Break Away Blog | Read + Act

Women are a Force

Content warning: some links contain explicit descriptions of misogynistic violence.

A Long + Winding Road

When researching for this piece, it was easy to feel suffocated by the crushing weight of gender inequality. Headlines about misogynoir in the workplace, calls for “saving” [women’s] sports from trans women, and countries abandoning an international treaty protecting women dwarf headlines of women’s successes and achievements. 

Women have certainly come a long way, but the road to true gender equality feels never ending. Research shows that the pandemic has set back women in the workforce. Women are still far from having equal representation in U.S. politics. The world has, yet again, been jarred by racist and misogynist violence in Atlanta

I spend a lot of my personal time trying to convince people to care about women. To care about BIPOC women. To care about trans women, who are women full stop. Today, I chose to not focus on how far we have to go. Instead I am using this platform to celebrate women’s achievements. It is, after all, Women’s History Month!

Who Run the World?

Women are a force. We blur dichotomies. We break records. We have prowess. We are the fruits of this earth. The nutrients in its soil. The strength behind the wind and the waves. The rain you need in times of drought. The warmth of sunshine.

And we are not to be underestimated.

Below is a roundup of women, past and present, thriving in their respective fields. Peruse the links to feel some joy and celebrate these extraordinary women. 

Women in the Arts
Women in Business
Women in Education
Women in Politics
Women in Sports
Women in STEM

The Importance of Black Stories

How Black Stories Have Been Told

You may find it unsurprising that Black stories have been mismanaged and reconstructed over the years. Anyone who has attempted to tell the full story has been silenced, defunded, or others have attempted to discredit them. There are resources out there, like the Zinn Education Project, working “to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula”

However, the curriculum shared in our public school system was written by white people for white people. Black stories are rarely included in the narrative (usually resigned to months like Black History Month). When they are, the focus is on stories we are comfortable with or have been “wrapped up” well. You know the ones.

Stories that don’t mention MLK’s anti-Capitalist, anti-Imperialist beliefs. Stories that only talk about Rosa Parks’ role in the bus boycotts, but don’t mention Claudette Colvin. Stories focusing on the resilience of Elizabeth Eckford of the “Little Rock Nine,” but ignoring the tormenting she endured at the hands of white peers and the enabling administration during her year at Little Rock Central High.

Elizabeth Eckford then and now

We either ignore, or briefly cover, the horrors of slavery. We’re taught narratives like workers being brought over from Africa; the Civil War being about “States’ rights;” not mentioning the origins of policing being slave catching patrols; and we’re told the “faithful slave” narrative, but never the stories about slave revolts and resistance. 

The Lasting Effects of White Supremacy

Black folks today are still facing the effects of white supremacy in this country. We’re still discovering and uncovering Black contributions to the arts, medicine, science, technology, and more. Four years ago the world was introduced to NASA mathematicians Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson through the film Hidden Figures. But even in the movies that should center Black women, a white male savior is inserted and applauded for doing the bare minimum deed of not being as racist as his colleagues. 

The majority of Black stories we see in the media are created by people who are weirdly obsessed with “trauma porn.” As a result, we’ve become desensitized to harm inflicted on Black people.

Black stories must be told truthfully and honestly. The best way to ensure this is done? LET BLACK PEOPLE TELL THEIR OWN STORIES!

Black Stories in the Future

In case you’ve forgotten or were unaware, it’s Black Futures Month! Many only know of it as Black History Month but I’d like to bring to our attention: 


We give thanks for the talents of Octavia Butler, a Black science fiction author, who helped lay the framework for what we consider Afrofuturism

Parable of the Sower novel coverAfrofuturism is the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a Black lens. Afrofuturism imagines and creates a world “rooted in and unapologetically celebrating the uniqueness and innovation of Black culture.” It doesn’t center whiteness and white supremacy, or trauma caused by them. These stories are important and worthy of telling.

When we talk about telling Black stories, we must remember that Blackness is as beautiful as it is complex. We contain multitudes.

Getting one story from one Black person (whether that be a family member, lover, or your Black friend) DOES NOT tell the story of ALL Black people. It doesn’t do justice to the diversity in Blackness because of our queerness, socioeconomic status, citizenship status, etc. Our stories also differ geographically. My experience in Decatur, Georgia is not the same as someone in Cape Town, South Africa, or even a different city in the U.S.

There are many Black stories to be told. Read that again: there are many Black stories to be told! Keeping this in mind helps keep us honest about all that we do not know and prevents us from making “big T” truths out of our “little t” truths. It leaves room for others to share their perspectives, for knowledge and opinion to be created together. 

Black Narrative Power

A dear friend of mine is a part of a project, Media 2070, that asks the question: What would be different for Black folks if we had always owned our stories? 

This is a question worth deeply considering. 

I encourage you all to check out the work Media 2070 is doing to reclaim and embrace what they call Black Narrative Power:

Black Narrative Power means “we have the ability to really hold tenderly and steward our stories from ideation to creation to distribution and everywhere in between that process.” -  Alicia Bell, Media 2070

I believe the future of Black stories (of all kinds) depends on how we tell the truth about the past, our present moment (leaning into Black Narrative Power), and how we imagine our future (free from the white gaze and approval).

My Black Futures’ wish is for this to become a reality. May it be so.


Dr. King Demands More From Us

King Reclaimed

Martin. Many people have spoken his name, even fewer have lived by his ethic. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is more than what we remember him as. The pieces of him that we find agreeable are the ones that we place on social media and teach in our classrooms. 

Today, we celebrate the parts of Dr. King that give us hope and champion non-violence, but dismiss and downplay how we murdered him, then, for criticizing this nation’s obsession with racism, capitalism, and militarism. 

WATCH | Princeton's Eddie Glaude Jr. Says MLK Was More Radical Than You Remember (4:28)

It is both saddening and enraging that the social conditions that King spent his life confronting are eerily similar to what we are experiencing today. 

Anti-Racist, Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Imperialist

Dr. King’s actions flowed from his faith which grounded him in love—love both in word and in deed. What many of us have failed to do as individuals and as parts of institutions is interrogate how we benefit from the status quo and renounce white supremacy completely. 

After a summer of anti-racist statements and reading lists, some people have been quick to condemn the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but that same energy isn’t kept when the U.S. attempts the same abroad. After having politicians kneel in African cloth in supposed solidarity with Black lives, promised Covid stimulus relief grows smaller and smaller while debt increases and we are having to convince our representatives that $15 an hour is the very least workers deserve. 

The King who was killed in 1968 was a threat to the nationnot just because of his calls for racial justice, but because he spoke out against the Vietnam war and sought to unite the overworked and underpaid with his Poor People's Campaign. These “evils” he spoke of are still collaborating together to destroy the historically oppressed and oppressive.

Along with the uptick in anti-racist resources, we must also add anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist sources to have an analysis and praxis similar to King and many of his contemporaries. 

READ | Martin Luther King Jr. Saw Three Evils in the World (The Atlantic)

AMPLIFY | Learn More About the Poor People's Campaign

AMPLIFY | Learn More About Black Alliance for Peace

Service Won’t Fix It

For all that is wrong with the world, service projects won't fix it. Gradual reforms won't fix it. These are band-aids on a festering wound. We cannot passively wait and hope for things to get better. We cannot slow down and wait for permission to fight for freedom and justice. King speaks of gradualism saying:

[G]radualism is little more than escapism and do-nothingism, which ends up in is the time to make real the promises of democracy...Now is the time to lift our nation. [Applause] Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of racial justice. Now is the time to get rid of segregation and discrimination. Now is the time. 

We must move past simple “days of service” and grow into the radical change King lived for (and was killed because of). If a service-learning program offers nothing more than momentary relief for communities and warm feelings for “do-gooders” and performative allies, the root of the issues people face daily will never be resolved, only talked about. This is why quality education, orientation, and training are necessary for a quality alternative break. This is why alternative breaks should lead to direct action within your own community.

READ | Derecka Purnell's Views on Service and MLK

Organize, Mobilize

You cannot claim to believe in the values of Dr. King unless you’re willing to embody the radical, revolutionary life he would preach and teach about. Rather than solely working within systems that only address symptoms (i.e. service projects), joining or forming an organization can directly challenge the causes of hunger, houselessness, environmental destruction, and so much more. 

What are the grassroot organizations you’ll partner with past MLK’s Day of Remembrance? How will you go about addressing the immediate needs and dangers caused by the evil of racism, the evil of poverty, and the evil of war?

In his final speech on April 3, 1968, the night before his assassination, Dr. King said to the Memphis sanitation workers on strike: 

“Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.”

To those of us fighting for our freedom: we do not need another King; we need to learn how to support one another. Black freedom fighters such as Ella Baker teach us that power belongs to the people, collectively—not a savior-figure, not our favorite elected officials, the militarized police, or even the non-profit industrial complex

Reading lists are only the beginning

What comes next is ACTION. But if service alone is not a lasting or effective solution, what action can be taken? 

EXPLORE FURTHER | The King Philosophy (Beloved Community)

FUND | Find mutual aid efforts near you

JOIN AN ORG | SONG, Communities Over Capitalism, Seeding Sovereignty

Growing into beloved community is how we honor the work of Dr. King 365 days a year. Begin where you are and we may get past where we’ve been.


Voting 101

A Comprehensive-ish Guide to Election 2020

We are just four weeks out from the November 2020 election. Whether you’re a first-time voter or a seasoned pro, voting is an involved process. You have to:

  • research who and what is on your ballot
  • make sure your registration is up to date by the deadline
  • know where your polling place or ballot drop off location is
  • know when and if you can vote early, if you’re voting in-person

Voting shouldn’t be difficult. That’s why we’ve crafted this voting 101 guide to demystify the voting process and help you come up with a voting plan. And be sure to bookmark our voting 101 resource page.

Why Vote?


Voting is, at its core, about deciding who has power in this country, across all levels of our government. 

Elected officials have the power to affect any and all causes you may care about: the climate crisis, systemic racism, gender equality, access to healthcare, equitable education, economic security — anything and everything related to your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.


From the writing of the Constitution, voting was a right that was not afforded to everyone. Even after multiple constitutional amendments and the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, there are voices forcibly excluded from the democratic process. 

Modern versions of literacy tests and poll taxes include gerrymandering, which is used strategically to dilute the power of votes in communities of color. Other voting restrictions like ID laws, complicated registration deadlines, and disenfranchisement of those with felony convictions** have a disproportionate impact on Black and Brown people.

Organizations such as Fair Fight are focused on ending voter suppression in Break Away’s home state of Georgia and beyond.

John Lewis quote

For those of us who do have access, we have a responsibility to consider not just the election’s impact on our lives, but what’s at stake for all communities.

What’s on the Ballot?

Every four years we vote for the next President of the United States. Among other reasons, that’s what makes the 2020 election cycle so well publicized.

But the president isn’t the only thing on the ballot this November. In addition to other federal representatives, state + local representatives will be elected and ballot measures will be decided. 

If it seems like national politics is too polarized to make a difference in (or you’re feeling apathetic because of the electoral college), find a state or local race or ballot initiative you’re passionate about. 


While choosing the leader of the United States is a big deal, just as important are your state and local officials. Your day-to-day life is impacted by these folks more than by the president. 

US government structure

For instance, when the U.S. federal government decides to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, your mayor has the power to lead the charge on fighting the climate crisis. So if you want your city to be carbon-neutral or start a curbside composting program, give your mayor’s office a call.

State officials will redraw the voting districts next year using the data collected from the census. This process often involves partisan gerrymandering, where state representatives draw the map to benefit themselves and their party. Unfortunately, this is a common practice in both parties — unless we elect officials who oppose it (and hold them accountable to those promises). 

State and local races aren’t nearly as publicized as the presidential race. Be sure to do your own research on the candidates (more on that below). 


Ballot initiatives (aka propositions, questions, referendums, amendments) are proposed legislation that is approved or rejected by voters. 

The language used to write a ballot initiative is often confusing. Read them carefully! You can also Google endorsements of the ballot initiatives to see what entities support or oppose each one.


click to find your state + local voting requirements

Voting tip: You can fill out a sample ballot ahead of time and take it with you when you vote in-person. No need to memorize every single thing!

So You’ve Decided to Vote. Now What?


Take 30 seconds and verify that you’re registered to vote.

2020 voter registration deadlines

Not registered? Changed addresses? Skipped out on voting in a previous election? Registering to vote takes two minutes!

Register to vote! 


States that automatically mail ballots to their registered voters: California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Vermont.

There is a very, very low risk of voter fraud with mail-in ballots (despite what the president claims). More likely is that you mail it back too late or your ballot gets rejected. Be sure to fill it out exactly as directed to help mediate any issues. Check with your county’s election office website to see if you can track your ballot.

Get Involved!


We’ve been saying for a while that education and advocacy is service. Whether individually or as a program, you can write letters to registered voters*** who are otherwise considered unlikely to vote and encourage them to do so.


Poll workers tend to be older folks who, as you know, are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. A shortage of poll workers can lead to hours-long waiting periods, disarray, and closed polling locations. If you are able and it is safe for you to do so, we encourage you to sign up to be a poll worker**** in your county.

*While Supreme Court justices aren’t elected, you should still think about them as such. Whoever is elected into the executive branch at state or federal level is who gets to appoint these justices.
**If you or someone you know has been convicted of a felony and have served their sentence, they may be eligible to vote again.
***In an effort to free up USPS workers for official election mail, Vote Forward asks that folks mail their letters on October 17.
****Listen to this episode of 1A from NPR to learn more about how high school and college students are signing up en masse to be poll workers!