I was so moved at tonight’s event at The Wing in SoHo that I had to write. In the spirit of the anniversary of Stonewall, we had an extremely thoughtful panel of rockstars:
- Cecilia Gentili – Transgender activist, actor and someone who speaks with deep empathy from countless experiences throughout her lifetime.
- E.M. Eisen-Markowitz – Restorative (and Transformative) Justice Coordinator and public school teacher.
- Wazina Zondon – Founder of Coming Out Muslim and sexuality educator.
- Alex Berg – Panel moderator, and journalist covering national news, women’s issues, and LGBTQ+ culture.
My twenty year-old daughter, who has been openly queer from a young age, joined me tonight as my guest. As we walked home, we processed key points from the discussion. A few worth noting:
- We are privileged white women and we and our family, friends, colleagues, etc. are not doing enough to support real change in this country for the LGBTQ+ community. Putting strong light on the issue and companies changing logos and decorating storefronts to rainbows a few weeks a year is not enough. It’s a conversation and action that needs to happen every single day.
- The majority of people who are speaking up and fighting for change are putting themselves at risk ahead of those of us who can afford to take real risk. Reflecting on Stonewall, Cecilia highlighted that it was the white privileged professionals who ran from the scene and the less privileged crowd that put their lives at stake to fight back – people who could not afford bail money if arrested or perhaps survive if they were to be imprisoned.
- Wazina gave us pause around how we’ve been talking about reproductive rights. This is an intersectional issue, not just a white feminist issue or about who can tell whom what they can do with their own bodies, it’s also a parenting issue: who is ready to be a parent and what that means (emotionally, physically and economically). I applaud her for the work she’s doing with young people around this and other important health, identity and sexuality issues.
- EM spoke of transformative justice inside schools to change the narrative and behavior vs. the crazy spend in NYC schools to police the problem (over $700M/year!). This is an important issue well beyond our city schools. We need to transform society.
- On D&I and hiring, we heard stories of companies seeking to be inclusive that are not removing barriers to allow a diverse pool of candidates to apply simply by creating exhaustive list of requirements in the JD (see more of my thoughts on this here). Provide training, mentorship and tuition reimbursement for applicants who have the aptitude and lack the experience. Make it happen vs. complaining “we can’t find the ‘right’ candidates”.
- Finally, know your political candidates positions and vote for those who understand these issues and are motivated to take action. Now more than ever, we need the right people in office.
I’m definitely going to think deeply about how I can make a bigger impact on these points and take action; with my voice, my dollars and my body if I have to. I suggest everyone else do the same – educate yourselves, open your minds and take action.
Thank you to the events team at The Wing for organizing this evening! My only constructive feedback (‘cuz you know I have it!) is that there were not nearly enough of your members there or PR around it. We can do better.