March 17, 2017

From Silence to Pride

Carl and I were walking down the street in Marseille, France, on Friday night when we heard a tremendous noise. It sounded like a crowd of people were banging on pots and pans and shouting at the top of their lungs in French. That’s exactly what it was—we rounded a corner and saw a small protest march led by women who carried a huge paper maché vagina dentata. 


We didn’t even have to ask each other, we both ran after the march to join in. The group wound through the narrow, ancient streets of Marseille, their shouts reverberating off stone buildings hundreds of years old. We rolled past bright bars, restaurants, and plazas full of people enjoying the night and when I stopped and looked over my shoulder, I realized the protest had grown the size of a whole city block. I wish I spoke enough French to understand the protest slogans, but luckily vagina dentata is a universal language.   


I’m here in Europe to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins who live in Zurich, Switzerland. But I took the scenic route, spending a week in Barcelona and then meeting up with my old friend Carl to take the train to Girona and Marseille and up through Geneva. It’s been a dream of mine for years and years to visit Europe and I feel been extremely lucky and privileged to have been able to save up the money to actually come here. Marseille makes any city in the United States seem like a joke—it feels like San Francisco, if San Francisco was 3,000 years old. All along the route from Barcelona to Zurich, we ran into inspiring artists and activists. The vagina dentata march was actually the second feminist protest we’d fallen into that week. In Barcelona, I jumped into the March 8th International Women’s Day protest right behind a thunderous 85-women drumline who beat out a nonstop rhythm for the thousands of marchers. It felt like being in the middle of history—a history that's unfolding right now. 





“From silence to pride — We women write history, too.” These posters written in Catalan were wheat pasted all over the medieval walls of Girona. 





Podcast • For the first new Popaganda podcast since January, I interviewed two women who have fought to keep their families together even as the immigration system has tried to tear them apart. It’s called “When Your Parents Are Deported.” 


Interview • An interview I did last year with writer Evette Dionne on the politics of self-care was quoted in the New Yorker this week. [excited emjoi!] 



Weird Swiss signs. What is happening on this train and why is it full of bears? 

Peanut butter - Please, do not take peanut butter for granted. Peanut butter is hard to find in other countries and it’s all I long for these days.  


Buying movie tickets - It turns out Hidden Figures, the original film about African American women working for NASA, made more money at the box office than the mega-hyped X-Men, Star Trek: Beyond, and Jason Bourne. Nice! 


Get Out - Speaking of movie tickets, I have been watching the trailer for this politically timely horror film for a over a year. Now it’s finally in theaters! If I could find a showing near me, I would watch it even though I am a absolute sweaty and terrified mess during horror films. 

This gentleman at the women’s march in Barcelona. His sign says “For your rights until death.” 



Maria Rodilla - I was in Barcelona during a big independent comics festival called Graf and did a U-turn when I walked past Maria’s table. Her bold, colorful prints of political slogans make me feel like she has X-ray vision into my heart. In addition to designing stickers, posters, and bottle openers, she is part of a feminist collective that publishes  a Spanish-language sci-fi zine. Amazing. Find her website here and Instagram here



Listen to a podcast about refugees. This week, a judge declared that Trump’s Muslim Ban is definitely 100% illegal. The This American Life show about the ban illuminates how it instantly derailed the lives of refugees who have spent years and years waiting to come to the United States. Listen to the show, please, and check out this list of refugee assistance groups you can pitch in to support. 


I’ll write again in two weeks! In the meantime, keep in touch on Instagram and Twitter, okay?