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100 Days after the Women's March

15 February 2017

AMERICAN MASTERS "Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise"

Credit: Ron Groeper
The first feature documentary about Maya Angelou, American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) during Black History Month as part of the 31st season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series. PBS Distribution will release the film on DVD the same day, with additional bonus features, and on Digital HD February 22.

Most people know Angelou as a writer, but this documentary showcases all of her geniuses in literature, speaking, acting, signing, and dancing. The best part of a full-length documentary on Maya Angelou are the moments when she is reciting a poem while footage of the world runs.

This documentary is touching, but most importantly it is funny. Angelou's laughter rings throughout the film. It wraps around your heart like a warm hug...just the type of hug we need during these dark times. Seriously though, for progressives and feminists, these are dark days. Days when we lose hope than we can imagine before we even finish our commute to work. Days when we feel extra guilty of tuning out the world in fluffy and stupid pop culture. But watching this documentary will reground you in the belief that justice will prevail. Angelou does not promise us a happy ending, but her words, her breath, fill you with hope. Even when she speaks of dark times! I do not know how she does it, even years after her death.

Catch it. DVR it and save it for viewing when you lose hope.

Disclaimer: Thanks to PBS for letting me preview this documentary in order to review it for VLF.

05 February 2017

Margaret Atwood warned us about the 53% of white women who voted for Trump



I was invited to participate in Evanston's Writer's Resist event on January 15th and this is an edited version of what I read. I'm still new to the live lit scene, but will occasionally post what I read. Sometimes things are best left at the event.


Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been shorthand for the collective backlash to women’s progress, especially in regards to reproductive autonomy for quite some time. Safe to say most know the plot without having had read the book. A tale of a post-democratic former-USA taken over by an ultra conservative Christian theocracy where fertile white women are forced to reproduce for the “worthy” ruling class. A few weeks ago I was struck by the faint memory that the book does not conclude in escape or the reestablishment of democracy, rather it ends with an academic talk pondering the veracity of the story we had just consumed. This fact hit me in the gut as I have been considering how we will document the resistance during the Trump administration.

In the last chapter entitled, “Historical Notes on the Handmaid’s Tale” Atwood reveals where she got inspiration for not just the plot but the costumes and even a brutal public hanging of a handmaid at the hands of fellow handmaids — the group of handmaids pull on the rope that hangs the doomed handmaid up on the stage — immediately afterward they tear a man apart with their bare hands. Atwood often gets asked how she comes up with all the ideas in her books. Her response? She doesn’t. She just looks around the world. Atwood, through the character Professor Pieixoto, reminds us how easy it can be to slide into a state of fear that leads to a theocracy.
As we know from the study of history, no new system cam impose itself upon a previos one without incorporating many of the elements to be found in the latter...Gilead firmly rooted in the pre-Gilead period, and racist fears provided some of the emotional fuel that allowed the Gilead takeover to succeed as well as it did. (page 305) 
Gilead was, although undoubtedly patriarchal in form, occasionally matriarchal in content, like some sectors of the social fabric that gave rise to it....the best and most cost-effective way to control women for reproductive and other purposes was through women themselves. For this there were many historical precedents; in fact...in the case of Gilead, there were many women willing to serve as Aunts, either because of a genuine belief in what they called "traditional values," or for the benefits they might thereby acquire. When power is scarce, a little of it is tempting." (page 308)
As I reread those passages it was as if Atwood was responding to the 53% of white women who favored Trump at the polls. The fact that the Clinton campaign embraced the historic nature of a possible win in 2016 versus 2008 gave too many people confidence that women as a whole would act in concert to shatter the glass ceiling of the presidency. Yet even the one book that feminists have waved around as a warning sign for years told us not to expect women to stand in union against totalitarian regimes. Because as Atwood states, they never have.

In the end, after reading these dozen pages over and over I have come to the conclusion that we cannot assume allegiances. We must be better at identifying those of the oppressed who wish to find solace in oppressing others. We need to identify in ourselves when we allow our biases to lead us to condemning a brother or sister out of fear. We must remain vigilant of allowing that fear to push us to serve the incoming administration.

We must document whatever horrors emerge from this administration and hold accomplices accountable. we must write our own history. Especially in the time of Trumpism, facts are opinions unless said by the person you trust. Writers must resist whether it is in our pen & paper diaries, blogs, Instagram feeds or nationally syndicated columns. Just resist.

Postscript...Hulu is running a minseries based on the book this spring and I couldn't not share the trailer here.





02 February 2017

When Do We March


Since this beautiful day in Chicago when 250,000 of my closest friends and I marched to express our outrage towards the patriarchy, more marches have been announced. There are the #ResistTrumpTuesday demonstrations scheduled for the first 100 days of the new administration. There were the impromptu protests at airports over the weekend. There have also been other national marches announced around Tax Day, Science, LGBT rights and Public Education. And we're not even two weeks into the administration.

In order to keep all the national marches in order I created a Google calendar and put it up on a website. I'll update the calendar as I get information about a national march. And since it is a Google cal, you can simply subscribe to it and it's on your calendar! If you experience any issues with the calendar, just let me know!

01 February 2017

Do Work That Matters

During this difficult time I am finding myself avoiding working after I get home. I've made 4 pussy hats in about three weeks. I binge watched "One Day at a Time" - which was amazing, by the way. Go watch it. I have also tried to spend as much time as I can with friends. Basically I have practiced a lot of self care. I hope you have too.

Part of my self care routine for this year is to try to draw you a little something to color each month. I combined my new obsession of fancy handwriting and long time love of inspiring quotes for bad ass people. This quote is from Chicana feminist theorist Gloria AnzaldĂșa.


Go to Dropbox to download a PDF of the image.

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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