Martin Luther King Jr. Day: #WhyIMarch

Today, we celebrate a day that puts the present and future of our country into eye-opening perspective. Today, on the third Monday of January, we celebrate the honorable Martin Luther King Jr. and his fearless efforts to lead a life in pursuit of justice, truth and equality: racial equality.

He has been activists’ and aspiring activists’ role model for more than half a century. His legacy and life has been defined by the utmost courage, service and peaceful action that is still essential in hopes of victory among similar present-day struggles. The work is not done. It is not done for racial equality, sexual and gender equality, religious liberation and equality, for immigrants and those of varying political and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Though there are different forms of fear and violence occurring in face of present-day battles, the plight for racial equality and desegregation during the escalated tensions of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States was met with extreme physical dangers and hostility.

Today, we remember a man who demonstrated exceptionally relentless courage, compassion and most importantly, nonviolence during combat with opponents that presented him with minimal reciprocity.

He dreamed of peace, healing and community: noble values that the wellbeing and health of our country is in desperate need of today.

Today, and this week particularly, we continue the battle for equal human rights for all.

This Saturday, January 21, 2017, there will be what is projected to be one of the largest human rights demonstrations in the history of the United States: the Women’s March on Washington.

There have been criticisms that regard the march as non-inclusive or another act of “white feminism”.  Skeptics have defined the march as culturally appropriating or as women’s backlash in response to the first female president not being elected.

I have been volunteering with the Rhode Island Chapter for the Women’s March on Washington since the 2016 election, and I will be marching in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

I’ve spent every Sunday for the past 10 weeks with a group of passionate, intelligent women and men volunteers who are devoted to equal human rights. I’ve learned the short history and structuring behind the upcoming march, and that the four co-organizers are Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, a white woman, African American woman, Puerto Rican woman and Palestinian-American-Muslim woman, respectively. I’ve learned that these women have been listening to the needs, concerns and fears of participants in this march and trying their best to accommodate everyone for an event that is fully inclusive, supportive and welcoming of all in favor of human rights.

While there are still countless critiques, and four individuals cannot offer a full representation of the women in our country, it is a start.

And a start is what we need right now.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

The national mission, the Rhode Island chapter mission, and my personal mission are in alignment: that women’s rights are human rights but also, perhaps more powerfully, that all groups that were or were at risk of being silenced and marginalized in lieu of recent events in our country have a voice of their own, even if that means using mine to help.

I am marching for the groups of people who are at risk of being compromised by both directly hurtful or negligent, non-inclusive mindsets. I am marching to demonstrate that I will speak for them when they aren’t being heard, fight for them when they cannot fight for themselves and stand together with them to ensure that the progress our country has made in the last century is maintained and not destroyed. I am marching for Mother Earth and all of its inhabitants, because we owe them our gratitude and protection for all that they have given to us humans.

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Volunteers wrote postcards of support and love to the Islamic Center of Rhode Island during one of our RI WMW Chapter meetings.
I am marching because as a woman, I want it all. I want social justice, rights and ownership to and of my body, parity, respect and equality for myself, for the women who have fought before me, and for the women that we will be bringing into this world. I want this world to be a greater place when my own daughters and sons enter it, because that’s what my predecessors did for me.

And as a woman, I expect my male friends and family to do the same, with and for me and my female peers.

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Empowering artwork by local Rhode Island talent, Jess Cabral. Work available on EsJessa.com!
There is prevalent, underlying and at times blatant racism, sexism and discrimination throughout our country and as a white woman I can, at times, be blinded. I admit that. It has not been my socioeconomic plight that allows me to recognize intersectional discrimination in all its faces, but it is in my heart to do all that I can with the privileges that I’ve been born with.

There will be controversy, suspicion and disagreement regarding any movement of this size and subject, but there are good people behind this march who are trying to do a good thing.

There are people– people aspiring to act in ways that Martin Luther King Jr. did– people fighting the good fight, who are behind this march.

And what this country needs more than anything right now is community and coming together.

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” – Coretta Scott King

It was the honor, humility and dignity with which Martin Luther King Jr. fought that is most memorable and renowned, and it is those qualities that I will bring to my own battles, including the one this Saturday.

Let’s ‘Make America Great Again’ not by building walls to keep others out, but by embracing all of those within our reach already, and keeping them close and safe. Let’s redefine America, and remember that love trumps hate.

Stay good, and stay grateful.

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I am Ready, 2017

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I woke up this morning feeling like it was spring. Not in the sense of temperature, but rather in energy. I felt newness, refreshment, about-to and growth. I rested my selenite and amethyst crystals upon my dormant perfect-birthday-gift dahlia to bath in the full moon light last night, and I cleansed my own soul with a quiet night of self-care, self-learning, self-containment and self-love. I will be moving to California on Tuesday; a dream of mine for the past 4 years. Feeling overly inspired, appreciative and accepting of today’s springtime-feel callings, I found myself not packing for the future but ironically reflecting on my past. I have been blessed with opportunities to see the world, and I am sure that it is part of my truth and calling. The draw I feel to absorb other cultures is an inseparable piece and constant craving of my soul. These items are a combination of treasures I’ve collected from my own travels, and puzzle pieces from friends that have only fueled my anthropological love-fire. I am ready, 2017. For west, for east, for ups and downs and for pursuing all of these sparkling entities that send my soul into full-blast rocket launch. I appreciate all you’ve been, and I accept all that you will be.

Tears Dry On Their Own

The legendary, soulful sound of Amy Winehouse first delighted the world on this day, September 14, in 1983. She would have been 33 years old today.

My appreciation for Amy’s work began at a young age and stemmed from my magical, fiery Auntie Denise who lived in Switzerland.

While other kids grew up listening to their parents’ old Beatles CD’s, I would spend summers reading Harry Potter in the backseat listening to ‘Back To Black’ with my mother and my visiting auntie.

Like many of her fans, I credit Amy Winehouse for my fondness of jazz, r&b and soul music– but I also credit her for being a lyrical and vocal role model in finding my own voice.

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20-year-old me having found sanctuary in a jazz café in Florence, Italy, during a semester abroad.

To me, Amy is a legacy of passion, feminine empowerment, deep-rooted pain and emptiness, and then, manifesting one’s own identity and truth. She was a torn, beautiful being who exuded emotion and talent. But then again, aren’t we all?

From shower sessions and solo car rides to the 8th grade talent show and humming at work, singing became the simplest and most soothing practice for my throat chakra to find it’s use. Sometimes they were my own words, sometimes they were Amy’s, or Frank Sinatra’s, or Taylor Swift’s. But every time, a heaviness deep inside of me found release.

So as this summer draws to a beautiful close, and New England weather reminds me just how sweet and sunny September can be, I knew I had some things to say in achieving my final goal of the hot season: singing at an open mic night.

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Perks and Corks has a book of house-made martinis… the cucumber one was delicious!

This past Monday night, I gathered with support from some dear, clear-eyed, independent queens at Perks and Corks in Westerly. We got martinis, grilled cheeses and girl time, and I got excitedly nervous. I was the last performer to go.

It was a small crowd, but seeing my friends (when I actually opened my eyes) and hearing the strength and feeling in my own voice as I got comfortable under the light was all that I needed.

At the end of the first song, the event manager gave me a verbal pat on the back. I hardly remember saying, “can I go again?!”, like a child on an amusement park ride, but he granted my wish.

Exposing my vulnerable voice and emotions to the outside world was the right kind of terrifying. Allowing myself to share my secret passion with the world was an act of self-love. Holding myself accountable to this fear-facing goal was a form of self-care, and great practice in putting myself first.

It was listening to my very soul, the essences of me that were screaming to be let out, and acknowledging that I deserve to be heard, in the way that each of us do. And in doing so I felt that same rush of adrenaline that I got from skydiving, and the best high I could ever feel in this life.

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Facing more fears and skydiving this past March in Santiago, Chile!

I’m no professional, but singing is something that I absolutely love to do. I’ll leave the rest to the videos. Thank you to all of my family and friends who have shown endless love and support!

‘I Heard Love Is Blind,’ by Amy Winehouse.

 

‘Stay,’ by Sugarland.

A Break in the Gray

If I were to openly express a stereotype I’m working to overcome (in all of its unrighteousness), I would do it here for the purpose of this blog post and it would be about Mondays, in that they are typically and destined to be long, dull and gray. Thus was the case this week.

As expected of an all-inclusive Monday, a few things had gone not-so-ideally and I was fighting a case of the grumps by the time 5:30 p.m. had rolled around.

I had finally finished classes for the day and was met with a striking red traffic light, thwarting my timely trek to the library. I joined the crowd of other students waiting to cross the road, making extended (almost to the point of being awkward) eye contact with a fellow trekker before returning to the screen of my cell phone to address the gray-day’s remaining emails.

I was relieved to find this task consumed but few minutes, and I gratefully put my phone away to give my mind a break for the remainder of my stroll. At this point, I had managed to hit yet another red light and I realized I was still walking in sync with the man-bun student I had made eye contact with two lights ago.

“How’s your Monday going?” I asked. It was yet another one of those moments where I was reminded just how much faster my mouth works than my brain.

Unsurprised by a stranger’s grade-C conversation starter, my walking partner responded by telling me that as of this morning, Monday was his new favorite day. Delighted at this response, I inquired why- somewhat desperately- and allowed my mind and ears to unfold, ready to receive the beautiful insight that so often stems from serendipity.

He told me that he had learned the prefix, mon- in Monday, is the French word meaning ‘my’. Monday, to my new friend Nick, now meant ‘my‘ day, and was synonymous with the glorious carpe diem: seize the day.

Did the gray clouds really break at the sharing of this enchanting idea? I don’t know. But I thought about how accomplished I feel after I have a productive Monday, and how it sets the tone for the rest of my week. I thought about past Mondays and how they aren’t really all dull and gray, not when you have the right mindset. I thought about how grateful I was to have met my new friend Nick, and had a mentality-shifting 2-minute conversation with a stranger. But more than anything, I thought about how I can’t wait to make Monday mine next week.

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