When Empathy Fails

I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy. I think it’s often one of those words we bat around, but don’t really dig into it’s meaning or implications.

Taking a page from “love is a verb not a feeling,” I’ve been trying to develop a framework for empathy as a practice — something I do, rather than something I spontaneously feel.

Relying on my own lived experience to breed instinctual empathy is limited at best. My privilege and my mortality mean that empathy often fails the further away someone’s lived experiences are from my own. So, how do I develop empathy beyond the reach of my own experience and understanding? Continue reading

The Posts You Like Most

As part of our birthday celebration, we thought we would do a roundup of our top 10 most popular posts. This is a good way for those of you who recently found us to check out some of our other work and get to know FEMWOC a little better. Continue reading

Domestic Violence and Native American Women

White Buffalo Calf Woman Society (WBCWS) is a 501-c3 domestic violence shelter. Since 1977, when WBCWS, Inc. was founded as a non-profit organization, WBCWS has been working with women, men, and children on the Rosebud Reservation and surrounding areas. In October of 1980, the WBCWS established the first women’s shelter on an Indian reservation in the United States. To this day, it continues to serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and it has become more than just a shelter, but also a resource of information for the Native community. 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.


Transcending Time Through Gumbo

   March is Women’s History month. As I think about this in the context of Mormonism, I think about how personal history is such an important part of our religious practice. This personal history becomes part of our individual narratives. Unfortunately, my attempts to collect my personal history do not extend beyond this continent. Even genealogy is a penetrating reminder of the continual tragedy of slavery and its far reaching effects. Despite this, I have realized that I have found connection to the women from my personal history through personal ritual. Sure, it doesn’t reach far beyond the continent and beyond the grips of slavery, but it makes me feel closer to the women who have gone before me.

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“Doers of the Word” – Continuation of Book Discussion

Thank you for joining us for our discussion of the book “Doers of the Word”: African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the North (1830-1880) by Carla L. Peterson during Black History Month.  Because the book is full to the brim with thought-provoking passages, because it is about African American women, and because March is Women’s History Month, we will be continuing our discussion.  For more details, check out our earlier post that outlines the book discussion concept.

As a kickoff to this month’s discussion, I want to share (again) one of the quotes from the book that struck a chord with me.

The quote is from Sarah Parker Remond  and it addressed her ongoing struggle against racial prejudice and oppression in these poignant words:

In joy or sorrow, whether pursuing the pleasures or business of life, it [prejudice against colour] has thrust itself like a huge sphinx, darkening my pathway, and, at times, almost overwhelming the soul constantly called to meet such a conflict.

I have been blessed with many opportunities.  In the midst of those blessings, however, I find myself constantly battling the ever-present racial prejudice and oppression that I have experienced throughout my fifty-eight years on earth. 

As Remond wrote, there are days when the racial prejudice and oppression threaten to overwhelm me and to crush my spirit.  But like Remond and the other women who are the subjects of “Doers of the Word” and like so many other women of color around the world, I just “keep on keeping on.”

I invite you to join in the continuing exploration of “Doers of the Word” so that we may, collectively and individually, learn from the courageous women highlighted therein and develop our own strategies for overcoming not only racial prejudice and oppression but all forms of prejudice and oppression.

Ready for Revelation – 1 PoV by 1 PoC

I originally wrote this post for Ordain Women. It explains one of the reasons I support women’s ordination. This was originally posted on OrdainWomen.org on February 1, 2016. 

The story of black women within the Mormon church has often been ignored. Instead, we focus on those whose oppressions are easily categorized without intersections. The racial oppression of black men through their exclusion of the Priesthood and the pious suffering of white women as they endured the sacrifices and the sexism of polygamy take center stage. At best, black women are a distant afterthought.

Continue reading