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Prioritizing Ethnic Studies in our education curriculum is an essential step toward decolonizing and rectifying an education system that for too long has refused to serve the needs of people of color.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Third World Liberation Front Strikes, the longest-running student-led strikes in the history of the United States. These strikes, which were begun by working class students of color at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley,, marked the first time that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students demanded an education that actually reflected their own histories–as told from their own perspectives. Before this time, few if any schools offered courses that featured the histories and cultures of BIPOC in the United States. If BIPOC people or histories were mentioned at all, they were usually taught from the perspective of a mainstream, Eurocentric curriculum–meaning that BIPOC were mentioned as an aside, or as marginal characters in a larger historical narrative that centered on white people and their histories. For much of U.S. history, for example, basic knowledge of Greek and Latin was a general admissions requirement at major universitiesa blatant example of racist policies at work in the public education system that explicitly worked to the disadvantage of students of color. Explicitly or implicitly, women and students of color were also barred from entering the university at all.

As someone who also lost a dramatic amount of weight over a fairly short period of time, I find Gabby’s words almost revolutionary.

Like many, I first became aware of Gabourey Sidibe when she played the title character in Lee Daniels’ 2009 film Precious, an adaptation of the urban novel “Push” by Sapphire. I was stunned to learn it was her debut acting role, and was moved by the compassion and humanity she brought to a character who would likely experience neither in the real world. I remember being impressed with her talent, but doubtful that she would be offered many other mainstream roles. Hollywood is all about profit, and the industry is only just beginning to admit that Black women bring value to the industry. The Black women who are given screen time must be seen as palatable to broad audiences, meaning that fat, dark-skinned Black girls are often excluded. Gabby defied these odds though. After Precious, she took on a variety of roles ranging from comedy to horror. In fact, I struggle to think of another role where her weight was central or even tangential to the character’s development. Despite our society’s obsession with policing women’s bodies, Gabby remained as confident as ever, reminding us that such criticisms often reflect our own insecurities.

The power of Janet Mock rests in her accessibility and relatability.

Goddesses must bless Amazon’s algorithms because in late spring 2014 Janet Mock’s bounteous afro halo was featured in a little thumbnail picture of related interests thanks to my previous purchases. In her first book, "Redefining Realness," I gained a mentor who ushered me into the early days of my transition in the nascent dawn of my recovery from addiction. I desperately needed the guidance. In addition to hormonal direction, it was the anecdotes which chimed with my personal experiences and illuminated the path I was on with familiarity. [caption id="attachment_46780" align="aligncenter" width="263"] Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More By Janet Mock[/caption] A fountain of veracity and authenticity – Mock spoke truth to power in a way that brought sunshine into my life – the snap of her intellect and an almighty wit was matched by the snatched image on her book cover. A vision in skin tight coral, Janet is the strong feminist trans goddess promising me with the assuredness of Olivia Pope, the determination of Maxine Waters and tenacity of Tina Knowles that it will all get much better– and soon. In her newest book, "Surpassing Certainty," Janet Mock claims her throne as the trans advocate and ultimate possibility model for trans women of color the world over. Her second memoir is a work of life writing dripping in sex positivity and a testament to sex worker inclusive feminism. The gaze of the uninitiated reader is averted from the usual topics of a medical and social transition. Instead, the trans-ness of the author was woven together like a tapestry of her life as a whole. [caption id="attachment_46779" align="aligncenter" width="265"] Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me By Janet Mock[/caption] Enshrined in the uniqueness of her story, are precise and revealing descriptions of the hot messiness of adult emotional life fueled and defined by love. The epic nature of her first love for her husband Troy, is complimented by a pursuit for meaning across state lines. There are many characters who help our heroine along the way into a popping media career peppered with pop-culture and seasoned with the sadness of too-late realizations. We are schooled as to how to escape the weighty burdens of unconscious privilege, pretty privilege, good hair privilege, cis-passing privilege. Janet Mock just owns the deck that she was dealt and it makes her more likeable. Her self-awareness promises that our own honesty can liberate us too.

Meagan Hockaday. Yvette Smith. Alexia Christian. Yvette Henderson. Shelly Fray. Sandra Bland. Charleena Lyles. Ava Barrin.

You may have heard of some of these names, but not all of them. But why exactly is that? In the last few years, members and leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement have been working tirelessly to raise awareness and action behind the injustice plaguing the Black community. But while the movement's actions have resulted in us knowing the names of many victims of police brutality, misogynoir still plays a role in which victims are seen as worthy of our attention. This isn't the fault of the Black Lives Matter movement itself, which works tirelessly to fight for justice of all Black people. In fact, this is because of something much older and far more rooted within the Black community and non-Black community at large. It is the specific kinds of misogyny and hatred of Black women and femmes that center on factors beyond their Blackness.

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