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The Bella Bulletin AUGUST 2018

FOLLOW US @ABZUGINSTITUTE New year, new bulletin staff!

British Physicist on a Ground-breaking mission

Read pages 12 and 13 to learn what our departing Bulletin staff has been up to over the last year. Read Gisselle’s letter on page 19!

Pictures from our summer programs

Dr. Jess Wade has written 270 Can you spot you and your BALI besties? Wikipedia pages for trailblazing Check pages 5-11! female scientists. Read more about her on page 18.

Table of Contents July and august in women’s History…….……3

BALI Summer Programs.....…………………….…,5 ALUMNI Spotlight: Women in Action …..……8 Bulletin Staff Updates.........…………..…..…... .12 Featured Article of the Month………......…….14 Featured Headlines of the Month……………..16 Trailblazer Tributes..............................................17 Happy Birthday to the Bella Bulletin...............19 Enrichment Programs.........................................20 BALI STAFF & Board of Directors……….……....22 BELLA BULLETIN STAFF …………………………......23

Women’s History of the month:



Women’s History of the month:



Summer 2018 Bali Leadership Training Programs

For the first time in BALI History, we held three summer programs: The 2-week Leadership and Debate Training Program, the 1-week Leadership and Debate Training Program, and the 2-day Entrepreneurship Program.






A special thank you to our staff, interns, and presenters. You each have graciously invested your time and energy in the next generation of leaders. The summer programs could not be possible without your support.


What has the Bella Bulletin Staff been up to? I began my freshman year of college last September, at Northeastern University. I’ve made efforts to learn more about the Boston community and the impact my university has on its surroundings. I started school early, joining the NU Alliance for Civically Engaged Students. Through that, I volunteered as a computer skills tutor at a community center for adults rejoining the work force. I also became a member of the Student Government Finance Board. Our main responsibility is to distribute a $2million budget to student groups. I spent this summer interning for Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive. I am excited to go to Puerto Rico for the hurricane relief efforts and go back to school in September! – Gisselle Rodriguez Benitez, Rising College Sophomore, Former Editor-in-Chief

After being a trainee at BALI, I have gotten more involved in my community at Bard High Queens by being a cofounder of our school’s Dream Team, an advocacy group for undocumented youth, and by being a co-editor for our online literary magazine “Immigrant Voices.” The Dream Team has had several successes this past year including getting the opportunity to present for Queensborough President Melinda Katz’s Immigration Task Force, and having immigrant rights activist Angy Rivera host a Q&A for our school’s annual Symposium Day. Outside of school I also had the opportunity to have a short original play of mine produced by the Writopia Worldwide Play Festival. Moving forward, I will continue to work with the Dream Team to fight for the rights of undocumented youth as well as working for the Bella Bulletin. – Zoe Donovan, Rising High School Senior, Incoming Editor-inChief


I've just completed my first year at Brown University, where I began my time by attending the Third World Transition Program, a pre-orientation program meant for students with various marginalized identities to adjust to life at Brown. After doing so, I delved right into exciting classes and extracurriculars, joining in La Alianza Latinx, an affinity group for Latinx Students, and Dominican Students at Brown. I served as freshman representative for the former, and helped the latter with their annual Carnaval celebration and empanada sales. As I move forward to my second year, I'll be staffing the Third World Transition Program later this month, working with other students to create a presentation on cissexism and sexism, and hopefully helping new first year students adjust to the Brown community. – Adriana Rodriguez, Rising College Sophomore, Editor

Throughout the past two years I have founded and been the president of my club, Students Together Against Racism. I have worked hard to combat issues in regards to race around my community, specifically my school community. I have been recently elected as the senior class president, which allows me to be the voice for my fellow senior class constituents. I am working hard to diversify my schools curriculum as well as having more representation within my school. I am hoping that within the near future, my fellow peers will join me to support this cause so that the students, all students, can receive the quality education they deserve. – Wilma De Pass, Rising High School Senior, Editor


Featured Article of the Month After Masterpiece, It’s Time to Change the Constitution By Jennifer Finney Boylan, contributor to the New York Times June 4, 2018 The Supreme Court has ruled on the Masterpiece Cake case — and on the surface, it would appear to be a loss for L.G.B.T.Q. Americans. The justices ruled 7 to 2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the religious freedom of a baker, Jack Phillips, when it sanctioned him for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, in 2012. “The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. In spite of this, the ruling is relatively narrow. “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Justice Kennedy wrote, “all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” In other words, while Masterpiece is a loss for L.G.B.T.Q. people, the question of how to balance religious freedom with the rights of queer people remains unresolved, and will most likely continue to be explored and debated in the future, and by the Supreme Court not least. And this, more than the case itself, is the greater loss for L.G.B.T.Q. people. We lose when our rights are considered debatable. Even if the Supreme Court had ruled unanimously against the baker, in fact, L.G.B.T.Q. Americans would still be considered second-class citizens in many aspects of civic life. We can still be legally fired or denied housing in 28 states. More than 300 anti-L.G.B.T.Q. bills have been introduced

in the states in the past three years. In Oklahoma, gay and lesbian couples can be denied the ability to adopt children. Masterpiece wouldn’t have changed any of that, just as Obergefell v. Hodges didn’t change any of that, just as rescinding the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy didn’t. The only thing that will truly enshrine equal protection under the law for all Americans, including L.G.B.T.Q. people, is an amendment to the Constitution. Call it the Dignity Amendment. The text might read: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.” It’s the brainchild of Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of Glaad (where I served as co-chairwoman of the board of directors for four years). The Dignity Amendment would guarantee that L.G.B.T.Q. Americans are treated like all other Americans. It would send the message that we are part of the fabric of this nation. It would guarantee that our rights as taxpayers and as participants in the civic life of the country cannot be abridged because of our private lives. It would make it clear, once and for all, that the “We” in 14 “We the people” includes everybody.

What would it not do? It would not turn you gay. It would not demand that bathrooms be coed. It would not elide the differences between men and women. It would not eliminate child support. It would not force states to pay for abortion. If some of these fears sound familiar (if ridiculous), it’s because they’re among the canards that conservatives have inflicted upon us regarding the still-unratified Equal Rights Amendment over the past 40-plus years. And yet, in spite of this barrage of misinformation, the E.R.A. — once given up for dead after it stalled three states short of ratification in 1977 — has continued to make progress. Last year, Nevada ratified it. Last month, Illinois did the same. That leaves one more state to go — although the most recent time limit on the amendment expired in 1982. If the E.R.A. were to pass one more state, a legal showdown would ensue. (And not without good reason: The E.R.A. was unique in having a time limit imposed. The 27th Amendment, in fact, was passed after Michigan ratified it in 1992, over 200 years after James Madison proposed it.) Those of us in L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy have watched with interest as the E.R.A., presumed dead, has been revivified by a changing culture. The #MeToo movement is part of it. The president is surely another. Critics can say that prevention of discrimination on the basis of sex is already settled law, addressed by, among other statutes, the 14th Amendment. But plenty of women look at Harvey Weinstein, and Donald Trump, and wonder, fairly enough, how we can be considered equals in this country when men like this hold sway over our lives.

authors of our Constitution, so brilliant in so many ways, were also capable of counting a black inhabitant of the country as only three-fifths of a person? Was it really just over 150 years ago that we fought a war on the question of slavery? Was it really less than 100 years ago that women got the right to vote? I believe that future generations will look back at our reluctance to provide equal protection under the law for queer Americans with a similar sense of astonishment. It won’t take long, either; 20 percent of millennials, according to a Glaad study, identify as L.G.B.T.Q., and 63 percent consider themselves straight allies. The day is coming when to describe yourself as queer in this country will be considered just one more way to be an American. It will be unexceptional, just as it always ought to have been. In the meantime, Masterpiece is a defeat — a qualified defeat, to be sure, and a defeat that may well be revisited. But a bigger defeat is having to have one’s rights as a citizen challenged, discussed and put forth for debate in the first place. This is not just a matter of dignity. It’s a matter of common sense. We turn to the Constitution for deliverance, and for justice. Critical Questions: 1) Which piece of legislation should we as a country be focusing on right now? 2) In addition to legislation, how else can we ensure equal rights for LGBTQ+ people? 3) For our 2018 BALI alumni: how has debating the ERA this summer informed the way you read this article and others like it?

L.G.B.T.Q. people would be helped by the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, to be sure, just as we would be helped by the passage of the Equality Act, a proposed addendum to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that provides explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. But neither of these provides the kind of explicit and incontrovertible affirmation that the Dignity Amendment would enshrine. Some things demand the most dramatic and historic actions. I suggest that setting the humanity of L.G.B.T.Q. Americans into stone requires nothing less. Americans look back on their short history sometimes with wonder and dismay. How is it possible that the


Headlines of the Month Wildfires in Mati, Greece Mati, a village in Greece, northwest of Athens, was raged by wildfires July 23 and 24. The worst the village has seen since 2007, the wild fires have caused 88 deaths, and have destroyed thousands of buildings, homes, and cars. The flames forced people to evacuate to the coasts, and local coast guards reported almost 700 people needing to be rescued. The people of Mati are now speaking out against the government’s inadequate and underprepared response to the wildfires, pointing to the ignored requests of the fire department to evacuate the area and the failure of the meteorological service to predict the high-speed winds.

Thai Youth Soccer Team Rescued from Cave The Wild Boars, the young soccer team in Thailand that was trapped in the Tham Luang cave for over two weeks, were finally rescued this month. The twelve boys and their coach initially went missing late last month when the team decided to go to the Tham Luang cave, a popular and dangerous exploration spot. Their families knew that the boys must have gotten lost in the cave, but it wasn’t until a week later that two British divers were able to find the team in the cave. The process of extracting the boys involved not only this pair of international divers, but the Thai Navy SEALs, and buddhist monks and other holy people from as far as Bangkok. Since their rescue, the Wild Boars have been offered many opportunities to travel abroad by international soccer teams. But for many of the boys, including their coach, these travel opportunities are out of the question due to their statelessness.

Nia Wilson Murdered in Oakland, California On Sunday, July 22, Nia Wilson, an 18 year-old black young woman, was fatally stabbed by John Lee Cowell, a 27 year-old white man, at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station (BART) in Oakland California. Nia and her sister Lahtifa Wilson were on their way home from a family function when John Lee Cowell stabbed both sisters in what BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas has called “one of the most vicious attacks that I've seen" in his almost 30 years of being a police officer. Her sister Lahtifa is recovering from severe wounds, while Nia was killed at the scene. While many have justly called this unsolicited attack by a white man against two black women racially motivated, the office prosecuting Cowell has stated that there is currently not enough evidence to move forward with the case as a hate crime.

Cuba’s New Constitution Draft Paves Way for Same-Sex Marriage While the new draft does not legalize same-sex marriage, it clearly outlines a path for later legislation to do so by redefining marriage as “the consensual union of two people, regardless of gender.” While many LGBTQ+ individuals were sent to correctional labor camps for their sexuality during Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, his niece, Mariela Castro, has greatly contributed to dismantling the country’s institutionalized homophobia by pushing for legal sex-change operations, criminalizing workplace discrimination, running the National Center for Sex Education in Havana, and contributing to the draft of the new constitution. 16

Nia Wilson, 18, Dies in Tragic Stabbing in a Subway Station Original article from, by Dakin Andone and Dan Simon

On July 20th, sisters Nia and Lahtifa Wilson were waiting on the platform of the MacArthur BART station, when 27 year old John Cowell suddenly came up to them and stabbed the both of them, killing eighteen year old Nia at the scene. Lahtifa, Nia’s sister who survived the attack, said of the incident “it came out of nowhere” and that they were “blindsided by a maniac.” Cowell, after stabbing the women, ran away from the scene, ridding himself of personal items. After a BART rider recognized his face after seeing him on the local news, he was taken into police custody. The tragic death of Nia Wilson and the attack of her sister is sparking outrage among many, including the family of the two girls, but also across the nation. Nia Wilson’s family regarded her highly, describing her as selfless, “always positive” and “beautiful inside and out. The Wilsons’ father, Ansar Muhammed, wants justice for his daughters, as do the thousands who have spoken out in the girls’ honor over the past week- including actress Anne Hathaway, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Because

the attack is still under investigation, law enforcement hasn’t come to a conclusion concerning whether or not the attack was racially motivated/a hate crime; still, many are unconvinced that a white man’s violent tirade against two black women had nothing to do with race. Schaaf said of the hate crime question: “Although investigators currently have no evidence to conclude that this tragedy was racially motivated or that the suspect was affiliated with any hate groups, the fact that his victims were both young African American women stirs deep pain and palpable fear in all of us who acknowledge the reality that our country still suffers from a tragic and deeply racist history.”

The attack of the Wilson sisters, especially Nia’s death, is a serious tragedy to the family and to the community. In addition, it is reflective of our society in which black lives, especially black women’s lives, are not treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Hopefully their family and community can find some comfort in Cowell being brought to justice as the case continues later this month.


Scientist Embarks on a Mission to Get Women In STEM Noticed Original article from by Jenna Amatulli

Over the past year, British Physicist Dr. Jess Wade has uploaded over 270 Wikipedia profiles on the website. Her goal in doing so? Giving other remarkable female scientists the opportunity to gain the “prominence and recognition they deserve.” Wade, who as a PhD student recognized not only the lack of women in her field, but the lack of acknowledgement that accomplished female scientists have, has made it her duty to highlight these impressive women, in order to increase female participation in STEM. Wade has observed that often times initiatives in place to increase girls’ participation in STEM are not followed through on. Wade also says of these programs, “Absolutely none of them are evidence-based and none of them work. It’s so unscientific, that’s what really surprises me.” Wade is not the only one who has embarked on the mission to encourage STEM to girls and women in this way. Wiki WomenInRed, Wiki Project Women Scientists, and Wiki Underrepresentation of

Science and Women in Africa all have compiled lists of women who have made important contributions to STEM. The global movement has, of course, attracted some trolls, but Dr. Wade isn’t too concerned. “It’s easy to try and bring people down on the internet, but it’s much more fun to elevate them.” Not phased by opponents, she has expanded her journey, tweeting about each scientist on her account @jesswade.

Dr. Wade’s important work in getting representation for female scientists is an important reminder that there continue to be glass ceilings broken by and for women, and especially by and for black women and women of color. Her advice to girls looking to careers in STEM? “You’re equally as good (if not better) than the boys around you. You may not feel it now, because growing up is super awkward, but you’ll realize how brilliant you are one day. And when you do, it would help if you were a scientist or engineer, because then you’d be making the world a better place for everyone else in it.”


Happy Birthday to the Bella Bulletin! New year, new staff!

BALI Family, It has been an honor to serve as Editor-in-Chief for the last year. The Bulletin was a project I started last year after our summer programs. I thought it would be valuable to keep a record of the accomplishments of our institute and of the girls and women we serve. I have loved learning more about the BALI family, its supporters, and of our mission to empower 21st century leaders. I will be stepping down and handing over the Bulletin to Zoe Donovan, one of our sub-editors. She has been instrumental in providing news, editorials, and organizing the alumnae op-eds. I have no doubt that under her leadership, the Bella Bulletin will improve and better serve our network. She will introduce herself in next month’s publication. I am excited for the new year to come and for the future of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute. Yours in sisterhood,

Gisselle Rodriguez Benitez Former Editor-in-Chief 19

Looking for Enrichment Opportunities? Black Girls Code offers programming and events in coding for African American girls. Brotherhood/Sister Sol offers afterschool and summer programming in relationshipbuilding, self/global awareness, social justice, leadership development, and more. Some of their programs are gender-specific. ChickTech offers programming and mentorship in STEM for high school girls. Curious Jane offers classes and summer programming in science, theatre, arts and crafts, and more for girls. Digital Girl, Inc. works at high schools to provide programming in STEM and offers tech workshops for the community. Girl Be Heard works in high schools to teach girls about gender, race, and class through theatre, and offers workshops and performances. Girl Vow offers education, mentorship, advocacy, and life skills training for girls. Girls for Gender Equity offers programming in community advocacy, leadership, and social justice for girls. Girls Inc. offers programming in statistical analysis, economic literacy, leadership and community action, STEM, media literacy, athletics, sexual health education, substance abuse prevention, self-defense, and more for girls ages 6-18. Girls Leadership offers Parent & Daughter workshops, parent education, and summer day camps for girls entering grades 4 and 5. Girls on the Run offers a physical activity based youth development program for girls in grades 3-8. Girls Who Code offers afterschool and summer programming in coding for middle and high school girls. Girls Write Now offers mentoring programs in writing, digital media, and college preparation for girls. 20

Click on programs names For More Info! GOALS for Girls offers year-round programming, a summer intensive, weekend forums, and internships in STEM for middle and high school girls. LOVE Mentoring works at high schools to deliver small-group mentoring for young Latinas. Life is Precious offers individual and group counseling, arts therapy, academic support, and nutritional and fitness activities to prevent suicide among young Latinas. Lower Eastside Girls Club provides programming in STEM, business, art, leadership, and advocacy, as well as mentoring for girls in grades 6-12. NYC GREAT! offers programming and mentoring in college and career readiness for high school girls. NYU GSTEM is a six-week summer program for high school girls during the summer between their junior and senior years who have high aptitude in STEM subjects. Powerplay NYC works in elementary, middle, and high schools to offer afterschool programming in physical activity and healthy living. Sadie Nash Leadership Project provides afterschool and summer programming in leadership and social justice for girls ages 14-22. Soul Sisters Leadership Collective works in schools to offer workshops to explore issues faced by young women of color. Vibe Theatre Experience offers theatre and media programming for girls ages 13-19. Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls offers afterschool and summer music programing for girls. YWCA provides programming in leadership and advocacy, STEAM, career and college exploration, and more for girls.


BALI Staff

Liz Abzug

Oriela Baliaj

Gabriela Valette

Founder & Executive Director

Senior Program Associate

Program Coordinator

BALI Board of Directors Liz J. Abzug, Founder/Executive Director Erica Forman, Board-Chair Meg Holzer, Secretary Cynthia McKnight, Treasurer Erica Forman, Chair Eija Ayravainen Gloria Steinem Joanne Davila Maya Catherine Popa Maya C. Popa

Claire Reed Harold Holzer Jonathan Greenberg Judy Lerner Liz Cooper

Betsy Scheinbart-Norton Jerry Goldfeder A.J. Lederman Kylie Reiffert 22 Kai Gilchrist

The Bella Bulletin Staff Gisselle Rodriguez Benitez Editor-in-Chief School: Northeastern University Major: Economics BALI Class of: 2016 Email:

Wilma Abam-Depass Section Editor School: Croton High School Grade: 11th BALI Class of: 2017

Zoe Donovan Section Editor School: Bard Early College Grade: 11th BALI Class of: 2017

Adriana Rodriguez Section Editor School: Brown University Major: Political Science BALI Class of: 2016

for inquiries and suggestions, email




August 2018 Edition  
August 2018 Edition