17 Books to Build Your Social Justice Knowledge

In light of our current climate, I wanted to share some of my favorite books to up your social justice knowledge and walk in someone else’s shoes for a while. This is in no way a complete list. But all these books influenced my thinking and life.

Social Justice books

Non-fiction

Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks

1) This book is FREE, so download it now. 2) hooks addresses intersectional feminism, and her whole entire mission as a feminist is to make previously academic-level rhetoric accessible to everyone. This book is short, easy to read, and speaks to everyone. Continue reading

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My 10 #GivingTuesday Charity Recommendations

There are a lot of great charities out there, but here’s 10 (in no particular order) that I suggest you donate to this Giving Tuesday. A lot of these organizations I either know the people behind them, have been a long time supporter myself, and are otherwise closely connected to what I believe in.

Give thanks by giving back for #GivingTuesday!

Give thanks by giving back for #GivingTuesday!

1. Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation

The first one is for the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation, and my friend Joe Hall has put together this fundraiser drive. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are matching this one. OI is a group of genetic disorders that mainly affect the bones and causes them to be fragile and break easily.

2. Feminist Frequency

Feminist Frequency advocates for a more inclusive, intersectional media and increasing cultural conversation around gender, sexuality and race. They encourage being critical of media, and their most famous work is about tropes in video gaming. I also know some of the ladies behind the org, and they’re the raddest. Continue reading

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Don’t Accidentally Give Credit to Hate Sites

Dear friends,

Thank you for stopping the normalization of Trump and his white supremacists pals. Thank you for keeping posting about fraud, national security risks, personal safety problems, and more. Keeping doing it.

However, you need to stop linking to white supremacist propaganda and re-sharing it on social media from the source in your outrage.

Yes, you should definitely say, “This is really what Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategist, said. It shows he’s an anti-Semite, who hates women, and gave his platform over to Neo-Nazis and is one himself.” However, don’t link to Breitbart. Please, please don’t link to or share/reshare their content.

Breitbart article sharing

This Breitbart article is misogynistic. 12,000+ people shared it on Facebook, and an unknown numbers in other ways. They got a lot of traffic. Lauren Duca’s tweet though, because it’s a screenshot, will be there forever and the shares she got won’t count as a win for Breitbart.

Why? Continue reading

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10 Rules for Surviving Being Laid Off

Being laid off sucks. One moment you’re working away, and the next, you’re being told you’re done. It feels like a breakup. That’s how I’ve described my many emotions to friends and my Spotify recommendations seem to agree. The company I’d been working at for 5 years laid off 60+ people. 80% of my immediate team was let go; 50% of the greater marketing team; and almost 100% were people I knew pretty well and had befriended on some level over the years.

This is the first time I’ve ever been laid off, but I wanted to share some of my survival tips. I’ve tried to steer these away from Moz-specifically, because I’d have these feelings about any job I loved and was at for 5 years. Additionally, Moz’s CEO Sarah and its founder Rand have written several posts on their strategy change and the layoffs, which are much better places to ask Moz-specific questions as they are in-the-know.

1. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

I can’t repeat this enough — it’s not your fault. Layoffs are always about budget and/or changes in strategy (which usually tie back into budget). Most people affected by layoffs couldn’t have done anything to prevent the company’s layoffs. It wasn’t my fault I got laid off. Even if the inner A+ student, who’d gotten lots of promotions, performance-based raises, and publicity for the company, among others things, rebels against this idea that there was nothing she could do: there wasn’t. Being laid off isn’t the same as being fired. When lots of people are let go, only a tiny fraction and sometimes absolutely zero could’ve affected or changed this fate. Continue reading

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Community Manager Seeking Dream Job 2.0

As many of you probably know, Moz laid off 28% of its full-time employees. Including me. Including not just my fellow community managers, but many of my closest colleagues, from developers to office managers.

Women at Moz

7 out of 10 people and 1 dog in this photo are for hire!

The story of Dream Job 1.0

What many people likely don’t know is that working at Moz was my dream job. Back in 2006/07, I discovered the e-commerce site I worked on really needed this thing called SEO. I stumbled upon then SEOmoz’s blog and the well-loved Beginner’s Guide to SEO. I dug in. Everyone on the blog seemed so smart , and little did I know that most of them were in the same boat as me, figuring this stuff out. When I started looking for a new job, I thought “wow, it’d be so cool to work at Moz.”

I spent the next two years knocking on various Moz doors. Sure, I applied some other places — but nothing much panned out. Height of the recession and all. Then I landed an interview with Moz in their cramped offices above the Elysian Brewery as they prepared to move to their first Downtown Seattle location. I interviewed with Adam Feldstein and a couple other folks. I was elated to be given the opportunity.

Spoiler alert: I wasn’t hired. Adam told me I wasn’t quite the right fit job-wise, but he thought I’d make a great Mozzer. He encouraged me to apply again.

Most people don’t try again. But I did. For another role on Adam’s team, which I only made it to a phone interview.

Okay, I’d tried. It didn’t work. Instead, I co-founded an all-volunteer nonprofit called GeekGirlCon. I kept reading, learning, and even bravely answering some Moz Q&A questions.

This newfangled social network called G+ launched, and I poked around on it a bit. Followed this guy Rand Fishkin, seemed kind of cool. (Obviously, I knew who he was.) He posted about this hard-to-fill, ridiculous role called Community Attaché. This person needed to have both community building skills and enough SEO chops to help community members. When I was read the description, I thought “holy mother of god, that’s actually a job I’m super qualified for.” Rand asked applicants to email him directly.

I nervous, late-night typed out an email cover letter to Rand. I made some jokes, talked about my skill set, how I loved the community, how I was working to put on this GeekGirlCon convention (outcome TBD at the time), and read it over 100 times. I was sure I’d call him “Fishking,” which to this day, I always type out and then hit the backspace. Continue reading

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Why We Need Stories Like Star Trek: Not Really a Review of Star Trek: Beyond

Uhura, Sulu, and other Enterprise crew members trapped together

The crew of the Star Trek: Beyond works together to solve problems.

The future is what we can see. The future is what we dream of. The future is the future we write about in our stories, whether they’re film, books, comics, or another medium. We don’t have to look further than our smartphones, tablets, or heck, automatic sliding doors to see the impact of what Star Trek dreamed up, and we said, you know what, that is a good idea. It wasn’t just tech. The utopia of the Federation put on screen by Gene Roddenberry showed a future about the good and possibilities of humanity when we work together. On Star Trek and in the Federation, there was peace among far reaching cultures and types of lifeforms. There wasn’t poverty, hunger, homelessness, abject hate, or many of the other social ills which plague our world today. Roddenberry and the hundreds of other creators who’ve helmed Star Trek have never explained how this vision of the future eliminated and solved those problems, but the vision is there.

When watching Star Trek: Beyond, I couldn’t help but think of our world right now and how we need this type of story. Beyond’s two predecessor films never felt like Star Trek films because they never layered in the pieces of utopia. (Among other flaws.) Popular culture, right now, is full of stories about the one special hero and the dystopian reality. No wonder we’ve found solace in those types of tales. Continue reading

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Parents-Children: Into My Frozen Heart

Frozen waterfall

Photo by Gilad Rom

A 7am flight out of Boston equals torture for this West Coast night owl who hasn’t been there long enough to adjust to the time zone. (Which is approximately a week for the East Coast and about three days for the UK.) As I’m digging for my book, a young girl with a huge scowl on her face sits down across from me. Instantly, I see myself — particularly my younger self, though in many cases my current self — reflected in her. She has glasses and a mop of long blonde hair looped in a messy bun. She immediately sticks her nose in a young adult book about ghosts. I have the same shoes she’s wearing, only in black and hot pink, instead of gray and hot pink. We’re both wearing bright patterned leggings. She takes a Purell wipe from her bag and cleans down her seat and tray table. When the dudebro behind her neglects to cover his cough, we both give him death glares. She sees me doing this, and I smile at her when our eyes meet for a brief second.

I start to think about how I’m old enough to be her mother — though her parents appear about a decade older than me — and how perhaps I shall steal this one mostly-formed child. Clearly, we could save some money by sharing clothing. She’s at what Sandra Tsing Loh described as the perfect moment in girlhood: strong, confident, prepubescent.

I also obverse her family, noticing how they are focused on entertainment and what to order from the on-flight menus. In my own childhood, no one understood why I love to read more than most things. Why I preferred to write or tell myself stories, playing with dolls or action figures. The girl takes out a journal and a pile of embroidery thread; no doubt, she’s going to make friendship bracelets. And I am uniquely satisfied that the art of friendships bracelets hasn’t been lost only to Christian camps sequestered from cell towers.

For a million reasons, I do not want to be a mother. Continue reading

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Film Deadpool Is Not a Pansexual Icon

Deadpool's sexual orientation

What box will Deadpool choose?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Deadpool movie since seeing it last weekend. It was not one of my favorite Marvel-based movies. Many people found the movie transgressive, as an R-rated risk for Marvel properties and a reaction against the overly serious DC movies and tones of the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse and Captain America: Civil War films. One of the conversations coming out of Deadpool aka Wade Wilson being turned into a film is Deadpool’s position as a pansexual comic character.

Let me be clear: Deadpool, in no way, shows attraction toward men in the film.

We can argue and debate subtext or queerbaiting all day, but there’s nothing in the entire film for the average straight person to say, “Wow, Deadpool also likes men.” Continue reading

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Books I Read in 2015 & Think You Should Read in 2016

If you don’t already have them on your shelf or on your to-read list. 🙂

This year, according to Goodreads, I read 122 books. My goals this year were to keep better track of the comic books I’ve read and continue to read more diverse voices. By the numbers — 57 (+13% compared to 2014) were written by women, 28 (+13%) drawn by women, 26 (+1%) written or drawn by people of color, and 13 (+3%) written or drawn by queer people. (The latter two categories may be slightly off.)

Here’s some amazing stuff you should read too:


Bitch Planet Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine1. Bitch Planet Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine
by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Val De Landro, and Robert Wilson IV

Genre: Intersectional feminist comics, sci-fi, fills my heart with glee
Recommended for: EVERYONE (who gives a fuck about social justice and rad comics)

I’ve probably told everyone to read this comic this year. READ THIS COMIC. Bitch Planet rifts on ’70s prison exploitation movies and totalitarianism, particularly the control of women. Non-compliant women, as they are called, are shipped off to a prison-in-space colloquially known as Bitch Planet. Some of them have committed crimes we might consider valid reasons to go to prison — murder, theft, etc. — but many are there because they talked back to their husbands, because they were too fat, too gay, too stubborn, too outspoken, too brown, etc., and it’s those women’s stories that make Bitch Planet stand out as not too far from our own reality.


Lumberjanes Vol 2: Friendship to the Max and Lumberjanes Vol 32. Lumberjanes Vol 2: Friendship to the Max
Lumberjanes Vol. 3
by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen, Kat Leyh, Brittney Williams, and Carolyn Nowak

Genre: YA comics, female friendship to the max, camp songs
Recommended for: EVERYONE (no, literally everyone)

Volume 1 came in as my #1 read, so not surprising to see 2 and 3 come up high on the list. Lumberjanes remains a book full of heart and love, centered around the friendships of young girls. Though as the cast expands, we learn about the friendships of adult women and add some boys too. The book takes place at a camp and focuses on adventure and fun. The quality of the story is maintained through all the new additions.


Zoo City3. Zoo City
by Lauren Beukes

Genre: Magical realism, thrillers, fiction set in South Africa
Recommended for: EVERYONE (who wants the dæmons in His Dark Materials to have a darker meaning)

I’ve wanted to read something by Lauren Beukes since I read her Fairest comic book miniseries. Several years ago, I traveled to South Africa, which instantly became of my favorite places in the world and somewhere I wanted to learn/read about. This book explores the concept of sin, particularly the sin of murder, and what if when someone murdered someone — regardless of situation and if in cold-blood or accident or self-defense — they were ‘burdened’ with a random animal (anything from a bear to a beetle). The lead character Zinzi is animated with a sloth and has a sixth sense to find lost items. When that lost item is a pair of teenagers, her live gets further turned upside down.

Continue reading

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Eulogy for My Grandfather

Grandpa holding me when I was born.

Grandpa holding me when I was born.

Grandfathers are put into our lives in order to make better sense of the universe. And my Grandfather certainly shaped the universe for myself and the rest of our family. Astronomer Dr. Michelle Thaller explains our position in the universe with the eloquent, yet literal sentiment — “We are dead stars, looking back up at the sky.” Grandpa now having returned to the sky.

My Grandfather, like all of us, was a complex person. He was someone many people would describe as gruff and serious. He didn’t always make the best first, second, or third impression, but his heart was always in the right place, whether he was ushering here at St. Mark or helping me clean rabbit cages or my cousins with their Boy Scout projects. But today, I want to talk about the Grandpa that I knew.

My Grandpa was the one who smiled for my photos — which he never did for Grandma —; he always made sure to hop on the phone and say “I love you”; and he liked to joke that I was his favorite. (But let me pause here and draw back the curtain to spoil you for Grandpa’s hand. He said this to all his grandchildren. Sorry, brothers and cousins, if this takes away the magic.)

My Grandpa found his joy with his grandchildren, and it’s something that almost wasn’t. I’m the oldest grandchild. When I was born over 30 years ago, my mother told him he wasn’t allowed to smoke or drink around me. My Grandfather in all his infamous stubbornness took a “5 Day Plan to Stop Smoking” class from the Seventh Day Adventists and quit cold turkey. Grandma recently gave me the certificate from the program, and I laughed a lot. Of course, Grandpa made something lots of people sincerely struggle with look like a day in the park with his granddaughter. Everyone now knows no single addiction can be curbed in five days. But Grandpa stopped a 40-year-old habit because of his love for his grandchildren.

My Grandpa showed his love through actions. Continue reading

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