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UCLA Center for the Study of Women Presents:

GENDER, RACE, AND AGE BEHIND BARS:

IMPACTS OF LONG-TERM SENTENCING

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

12:15 PM – 1:30 PM

RSVP: csw.ucla.edu/behindbars

Join us for a rare opportunity to hear from two formerly-incarcerated women activists on the compounded adverse impacts of long-term sentencing on the elderly, women, transgender people, and people of color in prison and beyond.

 

 

 

 

Jane Dorotik was incarcerated for almost 20 years on a wrongful conviction. She was released in April 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, and her conviction was reversed in July 2020.

Romarilyn Ralston was incarcerated for 23 years, and is now the Program Director of Project Rebound at the California State University-Fullerton. Both are organizers with California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP).

Dorotik and Ralston will be in dialogue with LA County Public Defender, Ricardo Garcia, and moderator Alicia Virani, the Gilbert Foundation Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the UCLA School of Law. This event is hosted by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, and co-hosted by the Criminal Justice Program at the UCLA School of Law and the LA County Public Defender’s Office.

            

 

 

 

 

Read CSW’s 2020 Policy Briefs, “Confronting the Carceral State, Reimagining Justice, ” featuring briefs written by Jane Dorotik and Romarilyn Ralston at csw.ucla.edu/policy-briefs.

Free and open to the public.

Register for the Zoom Webinar at csw.ucla.edu/behindbars.

This activity is approved for 1 hour of general MCLE credit.

UCLA School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.

                                

 

Left image: The inaugural public event hosted by the Black Feminism Initiative, held in February, featured a conversation between local reproductive justice advocate Kimberly Durdin, left, and UCLA graduate student Ariel Hart.
Top right image: Audience at the event.
Bottom right from left: Kali Tambree and Jaimie Crumley, student co-coordinators of the Black Feminism Initiative.

The UCLA Newsroom recently spotlighted the UCLA Black Feminism Initiative, which was launched by the Center for the Study of Women in 2019 under the leadership of Dr. Sarah Haley. Its mission is to support, develop and perpetuate Black feminist scholarship and ideas among the campus community. It also offers mutual aid for the interdisciplinary approach and community-engaged research of its graduate students. Dr. Haley believes this initiative will make higher education and UCLA more aware of the work of Black feminists of the past, present, and future.

“In the current cultural moment, Black feminism has a lot to teach us all about institutionalized modes of care, and institutionalized modes of harm,” Dr. Haley is quoted as saying about the Black Feminism Initiative. To read the fully story written by Jessica Wolf, click HERE.

 

Click HERE to learn more about the Black Feminism Initiative and click HERE to learn more about the Center for the Study of Women.

 

In 2019, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) collected Policy Briefs on the theme “Confronting the Carceral State, Reimagining Justice.” The call for submissions was developed by CSW Director Grace Hong and the Black Feminism Initiative Director Sarah Haley. The review committee included Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law), Amy Ritterbusch (UCLA Department of Social Welfare, Luskin School of Public Affairs), Stephanie Davidson (UCLA School of Law), and Dylan Rodríguez (UC Riverside Department of Media and Cultural Studies).

Six briefs were collected from UC graduate students and system-impacted individuals:

Editor: Katja Antoine, Program and Research Developer, CSW

To download the complete set of policy briefs, click HERE.

To learn more about CSW’s policy briefs, click HERE.

LA Social Science presents its first “Summer Take-Over” featuring Dr. Sarah Haley and Dr. Grace Hong who joined the e-forum for an in-depth discussion about abolition and feminism.

Interview Chapters:

1:50 – Abolition as a concept and its importance to feminism

7:08 – What feminism teaches us about care

11:13 – The concept of home and domesticity is important to a discussion of the carceral state

17:45 – The work of women of color in feminism and some of the questions posed about life or death and relationality

27:12 – Why the U.S. expanded prison systems in the 70’s into the 80’s

32:22 – Contributions of Black Feminism on the carceral state

36:56 – Going back to the meaning of abolition

Dr. Sarah Haley is an Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Gender Studies and Advisory Committee Chair and Director of the UCLA Black Feminism Initiative with the Center for the Study of Women (CSW). Dr. Grace Hong is a Professor in the Department of Gender Studies and the Department of Asian American Studies, and Director of the Center for the Study of Women (CSW).

By Bryanna Ruiz and Amado Castillo, Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) Public Policy Fellows

The UCLA Center for the Study of Women held its 30th Annual Graduate Student Thinking Gender Conference in early March, in order to honor Women’s History Month. The annual conference was co-sponsored by various research centers and organizations, including the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI). The conference focused on feminist, queer, trans, identities and anti-carceral, transnational, and intersectional approaches to sexual violence. In light of the #MeToo movement and other movements aiming to combat sexual violence, this conference proved necessary in order to discuss approaches to justice and restoration that center the needs of communities of color.

The conference, “Thinking Gender: Sexual Violence as Structural Violence Feminist Visions of Transformative Justice,” centered on the work of graduate students who studied sexual abuse cases in different contexts, including within communities in Uganda and Latinx communities. One of the first panels to open up the conference was “Extractive Economies and Sexual Violence,” moderated by LPPI faculty expert Dr. Leisy Abrego, who offered critical insight into the research papers presented by asking more on the application of the theory towards the subjects that were studied.

The conference diverged from the traditional interpretation of justice. Rather, the conference created a space for discourse that advocates for a transformative and restorative interpretation of justice that acknowledges the different identities that are most vulnerable to sexual violence. This radical perspective works to center survivors and questions forms of justice that perpetuate existing inequalities among different communities – an important point of reflection to carry past this year’s Women’s History Month.

Laura Lievano-Karim, a UCLA graduate student from the department of Social Welfare, presented her paper which was co-written with LPPI faculty expert Dr. Amy Ritterbusch entitled, “On Street Survival, Autonomous Bodies and Structures of Oppression: The Messiness of Naming and Framing Violence Against Street-Connected Girls in Uganda.” The project was led by researchers who had previously lived in Uganda and came from similar backgrounds as the test subjects. The researchers had autonomy over many of the variables involved in the project and utilized their insight and experience in order to enhance the research Lievano-Karim’s paper focused on what, patterns could be observed from girls involved in the sex industry in Uganda by studying their lived-in experiences through interviews. Lievano-Karim invited the audience to think beyond the two categories of sex work and sex exploitation when listening to the narratives of the girls from Uganda. Lievano-Karim said, “We identified three discursive patterns and each pattern followed a trend in the ways that sexual violence is discussed by the participants. This category should not be understood as isolated or ecstatic, they overlap one with the other. This highlights the complexities found in the lived experiences of these girls”.

Another graduate student from UCLA, Magally Miranda from the Chicana/o Studies department, focused on finding alternative ways to tackle sexual abuse among communities of color, specifically within the Latinx community. Miranda presented her paper titled, “Illegal Aliens” | Latina Feminists: Structural Vulnerability and the Battle Against Workplace Sexual Violence at Koch Poultry in Mississippi.” Miranda began her presentation by displaying a picture of two Latinas who witnessed many family members, friends, and coworkers being detained by ICE at Koch Poultry in Mississippi. The image depicted the fear and emotion among the Latinx community after Koch Poultry, which predominantly employed Latinxs, was raided by ICE agents. This became the largest known workplace raid by ICE in modern U.S. history and was a form of retaliatory violence and structural sexual violence, in that it was initiated by the state due to continuous workplace violation lawsuits made by female employees.

“As of the time that this paper was written, factory owners had received no more than a slap on the wrist for their involvement in hiring undocumented workers. Instead…workers were the ones who wore the brunt of the attacks and were systematically demonized, apprehended, and inflicted with trauma,” said Miranda as she opened up her presentation. Miranda went on to discuss the work abuse suffered by many of the workers who were forced to perform the same task hundreds of times during the day. The analysis of the testimonies conducted showed that many women employed by the factory, particularly Latinas, suffered sexual abuse during their shifts. One worker, who identified as Latina, admitted that she was groped during her shift and that when her husband, who also worked for the company, attempted to intervene, he was beaten by his employers. Latinxs, in particular, were the workers that suffered physical and emotional abuse by their employers at the factory. Miranda noted that the large scale ICE raid occurred after a Mississippi judge ruled that the company owed immigrant Latina women 3.7 million dollars in damages.

The Thinking Gender Conference created an interdisciplinary discourse surrounding structural sexual violence. The conference put researchers from around the world in conversation, which allowed them to share the diversity of thought embedded within their research. Although their research varied depending on their community of focus and their own lived experiences, they all shared the same goal in utilizing their research to address the different ways that structural violence projects itself in our world.

Now that this year’s Women’s History Month has ended, we are asked to continue reflecting, beyond the month of March, on how to tackle structural violence and approach justice in ways that acknowledge communities of color and those most vulnerable.

A Conversation with Dr. Beth Ribet, Co-Director and Co-Founder of Repair and UCLA Lecturer in Gender Studies and Disability Studies

By Lara Drasin

TOMORROW, September 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM in UCLA’s Young Research Library conference room, Repair, a nonprofit organization engaged in research, education, and community-level advocacy regarding health challenges, health disparities and disabilities that result from social problems – along with co-sponsors the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) and the Positive Results Corporation – will present “Hope.” Hope will be the second of a seven-part series of events titled Transformation: Lectures, Conversations, and Stories About Healing and Social Action.” The other events include Resilience, Imagination, Clarity, Integrity, Trust and Solidarity, which Repair’s Dr. Beth Ribet says are all a part of the transformation process.

“We decided to run this series, really, just as something we thought was deeply needed by a lot of people – those we know, and those we don’t know – in Los Angeles,” said Ribet, who started Repair with co-director and co-founder Claudia Peña in 2014. “There is a lot of legitimate fear and concern about the state of our world, and of the nation, right now…  The messages we’re getting about our future are deeply disheartening, and I think there are so many of us who want to imagine how things could be different but are overwhelmed by that process. So the series is, in one sense, about creating a space for people to imagine social transformation.”

In describing the philosophy behind the event, Ribet stressed that the focus will be not just on each individual’s own healing process, but also the idea of healing as a collective process for the community.

“The themes of healing and social action are meant to be both personal and collective, as most very good things are,” Ribet said. “We think about healing as something that people need to do individually because there are so many reasons that we have to be traumatized, whether by family violence, poverty, racism, policing and incarceration, interpersonal violence, exhaustion, fatigue, or overwork. And so we wanted to focus on healing in a sense that a lot of us need, but also understand that we feel best individually when our communities are healing too. So we’re healing together.”

Ribet acknowledges that the term “community” can be defined in multiple ways. “One of the things that can be true about community,” she explained, “is that it’s the place where you find the people who affirm your reality and make it easier for you to be the person you need to be.”

This particular event, Hope, was named for what Ribet describes as an elemental part of the change-making process. “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t need more hope,” she said. Ribet explained that after one survives personal or political trauma, for transformation to take place they must be able to imagine that good things can and will happen, even if it seems impossible or hasn’t been something they have experienced in the past.

“Having hope makes it more likely that you will reach for the possibility [of things getting better],” Ribet said.

Attendees can expect an environment focused on sharing, listening and support on Thursday. Ribet will say a few words, followed by an introduction from Dr. Rachel Lee, Director of UCLA CSW, and then multiple storytellers will share their own experiences. Storytellers for “Hope” include:

Kandee Rochelle Lewis

Kandee Rochelle Lewis is the Executive Director of the Positive Results Corporation, and works to address trauma, teen dating violence, and domestic violence and sexual assault. Her awards and accolades include, but are not limited to the 2018 Hope Award in Education, 2017 “Woman of the Year” from the LA Commission on the Status of Women, and the Vanguard Award for most influential African-Americans in Los Angeles. She is also a founding Board Member for the South Los Angeles Homeless and Foster Care Collaborative.

Dr. Shawna Charles

Shawna Charles holds an MBA and a PhD in Clinical Psychology. As a coach, she identifies as an ‘ACTIONIST’, who motivates people to intentionally choose happiness. She is the creator and founder of ‘Think To Be Happy,’ and has more than ten years experiencing coaching and mentoring. Dr. Charles is a graduate of Howard University and has been recognize by the City of Los Angeles, University of Southern California, and New York Rescue Mission among other organizations, for her community work.

Anam Ella Durrani

Anam Ella Durrani is the founder of A.E.D. Designs, a successful made-to-order clothing line she established at the age of 16 years, while living in Karachi, Pakistan. She worked 14-18 hour days to launch and build the company and its brand, and helped to catalyze an influx of new Pakistani female designers, as her company achieved recognition and acclaim. She identifies becoming an entrepreneur as a teenage girl — in defiance of social taboos and constraints limiting and stigmatizing female independence — as her proudest accomplishment. She is the newest, and youngest member of the board at Repair, and is now the CEO of Durrani Investment Corporation in Los Angeles. As part of her philanthropic work, she is currently building a school for street children in Karachi.

“Storytelling and commitments to healing go way, way back in communities that have always needed to be about resistance,” Ribet said, “whether it’s to colonization, legacies of slavery, or systemic economic inequality, telling stories – preserving stories – is often part of how people who are subordinated or oppressed preserve history, socialize children and come together.”

The ethos behind this form of community healing is a constructive one, as Ribet says it helps further the process of reimagining the world in which we live. “We heal as individuals who care about social change not just to feel better, which is important in and of itself,” she explained, “but because we have to, in order to be there for each other, for our children, our parents, our dear friends, our community members, our faith-based and cultural based institutions. We don’t have much to give if we don’t heal, and if we aren’t intentional about creating spaces and resources that enable us to do that. When it shifts, then you start to see social mobilization that’s so much more powerful and sustainable.”

Over 20 co-sponsors have signed on to help promote the “Transformation” series.  Click here for more information and to RSVP for “Hope” — Part of Transformation: Lectures, Conversations and Storytelling about Healing and Social Action.

For more information about Repair and their work, and to join their mailing list, visit http://repairconnect.org/.

By Drew Westmoreland, MSPH, PhD

2018 Thinking Gender Coordinator

Thinking Gender, now in its 28th year, is an annual graduate student research conference organized by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) that features original student research on gender and sexuality. This year’s conference theme, Pre-existing Conditions, explored ongoing discussions around the connections between gender, health, and healthcare.

Academic graduate student research presentations—including panels and posters—have been the staples of past and present Thinking Gender conferences, highlighting research being done within UCLA and beyond. This year, however, we wanted to do something new, and we incorporated the first-ever Thinking Gender, Pre-existing Conditions Art Exhibition into our proceedings. This week-long exhibition was held in Kerckhoff Gallery from February 23rd to March 2nd and featured works that use artistic expression to further conversations about health and well-being. To celebrate this artistic exploration of health—and the successful completion of our first day of our conference—we invited presenters, faculty, students, and other guests to join us for an Art Reception and Film Screenings networking event on the evening of March 1.

We partnered with a number of UCLA organizations to extend this event’s local impact. The UCLA Art and Global Health Center kicked off the evening with a performance piece called Sexophonic Choir, which invited volunteers to vocalize lessons about sexual health. Then, they led us on an interactive art walk from the main conference venue at the UCLA Faculty Center to Kerckhoff Grand Salon and Gallery. At Kerckhoff, we were joined by our partners from the UCLA Cultural Affairs Commission who helped us curate the exhibit and connect with students across campus.

Our week-long exhibition included a photography exhibit (Guarded) by Taylor Yocom, featuring images of women and the objects they would use to defend themselves from sexual assault; a fiber art piece (No.Stop.Help.) by Sarah Fahmy about sexual assault victim blaming; public health-themed poetry (data entry and statistics) by Uyen Hoang; and abstracted photographs of body skin impressions (Suspicious Warping: Close to the Skin) by Cecily Fergeson. We also featured digital installations and experimental art pieces. One life-size, digital installation piece (inter-I) by Elí Joteva explored physical body movement through light reflections and refractions off of water. Two other pieces offered attendees an interactive experience to expand understanding of neurodiversity and mental health: Breathe, by Christina Curlee, was a video game that let players experience life with an anxiety disorder; and Kristin McWharter’s The Chameleon Spacesuit invited viewers to engage with the artist, who was clad in a robot-like costume meant to represent the challenge of interacting with the world as an autistic woman.  

Our two films showcased untold stories: one, for example, provided commentary on queer Filipino college students’ mental and physical health as a motivating factor for Alaskan Natives’ environmental justice activism.

This year’s Thinking Gender art show told stories designed to expand and challenge how people conceptualize health. From women “Guarded” and prepared to defend themselves from sexual assault, to the relative intimacy of data entry and cold perceptions of statistics, to alien feelings of being unable to express yourself emotionally (The Chameleon Spacesuit), our artists tackled topics of mental and sexual health, reproductive justice and body imagery as art and health collided.

Pieces from the first-ever Thinking Gender Visual Arts Exhibition that was on display from February 25 through March 2 at the Kerckhoff Gallery

Art walk participants collaborated on haikus that explored the question “what do women need to be healthy?” (Written by Jackie Curnick and Sheila Maingi)

UCLA Art|Sci Center Director Victoria Vesna welcomes attendees to the Thinking Gender Visual Arts Reception

Visitors enjoy viewing and interacting with visual art on display at Kerckhoff Gallery during the reception

Conference presenter Sav Schlauderaff and guest. In the background: inter-I, a digital installation by Elí Joteva

CSW Director Rachel Lee interacts with Kit Kirby, who is performing The Chameleon Spacesuit: Autism in Women and Girls

Arielle Bagood introduces her film, Queer Filipino American Students and Mental Health?

The UCLA Center for the Study of Women is an internationally recognized center for research on gender, sexuality, and women’s issues and the first organized research unit of its kind in the University of California system. Though CSW is funded by the Division of Social Sciences, it serves the entire university.  Read more about its Mission HERE.

CSW

By Gracen Brilmyer, Graduate Student Researcher, UCLA Center for the Study of Women; Alexandra Apolloni, Program Coordinator, UCLA Center for the Study of Women; Rachel Lee, Director, UCLA Center for the Study of Women

Eating a Tide Pod might make for a good YouTube clip, but we all know that it’s dangerous.

However, it’s not just eating  detergent that’s harmful. Many of the ingredients in common detergents and fabric softeners have not been rigorously tested for safety–and yet, we’re exposed to them through daily physical and respiratory contact.

Commonly used laundry, cleaning and personal care products contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can mimic hormones and disrupt one’s metabolism, even at low levels. EDCs are present in synthetic fragrances, which can cause more immediate adverse reactions including headaches, respiratory difficulty and difficulty concentrating.

Exposure to these chemicals is actually a feminist social justice issue. Since women perform a disproportionate amount of domestic labor (such as housekeeping, laundry, etc.) and use more personal care products, they are more exposed. Additionally, environmental pollution is often concentrated near where people of lower economic status or people of color live.

There has been little effective chemical regulation in the United States, but feminist environmental and disability activists are pushing for change on this issue through organizations like Women’s Voices for the Earth, Canaries Collective, and others. Women scientists have also been innovators in this area: UCLA’s the Center for the Study of Women (CSW) is currently building on Anne Steinemann’s work on consumer product emissions, Ana Soto’s discoveries on the endocrine-disrupting potential of BPA and Claudia Miller’s research on illness caused by exposure.

CSW’s Chemical Entanglements initiative is mobilizing UCLA students and faculty to be leaders in these efforts. Chemical Entanglements is a multi-pronged initiative that involves public events; undergraduate and graduate mentorship, writing and research; and collaboration across departments and communities. We’ve created original artwork for educational materials with artist/activist Peggy Munson; we’ve gathered researchers and activists from across the country at an innovative symposium that explored new approaches to public health and education; we’ve begun to document the social and cultural histories of chemicals and the people whom they’ve harmed; and we’re surveying UCLA students to assess how much of an issue chemical sensitivity is on our campus. Ultimately, we want to change policy so that our communities can be safer and healthier, and we want to raise public awareness so that people can better protect themselves and others from exposure to toxins.

Our CSW Undergraduate Research Group is on the front lines of this work. Students Vivian Anigbogu and Sophia Sidhu have been using UCLA’s archives to document the history of scent and fragrance in manufacturing. Sophia has created an interactive timeline that traces the development of synthetic detergent and the introduction of the carcinogenic additive 1,4-Dioxane in Tide products, while Vivian has shown how the history of racism ties to the history of soap advertising. Undergraduates are also leading the way to make campus healthier. Hannah Bullock has developed a survey that we are beginning to roll out across campus. The survey will help us understand how UCLA students are impacted by chemical exposures, including, for instance, whether the smells of fragrances make it more difficult for them to concentrate while taking tests or live safely in their dorms. Our students are also developing outreach and education resources, including a short film produced by members of last year’s undergraduate group. It depicts the kinds of exposures a UCLA student might encounter on an average day.

You may be wondering, other than avoiding the temptation of a deliciously colorful tide pod, what can you do to keep yourself safe?

  • Use products that are labeled “fragrance free”
  • Avoid products that have “parfum” or “fragrance” in their ingredient list (these are prevalent in scented shampoos, lotions, deodorants, etc.)

But this kind of consumer activism can only go so far: exposure to EDCs is an issue that impacts everyone, and disproportionately impacts people who are the most marginalized and can’t afford “safer” “green” products or move to less polluted neighborhoods. Through Chemical Entanglements, we hope to build toward policy change that will support the health of people of all genders.

For more resources and information visit CSW’s Share the Air website.

Learn more about the Chemical Entanglements project.

Watch videos from the Chemical Entanglements symposium.

Participate in a survey to help CSW learn more about the impact of fragranced products on UCLA students.