Author Archives: kalani

Please Make the List

hurricane harveyToday I saw a Facebook post from a friend who shared the idea of having those affected by the hurricane and flood make a gift registry or Amazon wishlist to let people know what they needed. The immediate response from many of those in need was, “I feel selfish making a list of things I want people to buy for me.” I responded on the thread, but it was important enough to me that I wanted to make a separate post to just say this: Please make the list.

Y’all, I’ve been there. I’m a single mom of 5. My ex-husband went to prison when I had a newborn, 1 year old twins, a 2 year old, and an 8 year old, and at the time I was a stay at home mom with no source of income, a mortgage, a car payment, and tons of other bills – all in my name – to pay. I lost everything and had to move back home with my mom. My car wasn’t big enough to fit all of my children inside, so I was basically homebound for the first several months until my stepdad traded in my beloved Ford Edge for a minivan and financed the difference between the two. Please believe me when I say that I know what it feels like to need things and to HATE with every fiber of your being that you cannot provide those things for your family on your own. I learned – and continue to learn – a hard, hard lesson that feels counterintuitive, but is actually true, and that is that interdependence is greater than independence. This is important, y’all. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: interdependence is greater than independence.

Independence is awesome. Being able to provide everything you need for yourself is ideal. But, the truth is, we were never meant to do it all on our own. We’ve always been designed to be social animals, to interact with each other, and to depend upon each other. One of the most beautiful things you can give someone else is your vulnerability. Vulnerability is the glue that binds us to each other and turns acquaintances into friendships. And it takes a lot of vulnerability to put an actual list of things you cannot provide for yourself out there and ask for help.

I’ve had a rough few years. Caring for 5 young children on my own has been the hardest challenge of my life. There have been times when I’ve wondered if I might *actually* die from the stress and physical and emotional exhaustion I experienced. I have a little Facebook group that is filled with my very best friends, and at one point when I was having a particularly difficult time, my friends basically staged an intervention. They stepped in and said, “we need you to make an Amazon wishlist and fill it with things that you need in order to function.” I didn’t want to do it. I balked at it and then felt guilty for putting things on the list that I needed. I didn’t make the list public. But, then my very wise friend put out a call in our little Facebook group asking for everyone to post their Amazon wishlists “just in case,” so that if someone was having a hard time, we could go to the list and easily grab them a little something that we knew they wanted/needed, and send it to let them know we were thinking about them. I knew everyone else was posting their list just so that I wouldn’t feel like the group’s BHON (Black Hole of Need), but their willingness to be vulnerable with me allowed me to feel ok about being vulnerable with them.

I posted the list.

I will be forever grateful that I did, and that my friends answered my unvoiced call for help by asking me to post that list. My friends saved me when I needed them, and if you are one of those who is suffering as a result of Hurricane Harvey, you deserve friends like mine to help you through this. Here in Texas, I’ve realized that there are friends everywhere that maybe you don’t even know. Because here’s the thing: people want to help. They want to help YOU…not just to throw money at the general problem, but to help specific people in tangible, meaningful ways. It feels good to know that your contribution is going TO someone specific and fills a need they actually have. I know how uncomfortable it is to put that list out there in public, knowing that people may judge you for it. BUT, I also know what it feels like to be vulnerable and accept the help that is offered. It was a lesson I needed to learn – that in some seasons of our lives we will be blessed with abundance and will be able to bless the lives of others through giving; in other seasons, it will be our turn to receive gifts and allow others the blessings that come from giving. Don’t deny others the blessing of being the giver just because it’s not your turn. Remember that interdependence is greater than independence. Vulnerability creates connection. You’ll have your chance to pay it forward. But, today, please make the list.

FEMWOC Stands with BYU Rape Survivor

At FEMWOC we have followed the stories of various brave women as they spoke out about their experiences with sexual assault and rape at Brigham Young University. We were encouraged by the early actions taken by the university as these stories came to light. However, recent disturbing events negate some of the earlier progress made. Please read the words of Colleen Payne Dietz and support BYU Rape Survivor as they fight this new obstacle to justice.

From Colleen Payne Dietz:
This last summer, we as BYU Rape Survivor banded together in an effort to urge BYU to revise the way they handle victims of rape and sexual assault on their campus. Following much coverage by the media, BYU commissioned an Advisory Council that provided BYU with a report in October of last year. Last Friday, BYU announced the hiring of a new Title IX coordinator and a brand new position hire of Victim Advocate. Together, a group of strong survivors and I drafted a response to BYU’s decision to hire internally for the positions of Title IX Coordinator and Victim Advocate. This decision reflects a gross failure on the part of BYU to commit to and act in a way to bring about change in the way BYU handles rape and sexual assault. We feel it does nothing but reinforce a systemic error in collective thinking at BYU. We are outraged.

As recently as May of last year, Tiffany Turley (newly appointed Title IX Coordinator) was against an Amnesty Clause, or an immunity for victims of rape and sexual assault to be pursued for circumstances surrounding the attack. This demonstrates to us that she will not be loyal to victims. This is an egregious failure. The “chilling effect” that BYU needs to overcome will only be perpetuated by appointing an individual who believes in this way. Victims will continue to fear punishment at the hands of the Tile IX office.

Many of us in the BYU Survivor community, when we turned to BYU for help, were shamed, threatened and absolutely wounded by the treatment we received. By simply moving around existing personnel within an already offensive organization, BYU has shown they have not understood the true spirit outlined in the Advisory Council Report that they committed to follow.

Please, hear our outrage! Feel our pain! We need your support as we continue to fight for a safer place for our sisters and brothers at BYU.

To view the Salt Lake Tribune article about this travesty, please click here.

Can You Please Wait A Damn Second Before Calling 911

charles kinsey

I’m sure you’ve seen the latest incidence of unnecessary police brutality – a black healthcare professional named Charles Kinsey who was shot while on the ground with his hands up as he desperately tried to calm his autistic patient. I hope you’re outraged and appalled. And I hope you’re tired of the violence. I am.

I’m not black, but I am a brown mother of brown boys who will grow up to be brown men, and I need you to hear me when I say that I fear for their lives, not because I expect them to do something wrong that will lead to a confrontation with the police, but because I fear that you – you being someone in the general public – will perceive them as a threat where no threat exists, and will call 911 for absolutely no damn reason. If you are reading this and are thinking to yourself, “Of course I would call 911 if there was cause for alarm!” then I am talking to you. Please don’t. At least not until you truly assess the situation. Continue reading

What Can I Do: A Heartbreaking Repost

I wrote a post called “What Can I Do” exactly one year ago tomorrow in response to a tragic mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. I am heartbroken that almost exactly a year later, it is necessary to repost this, changing just a few words, in response to yet another tragic mass shooting, this time at Club Pulse in Orlando, FL. I look at these two events happening less than a year apart, and I am horrified, HORRIFIED as an American, as a person of color, as a citizen of the world that this is happening. Sending love to the Orlando victims, those who love them, the LGBTQ and Latinx communities, and also remembering the lives lost at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC and mourning with my black brothers and sisters as the anniversary of that tragic event approaches. Come on, America. We’ve got to do better. Modified repost as follows:


When I woke up to the horrific news of the tragedy at Club Pulse in Orlando, I immediately thought of many of my dear friends in the LGBTQ and Latinx communities, and wondered how they were faring. As I texted and messaged my friends individually to check in, I found that the overwhelming emotions are, as expected, sadness and anger. And I thought to myself, “What can I do? How can I make their burden lighter?” Continue reading


Happy-BirthdayNext Monday, FEMWOC will officially be one year old! We want to thank our readers who have learned and grown with us this year, and to show our appreciation, we’ve decided to have a little fun. We’re holding a haiku contest…today is World Poetry Day, after all! Tell us how you’ve grown this year – as a woman, as a person of color, as an ally, as a reader – and do it poetically. Enter your haiku for a chance to win a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists.

For those who haven’t written a haiku since elementary school (like me!), here are the parameters:
A haiku is 3 lines, consisting of 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then 5 syllables again. We have written an example below:

Angry, funny, sad
We’ve learned to share our stories
FEMWOC speaks hard truths

Your haiku can be serious or lighthearted, funny or sad…the only requirements are that it is a haiku and it is about your growth in the last year with regard to the various issues our FEMWOC blog addresses. Submit your haiku by commenting below. FEMWOC admin will choose 3 finalists and then our readers will vote on a winner. Submission deadline is Sunday, March 27th, and we will open public voting for our Birthday Celebration Poetry Contest finalists on March 28th.


Go Home, Ben Carson. You’re Drunk.

I watched this video yesterday of the most adorable 106 year old woman named Virginia McLaurin dancing with the President and First Lady. I got a little teary eyed when she held their hands and told them that she never thought she would see the day when she would be welcomed into the White House to meet a black president. It was a beautiful moment, and reminded me of how important it is that we see ourselves represented in our leadership. It meant something to Ms. McLaurin that she was able to look into the eyes of the President of the United States and see one of her own looking back. It was powerful and wonderful and it made me appreciate the special time in history that I am blessed to be a part of.

ben Continue reading

Two Polynesians Walk into a Bar…

“Two Polynesians Walk into a Bar…”

It sounds like the start of a joke, but this incident is far from funny. If you’re of Pasifika decent and living in the US, you’ve probably already heard about Willie’s – the bar in Utah that reserves the right to refuse to serve alcohol to Polynesian men. I watched this video yesterday, and was definitely taken aback by the idea that the staff was instructed specifically not to serve “Polynesians.” As one of my Utah-based friends so eloquently said yesterday, “I didn’t know I lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Or maybe it’s 1960?” Seriously. It’s 2016. And in 2016 people are being refused service based on ethnicity. Houston, we have a problem. Continue reading