Simple Ways to Check Your Privilege

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Privilege exists in many forms. Racial, socioeconomic, able-bodied, educational… Some of our identities are less marginalized than others. Some of us exist in the world without fear of being pulled over for no reason or with the ability to fly on an airplane without being stared at the entire time. Our last name doesn’t guarantee we’ll be pulled out of line by TSA and our education guarantees we’ll be able to find a job that can sustain our families.

Privilege has gained a negative connotation in this social media age. People get offended when the term gets tossed around, mainly because they’ve never been held accountable for their privilege before. Navigating this hyper-connected world is like navigating land mines. Trying not to offend others while pursuing conscious education about identities other than your own can become overwhelming. But it is crucial to becoming a better ally.

Everyone has a certain degree of privilege in their lives. If you want to become a better ally in these times of increasing racial, political, and socioeconomic tension, follow these few easy steps to checking your privilege and becoming more conscious of the world around you.

  1. Ask yourself, “Do I qualify in any way as this identity?” If the answer is yes, then you are entitled to an opinion. If not, take a step back and listen to those who have first-hand experience with whatever is going on.

  2. Do not step into a space without being invited. Marginalized identities create safe spaces to experience life with others who claim the same identity, free of fear or retribution from those who see them as different or even dangerous. As much as you want to learn more or help, take a step back and wait to be invited in, if at all.

  3. Admit your shortcomings. Nobody is perfect. We are all learning. We can all learn from each other. However, it is no one’s obligation to educate or placate someone with more privilege. Do the research on your own and don’t place it on the shoulders of the marginalized.

We are all learning to navigate this world and achieve justice for all identities. Take it one step at a time. And know when you need to take a step back.

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Saving Venezuela: Lahaie Luna Lezama Foundation 

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People protesting against the lack of food in parts of Caracas, Venezuela. Picture: EPA/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ

People protesting against the lack of food in parts of Caracas, Venezuela. Picture: EPA/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ

Rich in culture and history, the beautiful country of Venezuela is currently living the worst humanitarian crisis in its history. The lack of basic supplies has resulted in a collapse of basic services, significantly affecting low-income households. Amidst this current crisis, it comes to no surprise that purchasing menstrual hygiene products such as pads or tampons has become an extremely challenging tasks. 

Not having access to menstrual hygiene products often times results in women missing or skipping important daily activities, aside from taking a toll on their households and workplaces, also affects their dignity and confidence. When Venezuelan women do not have access to menstrual hygiene products, they resort to using old clothes or articles of clothing, which can lead to bacterial growth in those materials and potentially cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Menstruation and women's health is generally still viewed as a taboo subject in Venezuela, and often the very little foreign aid that is sent to the country does not include menstrual hygiene products! 

But we have good news! We found an NGO that works as a civil associations for women's reproductive rights called Lahaie Luna Lezama Foundation.

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Spearheaded by their founder, Marianne Lahaie Luna, they are dedicated to the empowerment of women by providing menstrual cups to Venezuelan women in socio-economically disadvantaged situations.

Back in 2017 during the Venezuelan protests, there were thousands of students protesting for a better future. Amidst the constant checking of Instagram and Twitter (due to extreme censorship of typical news outlet), for the first time in her life, she stopped to think about what the women in her birth country would do when they could not find or afford menstrual products. As previously mentioned, this topic is still taboo to some, and often times ignored. She wanted to contribute and help, but wanted to provide a longterm and sustainable solution, not a "band aid" solution. This is when she learned about the menstrual cup, a product that is safe, easy to use and reusable, and can last up to 7 years! 

As an NGO, Lahaie Luna Lezama Foundation focuses on training community members on the use of the menstrual cups so that in the future they can teach other woman on its use. When they donate menstrual cups to women in need, they also provide information on menstrual rights, they collect some information about these woman to better understand what they use as a menstrual hygiene products and how a menstrual cup could better their menstrual routine. In addition the Lahaie Luna Lezama Foundation collaborates with other local NGO’s to help women in vulnerable situations to ensure their menstrual rights⁣.

When asked what they are so passionate?

“We firmly believe that every woman deserves to menstruate with dignity and that menstrual hygiene is not a luxury, but rather a fundamental human right.”

In August 2018, the co-founders (Marianne Lahaie Luna, Veronique Lahaie Luna and Rosana Lezama)

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initiated the NGO's first project in Caracas, Venezuela where over 100 menstrual cups were donated. In January 2019, the NGO donated 400 menstrual cups to a project that will hand out "ecological kits" to Venezuelan migrant women that meet needs that are not usually addressed in humanitarian assistance (because often times women's health is completely ignored.)

UPCOMING PROJECT: 

In the summer of 2019, they will be returning to Petare (in Caracas, Venezuela) and working with the women in need in the community of "La Dolorita", where they will be donating menstrual cups, and providing an information session on menstrual rights and on the use of menstrual cups. Currently, the monetary donations that we are receiving will go towards this project! 

How you can help

Any donations would help provide menstrual cups to women in need.

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Please visit their website to make a donation and help women in need❤️ any little bit helps!

LAHAIE LUNA LEZAMA FOUNDATION

Make sure too follow there instagram @lll_asociacion or Twitter @lll_asociacion

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This is RARE.

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“I don’t remember much of last year. Most times I have felt like a zombie, but my meds bring me back to life.  Sometimes I feel worse in the catatonic state of brain fog, pain, and exhaustion. I have no sight of all that I have lost; all the things that had been slowly and softly falling to the floor like a pin dropping.”

Welcome to the life of someone suffering from Autoimmune Small Fiber Neuropathy (AISNF). This disease affects only 29 people in the world. That’s a very small number, making this disease so RARE. This is why RARE. believes no one should suffer alone behind this or any other rare disease. RARE.’s message and mission is so needed and beyond powerful! As RARE. likes to put it “RARE. did not just happen, it was a process borne from the frustrations of living with a rare and painful disease.”

So What are they all about?

RARE. strives to bring awareness to the faces of rare diseases by wearing and using their beautifully crafted products

Their products also help familiarize the public with the over 7,000 rare diseases that millions of people in the United States suffer from.

RARE.’s clothing line, accessories, and décor promote self-love and happiness.  In addition, they are able to create RARE., one-of-a-kind pieces for any occasion upon request 😁 making every piece special. One attribute we love about them, is they believe everyone is rare in his or her own way, something we agree with 💯. Everyone has differences and this is what makes you rare. Believing that peoples differences is what makes your rare, should be celebrated and shared with the world. To further promote this cause, 15% of the profits from their RARE. Collection and 100% of the Greater Than Project proceeds will be donated to the National Organization of Rare Disorders.  The Greater Than Project expresses strength with a pin that shows that you are greater than anything you face.  

Learn more about RARE. and help support their mission by purchasing something RARE., because “Sometimes all it takes is not feeling alone in the fight to keep going.”

Follow RARE. on insta: @findyourrare and Website: www.findyourrare.com

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You Don’t Have to Explain

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For decades, the entertainment industry has capitalized off of exploiting marginalized bodies and identities for the sake of creating “good art.” Traditional comedy is rife with fat jokes, racism, transphobia, and homophobia. Fat suits are still heavily used instead of hiring fat actors. Whitewashing of adapted films and television occurs so frequently, it’s exhausting. People of color have a very slim margin of stereotypical roles they can audition for. Art and entertainment have become so exploitative of different bodies that anyone who doesn’t fit the thin, white, heteronormative Hollywood culture has taken to self-deprecating humor just to stay relevant.

It has to stop.

We do not have to explain our differences to be seen, to be heard, and for our art to be valid. Our identities are valid simply because they exist.

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So many people who appear different from the traditional have built their careers out of making themselves the butt of a joke to appease the crowd. While there is some power in claiming that identity in the form of joke that used to be a way to tear us down, it still tells the traditional that they are right. It still gives them the majority of that power.

Our fat bodies are not a source of shame. Our disabilities do not give people license to mock us. Different skin tones do not make people inherently bad. We can change the definition of what is art and what is comedy. Our identities are our strength, not the punchline of some tasteless joke. We do not have to explain our differences to earn your respect.

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Finding Your People: Strength in Community

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Our culture puts a lot of stock in independence. We admire people who go on solo treks through the wilderness in the name of self-discovery and applaud “self-made” people who achieve success with little or no help from others. We’ve reached a point where dependency on others is seen as weakness.

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What a lonely way to think about life.

Self-discovery is critical to success and fulfillment in life, but somewhere along the line, we decided that accepting help along that path invalidated the success. Whether it’s a fear of having to share credit or a pride thing, we’ve become conditioned to refuse help.

Community is the answer to fear, despair, and isolation. A solid support system will obviously make you feel less alone, but can advise you when you’re lost, comfort you when you’re sad, and be there for you when you need a shoulder to lean on or cry on. People are better than no people. Loneliness and solitude only exacerbate sadness.

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When people are raising children, they often say, “It takes a village.” Well, it also takes a village to navigate adulthood. We were not meant to go through this life alone. Community is essential to thriving. Surround yourself with good, supportive people who will love on you and support you and show up for you when you need someone. It’s not a sign a weakness. Community will strengthen you.

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Holiday Cheer

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The holidays can be tough for a lot of people. Whether they aren’t close with their family or they are short on funds or are far away from home, these normally cheerful months can bring a lot of loneliness for people.

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Now more than ever, we need to shower others with love. And during the holidays, our people need to know we’re thinking about them and loving on them.

Try a gift-free Christmas party and invite your friends over to just enjoy each other’s company with good food and drinks and games and corny Christmas movies.

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Send a handwritten Christmas card with a message of gratitude to someone who may need the extra love.

Remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Ask your friends who celebrate other holidays to teach you to make a traditional dish or play a game unique to their celebrations. These simple acts will show them that you really care about them in a culture that erases anything not mainstream Christian.

People are better than no people. Reach out to those friends that you know may be struggling and simply offer them a seat at your table so that they know they don’t have to be alone during the holidays.

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That’s Perfect to Me

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We live in a hyper-curated world where everything is filtered, carefully crafted, and glossed over with glitter to show our followers that we have it all together. There is immense pressure to be perfect when all around us, we see others’ lives in their heavily filtered glory, painting the picture that they aren’t hurting for anything in life.

But “perfect” is so messy. “Perfect” looks different for every single person on this planet. Comparison is the thief of joy, yet we still spend our days pining over the opinions of others on how we are living our own lives.

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It has to stop! Our individuality is what makes us perfect. Cookie-cutter Instagram lives are so boring and trying to mold your life around the opinions of others is dangerously unhealthy.

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If you do anything today, listen to Anne-Marie’s self-love anthem. Different is not bad. If you want to spend your Friday night on the couch with a whole pint of ice cream, that’s perfect. If you want to show some skin and rock a smokey eye, that’s perfect, too. Perfect is whatever you make it to be.

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“Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup”

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“You wear too much makeup. Men prefer a more natural look.”

This video created for Amy’ Schumer’s comedy show on Comedy Central paints the hilarious yet harrowing reality of being a woman. Every day, we are bombarded by the opinions of men on how we should eat, drink, talk, stand, think, and believe. Men love to tell us to embrace our natural beauty and inner glow. While we should all strive to be comfortable and confident in our most natural state, that decision is completely up to us.

As she is serenaded by a gorgeous boy band, Amy tosses her makeup into the bin, wipes her face clean, and smiles with confidence, only to be met with grimaces and mascara wands being thrown back at her by those very same men.

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Makeup and outward appearance is a very personal decision. If a woman wants to leave the house donning nothing but moisturizer, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And if one day, she wakes up and wants to paint her face and rock a killer set of false lashes, that is completely up to her. As long as she is happy, your opinion should never leave your brain.

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Having the confidence to walk around makeup-free is a luxury. Allow the women in your life to come to that state on their own time. The truth is, you don’t need a face full of makeup to be beautiful, but if you want to get your Sephora on, go for it, girl. Your girl gang will be behind you every step of the way.

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