Happy Birthday to You, FEMINISM FROM A to Z!!!

Happy birthday to you . . .

Happy birthday to you . . .

Happy birthday, dear FEMINISM FROM A to Z . . .

Happy birthday to you!!!


These last few weeks, about a dozen people, including Alex Gino, Carol Jenkins, Margarita Engle, and Phyllis Lyon, shared their thoughts about what feminism means to them. Everyone had something different to share. And all of it was incredibly powerful. Their voices confirmed for me that feminism is far from dead, it’s relevant to everyone, and it’s needed in a big, big way. Especially now.

So here it is! FEMINISM FROM A to Z is an alphabetical primer of feminist theory, history, and activism. Each chapter brings readers into theory, and translates that into actions you can take TODAY. It’s written from a teen-centered perspective, although I think it’s a great book for adults too – especially if you’re unfamiliar with what feminism is all about.      I promise you that by the time you’re finished reading it, you’ll be more informed about feminism – and you’ll have some new tools that will help you tap into your voice, your strength, and your power.

You can get a taste of FEMINISM FROM A to Z by watching my book trailer. And then you can come to one of my book launch events and pick up your own copy! Here’s where I’ll be:

Thursday, October 26, Avid Reader in Davis, 5pm.

Friday, October 27th,  Avid Reader on Broadway, 5pm. 

Saturday, October 28th, Sacramento Storybook Festival, 9am to 2pm.

Saturday, November 4, Laurel Book Store in Oakland, 2pm.

Whew! That’s a lot of parties! But FEMINISM FROM A to Z is worth celebrating. So come join me! I’d love to see you at one of my events.




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. . . Y and Z!!! Y is for Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle!

I first met Margarita Engle several years ago at a conference sponsored by the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Fresno State University. The conference was titled “Outlawed!”, and it featured a star-studded list of authors whose work had been censored, challenged, or banned outright. Margarita is one of the most down-to-earth, friendly, and engaging people I’ve ever met. Her books, such as THE SURRENDER TREE, a beautifully written novel-in-verse set in 19th century Cuba, are always captivating. And guess what? She has TWO new books out! One, titled FOREST WORLD, is a great example of eco-fiction – novels or other works of fiction that revolve around nature and the environment. The other, ALL THE WAY TO HAVANA, is a picture book ride through the streets of Havana, Cuba.



For centuries, Cuba has been at the epicenter of political, economic, and environmental strife, and those issues form the backdrop for many of Margarita’s books. So I was interested to hear how she’d respond to the question, “What does feminism mean to you?”

She e-mailed me back with this:


Feminism means equality,

plain and simple.

There is no excuse

for inequality

in modern times.


Brief, poetic, and evocative in its simplicity. That’s all that needs to be said.

Thank you, Margarita!


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Margarita Engle is the 2017-2019 national Young People’s Poet Laureate, and the first Latino to receive that honor. She is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner, and The Lightning Dreamer, a PEN USA Award recipient. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, received the Pura Belpré Award, Golden Kite Award, Walter Dean Myers Honor, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and Arnold Adoff Poetry Award, among others. Drum Dream Girl received the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book text.

Her newest verse novel about the island is Forest World, and her newest picture books are All the Way to Havana, and Miguel’s Brave Knight, Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote.

Books forthcoming in 2018 include The Flying Girl, How Aída de Acosta learned to Soar, and Jazz Owls, a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots.

Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives.  She was trained as an agronomist and botanist. She lives in central California with her husband.




FEMINISM FROM A to Z is now available for pre-order!


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. . . W-X . . . W is for We Need Diverse Books founding member Mike Jung!

If you aren’t already following Mike Jung on Twitter, you should. (@Mike_Jung. You’re welcome.) Author of middle-grade books like GEEKS, GIRLS, and SECRET IDENTITIES and UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT, Mike tackles complex social issues (mixed with humor and a good dose of self-reflection) and creates absolute poetry about them – using just 140 characters. His deep self-awareness, along with his insights about privilege and marginalization, made me curious as to how he would answer my question.


So I asked Mike: “What does feminism mean to you?”

Here’s how he answered:

I’ve always spent more time in the company of women than men – most of my friends and colleagues have been women, I’m married to a woman, we have a daughter who’s well on her way to becoming an amazing woman, etc. – but I still lapse into behaviors that perpetuate the destructive effects of toxic masculinity. For example, I recently made a joke on Facebook about stalking an author friend at a conference. That was inexcusable, and the fact that I’ve always spent more time with women than men didn’t absolve me for a choice that was made 100% by me. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how many conversations, friendships, and partnerships I’ve had with women, because the need to dismantle age-old systems of sexism and misogyny isn’t conditional; it’s the objectively right thing to do. Feminism shows me how effortless it’s always been for me to be part of the problem, and how essential it’ll always be to try as hard as I can to be part of the solution.

For more about privilege and toxic masculinity, check out my chapter titled “T is for TOUGH.” As a reminder, FEMINISM FROM A to Z is now available for pre-order, and will be released on October 23!





Thank you, Mike!


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Mike Jung is the author of GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES, UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT, and the forthcoming THE BOYS IN THE BACK ROW. He’s also contributed essays to the anthologies DEAR TEEN ME, BREAK THESE RULES, 59 REASONS TO WRITE, and the forthcoming (DON’T) CALL ME CRAZY. Mike is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family.

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. . . T-U-V . . . Theatre and Dance Professional Angela Kūliaikanu’u Alforque!

Over Labor Day weekend, I posted a call on my Facebook author page asking for responses to “what feminism means to me.” About ten minutes later, I heard from my friend Angela Kūliaikanu’u Alforque, who formerly taught Theatre Arts and directed the Ethnic Theatre program at Sacramento City College, and who now teaches at the Parker School in Waimea, Hawaii. This is what she sent me:

More than coconut bras and grass skirts:14 extraordinary women in Hawaii history everyone should know.”

I read the article. You should too, because I bet most of these women are unknown to you. (I was familiar with Patsy Mink, who’s featured in FEMINISM FROM A to Z, and Mazie Hirono. That’s it.) Then I followed up with Angela, and asked if she had a more specific response to my question. This was her answer:

Hi, again! I have been thinking about your question since I read your post this morning. I also have been consumed this weekend by thoughts on immigration, Filipina/o American history, DACA, Labor Day, and the unique subsets of privileges and oppressions that underscore my past and present feminist practices. In short, I do not have a concise response to your question. If you can make conclusions about what feminism means to me, at least presently, from my fb and instagram posts in the past few days, I invite you to refer to and repost them. Aloha!

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words, and reveal more complexities and nuances. So I’m sharing a series of images and captions Angela posted on her Instagram account just before Labor Day:


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Filipina/o immigrant and domestic workers cleaning our rooms, making our beds, resisting sexual assault, and fighting for justice in your hotels, here in the U.S. and abroad.


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Decades and generations of intelligent, skilled, caring Filipina/o immigrants and Filipina/o-Americans providing critical health care in the U.S.


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Fish brought to us, and justice fought for us, by Filipino cannery workers and union organizers.


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Produce brought to us, and justice fought for us, by Filipino and Mexican workers. Artwork by Angelo Lopez. 


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I stand with DACA. 


WOW. Angela’s posts remind me that words aren’t everything, and that there are many forms of communication and expression.

Thank you, Angela! Aloha.


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Angela Dee Kūliaikanu’u Alforque was born in San Francisco and grew up in South Sacramento, California. She earned her B.A. in Drama/Social Science and M.A. in Multicultural American History & Performance from Sacramento State University; and an Ed.D from Saint Mary’s College of California. She trained and worked as a singer, actor, dancer, teacher, choreographer, director and playwright, and served as Theatre Arts/Ethnic Theatre Professor at Sacramento City College; Associate Director for the Sinag-tala Filipino Theater & Performing Arts Association; and member of Ebó Okokán Afro-Cuban Drum & Dance Ensemble. In 2012 she moved to the “Big Island” of Hawai`i and since then has served as Performing Arts Director at Parker School. She lives in Waimea with her husband, Mario Hill, their daughter, Malaya, and their dog, Kenobi.

FEMINISM FROM A to Z is now available for pre-order!

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. . . T-U-V . . . T is for Take Back the Night organizers Diana Russell and Aisha Engle!

Have you ever attended a Take Back the Night march? If not, you should. There’s one coming up right here in Sacramento on October 14th, and hundreds of other Take Back the Night marches will be happening throughout the nation and around the world. It’s an opportunity to take to the streets, to engage in a form of direct action against rape, sexual assault, and other forms of violence against women.


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The first Take Back the Night march took place in November of 1978. Thousands of women took to the streets of San Francisco, protesting against rape and other forms of violence against women. The organizers included Laura Lederer, Andrea Dworkin, Kathleen Barry, Susan Griffin, and Diana Russell – my mentor during my graduate school years.

I asked Diana, “What does feminism mean to you?” Here’s what she said:

I consider myself a radical feminist; and radical feminism has been the guiding ideology and politics in my life for many decades. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without being dedicated to raising public awareness about the prevalence of several different forms of violence against women and girls (e.g., rape, including wife rape, woman battering, incestuous and extrafamilial sexual abuse of girls, femicide [the killing of females by males BECAUSE they are female], the exploitation of females in pornography and its pernicious impact in all cultures and societies in which it is prevails, as well as other international manifestations of misogynistic forms of patriarchal violence such as genital mutilation, so-called “honor” femicides, and female sexual slavery.

I have been equally dedicated to engaging in feminist activism to combat many of these forms of misogynistic violence against women and sexual abuse of girls — the most significant example of which was initiating the first and only International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women that occurred during four days in Brussels, Belgium, in March 1976. Simone de Beauvoir described this international feminist event “as the beginning of the radical decolonization of women.” It was also the beginning of the internationalization of the feminist movement.

I feel extremely fortunate to have been born at a time when the second wave of the feminist movement began and grew to transform the United States and many other Western nations. I grieve now, however, because feminism no longer plays the transformative role that it did in the past.

I found Diana’s last statement to be intriguing – and disturbing. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that sentiment. Quite a few older feminists worry that the rights they worked so hard to secure are being taken for granted by younger generations of girls and women. In fact, I think they worry that girls and women aren’t even aware of the ways in which sexism and gender oppression operates in their lives.

So I decided to reach out to a younger feminist, who has organized our local Take Back the Night march here in Sacramento. Her name is Aisha Engle, and she is the director of the Women’s Resource Center at California State University, Sacramento. Here’s what she had to say about feminism:

Feminism is the overarching belief in equality for all. It encompasses recognizing difference, intersectionality and the pursuit of change for all marginalized groups. For some it means just women’s right. The reality is feminism means a vast inclusion of all groups . This means all people are needed to create change. Feminism is declaring a voice, making change, asserting agency, crushing institutions and advocating change for all genders. It is not limited to the needs of just one group but is inclusive of all genders. Feminism is the symbol of language that reveals the critical analysis and action necessary to exact change locally as well as globally. Feminism means liberation and freedom.

I think it’s safe to say that while feminism might look very different today, it is alive and well. Thank you, Diana and Aisha!


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Dr. Diana Russell is one of the foremost pioneers and experts on sexual violence and abuse of women and girls in the world today. She has a long history of feminist activism in the United States, South Africa, and several other countries. In 1974, she mobilized other feminists to organize the first feminist International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. She was a founding member of Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media (WAVPM) in 1977 — the first feminist anti-pornography organization in the United States and internationally.  Her book The Secret Trauma, published in 1986, was the first scientific study of incestuous abuse ever conducted, and it was the co-recipient of the prestigious C. Wright Mills Award. In 1987, Diana traveled to her native South Africa to conduct interviews with revolutionary women activists in the anti-apartheid liberation struggle, which culminated in her book titled Lives of Courage: Women for a New South Africa (1989). After focusing for 40 years on conducting research, writing and publishing books and articles, public speaking, and political activism to combat male sexual violence against females, Diana is now working on the first volume of her memoirs.


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Aisha Engle grew up in Philadelphia and Oakland, and has spent the last several years in Auburn, CA. She received her B.S. in Women’s Studies from California State University, Sacramento and is currently working on her M.A. in Gender Equity. She has served as the Program Coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center at CSU Sacramento since August 2016, and has been active in community projects like Sacramento’s Women Take Back The Night and continues to make feminist strides.

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