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April 2010 Archives

My Ms. Magazine Experience

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Dear Readers,
It's been a while since I've written more regularly.  My spring resolution is to stick with two entries a week, no matter how short--to keep connected to you.  Thanks as well to your lovely replies to my posts.  


Earlier this spring I was chosen as a Ms. Magazine Feminist Scholar.  What does this mean?  
Ms. Magazine launched this program because they see a need for feminist scholarship to reach a wider audience. Those of us who are in academia often find ourselves writing our articles and books which only end up being read by other academics.  This is a chance to translate our work to the mainstream public for the purpose of change!

I'm one of 24 Feminist Scholars chosen this year.  Over one hundred academics applied across the country. As one of the scholars, my charge is to write an article (and possibly more in the future) for Ms. Magazine.  For the past month, we've been meeting weekly via "webinars," learning all about the history of Ms. Magazine, how articles are queried (the query letters are called "pitches"), and the types of articles Ms. publishes.  They also (in the mail) sent us a number of past magazines so we could study and read the articles published in the last five years. In addition to learning all about magazine writing, it's been great getting to know the other feminist scholars through their research and their "pitches."  Topics include women judges and the struggles regarding judicial appointments, critiques regarding the film "Precious," how children's toy companies market products for girls such as The American Girl Doll, pesticides and the environment . . . 

I decided to connect my article to my present research on Latinas on the Great Plains/Midwest, specifically those working in the meatpacking industry.  Among the many Latina immigrants who are here, there are groups of Maya women who have formed community and have organized themselves to support and keep each other strong. These women challenge the stereotype that immigrants are helpless individuals who drain our resources and/or are more of a problem rather than a contributing member to our communities.  In actuality, "Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year and receive only $5 billion in welfare.  Without their contributions to the public treasury, the economy would suffer enormous losses" (click here for quote citation and more information!).

On Friday, April 23rd, Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation that requires all immigrants to carry their immigration papers at all times and also gives police/government authorities directives to search anyone who they may suspect is undocumented--racial profiling as law. The law also considers undocumented workers criminals (there is more).  

The United States has a very long (centuries long) history of fearing/hating immigrants (Irish, Italians, Jews, etc.). And when there is a recession, the immigrant becomes the scapegoat for the public's economic frustrations.  My article focuses on a specific immigrant group and how they are surviving despite these difficult and painful political events and societal misconceptions.  

In May, the Ms. Magazine Feminist Scholars will be gathering in Los Angeles to workshop their pieces. I'm sure by then, there will be more to add regarding what is happening in Arizona.  

Artyom Savelyev & Adoption . . .

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Earlier this month, an adopted boy was placed on a plane bound for Russia.  In his pocket was a note from his American "mother" that explained she was not willing to take care of him anymore and announced that she relinquished her parental responsibilities.  There has been a lot of coverage on this topic: the Russian government threatening to halt any adoptions out of the country; the U.S. government pleading to avoid a halt; the U.S. blaming the Russian adoption system; Russia blaming the U.S.; new information about many other Russian adoptees being mistreated or killed in the U.S. (click here for more info).  


Adoption is an ambitious journey for those (child and parents) who are involved and especially difficult when individuals/couples are not prepared --- have not thought out all the various aspects of transracial adoption.  Dr. John Raible, an expert on transracial adoption and a professor at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln writes and teaches on this subject. John has really helped me think about the many-layered aspects to adoption.  If one seeks to adopt a child from another race, another country--how willing is that parent going to be in immersing herself/himself within that child's racial and ethnic heritage?  If the adopted child is Black or Asian and the family is white, how willing is that family to move to a Black or Asian neighborhood so that the parents are forced to work through the discomfort of being the minority rather than the child.  These are just two of many questions Dr. Raible raises with individuals/couples who are seeking to adopt.  

I invite you to read John's blog (click here!).  It's so important to think through all the complexities involved in transracial adoption.  I am thinking of little Artyom Savelyev and thinking about all other adopted children who fear that any minute, they may be placed on a plane, taken away, abandoned all over again.