Call me Professor. Call me Performer. Call Me Passionate.
Oakland is full of some impressive women.
The more I talk to women in Oakland about where they came from, what they are doing, where they want to be in the coming years, the more I am in awe. These women are paving the way, putting themselves out there, and doing it with a love and compassion that just blows me away. They are talking about topics that make their parents wrinkle up their brows and their grandparents piss themselves. These women are dreaming higher and bigger everyday. They are also reaching more people with their dreams, actions, words and creations. The commonality I’ve found is that all of these women are doing what they love.
It isn’t a coincidence that kick-ass women are gravitating towards Oakland.
Oakland is a place of change. It is where so many seeds are being planted. Gender roles are changing. Sexuality is being spoken about. The model that demands either a strict binary between man and woman or the creation of a homogenous androgyny, is being questioned, dissected, and talked about. I see us celebrating both feminine and masculine, as genders and as pieces of ourselves, and in the world around us. I see women re-defining what success means, what happiness looks like, what the term “career” actually looks like. What really impresses me about women in Oakland is that they can hold love and compassion and a gut burning with a knowing that so much needs to change.
One of the women I always come back to when thinking about Inspiring Oakland Women is Vanessa Lewis, a.k.a. Jezebel Delilah X. Vanessa Lewis, an English Instructor, Editor, Writer, Performer, and Creative Entrepreneur is a woman who creates cocoons of empowerment, compassion, hard-learning and expression wherever she goes. Full of loud, honest truths and just as loud fits of laughter, we have discussed the Bay Area’s S & M scene in the same conversation as we talked about childhood fears and then how much we both loved pasta. Vanessa is someone you can’t really make uncomfortable. She is like an old crone in a young person body, a knowing, accepting, positive child with a whip-like response time when necessary. Her employment and artistic endeavors are similarly encompassing of her multitude of strengths, as she currently works as an English Instructor at several local community colleges, is Senior Editor of Black Girl Dangerous, one of five members that make up the artistic core of Peacock Rebellion as well as other performance and literary work on the side. I haven’t seen Vanessa do anything her heart isn’t in. She crosses boundaries that sometimes even make her uncomfortable, in order to be a part of a bigger, more important conversation. Community, education, safety, and truth are ideas she lives and emanates. As an artist, Vanessa focuses on concepts of liberation, vulnerability, intimacy and identity. She retells history. She also talks A LOT about NAKEDNESS.
See Vanessa in action at the next Culture Fuck
– a reading series held at Oakland’s Show and Tell Shop. www.showandtelloakland.com. The next show is February 21st and features Ms. Vagina Jenkins. You can also find her writing on www.blackgirldangerous.org and the performance-activist nonprofit she is a part of at www.peacockrebellion.org.