HARRPER’S BAZAAR CREATIVELY REFLECTS ON THE PROGRESS AND FUTURE OF ACTIVISM

American women’s fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar released a brilliant editorial last week featuring three prominent faces, three great minds and three iconic historical moments. Uzo Aduba, Katie Holmes and Iesha Evans starred in a series of photos reenacting certain moments in history that held great significance in the course of activism. Revisiting those moments in reflective perception, Roxane Gay, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Tamika Danielle Mallory expressively discuss the unending journey of activism in America and where the call to action really lies. Talks on social change are more common than ever before, and while that may be a sign of continued awareness, it is important to identify what and where the loopholes are, to clearly ascertain what course progress should take.

Katie Holmes depicts a protester standing outside a San Francisco store in 1969

 

American Writer Roxane Gay acknowledges the birth and rise of women’s liberation movements since the ’60s and ’70s, uniting the women of the world under one purpose- a sisterhood; an undeniable force of change, equality, and freedom. Her very valid argument, however, is that conventions have only created a dent in the wall of progress.  We adopt this course of action still, decades after and we wonder why we still fight the same battles. She writes:

“History repeats itself until people decide not to let it. Change requires more than resistance. It requires more than marching or compromise or civility. We must be willing to be uncomfortable and to make others uncomfortable, whether through uncivil protest, comprehensive boycotts, or a bold reimagining of what the world could look like if liberated from the patriarchy.”

As depicted in the iconic photo, radical moves will break the status quo. Where to begin is to cross the lines that hinder us and to do so boldly.

 

 

Uzo Aduba reenacts Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s first day as the first black female student at Georgia State University.

 

Now 76 years old, journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault shares her truly remarkable story of how she sued to be the first black female student at Georgia’s 175-year old, all-white state university. Having won the suit, she held her own against incredible odds; excessive taunts and violent protests until her graduation in  1963 and consequent employment as a writer for The New Yorker. She channeled her resources to be a voice for her people and still carries that identity with her- one of a pioneer.  She goes around the world encouraging young students to dare to be different.  The slogan, “our time has come” was a mantra from her student activism days. She shares it now, even more strongly. She says:

“I want them to know the power that lies within them—the invisible armor they wear that will protect them as they face their own inevitable challenges. From what I’ve seen so far, they are, in their own way, declaring, “Our time has come.” They should know that their way won’t always be easy and might actually even be dangerous… As they continue to pick up the baton, they too will overcome any and every obstacle that threatens our democratic promise. And I am optimistic they will be the giants on whose shoulders generations after them will stand.”

 

 

 

Iesha Evans reenacts the moment of her own arrest at a protest against the 2016 police slaying of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge

 

Activist Tamika Danielle Mallory’s interesting view is that feminism favors the white woman more, to the black woman’s detriment. Acknowledging a few examples of protests involving women of all races, she remarks on the incredible power of uniting all women and calls on white women to lend their influence and support to their black counterparts on political and social issues. She says:

“It’s true we need to win elections, but we also need to be real about the greater cultural battle we’re in. We are fighting for every woman to understand that an injustice to one is an injustice to all. And that means white women need to show up—at the polls and on the streets—for the issues affecting people who don’t look like them.”

With a few enlightening and disheartening examples, Mallory sheds light on the widening disparities between black and white women, even to date. Suffice to say, if the progress is not for all women, it is no progress at all.

 

All imagery by Harper’s Bazaar US.

Abiodun Odusola
abiodunodusola@ymail.com
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