On December 18th, at Manny’s gathering space in the Mission District of SF, over 130 powerful women and a few good men assembled, fostering dialogue on the topic of Women and Power, celebrating where we’ve come and inspiring us with hope of where we’re going. Immense gratitude for Wanda, Nina and Andrea for their time and energies. We applaud you for your daily work in this movement. We were also treated to musical gifts by Melita and fabulous food from Farming Hope. Most importantly perhaps, thanks to all of you who came to create our full Circle – ready to share, listen and learn from each other.
ACTION AND RESOURCE LIST FOR WOMEN AND POWER CIRCLE:
To learn about organizations supporting girls and women in this critical work to help us rise, reference our working document of resources for our topic of Women and Power.
Little and Big Ways to ACT NOW **choose at least ONE thing and do it! I challenge you to FIVE things!
1) Diversify your media, movies, music and authors you follow. Watch at least one woman-directed film per month. We are what we intake. www.moviesbyher.com
2) Expand your friend group to folks who are different from you. Gather with those outside your comfort zone. Create a ritual to be together in person. Contribute to this experience and learn from each other.
3) Ride public transportation! We sadly missed Lateefah in our discussion who I know would have touched upon this from her role on the BART Board but Wanda beautifully illuminated how and why this is critical. Let’s fully recognize the bubble in which we live AND let’s try to at least get out of our bubble within the bubble.
4) When you see an injustice speak up. Everyone. Every time. Particularly us privileged white, cisgendered, heterosexual, Christian-raised folk.
5) Whether or not you live with a child in your home, we are ALL parenting the next generation – as aunties, uncles, babysitters, community members. It is critical we all do our own work examining our past so we can progress in our language and behaviors with the future generation.
6) Keep finding joy for yourself. Closely examine what that looks like for you. What do you need in this moment? A break? A bath? A book? A personal dance party? Let go of the farcical idea of balance. Some moments you’re going to work until your heart’s desire, some moments play, some moments rest. Tackle each moment as it comes and let it flow. As Nina said, “radical self-care,” particularly if you’re an introvert and live with a human puppy dog.
7) Trust the kids are alright if you work, if you don’t work, if you have help at home, if you don’t. According to this study highlighted in Harvard Business Review, if you believe family should come first and view work as a source of challenge, creativity and enjoyment, that is the most important stuff. We also need to let housework and perfection go, take care of ourselves and be present for each other (all easier said than done of course).
8) Critically examine our systems of oppression. What steps can you personally take to change the system? *This is a personal challenge area for me. I need to do more homework here for certain.
9) Read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior‘s Letter from Birmingham Jail. I don’t recall reading this in school. Do you? Maybe I did and it was swept right over. Maybe it was never a part of the curriculum to begin with. How can we make this and other civil rights documents a part of core curriculums for all? If you have a lens into public education, we need your voice to help us all learn how we can change what we are taught about our own American history. We deserve the whole picture, not just half of it.
10) Bring our men and boys into this conversation. Let us teach not just our girls, but also our boys the history of gender and race discrimination, recognize how far we’ve come and talk openly about where things still are and where we need to go. ALL the kids will have ideas of how to get there, and later they will be doing this work and carrying our torch. It is a disservice to them and to us all if we try to shield them from dark histories and darkness that still exists today. Their sense of justice runs deep. You might be surprised how young children can appreciate and understand the complexities of these conversations.
11) Work to lift up other women, particularly women of color. Validate. Attribute. Support each other. Show up. For your fellow sisters. At work. In your school communities. Out and about in the world. Fellow white women: Let us use our power to elevate our sisters of color without expecting them to do all the work. (This is super tricky and something we have to talk and work through together. We must all be brave and vulnerable.)
12) Support women-owned businesses. With your wallets. With your voices. With your networks. With your time.
13) Support women as political leaders and candidates. Persuade them to run for office. Volunteer for their campaigns. Get out the Vote for them. As Andrea says, we the people are responsible for our own representative democracy. The people in power now are not going to deliver that to us on a silver platter. To all the parents who don’t think you have time for this one, remember: this is not in conflict with your parental duties; this is precisely our parental duty. **Since we just elected a whole heck of a lot of women across our nation at all levels of government, follow what they do in office; speak up and let them know when you agree with their work, no matter if you are their constituent or not. In this moment, we are one nation (and one world). Public service is NO EASY TASK, particularly as a woman who faces criticism at every literal move she makes; these female leaders need our support now more than ever.**
14) Network with women in your industry. Find ways to support women in your workplace. Do this in some big or small way every day. And not just if you’re a woman. We need the men to have our backs too.
15) If you’re not all in for something, just say no. Conserve your energy and use it for something you’re deeply passionate about. My friend Renee says, Practice the art of saying no. It’s not something we are used to doing, particularly as women and mothers. We must practice and help one another to say no. There is no room for guilt. Let us all recognize the need for flexibility as we dance through life, parenting and work. Identify at least one thing you can take off your calendar or to do list in the next week and at least one way you can ask for help this year. Back up a sister when she says no to you, or doesn’t reply to a text/email immediately – in fact, commend her for this.
16) Let us get off of our phones and say hi to the people we pass as we walk down the street and through this human world (I say as I voice type walking on a sidewalk downtown) – verbally and eye-contactually connect, y’all!
17) Engage in conversations with people who walk in different shoes than you. Hear their stories. Share yours.
18) Work to understand the history of the feminist movement and teach someone in your life who is critical of it what it really means. Author Bell Hooks describes it brilliantly. Buy her book and gift it.
19) Move in your own body. Take breathes. Find peace within as you seek your purpose. Recognize we each have our own unique role to play.
GIRL POWER MUSIC, PHOTOS, QUOTES:
Listen to our Spotify playlist on Women and Power and watch our expanded Women and Power slideshow (with quotes, inspiring women and photos) for fun and inspiration. 36 of Our Favorite Feminist Quotes for Nasty Women.