Below are some talking points on how I've been committed to human rights and social justice in my reporting:

1. As a freelancer writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and teen magazines like Elle Girl and Teen Vogue, I have been dedicated bringing minority voices to the forefront, pitching and proposing stories about

• Poor black teenagers who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, and had to start their lives all over again.
• American Indian powwow dancers who face discrimination on a daily basis.
• The youth hip-hop culture in Oakland where kids in desperate situations who have watched their friends die and their families get destroyed by drugs find joy and hope in dancing.
• An ongoing series following high school students in different socioeconomic classes in the Bay Area, highlighting the similarities and differences of their experiences and how privilege or lack thereof affects them.
• An investigation into whether impoverished blacks or Latinos get their cars towed more often in Oakland.
• An investigation into whether black grass-roots art and cultural organizations in downtown Oakland are targeted for code violations, while the police turn a blind eye to white-run underground galleries and warehouse spaces.

2. Stories that have resulted from those pitches:

• An "As Told to" piece in Teen Vogue about Lemhi Shoshone powwow dancer Leela Abrahamson, who talks about the impact of racism on her life at Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho. The story will appear in the August 2007 issue.

• An San Francisco Chronicle story about a teenage Katrina survivor who drove busloads of people out of New Orleans
"Katrina as a blessing: It sent one teen here - His life was stormy before hurricane hit," San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 27, 2006

• Several stories on the hyphy hip-hop movement and youth culture in Oakland for the San Francisco Chronicle and Intersection magazine.
"Mistah F.A.B.: Hyphy rapper uses his star power to better Oakland," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 22, 2006
"Clubland: Hyphy dancing at Youth Uprising," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 16, 2005

• A story about Oaklandish art gallery and cultural center getting shut down for code violations.
"Clubland: Oaklandish on the verge of closing," San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 28, 2005

3. In 2005, I decided to volunteer to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina staying at Astrodome and Reliant Center in Texas. To increase awareness, I blogged about what I saw for the San Francisco Chronicle web site.

Blog on Hurricane Katrina survivors in Texas, SF Gate, Sept. 7-10, 2005

4. I am also committed to writing about the continuing struggle for equality for women in our society. Good examples are my pieces on the Woodhull Institute and Naomi:

• "Institute pokes holes in the glass ceiling," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 12, 2003

• "Did Father Know Best? In her new book, third wave feminist Naomi Wolf reconsiders her Bohemian upbringing," San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 2005

5. I have also expressed to Naomi and the Woodhull Institute my goals of staring a magazine for teenage girls that focuses on their dreams and achievements instead of dating and beauty products.

6. For what it's worth, I committed to a four-year series following a San Francisco girl through high school for Elle Girl. The whole project followed four girls in four different cities and circumstances. We finished a year and a half before the magazine folded.

7. I am a champion for positive body image and decreasing our culture's obsession with appearances. I have plans for starting a web site, The Reality of Women Revolution or RoWR, to change women's perception of themselves, which will include an interview I have done with Eve Ensler (and naturally, I would love to feature Naomi and Woodhull, too). In the meantime, I plan on blogging for About-Face ( Plus, I have written essays on the topic:

• Essay, "Silicone Valley: So what if your cups don't runneth over?" San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 13, 2006

Also, I was the only Chronicle staff member to challenge Larry Flynt about how he portrays women when he spoke to reporters about First Amendment struggles.

8. I have also addressed issues of gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as more light-hearted stories that deal with women's self-perception and roles in our culture

• Essentials pick of the week: Deep Dickollective, San Francisco Chronicle, June 22, 2006

• "Pin Curls and Pistons: Hot rod babes not afraid to keep motors running all by themselves," San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 21, 2007

• "Personal Effects: Ditties talk back to PMS blues," San Francisco Chronicle, May 15, 2006

9. In college (1994-1998), I was a daily reporter for The Oklahoma Daily (University of Oklahoma student-run newspaper), as well as the Norman Transcript in Norman, Oklahoma, and the Edmond Evening Sun in Edmond, Oklahoma. Topics I wrote about include:

• An award-winning enterprise story on underemployment and liberal arts graduates who could not or would not find good jobs.
• An enterprise investigative series on why the University of Oklahoma did not have a campus-wide recycling program.
• An interview with student missionaries who were in Cambodia when second prime minister Hun Sen staged a coup.
• An interview with one of Timothy McVeigh's lawyers.
• An interview with Muslims facing discrimination in Oklahoma after the 1995 Federal building bombings.
• A feature on student-run human rights organizations who pressured Pepsi to leave Burma and fought against sweatshop labor in Vietnam.
• A report on a lecture by New York Times editor Sydney Schanberg on his experiences in Cambodia.
• A investigation on the state of homelessness in Norman, Oklahoma.
• An expose on funding cuts that would leave disabled adults and students without bus service.
• A piece on African American students who were protesting the lose of their student center to the natural history museum.
• Investigations into the misuse of university funds.
• Coverage of state and city elections, including the election of Rep. J.C. Watts.

I cornered her at this cocktail party last night for Women's Media Center, which is out to improve how women are represented in the media. Check it out:

I was nervous to meet and possibly interview her, but I realized I had a lot to talk to her about. I heard she, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan came to the Chronicle lunch time series, and many women vented their frustration about not getting their stories and voices published. And, the big head honchos were not in the room. At the cocktail party, I talked to her about the language the Chron uses to talk about women, especially all the "guy's guy" critics who ask if Erykah Badu hates men or call Peggy Gugenheim a "groupie."

Then I brought up my body-image Web site. She talked about how it was a real problem. Then I gave her a card and I told her it isn't up, but it's my dream. And she said, "You'll do it then."

I met the new editor of Chronicle features, too, and she wants to meet with me. I explained the hyphy project I'm working on, and she said, "That would be a really good series." Yeah, that's what I think!

I might get to do my series after all. It's good. Because I have MILES of material and most of it is opinions and voices the Chronicle never runs.



August 2010

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