raceAhead: How To Celebrate Spirit Day

October 18, 2018, 1:59 PM UTC

Tomorrow is the third Thursday in October which means it’s Spirit Day, a now-annual event produced by GLAAD and designed to show support for LGBTQ+ youth while drawing attention to the bullying and targeting they still receive. It’s also increasingly becoming an opportunity for corporations to get their allyship on.

“Spirit Day is a day of national importance that highlights the serious issue of bullying and its disproportionate impact on LGBTQ youth,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. Some 85% of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed at school and 57% of students don’t bother to report incidents because they fear nothing will be done. They may not be wrong. Some 63% of students who do report were told to ignore the abuse.

Target, Hilton, and Wells Fargo are major sponsors of the Spirit Day rally and campaign-kickoff, a star-studded event filled with affirmation and hope. Tyra Banks, Sterling K. Brown, Stephen Colbert, Laverne Cox, Rosario Dawson, Alyssa Milano, MJ Rodriguez, and Britney Spears are all scheduled to appear in some form. Other sponsors include Johnson & Johnson, the NBA and WNBA, as well as supporting partners Kellogg’s, Barilla, Kirkland & Ellis, and Zipcar, who will all participate in the anti-bullying campaign.

Spirit Day is a relatively young campaign. It began in 2010, founded by then-teenager Brittany McMillan after a spate of LGBTQ youth died by suicide after being bullied. Her idea was to get her high school friends to wear purple on a dedicated day in October to send a message of support; picked up by the good people of GLAAD, it’s now a global event.

GLAAD has a Spirit Day guide for corporations here, and plenty of ideas of how individuals can participate—wearing purple, getting informed, and amplifying the messages shared under the #SpiritDay hashtag seems great ways to start.

A little support can go a long way. As McMillian said, “Ultimately I want Spirit Day to make just one person to feel better about his or herself, to feel safe in their own skin, and to be proud of who they are.”

On Point

New York City creates gender-neutral designation for birth certificatesIf you were born in New York City and do not identify as either male or female, you can now chose the designation “X” on your birth certificate. The provision, signed into law last week, now allows gender nonconforming or non-binary transgender people to choose an identity without a legal name change or gender-related surgery. “They can now tell the government who they are and not the other way around," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the signing.NPR

A Facebook executive hopes the death of her brother in police custody will hit home
Two weeks ago, Chinedu Valentine Okobi went into cardiac arrest after being repeatedly tased by police in Millbrae, Calif. Darting in and out of traffic, it is believed the 36-year-old father may have been having a mental break. But his sister, Facebook executive Ebele Okobi, hopes his death will help raise awareness in privileged enclaves like Silicon Valley. “There's a part of me that's angry that this is the reality for everybody black I know and that people can live completely oblivious to that reality," she told USA Today’s Jessica Guynn. The incident is still under investigation, but Okobi, who is the director of public policy for Facebook in Africa, says her colleagues are shaken. “I didn’t think this could happen to someone I know,” they tell her. Less than 1% of the population in Millbrae is black.
USA Today

Women entrepreneurs face gender bias from employees
When Fast Company and Inc. conducted a survey of women company founders recently, they were not surprised to learn that nearly 60% reported discriminatory behavior from bankers or investors. But it was deeply disconcerting to learn that some 26% reported discriminatory behavior from employees or other subordinates. “It’s mostly become clear to me now that I have a senior man on my team,” says one. “It’s easier for him to hold people accountable without getting a lot of pushback.” Part of the problem is that bias is often subtle, so it’s hard to put your finger on what’s happening.“I think the women and the men are much more willing to just take unqualified direction from their male boss than from me.”
Fast Company


The Woke Leader

Correcting the visual record of the American South
White male image-makers dominate the field of photography. Their photos are disproportionately represented in editorial, stock photo collections, and particularly in museums. The visual aesthetic of the American South has been similarly defined by bold face white names—think Walker Evans and William Christenberry— who have for decades provided a beautiful but incomplete account of the visual history of the region. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans aims to change all that with a new show called “New Southern Photography” with twenty-five photographers, thirteen of whom are underrepresented including ten women, three of whom are of color and three men of color. Click through for some beautiful analysis from L. Kasimu Harris.
Bitter Southerner

Director Sam Bailey debuts a new short film which turns the table on male sexual aggression
The ten-minute film is a satirical take on toxic male machismo, and depicts two young women on a mission to harass men into having meaningless sex with them. Bailey, the director of the hit web series Brown Girls, tells Broadly that this kind of commentary can be tricky. "I think anytime you start incorporating satire or social commentary in a nuanced way, there's a delicate balance you're trying to hit,” she says. “But I'm really proud of what we made and I hope it adds to the conversation around the type of behavior we as a society have become complicit in upholding."

Transgender high school students at higher risk for suicidal thoughts
A 2017 study from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, surveyed 900,000 high school students in California and found that 35% of transgender youth said they'd had suicidal thoughts in the past year, compared with 19% of non-transgender youth. In this case, data really matters. "It is crucial that studies of adolescent health include measures of gender identity alongside sexual orientation,” says the lead author of the study.
US News


I love the people. It's the system that I don't like in America. I didn't like the cowboy idea, what they did to the Indians and the black people there.
Ziggy Marley

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