Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We Got Issues: A New Collection of Young Women's Voices

I will vote the day after a presidential candidate spends a day picking pesticide-encrusted vegetables in a blazing California field.

Buying fair trade coffee and family farm-raised food is casting my vote.

--Anna Lappé and Sara Littlecrow Russell, from "I Will Vote" in
We Got Issues!

Last week fifty people squeezed into the Marcus Bookstore in Oakland to hear young women share their stories, their rants, and their issues from a new collection of women's writing, We Got Issues! A Young Women's Guide to a Bold, Courageous and Empowered Life edited by arts activists Rha Goddess and JLove Calderon (pictured here).

Anne Zarnowiecki, a lesbian whose son's skin is darker than hers, described being questioned at a hospital in Ohio:
She stopped me midstory, to ask if I am the babysitter or roommate. My teeth ground in frustration as I reminded her that I am Javier's other mom.
Oakland-based performance artist, Aya De León, shared her secrets for a healthy relationship:
Being in a relationship, particularly as a black woman with a black man, just means that we are each bringing our own land mines to the relationship. One of the ways we find them is when we step on them and they blow up. It has been important to bring in other people with better mine-detection skills, and the occasional medic
Adrienne Maree Brown, Executive Director of the Ruckus Society, described how in her vision of heaven you can ask the "big questions":
and then nina simone, to ask how she was able to keep singing when some days break you of sound.
We Got Issues! began in 2003 when Rha Goddess and JLove Calderon went on the road for a year to collect almost 1,000 stories from women ages 18-35 about the things they cared about the most. After collecting the stories, they commissioned a team of young female writers to create over 80 monologues for the WGI! Performance Piece. In September 2004, the piece opened for Vaginas Rock, Chicks Vote at the Apollo Theater in New York, which was executive produced by Eve Ensler, Jane Fonda and V-Day.

In 2005, they launched the WGI! Leadership Institute of Arts and Activism. Their work is supported by the nonprofit, Next Wave of Women & Power, or NWWP/1+1+1=ONE. Now Rha Goddess and JLove Calderon, along with the graduates of the Leadership Institute, are on the road promoting the book, performing pieces and facilitating workshops.

WGI! just finished touring through Colorado, New Mexico and Northern California. They will be performing in Amherst, MA December 4-9th, and in Chicago, Atlanta and more cities in 2007. For more info., check out their web site at

Photo Credit: Rha Goddess & JLove Calderon, co-editors of We Got Issues taken by Eli Ceballos.

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