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Banned Books Week!

It’s funny- because we are a bunch of do-gooders… but we are opinionated do-gooders. And every time we talk about something close to our hearts, it upsets a few IMG_20151002_172351of our followers. Banned books is one such topic…

Why do we care about banned books so much? Well, we got our name from one, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. “Marthas are big on helping… (they) tackle projects and perform good deeds…They run the canned-food drive, tutor kids in the city…They also do nice things for teachers. Gag.” It’s an incredible book about a girl overcoming trauma, and it’s helped countless teens feel like they aren’t alone. It’s banned because of “soft pornography and glorifying pre-marital sex” which, if you’ve actually read it is kind of shocking. A girl fights off an attacker, which we find neither pornographic nor glorifying pre-marital sex. Which is why we think banning books is wrong. First, it seems like people hear of something objectionable in a book and find a couple lines to use out of context to prevent EVERYONE from having access to it. If you don’t want your kids to read it, talk to them about it, but don’t prevent it from being available to other. Second, the books that are banned are usually pretty important. Think about it. Most important books have been banned at some point. We think teaching kids how to think for themselves is really important, and banning age appropriate literature from libraries is not the way to do that.

The coolest thing about Speak is what the author said in a poem made entirely of fan mail she’d received over its first decade. You’ll be blown away, too– when you hear how this banned book had such a positive effect on so many lives. Watch it here!

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Organic Salsa for Homeless Breakfast

IMG_20150917_085948One thing we forget about when we think of homeless people is how difficult it becomes to eat well. Readily available food that’s affordable is often over processed, full of sodium, fat and sugar, and far from your mama’s cooking. We try to do something special every month at our homeless breakfast service, in addition to serving a balanced homecooked meal.

We were incredibly lucky to have Muir Ranch in Pasadena donate two cases of organic peppers in September. Our friend, chef Jonathan Pimental turned them into a delicious salsa, which they loooooved!

Even the pictures are mouth-watering! We’re looking forward to doing more cool things in October!IMG_20150917_091222IMG_20150920_085225IMG_20150920_121557

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Lia Discusses Racism & the Black Lives Matter Movement

As an African American teenager in the United States of America I have obviously been aware of my race since starting elementary school. Unfortunately I was not introduced to the differences of skin color gradually or positively. I was bullied for being brown. Not only was I bullied for my “black girl” qualities but also I was terrorized for the parts of me that were to good for a black girl to have, like my hair. As a child my hair was longer than the other black girls at my school and substantially curlier which caused distaste with the Latina American girls I wanted to be my friends. The constant pulling and tugging of my hair became more frequent than laughter at such a young age. Because I am talking about six year old girls, you wouldn’t describe this as racism in effect, but it is. But this is a very early stage of racism; this is what we learn from our parents and family. As young sponges of everything we see and do, this is us mirroring what we think is right. If my entire life I was told that all Hispanic women were supposed to be dangerous and terrifying, what do you think I would do, as a child, once I saw a seemingly Hispanic woman? I would run in the opposite direction. This is how racism starts.
Fast forward to high school, I was in a more ethnically diverse setting. There weren’t just Hispanic and African American people, there were Caucasians, Asians, almost every ethnicity was represented but racisms was alive and well. But it wasn’t in the form of bullying through hair pulling anymore. It was through cultural appropriation, verbal abuse, inappropriate questions, seemingly harmless conversations, and discrimination. It was more apparent in the way a Caucasian girl asked me, with a smile, if I could give her “nigger braids”, and it was more subtle in the way that a teacher joked about my dreadlocks and the told me about how I can’t be black because “I’m pretty and my hair is nice and not nappy”.
Racism stems from fear of the unknown and the false information given to us to absorb as young children. We have all heard the saying, “no one is born a racist” and it is true. Racism is instilled in young persons through nurturing or experiences. Racism is the enemy and force of the Black Lives Matter Movement. It is because my black life isn’t put on the same level as my white peer. It is because the N word is used in everyday language of students who aren’t African American. Through social media our everyday hardships are coming to the forefront and aren’t getting swept under the carpet. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a movement of hope and light and endurance for we ad black people has suffered to many types of racism and no type of reconcilement. Black lives matter is us stating that we are humans, no less and no more valuable than another. #Blacklivesmatter is our way of telling the public that we will no longer sit around while our hair gets pulled, and our skin color gets mocked, and our culture gets used for fashion and our lives get taken mercilessly. And if social media is the gateway into the homes and minds of the country, then that is the gate we’ll use to show that our lives matter.

Lia is a two year Martha who will be starting her freshman year in college this fall.