Keep Going… with Gratitude

Nisi Jacobs, WMFA Founder, Nov. 22, 2018

The two women, among the millions of women, who gave me essential skills are my basketball coach, a proud Black out lesbian in the 1970s and a woman who was 11-years-old when she passed herself off as a non-Jew at the train station for Auschwitz with a gentile birth certificate (bought by a relative on the black market), a rosary around her neck with cross, and the fortune of naturally blond hair and blue eyes. Her family boarded the train and perished. I met her in her seventies in Warsaw at a Jewish historical event on children survivors. We arranged to meet so I could interview her for a documentary I was pursuing at that time, so she could tell her story. She spoke little English so this was arranged through my interpreter.

Renewal Project, Nov. 30, 2018:

You May Not Like Me, But You’ll Love My SHEro

You May Not Like Me, But You’ll Love My SHEro is a project with the goal of locating common ground between women of all backgrounds, cultures and perspectives. One thing we inherently have in common is how closely we all hold the women who have shown us the way, the women who modeled coping skills as we grew from little girls into womanhood, who showed us how to best navigate this world. Global cultures are slowly catching up to the fact they must make room for our gender, they must incorporate and celebrate our uniquely female strengths. As Nancy Pelosi puts it, “No one gives you power. You have to take it.” This second wave of the women’s revolution we are fortunate to find ourselves in today is being forced to make room for our gender to sit at the table in all areas, to shine, to lead, to impact every aspect of civilization from the center of the stage, not the sidelines. Women are not waiting but creating a world that refuses to leave us rooting for the ‘real players’ from the bench, but rather a world that women run.

No matter the distance between women around the world, there is always one binding commonality: our need, respect and regard for those women who cleared the way so we could be here today, those women who showed us the way.

My hope is in women from all over adding their heroines, we will start to realize what a damn great team we have, even when we don’t share religion, class, ethnicity, cuisine, language, levels of education, sexual orientation, etc. and that we will all be enriched by an expansive shrine of fearless, courageous, independent role models who broke familiar and unfamiliar barriers. We learn about the different barriers women face around the world. We share another commonality; women everywhere contend with barriers.

For myself, there are many women who showed me the way, some who showed me specifically what I did not want to be. They were cruel and callous, they used their little power to hurt and undermine younger women. They gained nothing but to assist younger women in losing the little bit of power and self-value they could erect in a hostile culture. These women associated power with masculinity, and power was power OVER another, not power to ENACT.

There are women who are unfulfilled and frustrated. Perhaps they listened to bad advice and did not listen to their own instincts and intuition. They abandoned their own directives and voice and dug a hole from which they can no longer escape. For young girls or unsuspecting women, connections around these issues mostly lead to the one standing on solid ground being pulled into the quicksand rather than the other way around. There are a lot of barriers and obstacles, as we all know, and they don’t all come in the form of social or institutional ones. They can issue from those we hoped would be fierce allies, yet turn out to be anything but. Every women who is still standing knows what I mean. We grow up unsafe in this world in every respect.

However, we have all met that woman from another place, wandering down the street, slightly drunk, whose phone has died, without a sense of how to get to her AirBnB and trying hard as hell not to betray her state of mind. Something inside of us just recognizes it and knows it could easily be one of us, so we stop and tell our dog to chill for a moment, and we find out where she is trying to go and stay with her on our google map as long as possible and then we walk her to that train and we let her know that if that train is not going to come, the cabs are safe and not to wait around and let too much time pass, come back out and get the cab. And we can literally watch her spirit sink back into her soles and ground back onto the concrete and then give a hug because no matter where we are from, when we are unsure and unsafe, the real sisters show up. So that is what this is about. Most of us have spent many years of our lives in that state of perpetual wandering foreign streets with our phone batteries dead and slightly tipsy with no instinct how to get home safe. And there are always those one or two women who showed up. Who gave us some directions and told us how the streets work. These are my two stories of such women. And I hope you will play my game and share yours.

NJ — Don’t Duck.

NJ — The Light, too.