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BBC: ‘Rest In Power’.

I heard about this book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” when Trayvon Martin’s parents appeared as guests on a recent episode of “The Daily Show”. They’d taken their story, which started when Trayvon was born, and put it into print for all to read.

And I immediately added my name to the reserve list at the library. It took a few months for my name to be at the top of the list, but it finally happened, and I read a majority of this book in one day. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Trayvon Martin’s parents take readers beyond the news cycle with an account only they could give: the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement.

On a February evening in 2012, in a small town in central Florida, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home with candy and a can of juice in hand and talking on the phone with a friend when a fatal encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watchman ended his young life. The watchman was briefly detained by the police and released. Trayvon’s father—a truck driver named Tracy—tried to get answers from the police but was shut down and ignored. Trayvon’s mother, a civil servant for the city of Miami, was paralyzed by the news of her son’s death and lost in mourning, unable to leave her room for days. But in a matter of weeks, their son’s name would be spoken by President Obama, honored by professional athletes, and passionately discussed all over traditional and social media. And at the head of a growing nationwide campaign for justice were Trayvon’s parents, who—driven by their intense love for their lost son—discovered their voices, gathered allies, and launched a movement that would change the country.

Five years after his tragic death, Travyon Martin’s name is still evoked every day. He has become a symbol of social justice activism, as has his hauntingly familiar image: the photo of a child still in the process of becoming a young man, wearing a hoodie and gazing silently at the camera. But who was Trayvon Martin, before he became, in death, an icon? And how did one black child’s death on a dark, rainy street in a small Florida town become the match that lit a civil rights crusade?

Rest in Power, told through the compelling alternating narratives of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, answers, for the first time, those questions from the most intimate of sources. It’s the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the cruel unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power, and from tragedy and senselessness to meaning. 

While reading this book made my heart break all over again for Trayvon, for his family, his friends, and for the live he didn’t get to live, it opened my eyes to a lot of new details I didn’t know before: like just how secretive the Sanford Police Department was to his family; and how many of the “facts” in the case simply don’t add up.

A friend of my questioned why I was reading this book. For one, I am very sensitive to racial injustice, and it is one of the topics that gets me most fired up because to me, it is very obvious that we are surrounded by institutional racism, and I feel it is my job as a woman with white privilege to speak out against what I know is wrong.

But I also know that even at his core, Trayvon is innocent. He was victim-blamed, despite not being armed at all, his school records were subpoenaed even though he was a minor, and many people talked about his past – maybe he stole this or maybe he smoked weed. But walking while black is not a crime, and he died for it.

I am very thankful for Trayvon’s parents for having the courage to write this book, along with the bravery to continue to fight for justice for their son, and for many, many others who have fallen in the name of unjustified violence. Although we still have a very long way to go, the conversation is forever changed, and I know Trayvon will never be forgotten.

I absolutely would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you didn’t pay attention to this case (or any that followed). The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “My Year With Eleanor” by Noelle Hancock.

I hope you have a fun, fantastic weekend – make it a great one, and do something good for someone else! I’ll see you all on the flipside!

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Exploring volunteer opportunities…

Volunteering: chew on that!

Volunteering: chew on that!

So… yeah, if you were here yesterday I had to share the news that I’m without a volunteer position (get the scoop here) for the first time in about five years. This means that I’m currently on the hunt for a new volunteer opportunity, and I know there’s lots of choices out there. It’s time to weigh my options:

Saving the Whales or Polar Bears

I boycotted Sea World and zoos years ago – if you haven’t seen “Blackfish“, you must (FREE TILLY!) – but I know there’s more that can be done. I found an article, that offers 10 ways to help save the whales! Whew. A big part of it is actually getting into recycling, which I admit, I’ve never been good at. So, maybe this is something I should look into a little further.

I also looked at the Green Peace website, and found that (although I am a Clinton supporter), her Super PAC is being funded by corporate polluters. There is a pre-written email you can fill out to pledge that you will reject fossil fuel money. Check it out here.

Now, I know that you’ve seen those commercials about the polar bears. I don’t really know how I can help save the whales or polar bears from Austin, but perhaps it’s worth a shot?! According to Polar Bears International, polar bears could be extinct by 2050 because of greenhouse gases! That is within our lifetime, folks! The website notes Earth Day (which is April 22), and there are a few simple things you can do to help – the list is here.

Non-GMO/Anti-Monsanto

Bye GMOs.

Bye GMOs.

For the last year, I’ve been making a bigger effort to eat organic food, or at the very least, non-GMO food. I am also very much against companies that support Monsanto (like fucking Starbucks) and/or companies that are against GMO labeling.

Whether or not you care about what genetically modified organisms and/or Monsanto-made pesticides have planned for the funeral of your guts, it’s also worth noting that any farming, other than organic farming, is bad for our environment. So, if you’re hoping things are as beautiful down the road, you might want to consider going organic.

I live in a city full of hipsters and granolas (no offense, I love it), hell, this is where Whole Foods was born. So I know the non-GMO cause is huge here. But I actually found a list of organizations (here it is) you can join in every state!

However, I am almost terrified of joining any groups because I know the passion is just going to be off the charts… but I will continue to skip on Starbucks and buy organic.

Other Environmental Causes

I know there’s a slew of other environmental issues I could volunteer for. Aside from helping the polar bears, Green Peace is a good general environmental fund to donate to, because they are always fighting against climate change. I found the website for Friends of the Environment, and they also have several different causes that help different areas of the environment, including climate and energy, food and technology, and the ocean and forests.  And finally, there’s the Rain Forest Alliance that promotes green living, and sustainable…well, everything. Plus, the pictures of all the cute animals really just do it for me.

#LoveUp

#LoveUp

#LoveUp

I can’t talk about volunteering and charity without mentioning my favorite radio DJs’ charity! From their website:

JohnJay & Rich have helped thousands of children and families in need for nearly 15 years by providing food, clothing, toys, basic needs and experiences primarily during the holiday season through their Christmas Wish Program. In 2007 they formed their 501 c 3 non-profit organization The Johnjay & Rich Care for Kids Foundation and have most recently placed an emphasis on helping the nearly 400,000 kids living in the Foster Care System in The United States. #LoveUp is an accidental movement started by Johnjay Van Es. Auto correct changed his friend’s text from “love it” to “Love Up” and the phenomenon was born! Johnjay and Rich think #LoveUp will be a great way to remind people to pay it forward and spread the love!

So, you can simply buy a cute #LoveUp shirt or even sweatpants, and the money goes toward The JohnJay & Rich Care for Kids Foundation. Score!

Women’s Rights

As a woman, of course I care about my rights, and those of other women around the globe. I found a website for a foundation that focuses on women in poverty around the globe, which is good, but I think I like the idea of something a little more local.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is a group of feminist activists right in the United States, and they really work for true equality for women. One of the causes they contributed to was the “Dirty 100” – fighting the 100 employers who refuse to let their women employees access reproductive healthcare as part of their insurance.

Domestic Abuse

This was the most difficult thing to find information about. Of course, there are several groups and causes around domestic abuse you can donate to, but I was looking for volunteer opportunities in my local area. I found SAFE: Stop Abuse For Everyone, but it mainly focuses on children affected in these situations. No offense to the kids, but I’m more interested in helping the women who are affected. Turns out, there are several women’s shelters around Austin that are always looking for volunteers. This may be a good choice for me.

…So, there are some options out there. And BTW, I kind of hand to laugh when I made this list; if you didn’t know I was a liberal before, it’s kind of obvious now! Ha! In any case, if you’ve got other causes you think I should look into, please let me know! In the meantime, I think I’m going to buy some #LoveUp apparel…