Sankofa Song: Women’s History Lives or Dies with You

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In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to say that history ain’t for the past. History is about moving forward. Learning from, leveraging, and building upon the immense sacrifices of our foremothers. I say this not to discount the time honored tradition of looking back to pay homage. Be it video montage, musical medley or PowerPoint, there is no shortage of walks down memory lane. And that’s cool, BUT…

We best honor trailblazers by refining and expanding the roads they paved. That means, simply put, we must keep it movin’, pushin’, and crack-a-lackin’. We must honor the memories in deed. What liberties are we taking to increase the bandwidth of women in our community? How can we walk the inroads laid by our sisters to:

-respect each other for our individual paths (we are ALL putting in work whether we do it at home or in an office setting) and unify for our collective futures

-not simply enroll in but COMPLETE our postsecondary programs of choice, be that apprenticeships, licensures, ordinations, undergraduate, graduate, or professional schools to increase the critical mass of female leaders/decisionmakers. Our presence in the community should align with our representation in board rooms, judges’ chambers, altars, classrooms, posts of command, and executive sessions

-reserve judgement and give voice, language, and demand for our sisters, daughters, and homegirls in bondage here and abroad

-support each other in establishing, patronizing, and sustaining businesses that affirm our needs and treat us with dignity

-love our bodies as they are, and honor them by choosing the healthiest lifestyles, settling for nothing less than affordable, innovative and culturally relevant health care providers

-elevate what we have, not lament what we don’t

-turn off the tv and read (start with this list; it’s amazing and will literally bring you life)

-re-educate ourselves and expose our young girls to the accomplishments of women and convince them of their capacity to excel in anything; feed the pipeline that will care for you in your old age

The late, great Adrienne Rich tells us:

Responsibility to yourself means that you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions–predigested books and ideas…marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short…and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us. It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be “different”…The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.

Our brain trust is legendary; history tells us so. But those ideas will never become blessings if they just stay in our heads. That passion can’t materialize into a damn thang until we unleash it. Transformation doesn’t happen without movement. I’ve been saying all this in “we’s” and our’s” because I want to be accountable in this as well.

I’m pushing to keep sharing the best and worst of myself with you. I am clawing past my fears to share my work, speak into the silence, and be informed about and engaged in what’s going on in my city. I want better, fresher food in my hood. I want the magnificent young ladies I met on Tuesday to feel safe at home and school. I want laws and policy “protecting” my rights to mirror the realities I face each day.

I’m looking for solidarity cuz it’s cold, rainy, and lonely out here on the ledge. What’s your cause or passion? On whose shoulders are you standing, and how will you be a stepping stone for someone else?

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Do the Ladies Run this Mutha—-, hell yeaaaaahhhhh!!!

There’s a quote on my vision board that reads, “Be the girl you were too lazy to be yesterday.”  Not especially groundbreaking, but it caught my eye enough to incorporate it into my goals for 2012.  This quote resonated with me because I’ve let opportunities, adventures, and fruitful partnerships pass me by out of complacency.  Familiarity can be our worst enemy. It’s kept me in dysfunctional relationships, de-energizing friendships, and unfulfilling jobs.  Hell, familiarity kept me from discovering a gem of a coffee shop (love AMOCAT!)

When a thought turns into an action, regardless of the outcome, our bandwidth as a human being expands. Win or lose, engagement and investment in the direction of our lives and the lives of those around us, is the difference between having a life and living your life.  This is particularly important to remember as we observe Women’s History Month—and today, International Women’s Day.  Let us pause to not just think about, but act to interrupt the violence, oppression, and hopelessness still so prevalent for women around the world today.  Whether it is time, money, or expertise, we all have the power and individual choice to support our sisters here and abroad.  I know what you’re thinking:  “That’s all well and good, but where would I start?”  To that I say, start with you.  Refine your eyes, ears, heart, and mind to see, hear, feel, and know about the issues impacting communities of women.  Human rights, reproductive rights, employment, education, sexual violence and poor health are still claiming victims, young and old, every day.  As human beings, I strongly believe we are interdependent.  If this is a universal truth, our connection as women is innate, strong, and colors our interaction with and responsibilities to one another.  Therefore, it behooves us to know the trials and triumphs of our sisters.  Find a community based organization in your area who serves women in need, propose questions to your local leaders/decisionmakers and demand their support on women’s issues, mentor a young woman, but most importantly, be aware of, and question the systems that impact us.

Lastly, and this request comes from the very center of my heart, let’s mobilize, ladies.  Let’s meet, let’s talk, let’s diatribe, and let’s do it authentically.  Cross some cultural boundaries!  Working women, stay at home moms, Catholics and Muslims, high school drop-out’s and Ph.D.’s, there is common ground in our collective experience as women.  Yes, history, economics, and politics will cause some friction, but therein lies the opportunity for dreaming, planning, demanding, and celebrating the achievements to come.

Let’s do this….

QUESTION: How will you celebrate Women’s History Month and/or International Women’s Day?  What, in your opinion, are the most pressing issues for women this year?