1. Massachusetts Signs Progressive Wage Bill.
Though Congress in this country has proven itself virtually incapable of crossing the aisle to make political compromises between parties, legislators in Massachusetts finally decided to put partisan opinions aside in an effort to address the gender wage gap, so naturally, we were all ears. This week, Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the first ban on potential employers inquiring about past salaries from potential employees that they interview. Woof, let’s unpack that for a sec. Asking for the compensation history of job applicants is a practice that puts women, who often work lower-paying jobs than their male counterparts, at a disadvantage when it comes to their salary. By banning this practice, Massachusetts is attempting to ensure that hiring managers are required to “state a compensation figure upfront — based on what an applicant’s worth is to the company, rather than on what he or she made in a previous position.” This is a way to ensure that low wages do not follow women and minorities throughout their entire careers, and should be an effective way of inching the wage gap closed. Not a solution, but progress. Who’s ready for more??
2. Women's Health Mag Bans Body-Shaming Blather.
In shocking news this week, a magazine called ‘Women’s Health’ actually decided to focus on women’s health! This is progress, people. OK, as sarcastic as we want to be rn, something really cool (albeit a little late) is actually happening at Women’s Health Magazine this week as Editor-in-Chief Amy Keller Laird has undertaken the cause of body positivity in an effort to remove from the magazine any language that can be classified as “body-shaming.” In a world where magazines for women talk more about “bikini bodies” and how none of us have them--yet!--than they talk about real issues that affect women like eating disorders, the wage gap, which Lemonade song matches your star sign, etc., the choice to maintain focus on healthy female bodies over insecure female bodies is a significant one. We salute you, AKL, AKA the EIC of WHM. Ugh brb drowning in acronyms and self-love.
3. Sioux Youth Protest Dakota Access Pipeline.
In yet another case of shocking news this week, U.S. lawmakers and business interests decided to ignore the needs of Native Americans and the environment as they move forward with the project of building the Dakota Access Pipeline across the Missouri River. What. A. Surprise. But don’t let us make you too cynical yet! There are heroes in this story, and they are the young people of the Sioux Nation at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. These activists have a message for the government about how damaging this pipeline will undoubtedly be for their home and their sacred river, which will be polluted and corrupted by the pipeline production. They have *super valid* concerns about the likelihood of a leak in the pipeline, considering the history of pipeline leaks in this country, and see no future for themselves or their families in this historic part of the country if the pipeline is built. HuffPost Rise also covered a movement of these young activists who have decided to run (yes, literally run. On their FEET) from their home in North Dakota to Washington D.C. to hand-deliver a letter pleading with officials to stop the production of the pipeline and to save their home and natural resources. TBH, we won’t even run to the grocery story so this is beyond impressive. More of Emma's thoughts on grassroots activism here. (We promise it'll be sassy and grassy).
4. Ava DuVernay to be First Woman of Color to Direct $100 Million Film.
A few months ago, she got a Barbie modeled after her, and now she’s reached life’s other major achievement: Ava DuVernay will become the first woman of color (ever) to direct a film with a $100 million budget, bankrolled by the notoriously sexist and stubborn Hollywood elite. The Selma director has managed to work her way up this incredibly steep and unforgiving ladder in a matter of just five years; starting, as many do, with indie films, transitioning into a few bigger budget films, and finally taking on the huge project of A Wrinkle In Time which is said to star Oprah (so, like… 12-month advanced pre-order amirite?). The significance of such a price-tag starts with the fact that in the film industry, women are generally not perceived as directors with as much money-making potential as their male counterparts (who often have an easier time finding work to begin with), and especially not women of color. There have been a number of studies and articles written as a means of putting pressure on these industry executives--most of them white men--to change the culture of the business and to give a more diverse group of people the chance to prove themselves as international successes. We have a feeling DuVernay will be do-vernaying just that. Shattered glass ceilings for days.
5. Black Lives Matter Activists Drop Newly Devised Statement of Demands and Propositions.
To everyone who has voiced a complaint about the efficiency or lack of vision from the Black Lives Matter movement, they have something to say to you: boy, bye. The famously (for some, notoriously) decentralized social movement put forth an extremely comprehensive plan more than a year in the making to address what they call the ongoing “war on black people.” The sprawling group of more than 30 organizations put out a statement this week, complete with six “platform demands” and more than 40 “policy recommendations” regarding social issues on everything from decriminalizing drugs and sex work to financial reparations for black families and an “invest-divest” program to take funding from police units and put it toward public schools. Because of the nature of the movement’s beginning--in part a reaction to the 2012 murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin--the statement echoes a particular focus on black youth liberation that has characterized BLM from the start. If anything, this is a strong and necessary message after the tragedy in Dallas, TX that in spite of ongoing turmoil and confused, hateful rhetoric from political leaders, BLM will not stop fighting for the full realization of black freedom. #BlackLivesAlwaysMatter