May Day Actions!

maydaybannerMay Day Banner by RNZ / Creative Commons

It’s May Day! Yes, this day is a pagan holiday celebrating the beginning of summer, but more importantly, this is a significant, historic day for workers’ rights and labor unions, going back to 1886 when over 300,000 workers went on strike in an effort to secure the 8-hour work day, something we all currently take for granted.

Now, it’s our turn. Trump, his administration, and many of our Congressmen and women have targeted our most vulnerable people, attacked our unions, threatened our immigrants, in fact have threatened most of us in one way or another (job security, healthcare, education, you name it). Get out there and show them that we will not stand for it. We are the resistance, and this is a perfect opportunity to RESIST.

For New Yorkers, here’s a list of day-long protests, meetings, and other actions.

For teachers, here’s a drop box of resources to use in your classroom.

Quick Actions – Take Three Minutes Right Now to Resist!

Quick, easy ways to take action and resist right now:

piaraymond.jpgCall and email your state and national congresswomen and men. Don’t know who they are? Go to Find My Senator and Find Your Representative or just do a quick Google search. You can email or leave messages about specific bills and issues, or you can be more general and say something like, “I am urging you to vote for more money for public schools.” If this still seems daunting, follow me on Facebook for regular updates on specific reasons and ways to make calls/send emails.

Use the Resist bot – text RESIST to 50409 to contact your officials. “You’ll be prompted to provide your name, zip code, and a message you’d like to send to your senators. Once you’re happy with your message, Resistbot will format it to look professional and fax it to both of your senators.” (Thanks Aviva Buivid of #100Daysofgoodstuff for the tip – check out her site if you’re looking for some hope right now).

Share your ideas, opinions and ways to resist on social media. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping politics off your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat feeds. This is exactly where politics should be. We need to unite and spread the word, and this format makes it easy. Tip: When you want to share someone else’s post on your Facebook feed, copy/paste the message instead of using the sharing button – it reaches more people this way.

Get educated. Know your rights and spread this info. Knowledge is power.

Donate! Pick whatever organization you want (like Planned ParenthoodACLU, American Refugee Committee – you’ve got a plethora of choices when it comes to organizations under attack right now!), go to their website, and give some money. Even just $10 helps.

Host a fundraiser. If you’re an artist of any kind, turn your next gig into a way to support an organization you can get behind. The NYCLU even has a DIY kit! Obviously this takes more than three minutes, but it’s worth your time, it’s fun, and you’ll feel good afterward, I promise.

Participate in local elections. Do a quick Google search on your local government and candidates. Find one you like, support him/her, and vote in your local elections. Your voice is louder at this level and you’ll directly see more of the effects of your vote. If you’re in Brooklyn, let me make this even easier for you: vote Pia Raymond for City Council (pictured)She’s a badass activist, organizer, social worker, and mama, and she’s exactly what our government at all levels needs more of.

Stay strong and keep it up! We’ve had some important victories so far, including the latest Supreme Court ruling that shut down Muslim Ban 2.0, and there are only many more to come. 

“Too Black, Too Strong…”

Jeffery Renard Allen’sjeffrenardallen most recent essay is stunning. Urgently Visible: Why Black Lives Matter is a powerful and important must-read that masterfully combines thoughtful commentary on race, politics, and economics with well-researched, academic analysis and haunting personal narrative. It’s long yet I found myself rereading sections, my brain and heart rearranging themselves with each pass (yes, this essay is simultaneously cerebral and guttural), only to return days later to read the entire piece once more, eager to gleam new insights and understandings from Allen’s poetic, painfully honest prose. Original artwork by Anthony Young using bleach and gunpowder only enhances the message, the multiple messages, Allen is giving us. It’s a valuable read for everyone, but I urge all progressive white folk out there to read it, really truly deeply read it, and learn.

“Home Grown” Was a Blast – The Resistance Is Strong!

What an inspiring and motivating night! Many thanks to poet Terence Degnan, novelist Nora Fussner, blues/rock band JSanti, and folk/country group Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues for killin’ it this past Saturday, and to Sidewalk for having us. And thanks to all of YOU for supporting us artists and the NYCLU! We raised over $200, wooo! Stay strong, ya’ll, and check back every Friday for a new post + info on all the happenings with The Brooklyn Players Reading Society.

The BPRS Presents “Home Grown”- An NYCLU Fundraiser @ Sidewalk Cafe on Sat, March 4th!

The BPRS Presents “Home Grown” – An NYCLU Fundraiser at Sidewalk Cafe, Saturday, March 4th, 6-9 pm, $10+ suggested donation! All proceeds go to the NYCLU!

untitled-by-anthony-finePhoto by Anthony Fine

Join us on Saturday, March 4th at Sidewalk Cafe (94 Avenue A) for a night of words and music featuring poet Terence Degnan, novelist Nora Fussner, singer/songwriter John Santiago, rock/poetry duo The Brooklyn Players Reading Society (that’s us!), and folk/country group Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues. Literary door prizes, too!

In light of the recent executive order telling refugees, immigrants, and even legal green card holding residents that America is no longer their home, the reading portion of the night will revolve around the question, “What is home?” We’ll also provide you with resources and ways to join the resistance so that you’ll leave ready to act.

$10+ suggested donation – all proceeds go to the New York Civil Liberties Union!

Come share ideas, enjoy some art, and get motivated. RSVP on Facebook! #artistsresist

There’s more great music after our show so please stick around! Blues band Victor V. Gurbo goes on at 9, followed by The Line Up, a hip-hop/soul/rock showcase presented by CPP and The Band Called FUSE. Hosted by Silent Knight. (Read: dance party!)

Please note that Sidewalk has a two item minimum (including delicious food, beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks).

Huge Thanks for Mutha-ing Up Last Night at Sidewalk!

What an amazing event! Many thanks to our powerhouse performers (Samantha BarrowEmily FlakeLauren WeinsteinJade Sanchez-VenturaWhitney TaylorJessica Phillips Lorenz, and Elizabeth Isadora Gold), Sidewalk Cafe, Meg Lemke of Mutha Magazine, and all of YOU for supporting Planned Parenthood, women’s rights, and the literary arts. We raised over $600! Hell yeah! I’m thrilled to be part of such a talented and inspiring community. We are strong and will only get stronger.

Rag Order


Let me get this straight. A group of male politicians can sit around an office and talk about uteri all day, then go on national television and tell me what I can and can’t do with my own uterus, but I’m not supposed to talk about my period in public?

Um… no.

To all you men out there who continue to treat periods like some hush-hush taboo topic, I’m gonna give you some facts. Women bleed! Out of our vaginas! Every month for days! And we’re so badass that despite the cramps, bloating, backaches, fatigue, mood swings ,and dozens of other symptoms that accompany this blood, we also continue to do everything else our daily lives require out of us. This is an amazing feat. We should be celebrated!

But instead of supporting us and listening to us and cheering us on, you’re grossed out and therefore we’re supposed to pretend like none of this is happening?

Are you fucking kidding me??

We’re not talking about gallons of blood squirting out of somebody’s severed head in a Quentin Tarantino movie here. And even if we were, DEAL WITH IT. You are a grown man! Do not tell me how much you love playing war video games or watching zombie movies but then can’t deal with me talking about my period.

But in all seriousness, this isn’t about me and my frustration. The worldwide silencing of women is a real problem. Yes, that’s right, this ridiculous taboo surrounding periods equals the silencing of women. And this hurts all of us.

29081016991_b68b082ab3_oExample number one: There are lots of amazing products out there, like Thinx undies (an amazing company, by the way), the DivaCup (pictured left), Instead Softcup, and even regular tampons and pads, that do an excellent job of keeping everything nice and contained. But most women don’t know about all of these products. Why? Because we’re not allowed to talk about them! And even if they do know about them, so many women across the world simply can’t afford them. Journalist Jessica Kane did some math in a 2015 Huffington Post article and, based on research from the American Pregnancy Association, concluded that “the average woman endures some 456 total periods over 38 years, or roughly 2,280 days with her period — 6.25 years of her life.” Using these numbers, Kane calculated how much a typical woman spends on tampons throughout her lifetime of periods and came up with the figure of $1,773. Many women (myself included) also have to wear panty liners with tampons, so using the same figures, that totals another $443, equaling over $2,000 altogether. And this doesn’t include any painkillers, hot water bottles, or birth control.

Many women just don’t have that kind of money. So, let’s role-play for a minute. Imagine that you’re homeless, hungry, and you just got your period. You’re bleeding into a pair of underwear that you know you won’t be able to wash anytime soon, your cramps hurt like hell, you’re starving and craving pizza because yes, hormones really do cause food cravings, and then a stranger gives you $5. Your choices are: 1. Eat but then sit in a puddle of blood while your cramps grow so severe that you can barely walk, 2. Buy tampons but then starve while your cramps grow so severe that you can barely walk, or 3. Buy Advil, sit in a puddle of blood while you wait for it to kick in, and then probably vomit because you can’t take painkillers on an empty stomach. This is a major global issue, but we’re not talking about how to help these women because we aren’t even talking about periods.


Example number two: Because most men don’t want to hear about periods or see any sign of their existence at all, millions of girls across the world drop out of school every year because they’re afraid of having an accident in front of their male peers. MILLIONS. Can you imagine what this world would be like if millions more people finished high school? All the inventions, new businesses, and scientific discoveries we would see! All the children who would have enough food because both of their parents could work and earn money! All the hospitals that would have more doctors! All the schools that would have more teachers! All the countries that would have more female politicians and thus a more balanced and representative government!

Example number three: Not talking about periods keeps men and women separated in a way that hurts us as individuals and hurts our society. Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui recently said in an interview after losing an Olympic relay race, “It’s because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired… First off, she’s a hero because she broke some serious societal barriers by saying this. Secondly, multiple sources reported that many Chinese people, men and women alike, were shocked to learn that women can swim on their periods, much less that their periods could affect their performance.


Wait, back up. THIS MEANS THEY DIDN’T KNOW TAMPONS EXISTED. If people can’t talk about tampons, then how can we have serious conversations about birth control, sex education, pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion? How can we come together and fight for women’s rights if women don’t have the right to talk about our everyday experiences? If we’re ever going to truly be equal, then we have to talk openly about one another’s lives, and we have to actually listen to each other. This silencing is a very clear form of oppression, and all of us can do something to change it.

So ladies, don’t let people shame you because you bleed every month. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re dirty or gross. If it weren’t for periods, none of us would exist. Talk about your experiences, educate men about what is actually going on inside of you (you’d be shocked by how many people are clueless about the female anatomy), serve as a role model for other ladies, and ignore anyone who tells you otherwise.

And men, instead of acting like you’re going to vomit at the mention of a pad, use that moment to remind yourself that we women have to go through this and you don’t. Be grateful.


Photo credits:

1. “Menstruation Machine, by Sputniko!” by GlobalX / Creative Commons License
2. “Menstruationtasse” / Creative Commons License
3. “Introducing the Menstrual Cup to women’s groups in Meru” by SuSanA Secretariat / Creative Commons License
4. “Fu Yuanhui – Rio Olympic Games – 8/18/16” by Boaz Guttman / Creative Commons License

“The Way Is Already” – Lyrics to The Brooklyn Players Reading Society’s New Song

“Stop competing, start cooperating. Listen, compromise, try to empathize.” ~The Way Is Already

My band, The Brooklyn Players Reading Society, is in the process of mixing our newest tune to share with ya’ll next week. I wrote the words years ago and feel like the message is even more necessary today. Please take a moment to read over the full lyrics, accompanied by some pics from our recording process., and please also keep peace in the forefront of your minds whether you are protesting or celebrating this historic inauguration day. Stay tuned for the real deal coming at ya soon.

The Way Is Already

Prison yards in cultural centers
Benches packed with old forgotten men
run out of their homes by the big
corporations that wanted parking lots.

The only culture that they get here
is fast food, alcohol, and bein’ poor
’cause they followed glorified promises
of faulty jobs in the melting pot.

I say, We have lost the way

I confess, I’m just like everyone else, buying shit on Amazon
made by  Indonesian girls who can’t afford their own Barbie Dolls.
Yeah, I know, things are tough all over.
But I am living for a future.

A future where money doesn’t matter
as much as being kind and respectful
because we know that our own happiness 
depends on the happiness of our neighbors.

I say, We can find the way.

Protective parents rage over birth control
while their young daughters get STDs and pregnancies.
The politicians, mostly rich and male, agree.
“We need to keep our country moral!”

Yet they are hiding their true motives
behind the immoral masks of false morality.
Few of us actually seem to care
’cause corporate America’s so damn convenient.

I say, We have lost the way.

We all have to play the money game and fall victim
to materialism, consumerism and self obsession.
But if we continue to stay so separated,
we’ll lose our country and our humanity.

We’ve let go of our sense of community when really,
community is what we need the most.
Stop competing, start cooperating.
Listen, compromise, try to empathize.

I say, We can find the way.