Activism, Art and Equity
In the last days of 2017, we lost a powerful voice in the fight for racial and social justice, Erica Garner. The death of her father Eric Garner, at the hands of law enforcement, was a major catalyst in the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. Erica would go on to demand racial justice for all and the psychic, physical and emotional effects of that work would call her home at a young age. The heart attack that claimed her life is in line with much of the emerging research on disproportionately high rates of maternal death for African- American women. I myself, had a harrowing birth story with my son, as did my mother before me. It is not a coincidence. The devastating epigenetic and medical impacts of systemic racism are now being fully recognized by the medical community as a serious issue in need of remedy.
The work we must all do, must ensure that her life and the lives of so many unnamed women of color are not lost in vain due to our inaction.
Separately, at the end of my first week of return to the legislature, I was asked to perform a most unsual task within my role as a legislator: to sing a song in memoriam at the start of the legislative day. Representative Brian Cina (P-Burlington) had coordinated a beautiful tribute to his dear friend, lgbtqia, racial justice, and health care activist Paij Wadley-Bailey. Rep. Cina was joined that day by several friends, members of the deceased's "chosen family" who cared for her in final days. I was asked to sing her favorite song, the one she requested just before she said goodbye, the iconic, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." That morning, I had an opportunity to share breakfast with her family and learn more about this incredible person who touched thousands of lives. When I rose to sing, I was so moved by the love of the group that I did my best to deliver Rep. Cina's vision. It was gorgeous. What an honor. You can learn more about her story and see the performance here.
Rest in power sisters Erica and Paij.
On the radio: To kick off 2018, I had the distinct pleasure of sharing the airwaves with journalist David Goodman on the Vermont Conversation radio show regarding my journey into politics, the importance of diversity to mitigate bias, sexism and racism in state government and the #metoo movement.
Click here to listen to the full interview (23 Min)
This week also saw the launch of my first ever Kickstarter campaign in support of my live studio album project 4 Decades.
4 Decades is a live studio album project of original spoken word poetry to be recorded in March of 2018. 4 Decades is an intimate, poignant, sometimes hilarious glimpse into my world, my journey on this planet over the last 4 Decades and change.
Backed by original improvisational musical compositions from powerhouses Matt Scott, Sam Clement, and Adam Turner and expertly mastered by award-winning, sound engineer Walter Westinghouse (of Phish Fame), this live event is going to be epic. Each piece is performed under the direction of Chicago-based stage, television and film master Steve Schine.
4 Decades is the story you have been waiting for. A full CD and digital album, DVD of the live event and chapbook will be available for purchase or streaming on your favorite platform. This project has some unique, fun goodies and you each can be a part of making it happen.
Not familiar with Kickstarter? Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. As a Kickstarter backer, you pledge to give financial support to work you believe in. It is all or nothing, so if the project does not meet it's financial goals, you are not charged and the project does not happen. So the stakes for success are high.
Visit the Kickstarter page to learn more about the project and how you can support it here!