It Was Fourth Of July, So She Wore A Tight Red, White, And Blue Dress. Then Came The Comments.

If you've ever felt anger or fear in an encounter involving bullying, catcalling, or just plain ol' meanies ... Laverne Cox (“Orange Is the New Black") has some riveting advice for how to rise above.

1. Recognize the absurdity of the bully's words.

Laverne Cox threw on a red, white, and blue dress one Fourth of July ... and soon encountered two guys on the street who started catcalling her...

"And the Latin guy says, 'Yo mama, can I holler at you?' And the black guy said, 'Yo dude, that's [an N-word].' And then, the Latin guy says, 'No man, that's a bitch.' And the black guy said, 'No, that's [an N-word].' And they began to argue."


"What lovely options!"

2. Take a moment to consider that bullying is a serious offense. And a dangerous one.

"Trans women of color are disproportionately victims of violence. Our homicide rate is the highest in the LGBT community. It went from 43% in 2011 to almost 54% of all LGBTQ homicides for trans women and mostly trans women of color."

"There is a link between the bullying that we inflict on an LGBTQ youth and the violence that so many trans women experience."

3. Acknowledge society's role.

What's going on here?

"There are a lot of intersecting identities and intersecting oppressions that make that happen..."

Yeah, that's a lot.

But what comes next is next-level.

3. Acknowledge the trauma that *likely* led the bully to this place.

YES. This was a leap for me personally, but once I made it across the "Sea of Incredulity and Doubting" and onto "Compassion and Curiosity Island" (#metaphors), there was no. going. back.

"And I believe that a lot of black folks feel that there's this historic emasculation that has been happening in white supremacy of black male bodies."

Wait for it...

4. Empathize.

*This is a great part.*

"I have love. I have so much love for my black brothers and sisters, who might call me out on the street because I get it. I understand. They're in pain."

"I think whenever someone needs to call out someone else for who they are and make fun of them, it's because they don't feel comfortable with who they are. And so, anyone ever has a problem with someone else, I ask you to look at yourselves first. What is it about you that you have a problem with? What is it about you that you have a problem with?"

5. Be revolutionary ... and promote LOVE.

"We hear the gay slurs, the anti-gay slurs, and it's really about these kids not conforming to the sex that they were assigned at birth. Their gender expression is not meeting the expectations of society."

So what do we do?

Yass.

For more wisdom and emotions and realness, press play and listen to Laverne.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

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Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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