I Do Dissent

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I’m running a bit ragged. 

Sleep deprived, reassessing my activities and community involvements, often wondering why I do so much. I launched into an exercise of reviewing the past couple of months; the panels, interviews, outings, events and it dawned on me: I do because I must. 

Let me take you on a ride through my experiences – 

My dear friend, Yolanda Vazquez, award winning journalist, nationally recognized media professional invites me to see Rita Moreno presenting at the Frederick Center for the Arts.  At 86 years old, Rita was magnificent, sharing her journey of being typecast as an Mexican maid, Indian slave, Arab concubine – in essence, anything exotic.  And even after winning ALL awards to be won, fully validating her exceptional talent, she was still pigeon-holed into ridiculous roles.  She cried, she raged… and she came back to a new, acclaimed Netflix series.  Because she had to. 

As we waited to meet her after the show, Yolanda became emotional, tears escaping her eyes.  Having interviewed many renowned celebrities and influencers, including presidents, she was excitedly nervous about meeting Ms. Moreno.  Because she was larger than life; Rita Morena gave Yolanda her future. The idea that SHE TOO could be on TV. 

After all, “you can’t be what you can’t see” as Sheryl Sandberg often states. 

Moving on the journey, Jamie McDonald, founder of Generosity Inc, instrumental in the Giving Tuesday movement, invited me to be a panelist on the Social Lab@LightCity- entitled Culture Takeover: Women won’t be silent any longer.  

I joined a kick-a$$ panel of superSHEros, including Maricka Oglesby, organizer of the Women of the World Festival, Dr. Wendy Osefo, professor and political commentator, and Saida Agostini, poet and COO of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.   We discussed how to take actionable steps to continue to improve gender equity and the value of champions (men and sponsors!) and having a seat at the table.  

Again, I pondered that experience: Forget the table-  what if you don’t even know that there’s a room that holds said table?   I showed up because I had to. 

As you read on, you will note that the sisterhood is important to me- I make time to partake with the ladies that fill my heart and soul, regardless of our hectic lives.  In that vein, the Gala Hispanic Theater (magnificent jewel right in DC!!) was featuring In The Time Of The Butterflies, a play adapted from the Julia Alvarez novel depicting the true story of the Mirabal Sisters that fueled a revolution against Dictator Trujillo.  30 of us Sisters sat in this intimate theater, crying and suffering, as we watched these Butterflies be electrocuted, raped, tortured and eventually murdered… Because they refused to be silenced.  They refused to look the other way. 

They did it because they had to. 

And last night, I had the privilege of attending a special screening of RBG – the documentary of the 85- year old iconic Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  WOW! That’s it.   

This small, soft-spoken woman shaped the course of history, quietly, as it pertains to women and equity.  As a young lawyer in the ACLU, she won 5 out of the 6 cases she presented to the Supreme Court in the 1970s.  And that loss led to congressional legislation that rectified matters.  The documentary traverses her life’s journey, her dedication, her passion for gender equity, her masterful mind and brilliance.  She raised two children, while her husband suffered from cancer; she slept minimally while doing his work and her studies to earn a spot in the coveted Harvard Law Review as a 2nd year student.  She suffered TWO rounds of cancer and never missed a day of work.  Her life’s work can be encapsulated by the quote from her appointment hearing, “I ask no favor for my sex; all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” 

I respected and admired her before, but now, I’m considering becoming her groupie and getting a tattoo. 

RBG is 85, Moreno is 86, the Mirabal Sisters are long-dead- the work is not done.  We are still fighting, advocating, discussing gender equity with daily #MeToo repercussions.  But this column isn’t about commiserating over the lack of progress, but rather the power we wield.  

The disruption we are causing. 

In our small and gigantic ways, we have influence, we have power to disrupt the status quo. 

I do dissent.  Because I must. And I will relish the accompanying exhaustion.   

Amigos- I welcome your thoughts. 

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