Written by Lyndsey Ellis
As National Women’s History Month draws to a close, I’ve noticed a lot of people—men and women—who’ve started re-envisioning what it means to honor the wholeness of females and the transformative power attached to being female. I’m one of those people.
Attending this year’s Empowering Women of Color Conference (EWOCC) at UC Berkeley was an emotionally gratifying experience. The event has a 32-year-old reputation of helping women recreate ways to live their best lives and emphasized several issues faced by many women that impact our mental health and wellness. Things we don’t normally give much thought. Things we do think about, but are either too busy, too ashamed, or too scared to address. Or, worse, things we’ve tried to address and give up addressing because we’re led to believe nothing has changed.
EWOCC 2017 may not have altered history or the current social climate in one day, but it did offer varied long-term solutions for attendees who sought answers and unity. In the morning’s opening address, activist/poetess, Fatimah Asghar, called the experience a fraction of the “self work” that takes place in owning our truths as women and showing up for each other even, and especially, when we don’t all face the same issues.
For me, the event unpacked the overwhelming nature of women having to navigate through daily micro-aggressions, as well as more pronounced discrimination. It emphasized our resistance against society’s tendency to flatten and deprive us of multi-dimensional identities. I believe that part of being and staying well involves re-establishing and cherishing our own narratives, regardless of how “un-processable” they seem to others. According to Asghar, it also involves recognizing what traditions to uphold, versus what to challenge or dismiss.
The day’s event welcomed a catered lunch for attendees, as well as keynote addresses from human rights activist, Ericka Huggins, and youth speaker/poetess, Karen Kaur Dhillo. Conference attendees also enjoyed a resource fair, panel discussion, and varied workshops.
Women have come a long way in the fight to make our voices heard against misogyny and misrepresentation. Attending this conference was an invaluable reminder of how solidarity heals.