Women | Words and Art I

Did you see the Google Doodle on International Women’s Day? The doodle featured a collection of inspiring quotes by women beautifully illustrated by [other] women. It’s a pretty impressive collection, and I want the prints!

Fortunately, my bestie–from now on referred to as “the prophet”–anticipated this and sent me a beautiful collection of 12 woman-centered postcards. I finally took time to scan them, so I decided to share them on the blog in three installments.

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained. Nor is anyone of you. –Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger,” National Women’s Studies Association Conference, 1981

Artist: Daiana Ruiz

Many of us recall when #45 described his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as a nasty woman. He intended it as an insult, but his remark–steeped in misogyny–invited a world of women to “stay nasty.”

The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving. –Gloria Steinem

I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you.  –Janet Mock, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

The postcards are part of The Future Is Female, a 2019 calendar package published by Workman Publishing. The calendar is a rallying call to women–inspiring “a year of activism, unity, and sisterhood.” A portion of the proceeds from the calendar sales will be donated to Girls Write Now, a nonprofit organization “that mentors underserved young women and helps them find their voices through the power of writing and community.”

I hope you’re inspired by the words and art.

Stay tuned. I plan to write posts featuring the remaining eight postcards some time this week.

March on…

“Black Women Breathe Flowers Too”

black women breathe flowers, too.
just because
we are taught to grow them in the lining of our
quiet (our grandmothers secret).
does not mean
we do not swelter with wild tenderness.
we soft swim.
we petal.
we scent limbs.
love.
we just have been too long a garden for sharp
and deadly teeth.
so we
have
grown
ourselves
into
greenhouses.

–greenhouses
nayyirah waheed, salt.

Happy International Women’s Day 2019

Women’s History Month: Let’s Love Each Other Fiercely

The best kinds of friendships are fierce lady friendships, where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and believe the other deserves the world.

My amazing bestie, Aleta, sent me an almost equally amazing “I AM WOMAN” package just in time for Women’s History Month (WHM), and I’m looking forward to sharing a particular set of woman-centered art she included [later, when I feel like tackling the scanning].

Of course, I love all the goodies she included, but the affirming note she enclosed gave me life and an idea for WHM:

This note is a tiny reminder of how awesome a friend, mother, wife, professor, mentor, intellectual powerhouse, and fierce human being you are. Keep living, growing, believing, and pushing for more. It’s promised you!

Her note lit a fire because it came just when I needed that “tiny reminder” of my fierceness. I want to “pay it forward” to others, so along with [or in addition to] the few dozen International Women’s Day postcards I send, I’m going to send similar notes and postcards to many of the women in my life.

Women take a lot of “stuff” from all directions. It can sap our strength and our self-image, so it’s nice to be affirmed and reminded of how truly awesome we are.

Why don’t you join me? Send a quick, encouraging note to the women in your life. All it takes is a few words and a postage stamp.

If all the girls were taught
how to love each other fiercely
instead of
how to compete with each other
and hate their own bodies,
what a different
and beautiful world
we would live in

–Nikita Gill–

A Woman’s Place

I had a series of “love posts” planned for this week, but my students warned me not to write/post them because–from their youthful perspective–it might seem insensitive to those who don’t have a Valentine.

I laughed. Do people really take Valentine’s Day that seriously? No matter. I won’t risk it. 😀

Instead, I’m dropping in with a favorite postcard from my “vintage” collection of postcards, acquired when I was a teen (I think)–before email, swap-bot, and Love Notes–when my friends and I regularly sent newsy letters and postcards to each other.

This postcard, printed by Hallmark, echoes the end of today’s [class] discussion of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew: the very words used to demonstrate Petruchio’s successful “taming” of “Kate” can also be used to prove that Katherina really is the boss lady of the joint.

LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT

I ran across Just Joan’s blog a month (or so) ago and she made me laugh, laugh, laugh at a time when I really needed laughter. You will love her parodies of classic poems and poetic forms. Start with “Letting it All Hang Out” and move through more of her posts. Prepare for lots of laughter. Enjoy!

JUST JOAN 42

I’ve always taken a “comfort first” attitude toward clothing.  I supposed I would outgrow my disdain for pantyhose and other constricting items as I moved into adulthood, but just the opposite has happened.  I will contend that bras have their place, but they’re the first garment to be shed when I bust (pun intended!) through the front door.  My maiden voyage on the “SS Foundation” occurred some years ago.  I attended a work function wearing a “body shaper” under my dress.  Like magic, it sculpted the area between my boobs and my knees into an hourglass.
I couldn’t breathe, but that turned out to be the least of my problems.  During the 15-minute intermission, every woman in attendance made
a beeline for the restroom – a veritable throng of ladies clamoring for two measly stalls.  Wrestling oneself in and out of a body shaper takes however long it takes, even if a full-blown mutiny is in…

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Reviving the Inner Warrior

Image by Dmytro Tolokonov on Unsplash

Yesterday my friend, Dee, wrote on her blog, Keep It Tight Sisters, about rediscovering her inner warrior. This resonated with me because more and more my own inner warrior has been revealing herself. I call her “Ur Chandra”–the person I was before life and challenges forced many of the things I appreciated about myself to retreat.

I invite you to read Dee’s blog post, consider the reflection prompts at the end, and reacquaint yourself with your own inner warrior: Release Your Inner Warrior: The Rebirth of Coco.

March on…

“Montgomery on My Mind”

People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in –Rosa Parks

My colleague, Dr. Ramona Hyman, always has “Montgomery” and its rich Civil Rights history “on [her] mind.” Thanks to her, I have Montgomery, Alabama on my mind too as I prepare to spend a couple of days there with her and several Huntsville educators “Revisiting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.” The educators are working on integrating this piece of history into their K-12 classes. I have a different research agenda–as I’m thinking through a project on women’s involvement in critical moments in history.

Today is a perfect time to share some of the Rosa Parks postcards in my collection. I’ve had them for quite some time, but now that I’m thinking about Montgomery, it’s an appropriate time to share.

Many people know about her contribution to American civil rights and history, but just in case you don’t know–Rosa Parks is considered the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” Her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955 “triggered a wave of protests that reverberated throughout the United States.” The boycott lasted for more than a year and ultimately catapulted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into national prominence. The boycotts led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation on city buses.

Here are three related postcards from my collection:

The “Rosa Parks Bus” at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan

From the postcard back:

Montgomery City Bus 2857. Originally built in 1948 in Pontiac, Michigan, Bus 2857 was operated by the Montgomery City Bus Lines in Montgomery, Alabama from 1954-1971. Rosa Parks was riding this bus on the evening of December 1, 1955 when she was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man. This incident sparked subsequent civil rights protests, especially the boycott of Montgomery’s bus system. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the beginning of a revolutionary era of non-violent mass protests in support of civil rights in the United States. The yearlong boycott kept Montgomery’s [black population] off all buses until December 1956 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of public transportation was unconstitutional. Bus 2857 was retired and sold in 1971. After sitting for 30 years in a field, the bus was purchased by auction by The Henry Ford [Museum} and has been restored to appear as it did in 1955. The bus is now on display in the Henry Ford Museum.

You can find more details about the purchase and restoration of the bus here: Restoring the Rosa Parks Bus.

Rosa Parks arrested for refusing to yield her seat to a white man.

The postcard, featuring the familiar image of Parks being fingerprinted, comes from the Women Who Dared collection sent to me during Women’s History Month several years ago. The sender added a Parks quote:

Each person must live life as a model for others. –Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

The art above is part of the “Celebrating Women” banners that were on display at The Lower Eastside Girls Club’s Celebrate Cafe in New York City when I visited several years ago (2010, maybe?). If I remember correctly, each banner was created by a young woman who was involved in the Club.

You can find out a lot more about Rosa Parks by reading her biography on the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute website. You’ll find that she was much more than the woman who refused to give up her seat.

“A Hymn for Montgomery 55” by Ramona Hyman
from her collection, In the Sanctuary of the South

Holy, holy, holy: a hymn of praise
For prophets framing freedom
In Montgomery 55: Strange fruits marching–some
Walking, some crawling–some…

Holy, holy, holy–a hymn of praise
Emptying itself
Americans: black and white; hand in hand
Saintly sighing a freedom song of praise

Holy, holy, holy–the march raises
Into victory: freedom swells, the flag: separate
And unequal shreds into the face of anxious
Soldiers–black and white jumping the broom
Into a new day–the Civil Rights Movement begins