One of my fantasies in life is to only adorn myself with wearable art. My Yoruba culture is rich with fabric of every kind and I would love if that is all I wore. As I inch towards this goal, for now, most of my formal wear is African inspired fabric. I also have, thanks to an amazing sister, fabric jewelry that I love to wear.
Last night, I attended a Cobb Democrats banquet at the Omni at the Battery next to the new Brave’s stadium in Atlanta. After all the hullabaloo about the stadium and traffic and the blah, blahs, I have actually never been to that part of town. But my podcast partner, Jennifer invited me, and off we went, and I had to drag along my other heart friend, Leanne. So here we are at this event. I did not even know the theme of the event and it was called “Infinite Shades of Blue Gala.” I wore a blue dress made out of “Adire,” indigo batik to an event where everyone wore a blue dress! At first, everyone kept complimenting me about my dress and then I got it!
I really can be so slow sometimes!
I loved that I wore a blue dress to an event about blue and I had no clue. Not a single clue. But you know, that is how I roll!
Blue might just be my favorite color right now. I am also very much a Democrat and blue is the color!
This week, my mind was on womanhood as a collective. I just kept thinking about women and how we make an impact on the world.
One of the first things I noticed when I first came to this country is that women are treated very differently than women are treated back home in Nigeria where I was raised. Both countries have both pros and cons but here is the bottom line: In both spaces, women are not treated as equal to men.
I thought about some of the women that have been on my radar recently and why.
From Aretha Franklin’s transition and blasting her music, going down memory lane to where I was when I first heard a particular song of hers, to Omarosa and her particular way of showing up in the world, and then hearing Stacey Abrams speak again last night at the gala I attended, no one can continue to move through the world without respecting women for who they are.
*Aretha Franklin’s legacy is that she merged her personal beliefs into her music. Many of her songs became anthems for women and she expressed her beliefs about civil rights and equality alongside her music. Her sheer raw talent and outspokenness were liberating as well as equalizing.
*Omarosa may not be my cup of tea but, hate her or love her, she learned how to play a dangerous game and she plays it well. She refuses to be sidelined and is exploiting and maximizing a day of reckoning that she knew was imminent. From her days on the show The Apprentice, there is so much I do not like about her persona as it appears from the only source I have for her, the media. I mean, this woman truly pushes my buttons. From what I can see, she is manipulative. She is an opportunist. She is power-hungry. She knows how to put a spin on things. But I respect that she is profoundly ambitious, and I respect this statement that she made on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show, “If you ever see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear.”
Frankly, when it comes to Omarosa, I kind of back off and I ask myself some hard questions:
- Why am I uncomfortable with her single focused ambition?
- Why am I uncomfortable with a woman putting her goals ahead of her obligations to the larger community, i.e. African Americans?
- Why do I feel immediately judgy about her?
Men do these things all day long, and we do not hold them to the same standards. It is almost expected of men. But when it comes to a woman, we have a different set of standards. Yet in the midst of acknowledging this, I still have no warm fuzzies for her.
I think that all women, everyone, should evaluate their thoughts about this woman and her behavior and see what that tells us about ourselves. I recognize that I am uncomfortable with unadulterated ambition, whether it is in men or women because it tends to be about exerting power over people and about gaining extreme financial wealth. I have a visceral reaction to people that love to exert power over others instead of sharing their power.
However, regardless of how I feel about Omarosa, it is not ok for others to call her “a dog” just because we may not agree with her personal sense of ethics and how she chooses to show up in the world. She is a human being, a woman. Not a dog. Why does that need to be pointed out? Use language like, “I do not like her behavior. I do not trust her. I consider her behavior as manipulative. I question her sense of ethics.” But calling a person who historically was considered 3/5ths of a person, a dog, is relegating her to a non-human status. Not ok. And certainly not the embodiment of leadership.
*Again, Stacy Abrams wowed me last night. She kept putting the spotlight on all the women running for office in the Democratic race in Georgia. I love that people refer to her generically as “Leader Abrams.” That is my new moniker for her as well.
I could go on and on about how competent and wonderful I think Leader Abrams is. But let me tell you about a simple thing that really stood out to me. I evaluate leaders on the simplest and smallest things. Character is everything to me.
After several speeches, Leader Abrams was introduced and as she walked up to the podium, the crowd lost it and cheered endlessly. Finally, as we quieted down, she said, “Good evening. Before you sit down, would you please give our servers a rousing hand of applause.” And the crowd cheered and cheered.
A woman at my table sat down suddenly and grabbed her napkin and wiped her tears away.
You see, this is the power of women.
Women are often the ones who see the most overlooked among us and equalize us. Being seen, noticed and recognized for our humanity is the birthright of every human being. When a politician does it, I am impressed.
Yes, it could be for show, but most likely, it shows the heart of the person.
I don’t know about you. I am just an ordinary citizen who wants a better life for myself and for those around me. I want folks in office, male and female, who can deliver that. In this case, I clearly believe that Leader Abrams is the better candidate in Georgia. The fact that she is black, and a woman, is secondary.
Why are women in politics important?
Statistics show that this year, 591 women are running for U.S. House, Senate or Governor throughout the United States. Some have lost their bids, but they are in the arena. The Center for American Women and Politics tells us that in my state of Georgia alone, we rank 23 out of 50 states for the proportion of women in our state legislature with only a 26.7% representation of women. 50 out of 180 members of the State House/Assembly are women and 13 out of 56 state senators are women. Out of 16 people in the US Congress from Georgia, only one is a woman.
One of the things I will never understand is why we have statistics like this and do nothing about them. It is unconscionable that our population has a majority of women, but we only have one representation in Congress or less than 27% of our top elected officials are women.
To me, this is clear evidence of misogyny and sexism.
We as women have to demand our representation. We have to get out there and vote. We have to educate ourselves.
It is not enough to simply vote for women. You, and I, must require our female candidates to be excellent and accountable and we must support them.
We ourselves as women must respect women as contributors to society. Genuine respect for women goes beyond lust for the female bodily form. It means upholding our gender as smart, intelligent, competent and holding ourselves accountable.
Beloveds, you gotta vote. You gotta support.
I loathe telling you what you “must” do because it is as if I want to take your choice away. But these are perilous times. We cannot afford what happened last elections. Please, take the time to reflect as to what female leadership would look like for you and educate yourselves. Find a woman whom you admire (Leader Abrams anyone?) and throw yourself behind her.
We are powerful. We can change the trajectory of this country and where it is currently headed. I believe in you and I know that you can contribute your voice to the larger impact.
No matter what, please vote.
Hugs, sweet souls. Hugs.