Nov 082012

Portraits illustrate the dangers of toxic chemical exposure

On Tuesday 13 November at 7 pm, the Lyric Theater and Cultural Arts Center will host a photography exhibition focused on Kentucky women. Titled “Burden of Proof: Living with Toxic Chemicals,” the exhibit features portraits of three grassroots activists who are advocating for policies that would reduce women’s exposure to toxic chemicals.

Kentucky photographers captured images of three Kentucky women who link their health problems, or that of their families, to environmental root causes.  The exhibit is designed to help convey their stories on film and foster dialogue with Kentuckians on the need for industry and policy action that can improve our health.

Guest speakers at the event will include other notable African American women taking action on environmental health and justice, including Eboni Cochran of the Louisville environmental justice group REACT, and Monica Unseld, PhD, health advocate and an expert in endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Elizabeth Crowe, executive director of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF), believes the exhibit will help raise awareness about the subject. “These women are claiming their rights to both a healthy body and a safe environment for their kids and grandchildren,” she says.

According to a study released in 2008, at least two hundred toxic chemicals are present in the umbilical cords of pregnant women. Exposure to these chemicals comes from contact with every day products, including canned foods, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, shower curtains, furniture and computers. Numerous studies have concluded that the chemicals accumulate in the body and are associated with skyrocketing rates of breast cancer, reproductive diseases, autism, asthma and other diseases.

African-American communities are often at a greater risk for health problems from exposure to chemicals through products and from exposure to pollution from chemical or fossil fuel facilities. For example, studies show that African-American women have higher levels of the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA), and cosmetic products designed for African-American women are linked to reproductive system disorders.  A recent report from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that after being diagnosed with breast cancer, which is linked to toxic chemical exposures, fifty percent of African-American women are more likely to die from the disease than white women.

“As a black woman, these statistics hit very close to home for me,” says KEF Community Educator Andrea Watts James, from Lexington. “We’re trying to spread the word in that we need to be careful what we bring into our homes, and also that we can work together for safer, healthier solutions.”

The event is free and open to the public and will feature light refreshments. “Burden of Proof” is sponsored by KEF and a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and will run through the Lexington Gallery Hop on November 16th.

Nov 072012

By Mary Grace Barry

“Time accomplishes for the poor what money does for the rich,” writes labor organizer Cesar Chavez in his “Good Friday Letter.” Published in 1969, the letter is addressed to E.L. Barr, Jr., the president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League. Chavez’s farm worker’s union had enacted a table grape boycott in order to gain better working conditions. Staunchly non-violent, Chavez was troubled by growers’ accusations that strikers had been violent.  Continue reading »

Nov 072012

The leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

In a bold move to open more payment options for financially strapped customers, Anthem Blue Cross will allow subscribers to pay premiums by offering their vital organs to the insurance giant. The new program, dubbed “Kidneys for Koverage,” provides a variety of flexible options, allowing both healthy and ailing customers to derive monetary value from their functioning organ systems.

“We asked ourselves, ‘Those subscribers who can’t afford monthly premiums — where are their untapped assets?’” said Ronald Hilfinger, Director of Customer Relations. “Their houses are mostly sold already—especially our customers in poor health. But with a healthy kidney going for $150,000, the average person’s most valuable asset is their excess organ capacity.   Since we already had access to an extensive network of surgeons, it was a natural fit.” Continue reading »

Nov 072012

Out on the streets, that’s where we’ll meet

By Captain Comannokers

When we think of people and transportation, we think of infrastructure, and safety, and technology – and probably a number of other key factors before we land on an aspect that often is overlooked: the emotion of transportation.

And there is plenty of it, too, especially in the daily travels of an urban area. People are wound up balls of emotion, even if they don’t readily admit to it. We acknowledge the fact that we get emotional at large events in our lives – weddings, funerals, holidays, and (of course) national championships. But we aren’t ready to admit that “I drove to Kroger to pick up some milk, bread, Fritos, and two pounds of flavored Tootsie Rolls – and it was soooo emotional.” The fact is, a lot of the time it is.  Continue reading »

Nov 072012

Fifth season concludes

ROCK’s Sugar Shock fights her way to the front of the pack. Photo by Lewis Gardner.

By Sunny Montgomery

On the last Saturday in September, the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) concluded their fifth season when they faced off against the Red River Sirens (RRS) of Clarksville, Tennessee.  I attended ROCK’s final home bout with my mother and my grandmother—or Mimi, as I call her—who was visiting from Philadelphia.

My mother and Mimi arrived just in time for announcer Bill Widener to introduce ROCK’s junior roller derby team, The Pebbles. One by one, he called their names.

“Sue Nami!

Lean Machine!

Devilish Cutie!

The Amazons of the future, ladies and gentleman!”  Continue reading »

Nov 072012

Misadventures in the city

By Beth Connors-Manke

Last summer, I wrote a column entitled “It’s getting dangerous around here” about being bitten by a dog in my neighborhood. The result of the incident (besides the aforementioned column) was that I bought pepper spray as a mild attempt at holding off canine attacks.

From that Misadventures dispatch: “When I get home [from being bitten by the dog], I’m pissed. I’ve spent the last year and half negotiating the hazards on N. Lime so I could make the streets safer for myself, and now someone’s damned dog has made my walks dangerous again. Seriously, I’d rather have a drunk yell profanity at me three times a week than have some lame-o’s loose dog take a big chunk out of my calf.”  Continue reading »