In the last few years I have developed a love for photography, protest photography in particular. In this political climate, many opportunities have presented themselves to peacefully protest for human rights. I live in Phoenix, a relatively large city, where there is a protest of some sort at least once a week. In the time I have been attending these events, I have met many incredible women. Women who were powerful and soft all at the same time. Mothers, sisters, daughters all teaching me. These are the life lessons from women fighting for social justice that I hold dear to my heart.
I would like to introduce you to the women I have met.
The first woman I met and truly connected with is named Tara Ijai. Tara runs a company called Love Glasses, selling heart shaped sunglasses to help others “see the world through loving eyes”. I got to know Tara personally after capturing this photo of her banner at a rally in solidarity with the Muslim community.
Tara taught me that no matter where you are, if you look around, you will see love. Often, if you don’t see any, you are the love. Life your life with a heart full of care and compassion, let it lead you. Do not let the world harden your heart.
The second woman I met threw me for a loop. Her name is Deedra Abboud and she is running for Senate. I was shocked by her personality and humanity. I was naive to believe that all politicians are business-oriented first, and that humanity comes second.
Deedra taught me that humanity should always come first, and that when it does, great things can happen. Never forget your compassion and where you came from.
The next few women are nameless in my memories. Either they did not give me a name or I do not remember it. Still, I will always remember their faces.
This bashful woman was not comfortable showing her face, but peaked her sunglass-covered eyes over her sign to smile at me. On her hat was a handmade brooch that said “Love”, and that’s exactly what I felt when I took her up on the offer her sign held. She hugged with the familiarity and safety of a grandmother, and I felt akin to her.
Daily, she reminds me to not be afraid of my fellow human. To hold my neighbors, my friends and even strangers dearly. She taught me how to hug someone and communicate to them using my body, that they are truly loved.
The words of this next woman linger in my memory even now, a year after we briefly met. I spent no more than five minutes speaking to her, and yet, she left me with one of the most profound things I have ever heard. She told me I could take her photo, but she had to leave her face covered. I asked her if she minded sharing why, and she told me that if she were caught of photographed at an event like this she could lose everything. I inquired as to why she came, if she had so much to lose.
She told me, “A life lived in fear, is not a life worth living at all. If a cause is not worth losing something for, it is not a worthy cause.”. I want to live my life with the reckless abandon she breathed into my lungs.
Lastly, we have a little lady whom I think of fondly. She and her mother have become acquaintances of mine. Underneath some mesquite trees I found a little girl, power fist in the air, fire in her eyes. For her protection she will remain nameless, however this girl of maybe six years old taught me that hope is not yet lost.
She taught me that the actions I take effect people now and after me. She gives me hope that even once my generation is gone, generations and generations of powerful girls and women will take our place.
I would like to thank these women. Women not unlike you or I, who subconsciously taught me lessons that I will value my entire life. Lessons I will someday teach my own daughter.