When I began writing this piece last week, my initial idea was to honor Women’s History Month. I’d been thinking a lot about the connections between biodiversity and gender diversity, and the importance of the cases about women’s bodies currently before the Supreme Court.
As I was writing, however, there was violence across the Middle East, Europe, and here in the US – including a fatal stabbing just a few miles from the Supreme Court here in DC.
Suddenly, I found myself losing focus on Women’s History Month, and instead, becoming focused on the frightened, questioning voice in my head. I heard it asking, “What in the world have we come to? What’s the use of the work that we do?”
I caught myself sinking into that state, and realized that all of these things weighing on my mind – the cases before the Supreme Court, the violence across the globe, even the HB2 bill in North Carolina – have the same key ingredient: fear.
Fear brought those cases to the Supreme Court, and those bombings to Brussels and Istanbul and Lahore. Fear also brought those two beautiful young girls to that deadly moment of violence in DC, and me to my own moment of hopelessly myopic thinking.
All of this led my focus back to Women’s History Month, back to the leadership and capacity of women to open our perspectives and shift our possibilities. I began to look back and remember those who’ve come before me, and how they continued on and pushed us to this moment. And even though I fear that it’s the worst moment I’ve ever known, I know it is just that… a moment.
In one of my favorite Nikki Giovanni poems entitled “Choices”, she writes:
When i can’t express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal
but that’s why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry
Instead of raising my fists in indignation to those who can’t even hear me, I let the tears fall. And after that, I decided to start a new practice. As we close Women’s History Month, I will acknowledge the power of women, especially those whose lives and legacies have shaped mine, and made this world one that I can be alive in today.
Bringing these women to my mind’s eye reminds me to face my fears, drop my stories, find my comrades and compadres, and step into the change that’s going to come with the knowledge that all is well.
I call on Momma, my maternal grandmother, and Granny, my paternal grandmother. I call on my mother Delores. I call on many sisters in the struggle like Audre Lorde, Hilda Solis, Barbara Jordan, Zora Neal Hurston, Mercedes Sosa, Sojourner Truth, and Angel Brown (to name just a few).
I call you in. May you give all of us the strength and fortitude to be beacons of light, pointing us toward a new, transformed world of equitable, loving, and abundant community everywhere.
With small gestures – a simple nod of appreciation, a word of gratitude spoken into the ethers, a shift in perspective – I will do this practice. I hope you will join me, that we may all stay the course together.