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I participated in an ARTISTA dinner and workshop last night and the experience was so collaborative, creative and inspiring.The women in that room have such incredible insight, sensitivity and intellect. I was struck by the encouraging atmosphere in the room. No one was competing with one another and everyone had a platform to express themselves and their perspectives. At the end of the workshop, where we made character masks and described their significance, we gathered in a small circle and reflected on words of inspiration from the session. Huddled in that small circle, surrounded by powerful and expressive young women, I felt a wave of gratitude and a rumbling-in-my-stomach sense that paradigm shifting change is possible.

Our society is structured to shrink, control, condemn, confine and fear women’s bodies.

As a part of an ARTISTA exercise, we were instructed to make masks. Mine had a furrowed brow and a mountain of yellow bags under her eyes. I discovered that she was a tired feminist whose words are only pin pricks in a seemingly impenetrable system.This system prizes obedience over self-actualization and gives her visibility on terms she never agreed to while making her invisible in the charged spaces where she has the right to thrive.

This system files her body away under the label,”Second Class Citizen.”

I have been, and will continue to be, angry about how our world is so unfairly stratified. I store this anger like a small stone in the back of my throat.

The women in ARTISTA spoke out of turn rather than waiting with bated breath to be invited to the table. This, along with their other unique and creative qualities, makes them lighthouses. Being there last night made me feel confident that women can and will claim spaces that have historically excluded them.

Being there last night reminded me that we need to continue to be lighthouses for each other because we’re still in the middle of the ocean trying to make sense of why we were stranded in this storm in the first place.

Thank you ARTISTA! 

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