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Rebecca Walker Blog

Election 2008--Salon

Hey, just wanted to share a short clip I've got in Salon's round up about the 2008 election.

Election 2008

Truth be told, I'd like a Hillary-Obama ticket, just like on Rod Lurie's Commander-in-Chief. We all know Jim Gardner, the brilliant and loyal black Chief of Staff, was the real Vice to Mackenzie Allen's principled first woman Prez. I want that in the White House next year. Not just a little tiny piece of change, but the whole fucking enchilada. That's the only way out of the godawful mess we're in.

But that's playing it safe, isn't it? And the real point of these round-ups is to see how those of us with so-called split allegiances are going to manage the calculus of this watershed moment. Do I want the woman or the half-black man? Dare I turn my back on the almighty Oprah and support Billary? What is a biracial girl to do?

Of course I could always roll out the who has more experience yadda yadda yadda. I could have my virtual assistant in India pull up every single vote Hillary and Barack ever cast, and make my determination on the issues. But that would be silly, because we all know this race is about emotion. It's about change. It's about the time being now. It's about multi-generational work. It's about outrageously powerful power couples. It's about being married to the answer.

Like most Americans, I am going to keep my vote to myself because it's my right to do so, and because I love going into the voting booth, pulling the curtain shut behind me and facing the moment of truth. Until then, nothing is for sure.

Peace and love,
Rebecca
January 5th, 2008

Benazir Bhutto 1953-2007

Hello everyone,

Like you, I am devastated by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. She stood as one of the very few woman leaders with the political power to make lasting change on behalf of women, families and humanity at large, especially in this charged political environment.

After losing her father and brothers to military extremists, Bhutto continued to believe in the democratic process, and continued to draw strength from her belief as a young woman that she could, in fact, become Prime Minister of her nation.

While in office, Benazir Bhutto brought electricity to the countryside of Pakistan and built schools all over the country. She made hunger, housing, and health care her top priorities, and spoke with determination about continuing to modernize Pakistan. While she was clearly not without controversy, her intellectual brilliance, passionate pursuit of human rights, and fierce optimism will be her enduring legacy.

I deeply hope that her death will not be in vain, and that leaders and cultural workers everywhere will be emboldened to follow her lead of unwavering faith in the good of humanity in the face of tremendous evidence to the contrary.

I also hope that in the coming reflections on her life, the fact that Bhutto was a woman is not overlooked or downplayed. Her assassination is a clear sign of mounting aggression toward women leaders who believe in a humanitarian --and not purely militaristic-- response to unfolding events.

I hope that female leaders everywhere will use this opportunity to continue to articulate and further the struggle for the global empowerment of women. Bhutto's assassination marks a critical moment, not only for the stability of the modern world, but for the safety of women at large.

I send love and continued hope to Benazir Bhutto's children and extended family, and to the women, men and children of Pakistan. And of course, to all of you.

Rebecca

December 28th, 2007

San Miguel Atencion

Hey here's an interview I just did for the paper in San Miguel de Allende about the upcoming writer's conference. Hope someone out there comes up and says hi. This interview was with Gina Hyams, editor of the Searching for Mary Poppins:

1. What is your writing schedule like? Do you have a favorite place to write or any creativity-inducing rituals?

Since having my son, I have had to throw a lot of my ideas about where and when to write out the window. I now write anywhere I can charge my laptop: the bed, the sofa, a chair in the backyard. I also write in hotels more lately, and try to build a few extra days for writing into my lecture schedule. My other trick is to wait until I really know what I want and need to say. Then I add a few months onto that until I can't contain it anymore. The urgency makes me write faster.

2. You have been extremely brave about delving into and revealing your complex personal truths in your memoirs and you have paid dearly for doing so. You wrote in Baby Love that your mother was so furious about what you wrote in Black, White, and Jewish that she disinherited you. Was it worth it? Is it worth it?

Well, it certainly wasn't the best financial decision I've ever made! Because my mother is such a powerhouse in the industry (think Oprah and many, many others) and people take sides, the estrangement has had a serious impact on my career and the resources available to me.

Access aside, as millions of people know, my mother is a tremendous human being and I love and respect her deeply. The rub is that, like her, I'm a writer: my life is my material. It's an issue all writers deal with: Is it possible to tell my story without hurting others? What happens to the world of letters if writers only write what is acceptable? What is the point of writing if you can't be truthful?

Some of my favorite memoirists, women like Anais Nin, Simone de Beauvoir, Audre Lorde, Diane DiPrima, Marguerite Duras, Susanna Kaysen, bell hooks, Lucy Grealy, asha bandele and others, didn't write what made everyone comfortable. They wrote what they needed to write, and the truth of their expression stands the test of time. I hope my work does the same.

So I guess that's a yes. It is worth it. And the cost is tremendous. I often tell writers in my workshops that their biggest fear about telling their story can come true: you can lose the people you love the most. But, as many of those same writers like to tell me, the opposite is also true: you can become closer to the people you love; telling your story can be a cathartic place of healing. I thought that would be true for me and my family. So far, not so much. But there is still time. I'll never close the door.

3. You have edited three non-fiction anthologies and contributed to at least twenty others. Why do you think anthologies as a genre became so popular and do you think the publishing trend is over? What is your new anthology about and when will it be out? I hear there is a local author in it.


The first anthology I read was This Bridge Called My Back by the late Chicana writer Gloria Anzaldua, and my all-time favorite is We Are the Stories We Tell. The genre endures because it fulfills a human longing to see the world from different points of view, all at once. And then there is the fact that collections are like parties for introverts: you meet the most fascinating people without having to leave the house. It's the original virtual community.

My new anthology is about new family configurations. It is called Walk This Way: Introducing the New American Family. It's about all the ways people are living these days: from birthing at home without a midwife, living polyamorously, and inviting the nanny to be a full-fledged family member, to co-housing, transracial adoption, and intercultural ex-pat life. SMdA resident Susan McKinney de Ortega is covering that last topic, and I'm thrilled to include her essay about moving to San Miguel, falling in love and starting what to some may seem like a non-traditional family.

4. Have you been in San Miguel de Allende before? If so, what is the first experience you look forward to having (place to go, etc.) upon each return?

This will be my first trip to San Miguel de Allende, though my mother owns a house in Mexico and I've spent over two decades going back and forth: the country is in my blood. I'm looking forward to speaking Spanish, a language I love, and eating carne asada with beans and rice. I'm looking forward to the light, the warmth of the people, and the focus on family rather than consumerism. I'm looking forward to architectural beauty and diversity. And of course, I am looking forward to meeting some wonderful writers.
December 11th, 2007

San Francisco Bay Guardian

San Francisco Bay Guardian : Article

Hey everyone, I've got so much to report, from talks with students about sex after pregnancy in Florida to hanging out with beautiful Surinamese-Dutch women in Amsterdam, it's been an amazing ride. As soon as I'm rested, I will catch you all up, but in the meantime, this article about the parenting boom in SF Bay Guardian caught my eye as I was walking down the street here in SF today, and I thought I'd share the article and the note I wrote the writer:

Hey Amanda, I don't have a brilliant quip or raging critique to throw your way, just simple appreciation for a well-written and dead-on article about our generation's ridiculously overwrought and self-absorbed approach to parenting. Like you, I have been a victim of baby as accessory and felt tremendous shame about belonging to such a self-righteous tribe of breeders. I have long-since sold the Bugaboo stroller and let go of the idea of keeping my kid McDonald's free for life. I sometimes even let him watch tv for more than two hours! More important, I am learning to relax with him, to not be so precious about his every gesture or word, and to try to keep my love for him from drowning us both in a sea of mother-gush. It's too much pressure on me, but especially on him. Forcing him to play the role of the beloved, adored, golden child began to look and feel like its own form of child abuse. And yes, there are so many without. How can we raise our children to see, let alone care, about others who don't speak their language, literal or material? Thanks for the reminder.

Peace and love,
Rebecca
November 24th, 2007

Viva el Fox!

Hey!

Yesterday I spent the morning with the students of the Kingswood-Oxford School in Connecticut. I was invited by Yom Odamtten, a beloved English and History teacher there, and hosted by the Head of School Dennis Bisgaard and his wife Monica Bisgaard. I spoke about identity, what it is, where we get it, and when and how we can change it. Then students in Yom's literature class asked me tough questions about Black, White, and Jewish. I enjoyed my time there, and am so glad to have K-O on the mental map I carry with me everywhere. Wonderful place.

Today I participated in an incredibly powerful women's conference in Charlotte. I did a talk on the New Face of Feminism and afterwards had the opportunity to spend some time with former President of Mexico Vicente Fox and his brilliant and passionate wife, Marta Sahagun de Fox. Together, they spoke about the tremendous social reforms they are working on through their new Presidential Library. One of the four items on their agenda: Gender Equality.

It was a delight to hear President Fox talking about his deep love and admiration for his wife, and how together they believe that the 21st Century is destined to be led by women, who have the compassion, love, and efficacy the future demands. They were deeply inspiring. Having grown up part-time in Mexico, I feel a particularly strong bond with the couple responsible for bringing greater transparency to the Mexican government, at least attempting to resolve the stand-off in Chiapas, and more attention to education and health care in the country.

Also, I'm usually not one to gush over corporate sponsors, but the conference was sponsored by Wachovia, an extremely woman and mother-friendly company. After spending some time with Shannon MacFayden, head of Human Resources for Wachovia and her co-workers, I'm thinking of switching banks! Also, Marie and the rest of the folks at the Tribble Group did an AMAZING job of making it all flawless.

More news from the next stop: Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. I'm looking forward to the sunshine.

Hope you're happy where you are.

Peace and love,
Rebecca
October 31st, 2007

FANNIE LOU HAMER (1917-1977) BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS

Hey everybody,

When I was growing up, my mother spoke reverently of Fannie Lou Hamer and her critical role in the civil rights movement. We had a photograph of her in our home, and every time I sang the spiritual "This Little Light of Mine" I imagined myself singing alongside Fannie Lou Hamer at the Democratic National Convention of 1964.

I was happy to come across this entry on her life and work, and wanted to share it with you.

Long live the Fannie Lou Hamer in us all.

Love,
Rebecca
October 24th, 2007

Ka'iulani: The Highest Point of Heaven

Hi,

Since I've been living in Hawaii, I have become even more aware of the struggles of Hawaiian people in the face of "statehood." I have been particularly inspired by the half Hawaiian and half Scottish Princess Ka'iulani, heir apparent to the Hawaiian throne when the US declared Hawaii a protectorate.

The video is very moving and provides, in just eight minutes, a very good overview of the final years of Hawaiian independence. For even more info (and an image of one of Princess Ka'iulani's beautiful paintings), read her story on Wikipedia.

Much aloha,
Rebecca

October 16th, 2007

IMOW - Trailblazing: The Women of Nepal's Trekking Industry (24 min)

Hey everybody!

Here is one of my favorite Third Wave or "young feminist" sites: the Imagining Ourselves Project. They are having an on-line film festival, one film for each day of the month.

There are so many great, inspiring films. Check this one out about a women's trekking company in Nepal.

IMOW - Trailblazing: The Women of Nepal's Trekking Industry (24 min)

Happy Tuesday!

Rebecca
October 16th, 2007

Nina Simone - Ain't Got No...I've Got Life

The inimitable Nina Simone...

October 13th, 2007

Burma Emergency Town Hall

October 9th, 2007

Come to Cassis!

Hey everyone,

I'm thrilled to invite you to what may be one of the greatest writing workshops ever! I'm very excited to be teaching this one. The south of France is one of my all-time favorite places, and the Camargo Foundation is an institution I've admired for some time. The faculty is outstanding, and, well, what can I say? Fun and edification will be had by all.

Please come read and write with me! RSVP immediately.

I've got lots to report, but I'm up late doing an interview with Marie Claire Italia, and I've promised it to them before end of business in Rome, which is in fifteen minutes.

Speaking of Marie Claire, check out my essay and pic in this month's issue. For those of you with kids and no time to waste searching through a pile of mags at the doctor's office, Jennifer Garner is on the cover. My editor, Ying Chu, did an amazing job editing the section. It's all about the ways people alter themselves in the name of beauty, and what it takes to love the skin you're in.

Peace and love forever and ever,
Rebecca
September 26th, 2007

Obsessions of the Day

Hi,

I have no idea if anyone will ever read my blogs, but I'm now inspired to write at least once a day. Am I getting the blogging bug?

So my fixations today include finishing a piece for the UK Guardian about my favorite feminist books (I'll post when I'm finished), making the perfect chocolate protein smoothie, and being amazed that my son actually played by himself in his room this morning until 10 am!

In the outside world, I've been seduced by a few items: I got a response to my last post from Jennifer James and went to one of her several blogs, Breastfeeding for Black Moms. LOVE IT! Check out her dead-on post about the problematic logo for Mom's Rising.

Item number two: John Patrick's Organic clothing line. Beautiful, deceptively simple clothes with an ethical evolution. I happened upon this incredibly soft, wearable little dress and fell in love. I wrote JP a note and he wrote back from the jungle where he is supporting organic cotton farmers. Check out this interview.

Number three: this Columbia Business School interview with Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson, who has had his hand in more internet endeavors than you can shake a adapter cord at. He's talking about Web 2.0 and the future of the internet. Food for thought as we move into the next stage of what this thing called the internet can do for us.

That's it for today. Hope everyone is happy, eating organic fruit, and planning for the future!

Peace and love for ever and ever,

Rebecca
September 9th, 2007

Little Bear

Mommy Update:

The TV choices for the under three set in our house are limited to Handy Manny, Caillou, and Little Bear, and of the three Little Bear is def my go-to show. Even though I feel mommy-guilt about putting Tenzin in front of the TV, sometimes I just have to get a break, and that's when I offer up the on-demand episodes of Little Bear. I always get an ecstatic reaction. Tenzin wants to know if he can watch Little Bear in bed, if he can have grape juice and a snack while watching, and whether one, two, or all three of his piggies can watch with him.

I say yes to all, grateful that he's not begging for Handy Manny, a good enough show that I like more than most (it's bilingual!), but sometimes no matter how smart and nice and great at fixing things Handy Manny is, the show still seems to rely on the noble savage trope a bit too much. And then there's the white guy on Handy Manny, Mr. Lophart, a caricature of the uptight white person and the butt of all of the jokes in each episode. It's some kind of strange revenge/reversal thing in which the white guy always looks like an idiot. Not so into that.

But even that's better than Caillou, the PBS show that makes me NUTS. Tenzin loves it but the kid is kind of whiny, the mom wears some kind of shapeless sack, and no matter what Caillou does --drop his sister, kick the dog, scream at the top of his lungs at his parents (okay I'm exaggerating)--his mom and dad just say, Oh Caillou, you're so silly. It's great that Caillou has a black friend, Clementine, and a deaf friend who comes over to play, but on the holiday episode I put on for Tenzin the other day, there were cursory cuts to Clementine celebrating Kwanzaa, and another kid celebrating Chanukah, and then it was all Santa, complete with snow and chimneys and of course, the ultimate lure: PRESENTS. There's nothing wrong with Christmas, but if Tenzin wants to be Christian when he grows up, I'd rather it not be because he wants presents at Christmas like "all the other kids".

Now Little Bear is, in my humble opinion, a gem of a show. It's about a bear, his immediate bear family, and all of his animal friends, including duck, owl, hen, and my personal favorite, Frog, who is Buddha'd out on his lily pad and says Om a lot. The show is paced pretty slow, and the animals are all nice and treat each other with respect. There's not a lot conflict and story lines revolve around something imaginative and benign, like Little Bear trying to find a dandelion fluff so he can make a wish (he wishes for a piece of chocolate cake), and Duck losing her quack and trying to find it all over the forest.

But the best indication of the show's value is Tenzin's face after he's seen it. He comes running to me, giggling and happy. Can I watch another Little Bear, he asks, looking into my eyes with his mischievous grin. Please?

What are your kids watching, and what do you think about it?

Rebecca
September 7th, 2007

Things I Love

Well, since I'm getting serious about blogging and am always at a loss for things to blog about, a friend this morning told me that since I'm such a freak about things being just so, I should do one or two blogs a week featuring a thing I love/crave/need. Sounds good, right?

Well, I have about thirty seconds before I fall out from playground-induced exhaustion, so today I'm featuring this incredible stuff called FIT.

I'm the one who is always complaining about the wax and pesticides on everything, and so to me this is like, I don't know, the equivalent of a big diamond ring or something.

Now that I've found FIT, I spray it on everything, including blueberries and kale, even though it's kind of awkward. This morning, I sprayed it on my Asian pear, which instantly became soft, clean and infinitely more eater-friendly.

FIT. Get it. Try it. It's a thing I love.

What do you love?

Rebecca
September 6th, 2007

Getting (more) serious about blogging

Okay, well. I've been reading blogs for the last three hours, which means that either the baby is napping or it's four in the morning. 4:15 am to be exact.

I know I say this every six months or so, but I can't believe how MANY blogs there are, especially about motherhood and womanhood and sex and sexuality and, well, I guess anything you're looking for. And what I can't believe even more is how much blog-surfing is like going fishing in the universal ocean, or shopping at the Barney's Warehouse sale. You start one place not knowing where you're going or what you need, and then you end up somewhere absolutely essential and feel so grateful you made the trip.

Tonight I started at mamazine and from there went to hipmama which of course led me to ArielGore, who just had a baby boy after at least a decade and a half of writing about her first baby, Maia. Then I found the blog of Gayle Brandeis, which included not only an important article about the writer Taslima NasrinGrace Paley poem.I was glad to find the poem, because Grace just died and I already miss her. I saw her last at a reading from Black, White and Jewish during a residency at Dartmouth; I remember that it was cold, and that her presence warmed me tremendously.

There were many others blogs along the way, like Object, that spoke to me, but I think for tonight, I was supposed to find Grace and say goodbye to her myself, in the quiet space of night-time tapping and tired-mama dreaming.

Goodbye Grace.

With love and gratitude,

Rebecca

being attacked, but a beautiful, haunting, resonant

September 3rd, 2007