Bloggety Blah Blah Blah, Interview, Meta — January 13, 2016 at 2:23 pm

INTRODUCING: Our latest Eclectablogger, Sommer Foster


On Monday, I announced that we are bringing on a new writer at Eclectablog. Today, I am pleased to make the official announcement that Sommer Foster will be a regular (and paid) contributor to Eclectablog. I’ve been asking Sommer to come on board for over a year now and the stars have finally aligned in such a way that she’s able to do it.

I first met Sommer at a Canton Democratic Club meeting and have gotten to know and respect her over the years through her work with Equality Michigan and as a Michigan activist. As a straight ally, Sommer has been a fierce advocate for the LGBTQ community and has unquestionably left her mark on Michigan.

For a sample of Sommer’s terrific writing, I commend your attention to a guest post she wrote for the site following the Black Lives Matter protest during Bernie Sanders’ appearance at Netroots Nation in Phoenix, Arizona last summer. That piece, titled “A perspective of the Netroots Nation #BlackLivesMatter protest from a person of color”, got a great deal of attention and showed off Sommer’s excellent writing skills.

Below is a short interview we did in preparation for the announcement. Later today, she’ll publish her first post.

Please join me and the rest of Team Eclectablog in welcoming Sommer to the site.

Welcome to Eclectablog! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you grew up, family, stuff like that.

I have lived in Michigan all of my life. I was born in Detroit and grew up in Farmington Hills. I currently live in Canton with my 10-year-old son, William and my boyfriend of 12 years, Ray.

What’s your educational background and where have you worked since you graduated?

I attended EMU and majored in Political Science and minored in Communications. After graduation I worked in retail for a while and I began volunteering on campaigns, and attending campaign trainings. I interned on the Obama campaign in 2008, worked on a few municipal campaigns, several state house races, including managing Dian Slavens’ 2012 campaign. After the 2012, election cycle, I worked for Congressman Dave Curson, during his 7-week term in the US House of Representatives. A few months after my stint as a congressional employee, I started working for Equality Michigan and have been there for the past 3 years.

What issues are nearest and dearest to your heart and what types of topics will you be writing about at Eclectablog?

I love looking at the way that history influences our current circumstances, and I enjoy exploring how race intersects with other cultural factors. For example, how in the 1940s many Blacks were denied many benefits of the GI Bill and the impact that has on today’s economy or how race influenced the construction of the interstate that separated our cities, and affects our educational system today.

Those are ideas I’d like to explore and write about, but I will also write about current events (like I did for my post about Netroots Nations) and about being the mom of a 10-year-old little boy that I am trying to keep physically and emotionally safe in this crazy world.

When you look at Michigan and the impact Republicans have had on it over the past six years, does it make you want to find another state to live in? If so, where would you go? If not, why?

I’ll be staying in Michigan because I don’t quit. I know that sounds cliché, but this state is just as much mine as it is anyone else’s.

I definitely wish our state was more progressive in terms of our policies and our politics, but we aren’t alone. Republicans control 31 out of 50 gubernatorial offices, and 68 out of 98 legislative chambers. Running isn’t the answer. Learning how to talk about issues of economic, reproductive, environmental, gender and racial justice to moderate voters is the answer. Learning how to turnout progressive voters in midterms elections, that is the answer. That is how we win, and that is a fight I am ready to engage in.

What’s your dream job, what do you want to be when you grow up?

The honest answer to that is, I don’t know. I don’t dream about titles, I dream about being able to accomplish things.

I want my son to grow up in a world where boys that look like him he don’t fear the police, his LGBTQ friends aren’t afraid to be who they are, the girls in his class aren’t worried about rape culture or discriminatory dress codes, and his Muslim friends can walk down the street without being called a terrorist. That’s the world I’m fighting for. I don’t care what title I need to have to help create that world; I just want to get the job done.

If you could change one major changeable thing in America, what would it be?

I would change the way we treat mental health in the country. We know that with any physical illness, treating it early elicits the best outcomes. When people are beginning to show signs or symptoms of a physical illness, we try immediately to reverse their symptoms. We don’t ignore them. Why don’t we do the same for people that are dealing with mental illness?

So many people have mental health issues, we need to work to erase stigma, encourage screenings and increase access to treatment.

As I said in my post Monday, it’s your donations that allow Eclectablog to grow and expand with new content and, more importantly, new writers. If you enjoy what we’re doing, please consider making a donation during this week’s fundraiser. Click HERE for details.