I seem to be fixated on colors at the moment.
One of those in the rainbow spectrum is orange – the color that represents the Sixteen Days of Activism following International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (except in Jamaica). I discussed earlier the dilemma of Jamaican activists – many of whom wanted to “go orange” and be damned, while many others were fearful of being branded political. What a sad state of affairs.
The women of WE-Change, however, decided to go all out for orange last weekend. We all basked in gently glowing shades of apricot and tangerine. Amazingly this color engendered a feeling of warmth and comfort during an evening of souls being bared, hearts searched and pain relived. WE-Change’s event, #OrangeLights was an opportunity to express feelings and share experiences in a safe and sympathetic environment. The audience of mostly young people (including a good number of men) showed compassion; they showed support. Perhaps this is why many of the performers opened their hearts; they felt they could do so without fear of criticism or ridicule.
There were poems, stories, readings and there was song, too. After one young woman broke down while describing a horrendous experience of rape, intimidation and stalking, three women climbed the stage to stand behind her.
I read a poem, too. I dug up some old memories that I had buried in a shallow grave many years ago. It was not easy to drag them back up, but I did so by describing the small, centuries-old cottage where I was living at the time. I recalled the claustrophobic feeling of those walls (and eventually climbing over one and escaping). It is remarkable; although I felt some of it might seem obscure to members of the audience (and I am not the world’s greatest poet!) – people I spoke to about it afterwards seemed to understand perfectly. Perhaps I did find the right words, after all.
It was not all pain and sadness, however. A young man called Akeem, with his irresistible smile, made us laugh with his eloquent and enthusiastic love poem. Mostly, the stories were of emerging from that place of darkness, into the light, while the sound system quietly played appropriate music in the background (my tune was Bob Marley’s “Running Away” – a song that has always struck a chord for me).
We had music from a singer called Kei Dubb, too. In this intimate venue, she connected with the audience quite effortlessly. She gave us a bit of Beyoncé, a dash of reggae – and lots of soul, that is for sure. I really enjoyed her natural style, appreciated her thoughtful comments – and think she would do really well as a jazz singer! She has that “feel”…
Oh, by the way – I put all the comments on social media into a Storify curation. You can take a look at it here: https://storify.com/Petchary/orangelights
Beyond the Sixteen Days, let us keep the activism going. Thank you to WE-Change for this innovative and highly successful way to highlight the issue of violence against women and its complexities.