a long overdue life update & 26th birthday request

Dearest family and friends,

It’s been quite some time since I last posted an update and so much has happened in my life. I tried really hard to make a cute newsletter to email to everyone, but after a lot of technical issues, I figured posting on my blog would be much easier.

I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for the past year and am now in my second year of a five-to-seven-year-long PhD program in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh.

I’ll admit, moving across the country has its challenges. Building new friendships and creating a whole new community out of nothing is hard. Concepts like “imposter syndrome” and “microaggressions” and “structural inequality” have never felt more real than they do when I’m in the academy. I’ve had some very low lows, and the highs didn’t seem very high.

I spent the last year trying to understand how my studies and my research could have a bigger impact. Was a PhD the right path to tackling the myriad of social problems we face today? Did anything I think actually have value? Would people at the university ever take me seriously? Being a young womxn of color in an institution built to serve upper class white men was and is not easy. Unfortunately, I went into a tailspin and retracted into my own head, taking a break from activism and being involved in the community.

But, now that I’m turning 26, I think it’s time for me to regain the fight and courage I had when I was in California.

For my birthday, in lieu of gifts, I’m urging my loved ones to consider donating to Yemen Aid.

Those who know me know that I’m always highly critical of humanitarian and development aid. I’ve asked friends who are knowledgable about the war in Yemen to recommend organizations that are impactful, transparent, and ultimately have the interests of all Yemenis regardless of their religious and ethnic identities.

To me, the traumatic effects that war has had on the people there should be a topic on everyone’s mind.

Over 10% of the population is internally displaced. 85,000 children have died of starvation (a conservative UN estimate) since the beginning of the war in 2015. 14 million people are at risk of famine. These problems don’t even touch the issues of trauma and physical violence inflicted on the Yemeni people.

To be honest, the neglect from the international community is absolutely sickening. I see the news headlines and read posts from my friends who have worked with Yemenis, and things just feel hopeless. Our political leaders have shown zero interest in caring for survivors of war. And our nation funds and supplies many of the weapons that Saudi has used in their attacks on Yemen.

It is pretty clear that the problems faced by Yemen (and exacerbated by the culture of war that we all engage in) won’t be solved by a simple birthday fundraiser. But, I have always believed that consciousness raising can change lives. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be spending 7 years of my life trying to become a professor.

I’m urging you, even if you cannot donate, read about what’s happening in Yemen. As an educator and researcher, it would make me incredibly happy to know this (lengthy) post sparked something in you and helped you learn about an issue you may have not understood before.

This is a link for my fundraiser for Yemen Aid. If you feel compelled to donate to another organization related to Yemen relief, please let me know. And as always, if you have questions or just want to catch up on life, I’d be so happy to!

Thank you for continuing to be a part of my life in little and big ways. I hope that this next year will bring us all a little more peace and clarity.

With love and light,
Christina