’s submissive… This justifies men’s efforts to control… how [women] dress” as certain clothing is said to invite sexual advances (Noam Shpancer). But why? Why is it that women are “naturally submissive” in bed? Why do certain outfits indicate that women “want rape”? Why must women conceal their sexual desires where men seemingly fling their wang around freely? Why are only girls who had a lot of sexual activity referred to as sluts, where boys who “got with lots of girls” are praised?

Frustrated with these dichotomies, I began working at the Teen Link Crisis Response call-center, training for the Durham Crisis Response Center hospital team for victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse, and volunteering to teach young teens about sexual assault and reproductive health with Orange County Rape Crisis Center. As a Gender Studies minor, I took GSF classes like the course “Work, Sex, and Power” and “The Subject Embodied”, to deepen my understanding of historical context, ethics, and social justice issues. Through these lenses, I formed my identity as a feminist.

My feminism is about supporting, uplifting, and empowering others. It’s is about learning that all people don’t experience societal standards in the same way. It’s about listening and understanding that society treats women of different races, sizes, gender identities, physical abilities differently and being mindful of that. Working at OCRCC, Teen Link, and DCRC has made me aware that many people cannot easily access resources related to their reproductive and mental health. This awareness motivated me to give back to gender violence survivors, women who have been deprived of their right to their own bodies through blocked access to abortion, and families/workers who have trouble accessing the resources that I take for granted.

Choices Women's Medical Center

That is why I will be working at Choices Women’s Medical Center this summer. I plan to do mostly social media work, including writing blog posts and newsletters for Choices as well as upkeeping their website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Through these media platforms, I hope to not only have deep Pro-Choice conversations with the employees of Choices but also to learn more about how modern organizations continue to fight our war against the patriarchy (not to mention… I am a HUGE Merle Hoffman fan!).

So, why am I interested? Because I want to engage in more rigorous discussions on feminist frameworks. I want to uncover answers to the questions that plague me. I want to keep seeking social justice against the patriarchy. And, I want to continue to make empowering other women a priority.

Big name, bigger voice

Hi, my name is Ladasia and I’m a rising senior studying Public Policy and Global Health. I identify as a Black Woman, sister, daughter, feminist, mental health advocate and Christian. My identity definitely shapes my walk through life and my goals. I grew up as one of the girls with the name teachers could never pronounce (I don’t think it’s that difficult) and learning not to take up space because of feeling that being black and having a “black sounding” name already drew too much attention. This experience meant never correcting people or allowing them to shorten me and my name. Learning to feel confident in taking space and using my voice to speak out against the social injustices I seen since my childhood is my life-long goal.

This summer I am working with Legal Momentum, a nonprofit organization for the legal education and advocacy of women’s rights. I’m specifically working on a project for their National Judicial Education Program where I will update a teen dating violence curriculum. I’m really excited because this information will be provided to judges and made accessible online for all. Working on this project will allow me to promote advocacy and awareness at a large-scale. This effort is important to me and my plan to dedicate my life to increasing outcomes of justice and equality for underserved communities, especially low-income, people of color.

Going into this internship I have questioned how the process of research translates to policy and what roles are needed to see policy change in matters of social justice. I am grateful to be learning about policy and research through my courses in school, but I believe real world insight is unmatchable. My biggest concern is about my capabilities since I don’t have experience working in social justice and this project is extremely important. But, I am learning that I cannot fear being a part of amazing projects when given the opportunity.

This summer I hope to gain insight into the work of nonprofit organizations and law environments promoting social justice. I also hope to gain some experience in social justice so I can better determine what type of graduate program to pursue.  I know what I want to spend my professional career doing broadly but I need to narrow it down soon. I am excited to learn with Legal Momentum.

 

Reflecting on the Moment

The evening of May 29th I sat in my living room with my mom, watching CNN as a Black Lives Matter protest became violent in downtown Atlanta. I watched as Atlanta landmarks began to crumble. The CNN building was crowded with protestors met by police as cars around Centennial Olympic Park were set ablaze. Just seven miles away from the chaos, I was sheltered at home with my parents and my brother. 

Just a year ago…graduating from Atlanta Girls’ School in our suffragette-esque white dresses (I’m on the far right)

I did not grow up in Atlanta, but moved here at the beginning of high school where I attended a local, private all girls’ school. I was incredibly fortunate to have had the experience of single gender education. For one, my school was very small (only 35 people in my graduating class!) and it gave me a close knit and welcoming community to join after moving to Georgia. But it also allowed me to break out of my shell. I was given the opportunity to join student government, lead clubs, and teach classes, all initiatives I would not have had the confidence to undertake had I attended a larger co-ed school. I was also introduced to new areas of social justice, and I became more interested in issues surrounding girls’ education and women’s healthcare.

My positive experiences at an all girls’ school are ultimately what inspired me to apply to the DukeEngage New York program and to work more in depth with women’s issues. My educational upbringing seems especially relevant to the work that I will be doing this summer at The Lower Eastside Girls Club (LEGC) of NY. I am very excited to work with an organization that sees the power in all women’s education and continues to provide support for their students during the current covid-19 crisis.

However, given the circumstances of the country, my excitement is met with deep reflection. The protests in Atlanta and many other cities around the nation brought the tragic realities of police brutality, unconscious bias, and systemic racism into the spotlight. Like many others, I am coming to terms with the fact that I reaped benefits from a system that oppresses the Black community. Even though I am not white, I have great privilege in my family’s socioeconomic class, the primarily white communities in which I grew up, and the education I was afforded.

I am taking this time of unrest as an opportunity to educate myself so that I can become a better informed citizen and so that I can better understand a large part of the student community I will be working with at LEGC. Some resources I’ve found particularly eye-opening in the past couple of weeks are: Hasan Minhaj’s call to the Asian community on Patriot Act, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Roxane Gay’s Remember, No One Is Coming to Save Us, and Stacey Abrams’s opinion piece in the New York Times about the importance of voting.

While education is not the ultimate solution to the nation’s deep rooted issues, it certainly is one pathway towards empowerment. Over the next eight weeks I hope to fully immerse myself in LEGC’s mission to connect girls to successful futures, using discussions of current events to guide my work. 

Once a Moxie…

One week after the completion of the Moxie program I’m sitting here, wondering if this past summer was a dream. It’s not so much that my experience in New York was fantastical, but it felt like an entirely different world from the one I’m exposed to on a regular basis.

As I’ve gotten back into my routine at home, I’ve had conversations with friends and family about all that I encountered and learned on my trip. And having these conversations made me realize, how little I, and the people in my life, reflect on social issues from the unique perspective of the Moxie program. I’ve been sending my Dad nonstop articles on universal basic income and finding research on increased wages for workers funded by money spent on stock buybacks. I find my opinion of the news I read colored in a different way than it was prior to my eight weeks working for Legal Momentum. I go immediately to read news about Supreme Court decisions now, and have been looking at current events from a perspective of the impact they have on women’s’ rights more particularly.

At the same time, I find myself being more passive day to day in a way we couldn’t be in New York. The 9-to-5 schedule is something I not only got accustomed to but began to enjoy thoroughly. On top of that, the talks we went to, the films we watched, the weekly discussions we had and personal talks with each other made me live life in a reflective manner that pushed me. Working at Legal Momentum allowed me to focus my desire to do something to improve my surrounding community. The Moxie program supported that work and made me think critically about every step I was taking. I’m somewhat nervous that I will start to lose that as I move on to the next stages in life from here. But as I study abroad this coming semester in Paris and engage in a new culture, I want to not only be fascinated by history but be critical of everything that I encounter. And I want to do this when I come back to Duke, as well.

I know that I will keep in touch with my fellow Moxies (and honorary Moxie, my dear friend/mentor Lena Barsky) for long after this summer. I was happily surprised just last Thursday with a video call from Lena, who, along with the other office interns, wanted to say hi and update me on everything happening at Legal Momentum. It’s grant season — so there’s a lot of stress and hard work happening there. The Moxies have been discussing when we’re going to have our first dinner back at Duke at the end of August. It’s because of these things that I know this past summer in New York was in fact real, and the lessons of how to approach life as I move forward will stay with me even as details fade away and I continue to learn new information and experience alternative perspectives.

Thank you so much to Ada and Shannan for facilitating and enriching my life in such an impactful, life-altering way. Once a Moxie, always a Moxie. 

Unapologetic Moxie

2 months is quite a while away from home, but as soon as we hit the halfway point, the Moxie program flew by. Before I knew it, we wrote our last reading reflection, had our last seminar, went to our last enrichment activity, and it was my last official day at GGE.

I will admit that, as Moxie came to a close, I was itching to finally go home. I was sort of over the “New York rush” and was definitely fed up with the polluted, congested air making my skin break out. By the 6th week, I was ready to relax, see my parents, and eat home-cooked food.

But, now that I am home, I am realizing that my experience with Moxie was a special one that can’t be duplicated anywhere else or with anyone else. Since I’ve been back in Boston, I went straight back to working at my old summer camp. I’ve heard young people call their peers “gay” a billion times as if it were an insult. I’ve heard the boys say, “the girls should leave the pool 10 minutes earlier than us because girls take forever in the bathroom.” I’ve even heard campers say that they once wanted to be construction workers until they realized those were “boy jobs.” It has taken a lot in me to hold my tongue. But, I am in a conflicted position where, as a camp counselor, I can’t openly share my views with the young people. I can’t teach them that they shouldn’t use people’s identities as teasing mechanisms or that they don’t have to limit themselves to societal standards and gender binaries because who knows what their families support at home. It is a sensitive line that I can’t really cross.

However, Moxies don’t hold back. We constantly questioned theories and always challenged societal norms. It wasn’t until I returned to my small reality that I realized the Moxie program gave me the privilege of being around driven, change seekers who were always open to hearing different opinions about the world we live in. There were no boundaries. There were no lines.  I had the freedom to discuss stigmas and political tension. I was free to be curious. Being able to talk about women’s rights without a worry in the world of who is around is an opportunity that I will cherish forever.

Maybe my summer camp will, one day, add social justice classes to the schedule instead of devoting summers to solely sports and solving mysteries of mythical monsters designed to entertain the children. Maybe they will, one day, discipline campers through restorative justice practices rather than writing incident reports. It’s amazing to see that last summer, I didn’t see anything wrong with the way my camp ran. Ever since Moxie, however, my eyes have been unlocked to always seek change and improvements, for the better, no matter how perfect I thought it was before.