-On the last day of 2014, Wear Your Voice wants to recognize a few of the amazing Oakland women who have rocked the socks off our city over the past year. Oakland is a welcoming place that allows us to tap into our best self, accomplishing whatever it is that we desire. These women are an embodiment of just that. Without further ado, here’s a big virtual toast to eleven women who went to town on Tha Town, and wore their voice loud and proud this year! Here’s to 2015, make it great. You never know, we may just be showcasing you next year!
With rents skyrocketing in Oakland, we desperately need someone fighting the good fight. Thankfully, Danielle DeRuiter-Williams, Senior Program Manager of Leadership Development at Urban Habitat has been doing just that. Transitioning from her previous position at Impact Hub Oakland, she’s settled into her new role at Urban Habitat preparing low income and people of color leaders how to advocate for the needs of their communities and sit on regional boards and commissions. She’s also co-chair of the Alameda County Public Health Department Community Economic Development Action Team and part of the Racial Equity Network, which works on building community of practice among organizations with a mission focused on racial equity. She aided in the launch of Oakland’s first Living the New Economy Conference in October.
Sonya Renee Taylor
Sonya Renee Taylor, creator of The Body Is Not An Apology recently relaunched her website, creating an online platform dedicated to establishing a more equitable,compassionate world one person at a time. Through her work as an award winning poet, activist and transformational speaker, she has taught that anyone can achieve radical self love, leading for a beter world for all of us to live in. I encourage you to join in on the conversation over at TBINAA, if not for yourself, for the world.
Writer, performer, artist and educator, Denise Jolly of the BE BEAUTIFUL project inspires others through her art, particularly using her body as a means of expression. Inspired by friend Sonya Renee Taylor’s RUCHUS project, a 30 day transformation healing challenge, Jolly decided to spend two hours a day rediscovering her body. She shared her experience with others through social media. She has since been an advocate for self acceptance in the Bay Area and beyond. BE BEAUTIFUL is a beautiful display of radical self love in action, Denise has overcome her own fears to ensure we all break free of our own mental chains.
Jazz Monique Hudson
Jazz serves as a Poet Mentor/resident artist in several Bay Area schools and organizations. An international poet, artist, & educator who serving communities seeking transformation through art. Jazz holds numerous accolades (like the 2013 Oakland Indie Social Changemaker award) She has shared stages with Saul Williams, Melissa Harris- Perry, Angela Davis, Dr. Joy DeGruy, Mos Def, Susan Taylor, and Michael Eric Dyson. She is a Youth Speaks alumna and a Brave New Voices International Teen Poetry Slam Finalist.
Did you know the founder of Oaklandish is a woman? Founder Angela Tsay has been doing amazing work through her clothing company, which also serves as B-Corporation (a for profit company that is intended to serve the community and environment though its brand.) Over the past year, Oaklandish has donated to over 100 nonprofits, including Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, Dress For Success, Girls Raks Bellydance and Body Image Program among countless others. Angela strives to put Oakland artists on the map by partnering with local designers to create images for her iconic shirts. Go Angela!
This woman has created an international movement right here in Oakland. After penning a love letter to Black people after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013 #blacklivesmatter was born. “I would like to see an expansion of BLM in 2015 to really highlight the issues facing Black people in all of our complexity and diversity. Black Lives Matter is an important intervention because we go far beyond merely talking about Black men. I’m looking forward to Black disabled lives, Black incarcerated lives, Black transgendered lives, poor Black lives are highlighted and explored. This is critical to ensuring that we all get free.”
Transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer, Favianna has created profound social change though her art and collaborative projects that tackle issues such as migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence. This past month, she had an open studio, showcasing some of her work over the past year. Her latest project, The Pussy Power Imaginary, is Favianna’s contribution to ending the war on women, allowing us to reclaim our physical space and regain a sense of empowerment.
After realizing there wasn’t a Dec. 13 Millions March event occurring in the Bay Area, Etecia took it upon herself to organize both Millions Marches that took place in in San Francisco and Oakland. “I’m very clear and strong in my convictions, I’m not someone who’s easily swayed to follow what someone else is doing. I hear other peoples suggestions, but stick to my gut. Being a powerful woman in a leadership role is important in not letting your voice be stifled. We are roses from concrete…we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
No political endorsement here, but we can’t deny that mayor elect Libby Schaaf didn’t do too shabby in Oakland this year. The current mayor-elect beat out incumbent mayor Jean Quan in this year’s 2014 election. “Oakland should be and can be the most dynamic, vibrant city on the planet. We have the architecture, the climate, and we have the people. We should also have safe, easy to use, sustainable transportation get around the City, and world-class parks and spaces for civic celebration and interaction.”
Debbie knew women weren’t being taught to like engineering. Realizing most games that prepped young children to learn the necessary basic engineering skills early on weren’t targeting women, Debbie, an engineer herself, sought to change all that. Established in Oakland, the first engineering game specifically for girls, Goldiblox was born. Goldiblox won a prestigious 30 second block of commercial space during the 2014 broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII, beating 20,000 other applicants, becoming the first small business to have an ad aired during a Super Bowl. “We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way.”