Stand Against Racism Essay Contest

Stand against racismThe YWCA Young Women’s Council’s 2016 Stand Against Racism Essay Contest

We are seeking 1,000 word essays from young women of color addressing the impacts of institutional and structural racism on their life and how they have addressed these challenges.

Who can Enter?

  • Open to young women of color ages 12-18
  • Winners must be residents of Utah.
  • YWCA Staff, Board, Young Women’s Council members, and their immediate families are ineligible to submit essays for this award.

What’s the prize?

  • Grand Prize award: $500 scholarship
  • Up to two runners-up will be identified with awards of $250 each
  • All winners will receive a complimentary one-year YWCA membership

How do I enter?

Essays are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 22, 2016. All submissions must be typed, double-spaced and submitted with a cover page featuring the author’s name, age, and contact information. Submit essays to or deliver to YWCA Utah, 322 East 300 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.

The YWCA Young Women’s Council will select the winning essays and announce the winners during the YWCA’s annual Stand Against Racism, April 28-May 1, 2016.

About the YWCA Young Women’s Council

The YWCA Young Women’s Council is a group of young YWCA members ages 18-35 who work to promote the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Council members represent the YWCA in the community through service and advocacy, participate in leadership development opportunities, and plan the annual YWCA Young Women’s Leadership Summit.

About Stand Against Racism

Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities. Founded by YWCA Trenton and YWCA Princeton in 2007, YWCA Utah took a Stand Against Racism in 2011 and continues to participate annually as part of our mission to eliminate racism.

You should vote for Derek Kitchen (Here’s why)


On a recent Friday night, I met with Derek Kitchen, candidate for Salt Lake City’s City Council District 4 to knock on doors in his district. You probably remember Derek from the Kitchen v. Herbert (2013) case, which challenged Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. Derek, his now-husband, Moudi Sbeity, and two other couples paved the way for marriage equality in our notoriously conservative state. With his signature mustache, and his hand over his heart, Derek fought for the entire State of Utah, but now he’s fighting for District 4 where he lives and owns a small business. The issues near and dear to Derek’s heart are affordable housing, small & local business development, and sustainable energy, to name a few, but the common thread within all of those issues is Derek’s commitment to social justice. 

After we finished knocking on doors I sat down with Derek at Taqueria 27 to talk about his campaign platform. For the sake of full-disclosure I want to let you know that Derek and I have been friends for a while, we met in 2009 at the Salt Lake Community College. Interviewing Derek the candidate doesn’t look all that different from dinners I’ve had with Derek my friend. He talked passionately about his commitment to bi-partisan solutions, explaining how he’s not going to get bogged down in politics to the detriment of his beloved city. Earlier that week he met with U.S. Representative Mia Love, and a work group within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Derek spoke affectionately about both meetings, and how he believes that even when it seems like you have nothing in common, you can come together for the sake of your city.

It was a breath of fresh air to hear someone talk about putting welfare over politics, but the high point in the night was listening to Derek talk about small business development. For Derek small business growth is as personal as it is political. Him and his partner, Moudi, own Laziz Foods, a middle eastern spreads company they started in 2012. Laziz has grown from humble beginnings at local farmer’s markets to grocery stores across the valley, with a possible cafe expansion in the future. Derek emphatically pointed out that:

“For every dollar you spend at a local business, three times more stays in our economy than if it were spent at a national chain. In fact, spending just 10% more to local businesses would keep approximately $1.3 billion in the Utah economy each year.”

And it’s not just the economics of small business that matter–Derek is committed to creating work and shopping environments that better serve marginalized people in District 4 (i.e. gender neutral bathrooms and farmers markets that accept SNAP benefits). He is deeply invested in small business, but at the heart of that investment is his commitment to equality. A prime example of this took place a few days after our meeting–Derek went out with the 4th Street Clinic mobile outreach team to witness firsthand the medical services they provide to people living in homelessness. He isn’t afraid to dive right and learn about the issues, and I know that no one will be left behind with Derek Kitchen as the District 4 councilman.

Our interview meandered from topic to topic as we noshed on guacamole. We covered everything from sustainability (Laziz is a certified Zero Waste business) to police brutality and rape kit backlogs. But the most profound thing Derek said all night was, “Just because something doesn’t affect me directly, or I don’t talk about it daily, doesn’t mean I can’t champion the cause. I’m always open to hearing about issues I may have missed.” Derek Kitchen is the real deal–a compassionate, fair-minded, social justice advocate with a grasp of the issues facing his community, and even better, a willingness to listen when he doesn’t understand.

I urge you to remember that local elections like council District 4 impact your day-to-day life in profound ways, and local elections really do hinge on a handful of votes. Only 3660 people voted in the District 4 primary (Derek received a staggering 36% of those votes). His challenger in the general election made it to the general election by a meager forty-eight votes. It truly matters when you do or don’t cast your ballot, so take the time to register, and remember that this year’s election is by mail.  If you’re like me, and you support Derek, but don’t live in his area, consider volunteering with the campaign by reaching out online to his campaign manager, Mike Harmond. You’ll knock on some doors, meet new people, and spread the word about a great, trustworthy candidate for District 4.

Can Derek count on your vote in November? Tell us why in the comments!

Urgent: Governor Herbert Diverts Planned Parenthood Funding

Govenor-Gary-Herbert-UtahGovernor Gary R. Herbert ordered agencies to stop sending federal funds to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. What does this mean? According to the Governor’s office, these are the funds being held hostage:

Planned Parenthood’s budget for fiscal 2015 includes about $100,000 for STD testing and reporting, $115,000 for “abstinence education and personal responsibility education” and $1,339 for providing pregnancy tests and STD screenings to victims of rape and sexual assault.

Gary Herbert is putting Utahns at risk for purely political reasons. I urge you to contact his office. Here are some tips for writing to public officials:

  • Use their official title

  • Let them know if you are a constituent

  • Be polite, no personal attacks

  • Get to the point–include your topic, concerns, and a quick fact to make your point

  • Be direct and keep it brief

  • Ask them to contact you—include your contact information

Feel free to copy and paste my statement below and switch out your name and include contact information:

Governor Herbert,

I am usually a proud Utahn, but today I am ashamed. I am ashamed that the governor of my home state put politics over women’s health. Planned Parenthood provides invaluable healthcare and education to Utah’s most vulnerable populations. Planned Parenthood uses its federal funds appropriately, and it uses them well. You are playing politics with the lives of your constituents.

I am appalled, and I urge you to re-think your decision


Chelsea Kilpack, West Jordan

Governor Herbert reports to us! Let him know he’s doing a bad job!

Pilot Program: The Restoration of Polygamy, Fertility Pressure, and Faith


Photo credit: Rick Pollock


What would you give up to be considered a “good” feminist? Think long and hard. Now imagine you are asked to interrupt your current monogamous relationship and bring in a third-party. Could you do it? That’s the question asked of Abigail (played by April Fossen) and Jacob (played by April’s husband, Mark Fossen), but their question is: What would you do for your church? Melissa Leilani Larson’s Pilot Program opens with an achingly silent scene between LDS Church members Abigail and Jacob. They have just been asked to take part in the Church’s “pilot program” to restore polygamy.

The expected plot trajectory is for Jacob to push his wife into the arrangement, but Larson defies expectation with Abigail. Abigail, a smart and cynical college professor (perhaps a Mormon feminist?) is the one who feels a “blossom of warmth” in her chest, and immediately calls a former BYU student, Heather to begin the couple’s proposition. If Jacob is going to have another wife, Abigail wants to choose.

Without giving too much away, let me just say that you’re in for a gut-wrenching journey of exploration. How much could you endure for your faith, and is the decision truly about God, or it some other social pressure? Pilot Program explores infertility with Abigail and Jacob. Mainstream heterosexual culture constantly pressures women to become mothers, but throw in a dash of Mormonism, and the pressure to conceive triples. After three miscarriages, failed in vitro fertilization, and stalled adoption plans, it seems that Abigail invites Heather into her otherwise blissful marriage to punish herself for infertility.

April and Mark Fossen are married offstage, and not surprisingly, play their married characters perfectly. Heather (played by Sussanna Florence Risser) does a remarkable job–you manage to like a character who anyone in the audience could reasonably hate (I know she was invited, but I wanted to call her a home-wrecker?). Plan B’s Jerry Rapier always stuns as the director, and Pilot Program is no different.

Pilot Program runs from April 9-19th at the Rose Wagner Theatre, and tickets are quickly selling out. Make sure to get yours before they’re gone, and gather up your favorite Mormon faithful, feminists, and other friends to go see this funny and thought-provoking play.


Bye Bye Boobies!


It’s a sad state of affairs when gender-affirming surgeries aren’t covered by insurance, but the SLC Feminist community can help! Jamie is going in for top surgery and needs some help with the last little bit. Every dollar helps on their gender journey.

Here is Jamie’s description of the fundraiser from Indiegogo:

Hi! My name is Jamie, I’m a 24 yr old public health grad student and full-time employee. I identify as non-binary and use they/them/their pronouns. I live in downtown Salt Lake with my cutie partner Dot and a sassy lil cat named Cleo.

I created this Indiegogo page to raise money for my surgery with Dr. Cori Agarwal on May 14, 2015. As I have been prioritizing things in my life in order to do what makes me happiest, I have realized how critical this surgery is for me in helping me feel valid in my gender identity, as my chest is my biggest source of my dysphoria. Unfortunately, neither of my insurances cover trans-related procedures, and so I will be covering the cost of this surgery on my own.

I will be getting double incision top surgery w/nipple grafts, which is an outpatient procedure done under general anesthesia (takes approximately 3-4 hours). Fortunately, my surgeon is located at the U of U hospital, so I will not have any travel expenses.

Dr. Agarwal’s fee for the surgery will be $5,855, plus possible revision costs. So far I have saved $3,900 on my own, but that leaves me $1,955 short. The full cost of surgery must be paid in full by May 1, 2015, which is two weeks before the surgery will take place.

Any small contribution you could make would be incredibly appreciated. No amount is too small. To show my gratitude, I’d like to send a hand written card with a small surprise (doodles or stickers or glitter or WHO KNOWS!?), so if you’d like to receive a card, please include your name so that I can contact you! Thank you thank you thank you.