Jenna Barnett

Women and Girls Campaign Associate

Jenna Barnett is Women and Girls Campaign Associate for Sojourners.

She first fell in love with creative social justice writing while working for Sojourners as editorial assistant in the cycle 31 internship community. She went on to become a peace writer for the Women PeaceMakers Program at the University of San Diego's Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. In this position, she used creative nonfiction, interviews, and conflict analysis to tell the life story of Pauline Dempers, a human rights activist, torture survivor, and gun reform advocate from Nambia. The narrative, Tell Them Our Names, is available to online readers for free. It's a life goal of Jenna's to continue lifting up the stories of women who are cooler than she is. 

Before reuniting with the Sojourners team, Jenna worked for the International Rescue Committee in San Diego. As Land and Learning Coordinator, Jenna managed the IRC's large urban gardens, composed of growers from dozens of different countries. During this time, she worked with refugee women from Somalia, Iraq, Cambodia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe who continue to improve the health of their local communities and food systems in creative (and often tasty) ways.

You can follow Jenna on twitter @jennacbarnett and see what she’s writing at jennabarnett.com.

Posts By This Author

Women Have to Work at Least 94 Extra Days to Earn What Men Do

by Jenna Barnett 04-04-2017

For those who are counting, that’s 94 days. Ninety-four reminders of the stubbornly persistent — and plateauing — pay gap between men and women. According to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time working woman earns 20 percent less than the average full-time working man. The disparity grows starker for women of color: Black women make 37 percent less than men, and Latinas make 46 percent less. This disparity is wide enough to push some people to activism, and others to try to understand why this gap exists.

#WomenCrushWednesday: Margaret Bourke-White, the Woman Behind History’s Most Iconic Photos

by Jenna Barnett 03-29-2017

Women sewing American Flags in Brooklyn on July 24, 1940. Photo: Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, by Margaret Bourke-White

Bourke-White traveled the world in search of complete stories: from Depression-era Hooverville to partitioning India to Apartheid-era South Africa to Nazi Germany. She became the first female war photojournalist and the first photographer for LIFE. After surviving a helicopter crash and getting stranded in the Arctic, Bourke-White’s colleagues declared her “Maggie the Indestructible.”

#WomenCrushWednesday: Dolores Huerta, ‘Dragon Lady’ of the Labor Movement

by Jenna Barnett 03-22-2017

Image via Pitzer College/Flickr

In 1993, Huerta became the first Latina inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. And in January, a documentary about her work, aptly titled Dolores, premiered at Sundance. 

#WomenCrushWednesday: Lois Jenson, Iron Miner and the First Person to Win a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit in the U.S.

by Jenna Barnett 03-15-2017

The fight to end sexual harassment and assault in the workplace continues. In 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was asked to investigate 6,758 claims of sexual harassment — a number that has been steadily declining over the past several years (7,944 cases in 2010). Only about half of the claims result in charges. According to a Huffington Post YouGov poll, only 27 percent of the people who experienced sexual harassment reported the incident.

#WomenCrushWednesday: Dorothy Height, Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement

by Jenna Barnett 03-08-2017

Dorothy Height in 1995. Image via Elvert Barnes/Flickr.

Height is something of an unsung hero to both the civil rights and women’s rights movements, largely because of the sexism within the civil rights movement and the racism within the women rights movement. According to the New York Times, Height is “widely credited as the first person in the modern civil rights era to treat the problems of equality for women and equality for African-Americans as a seamless whole, merging concerns that had been largely historically separate.”

10 Women of Faith Leading the Charge Ahead

by Jenna Barnett 03-08-2017

In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked some of our favorite women leaders questions about their personal hopes, faiths, fights for justice, and how their womanhood surrounds and informs those parts of them. Here is some of what they had to say.

#GrabYourHeadphones: 8 Songs by Powerful Women to Soundtrack Your Women’s Day

by Jenna Barnett 03-07-2017

Image via Bruno Bollaert/Flickr

There are many ways you might spend International Women’s Day: going to work, staying at home, being a woman, or thanking a woman. This playlist is for all of these ways you’re observing the day, and more.

Hillary Clinton's Humans of New York Interview Resonates Because We've All Experienced That Moment

by Jenna Barnett 09-09-2016

For Hillary Clinton, it was a classroom in Harvard with scared law school hopefuls trying to keep her from studying justice. For Malala Yousafzai it was a school bus loaded with an armed member of the Taliban, determined to keep her off her schoolyard soapbox. For me — clearly not saving the best for last here — it was a kitchen in the South with a confused freshman Baptist hell-bent on keeping me away from the pulpit.

Songs of Longing

by Jenna Barnett 07-05-2016
A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey, by Leyla McCalla. Jazz Village.
Leyla McCalla

Leyla McCalla

LEYLA MCCALLA wrote the title track of her latest album A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey while imagining the experience of the Haitian boat people—political asylum seekers who packed into sailboats headed for the U.S. only to get intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard mid-journey and sent back to the politically volatile and violent land from which they fled. In the early 1990s, the U.S. repatriated more than 34,000 of these Haitians before hearing their asylum cases and listening to their stories.

McCalla sings their stories now—in French, Haitian Creole, and English. The album’s title is a Haitian proverb that McCalla came across in an excerpt of Gage Averill’s book of the same name: A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey. McCalla explained to NPR that the phrase captures the spirit of her Haitian ancestors, who overcame slavery only to fall in and out of political turmoil, but that the proverb also points to a universal experience: “It made me think of the roles that we all play throughout our lifetimes, how we are all trying to navigate our way through this world where sometimes it feels as though we are the hunter, and sometimes we are the prey.”

McCalla can make us feel like we’ve gone back in time through songs written years ago about people fleeing another time’s violence. But McCalla’s voice also pushes us to consider today’s Syrian boat people, intercepted by white waters, delayed by white fear. And she urges us to consider this historically systemic turmoil alongside our own feelings of personal displacement and victory. The album’s inspiration is as timeless as McCalla’s voice.

Only three of the tracks on A Day for the Hunter are Leyla McCalla originals. All the others she arranges and bolsters with vocals from former Carolina Chocolate Drops band mate Rhiannon Giddens, the jazz guitar of Marc Ribot, and the fiddle of Louis Michot. McCalla incorporates the talents of all these musicians without crowding the sound of her songs. The instruments and voices almost take turns, giving A Day for the Hunter an uncluttered, focused, and conversational feel.

Recovering Joy in the Youth Sports Industry

by Jenna Barnett 03-01-2016
Overplayed: A Parent's Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports, by David King and Margot Starbuck. Herald Press.

DAVID KING and Margot Starbuck are nostalgic for the good ol’ days of youth sports. In Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports, the authors first critique the current youth sports machine by reminiscing about an athletic utopia of the past: One where kids used water bottles for goal posts and flip-flops for bases. Back when parents weren’t paying up to $18,000 in hotel and trainer fees for elite travel teams. Back when kids loved sports.

This book intends to teach parents how to prevent burnout, overuse injury, and a misguided value system for their children. However, I read Overplayed as a young single woman learning to love sports again after suffering overuse injury and burnout right before college. I wish my parents—loving and good-intentioned as they were and are—had read this book 20 years ago.

King, athletic director at a Mennonite university, and Starbuck, a writer and a parent to three teenage athletes, believe that sports has the potential to be a powerful force in the lives of children. However, often money and myths corrupt that potential. Early on, Starbuck speaks wonders of the ways athletics teach us to know and love our physicality, explaining, “I came to know my body as good because of the opportunities I had to play sports as a girl.” But with early single-sport specialization and year-round tournament schedules, children are coming to know their bodies as injured before they can come to know their bodies as good. The authors note that in 2014, 1.35 million kids suffered sports-related injuries that landed them in the emergency room. “‘No pain no gain,’” the authors insist, “should have no place in youth sports.”

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