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Rotten from the inside out

Newsletter editor Lily here.

Last night and then during my lunch break today, I watched the new Netflix documentary Athlete A, which unpacks USA Gymnastics’ culture of abuse that went beyond team doctor Larry Nassar molesting girls and young women for over 30 years. At the center of this particular film is the story of former elite gymnast Maggie Nichols, who was poised to make the Olympic team in the years leading up to Rio before she was mysteriously left off of the final roster in 2016 and not even made an alternate. In deciding to pursue a case against Nassar for sexually abusing her, the USA Gymnastics railroaded her and cut her Olympic dreams short.

One of the undercurrents of the documentary that may be of particular interest to CM’s Mama Bears is how it talks about the trust that many gymnasts’ parents put in the organization, as well as its administrators, trainers, and coaches, to have their children’s best interests at heart. Even worse, many of these young girls suffered lasting physical and emotional trauma from what they experienced, which still haunts the parents who actively supported them and encouraged them to pursue their dreams. What’s harder is the realization that it’s not just one person doing harm to children but an entire system that shames them for speaking up and doesn’t take their concerns seriously.

I know lots of folks are a little fatigued right now, but I definitely recommend Athlete A if you have the emotional capacity to watch it at some point. It’s a dark reminder that people like Larry Nassar are only the tip of the iceberg, and even taking them out of the equation doesn’t necessarily change an overwhelmingly toxic system. Often the best thing we can do is rebuild from scratch.

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

“I always knew you were gay.”

Today’s intro is from Amanda Munday, the founder and CEO of The Workaround and one of our new regular Mama Bear newsletter contributors. Content warning: This intro mentions suicidal ideation.

Given it’s Pride month, I want to include a bit of my personal journey to this beautiful Chairman Mom community. Last November, on an unusually warm night for Toronto, I told my husband our marriage was over. I had rehearsed my speech for weeks in therapy, having planned and thought about it for months prior. I only worked on one line:  Read more...

A controlled burn

Last week we had hundreds of people attend our virtual events—including RSVPs from hundreds of people who had never encountered Chairman Mom before. I’m still processing it all.

If one thing stood out amidst those sessions, it was that this audience wants to do the hard work of dismantling oppressive systems and structures within themselves and in the world. 

A stand-out moment during our event last week with Shannon “Badass Cross Stitch” Downey was when Nicole—an accountant who had never attended a Chairman Mom event before—detailed how she’d seen up close how the deck was stacked against under-represented groups and that she, too, wanted to burn things down.  Read more...

What to do on Juneteenth instead of taking a vacation day

Announcement: We’re very excited to have so many people attending our virtual event “More than just words: How to become an Antiracist ally-in-action” tonight at 9pm EST/6pm PST. As a reminder, please make sure you watch this Allyship 101 video so that our hosts don’t have to start from square one during their presentation.

Today’s intro comes from Adimika Arthur, a public health expert, hospital executive, and founder of Health Tech for Medicaid (HT4M). She fiercely advocates for vulnerable populations and loves to help people better understand health equity, healthcare, and health technology through storytelling, connection, and sisterhood. We’re also so excited that Adimika will be a regular Chairman Mom newsletter contributor going forward.

Good versus effective

Newsletter editor Lily here.

I’ve been thinking about this piece by Tiffany Dockery explaining why people need to stop just “checking in” with Black co-workers and acquaintances ever since we featured it in last Friday’s Mama Bear newsletter.

In particular, these four sentences are some of the most impactful I’ve seen on the subject: “Let go of the desire to be seen as good (read: not racist) people. We live in a racist society with coded messages of Black inferiority all around us. We all have internalized racism.  None of us can be good, so let’s focus on being effective.” Read more...

What’s happened to ERGs?

Score one for science. 

A few weeks ago there was a full-on revolt—in red states and blue states—against continuing to stay indoors. Memorial Day weekend was the time it seemed to culminate in a new epidemic of the “Oh f*ck its!” when it came to sheltering in place. 

A lot of the desire to get back out into restaurants and hair dressers was described as coming from “red states.” But that weekend, I went on a run through Golden Gate Park, as I’ve done a few days a week for the past few months of the pandemic. That place was not only substantially more crowded than it’s been—it was the most crowded I think I’ve seen Golden Gate Park on a random Sunday in the 20 years I’ve lived here.  Read more...

The lowest of low bars

I’m just finishing up reading They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers. There are so many amazing books being read and recommended about understanding white supremacy and white fragility, but this one in particular is crucial to understanding not just white people’s role in white supremacy, but white women’s role. 

Karen-ing didn’t come out of nowhere. I’ve heard and been part of a lot of conversations lately about how white men calling the cops doesn’t seem to go viral, or—lately—how white male founders aren’t subject to digital walkouts and lose their jobs for neglecting to build anti-racist organizations.  Read more...

Our biggest event week ever

It’s not hyperbole to say this is our biggest event week of 2020. (So far, I guess? Who can say anything about this year with any certainty?)

We have three virtual events this week, and between them, close to 400 people RSVP’d. That’s more than have attended all of our events this year combined

On Tuesday, Shannon “Badass Cross Stitch” Downey—a favorite activist and artist of the Chairman Mom community—is leading a talk titled “Burning My Life to the Ground: Finding the Courage for a Total Do-Over.”  Read more...

All about allyship

Newsletter editor Lily here.

Over the past week or so, there’ve been a lot of important conversations happening around what it means to be an ally to the Black community as well as to communities of color and marginalized communities at large.

On the Chairman Mom side of things, in addition to checking out our upcoming virtual events on anti-racism parenting (June 17th), becoming a better ally (June 19th), and taking part in economic allyship for Black women (June 30th), you can also take a look at several thought-provoking Chairman Mom threads on allyship below and weigh in. And on top of that, Sarah is building a group of allies to work through Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy workbook for those interested in doing so. Read more...

Call me Grandma Moses

It all started a few weeks ago. I had my kids for the entire week and was desperately trying to find something to occupy them that wasn’t a screen and didn’t lead to bickering. I pulled out a “Draw your favorite Pixar characters!” book that we’d bought on our last trip to Disneyland…and never used. (It’s on my newly created “I’m bored” shelf in the kids’ imagination room. They’ve rapidly learned that those words immediately lead to an activity like shrinky dinks or making emoji bracelets or their own underwater snow globes.) Read more...