Tuesday, November 01, 2011 12:48 PM
To me, justice is a conversation taking place across time and space. Something that is perfectly acceptable today may be considered unjust tomorrow. The selections I want to share with you, I chose because I felt that they were the most powerful bridges for conveying us across the gap where we are currently, to a new place or a new era that better expresses our common humanity.
A powerful bridge had to meet any or all of the following three criteria: first, it had to present the voice of a vulnerable community in a manner that got our attention. As the renowned Nigerian-born author once Chinua Achebe once remarked, “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” It means that when the animals can tell their side of the story—when the hunted can speak—our perception of the hunter will be remarkably different. So I chose pieces that, by capturing the experiences of the hunted, broadened our understanding of our history.
Secondly, I looked for pieces that reflected a spirit of defiance, necessary for propelling women or other vulnerable groups to move beyond the parameters of what is accepted. In one of the pieces I considered and ultimately decided against including in my selections, there was a postcard with the dream “that women would have the support they need to change the world.” Au contraire: I believe women must simply fashion our own mechanisms for securing justice and support, even when it means creating something out of nothing but sheer audacity.
We cannot afford to do what we’ve always done as women—to just take care of the children and the family. We have to go into the larger places we felt we didn’t belong in before, because decisions made in those places are going to reverberate and affect us in our own, very personal, lives.
And, finally, I sought pieces where the subject simply cleared a place to stand and change the world, rather than waiting for permission. The challenge for women is that we’re always waiting, and that waiting in itself is a problem. We cannot wait for permission: to wait for permission is to die waiting.