Wow! International Women’s Day – Where Do We Even Begin?

Photo by Janet Mason

IWD Vintage Poster Backdrop
Photo by Janet Mason

It’s often difficult to re-cap such a whirlwind weekend. Yet, let me start here:

Thank you.

To all of the performers, attendees, and volunteers, you truly made last weekend’s celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) an unforgettable one. Without your inspiring work and  participation, we wouldn’t have been able to spread the message of IWD in such style. So, we thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts! In case you missed it, Friday’s event, “Outloud: A Celebration of Female Voices,” which showcased the music and poetry of eight incredible female performers in our city, was an absolute, standing-room only success. From ruby-flows, Trayvon Martin laments, folkie guitar riffs, heart-warming chorale collaborations, Anne Sexton throwbacks, and everything in-between, the evening will undeniably live on. More importantly, though, it will only further the progress of women throughout our beautiful city.

Yet, Saturday and Sunday followed with equal fervor. Cocktails were served and conversations ran deep. Slideshows of female artists became illuminated against our walls and discussions on the intersection of art and social change were undeniably front-and-center. On Sunday afternoon, during our conversation revolving around “Women in the Media & The Arts”, speakers and attendees shared familial history, personal struggles and triumphs, as well as strategies to further improve women’s progress.

Overall, all of these performers, speakers, and conversations are a testimonial of how far women have come throughout the ages. Yet, simultaneously, they are a reminder, a gentle nudge, for how much work still needs to be done.

As I said during the opening remarks on Friday night, we have an obligation to change our world for the better; yet we can’t do it alone. And, I believe, there’s no better way to do it than this: Care about each other. Care about each other, despite differences, and build a unified network that stretches across any boundary imaginable. Again, to illustrate this vital connection, I’d like to offer you a poem, written by Marge Piercy in 1980 and recently reiterated by spoken word artist Stacey Ann Chin.

Photo by Michael Albany

“Outloud: A Celebration of Female Voices”
Photo by Michael Albany

“The Low Road” 

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Photo by Michael Albany

Full House!
Photo by Michael Albany

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again and they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

As these words remind us, women’s progress occurs step-by-step, one person at a time joining forces with another. It may seem tedious, but in reality, it’s the beauty of progress. We’ve got to keep building, keep pushing, keep creating the art that makes us whole again and advances social change. Because if we don’t, who will?

Last weekend, and everything it embodied, was a testament to this. Yet, let our final thought be this: Carry on the message of International Women’s Day for not just one day or weekend, but  for the entire year. Don’t let the inspiration and fervor of last weekend slip away. Don’t let these performances and conversations go (As my mother often said) – “in one ear and out the other.” Instead, embrace them without reservation and truly be a beacon of hope.

Now, on a lighter note, check out some photos!

              

Again, many thanks to all who made last weekend a reality!

 

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