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Cover Story: Care, There, Cry, Give

Women's Issue 2004

By Kathy Y. Wilson · May 5th, 2004 · Cover Story
Patricia Robisch

"All that she said was true/Give her some time, give her some space/All that she meant was good."
-- Bjork

Watching National Insecurity Advisor Condoleezza Rice misappropriate the truth during her stint of the 9/11 Commission Hearing, I got to thinking about us. Her antidotes.

That is, the sisters (and I mean that cross-culturally but not sentimentally) who live, strive and hustle without benefit of protection and the access to elaborate, systemic lies.

We are ass-out, yet we're not out. Because of some strange hybrid of DNA, socialization, education, passion and divine intervention, we've got no choice but to put shit down by our own rules.

We exist and thrive, even, with one foot on the radar but the greater portion of ourselves dangling somewhere else.

We tried waiting for convention and status quo, but repeatedly they were tardy and when they showed up they shat on us. We strive toward the mark of the personal freedom of others just as passionately as we seek it for ourselves.

So, strivers we're deemed to be.

Strivers we are.

Annually the challenge to the Women's Issue editorial mothership (moi) is to get the colors on the Rubik's Cube of womanhood not necessarily to match -- rather to display a digestible mosaic. That is, how to turn us just so. What crevice of womanhood do we examine, and how do we do it without relegating all women to martyrdom?

And for the fifth year about this time, I feel dreadful delight.

I spent one issue delegating assignments to a mostly disparate and desperate group of young female writing interns. That year taught me something about brewing, editing and overseeing a Women's Issue that I hadn't until then considered.

It requires women to tell a woman's story. That's what's happening this year: Experienced women disseminating women's experiences.

This isn't the chirpy, subliminal Oprahism of all those women's magazines. I've assembled an experienced crew of creative writers, designers and photographers, and I just let them work.

Confession: What follows is the manipulation of the talents of talented friends, all writing about people we team members know.

This year a beautiful thing happened on the way to the Women's Issue. All the writers themselves embody the example and spirit of the issue's theme. Strivers.

We're all strivers, and any one of us could've been profiled in the issue -- and by default one of us is. Check out the always buttery, sometimes skewed angles on the photographs illustrating the stories. They were shot by Una-Kariim Cross, a soon-to-be graduate of the master's photography program at UC's College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning.

Una is a triple threat -- thinker, photographer, activist -- and the reason I decided to out myself.

I admit it: This issue supports the incestuous nature of highlighting contributors who are friends who also already know the people they're photographing and writing about. Dani, April, Nichelle and Mildred -- an activist-cum-teacher, a documentary filmmaker, a single mother of three bad-ass kids/full-time student and a Hip Hop head, respectively -- return from their duties of last year's stellar Hip Hop Issue. Stephanie, CityBeat news reporter, is double dipping.

Mary Anne Cowgill, mother of two and perhaps the greatest striver among us, poetically laments the rarity when her children sleep simultaneously. It's the little things.

If you're keeping score, all this equals community. Not bricks and mortar, but women, vision and goals.

It's how most of the women I know get down. We meet, barter, nurture, borrow and lend.

And not just in Cincinnati but worldwide, women have had to exist this way -- head-faking tradition and stiff-arming sexism and racism. And we've done it together more than we'll admit.

You'll get caught up in the beauty part. That poor, creative and smart women declaring our love and support for one another knowing full well we might not get there together threatens the male institution, real and imagined.

It matters little. Because strivers start over every day -- blank computer screens, empty pots, unexposed film, vacant cash register drawers, no staff and on and on.

Here's to putting two feet down. Here's to walking on.



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