Equality for All: Spoken Word Video Contest for Western MA Youth

Hampshire County Law Day 2013
Spoken Word Contest for Middle & High School Youth

Hampshire County LAW DAY 2013: A Spoken Word Video Contest for Middle & High School Aged Youth. — Spoken word poetry is a powerful, high energy form of storytelling intended for onstage performance. It has ties to hip hop, modern poetry, postmodern performance and monologue theater, as well as jazz, blues and folk music.

As we teach our children how to conceptualize the world, they are most certainly forming their own opinions about what it means to live and exist within it.  We give them lots of information on the past, and perhaps even more than that, we give them advice and guidance for navigating today and the future.  We share with them critical information about our history – both as individuals and as a country and culture – and we try to help them make sense of it.  Whatever they gain from it, they then use to find their own place in the world.  But rarely do we ask them to tell us what it means to them.

When we teach students about things like feminism, civil rights, tolerance, and equality, the topics become important to them not when we teach them, but when they find a way to connect to them.  And what better way to find out what they’ve learned than to ask them to share what these things mean to them?

The upcoming Hampshire County Law Day (which will take place on May 1st, 2013) is offering an opportunity for middle and high school students to do just that.  Youth interested in making themselves heard can create an original piece of spoken word to the Northwest District Attorney’s Citizen Advisory Board – pieces will be reviewed by the board and three students will be given the chance to share their voice and their perspective during the event.  Held to celebrate the steady development of equality in America, the event focuses on the same ideals shared by those who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, as well as followers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech took place 50 years ago.

Submissions to the contest should be in video form, as the most important element in spoken word is the delivery of the poet’s work.  The deadline for submission is 4pm on Tuesday, April 23rd.  For more information about both the contest and the event, including specific content guidelines for submissions, visit northwesternda.org.

What’s the Alternative to a Sexualized Halloween Costume? Make Your Own!

Big Box Shops Offering Our Daughters the Perfect Sexy Costume

At first when I saw this costume I thought it was for a streetwalker, but upon slower inspection I realized it was for a Sexy Native American!(?)! One of our local big boxed stores is suggesting ways our teenage (and tween) daughters can up their sex appeal this Halloween with several costume styles, included a Honey (pot) Bear and a Sexy Angel (Angelicious!). I know what my thoughts are (?!?!) … what are yours?

  • Silas Holesovsky responds: Target should be ashamed!
  • Lori Ann Kelterborn responds: I went into CVS a few years back and was APPALLED by the CHILDRENS costume of a “cheerleader” with midriff exposed and the little shorts under the skirt showing, with a 9-year-old that had a face FULL of makeup. We need to encourage children being children not 9 going on a 19 yr old street-walker… sorry for the huge ramble but this is a big issue for me.
  • Crystal Cooper responds: I’ve been discouraged for years that it’s become difficult to find an adult women’s costume in stores that is not a “sexy” version of normal costumes. I am completely disgusted that these costumes have come into production for girls and teens. As if the media doesn’t already send the message that girls are only valued for their sex appeal… now they have an excuse to dress the part. So so sad.
  • Shoshona King responds: The Halloween store next to Stop & Shop in Hadley has only sexy costumes for women. Not any reasonable costumes.
  • Marianne Bullock responds: I wrote this last year after a confrontation at a local bar with some people dressed with hijabs and suicide bombs … “Dressing up as another “race” or “culture” for Halloween IS racist. — Traditionally Halloween is a time to express yourself through costume as something scary, funny, ironic or otherworldly – that is why portraying a Muslim or Indian is racist. Since when is it acceptable for people to cast native or Muslim people into the realm of the fantastical — wizards, fairies, goblin and ghosts? Who gets to decide that other cultures get to be degraded to a cheap Halloween costume? It’s offensive to reduce the diversity of 500 plus first nation cultures and Indian people’s identities to a cheap plastic costume with tacky feathers — OR WEAR a hijab with a BOMB strapped to you! None of the institutional oppression that people face as Muslims and Middle Easterners comes with the costume. — Messing with concepts of race and identity in the “safe” context of Halloween only allows white people to trivialize and reproduce racial stereotypes while supporting white supremacy and dominance. There is nothing “rebellious” about it, you are not resisting the restrictive social context of our society, you are supporting racism and racial hierarchy. – HERE’S A RADICAL IDEA! Why not portray something not racist, sexist or offensive for Halloween?”


If you’re feeling crafty and would rather make your kids non-sexualized costume this year, look for costume making opportunities in your community, or organize one yourself and self-post it on our Suggest An Event bulletin board.

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