I am far from an optimist by nature. I grew up in untrustworthy Los Angeles, with a street savvy and tough single mother as my role model. I was raised to distrust virtually everything I encounter. Yet, after years of working professionally to fight Gender Based Violence (G.B.V.), I am profoundly optimistic.
I assert that before I pass over to the next realm, a new era of gender equity and a radical reduction in violence against women will arrive. I feel it coming on strong. It is beautiful, rejuvenating, and so sweet. I can taste it. As Van Morrison sang, “it feels like a brand new day.”
How can I assert such a ludicrous claim? With all the global statistics that never seem to improve? With the growth of open hostility in the West towards feminism and women’s rights? With the spike in traditionalism and old world beliefs occurring globally? In spite of these concrete realities, I assert we shall soon pass into brand new day for women’s rights, violence-free communities, and a rebalancing of the scales of justice. Why is that?
Do You Believe What Only Your Eyes Can See?
My presumptuous optimism is part logic, part instinct, and part spiritual discernment. It may be in part, “faith,” but it is far from blind faith. It is optimism grounded in reality, in sensing the changing currents, in truly hearing the men I have interacted with. I know deep in my bones, that a new day is dawning. I see on the horizon clearly, this beautiful brand new day.
Construction Workers Building The “Brand New Day”
Before I had finished my education and moved into my social service career, I was working in construction on a project in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. A lot of construction guys were around and one said something derogatory about women (A common experience I had grown weary of). Just as I was about to say something, a foreman cut the guy off.
This foreman did not “look the part” to say anything. If anything, he looked like he would chuckle, then add his misogynistic two cents. Instead, he bravely spoke out, and put the male speaker in check. The other men in the room concurred, and the fool shut up. A victory. A silent, powerful, unseen victory.
I was deeply moved and, quite frankly, shocked that day. That little workplace scenario settled deep into my heart, into my subconscious. It gave me a profound deep hope that all across the world, in little enclaves’ unseen by most, these little confrontational conversations were occurring. Men were standing up to other men, and modeling in their actions a new consciousness — a “Brand New Day.”
Brand New Stories Bring in The Brand New Day
I later heard many more stories like this from the young men of color I worked with in distressed Los Angeles communities. Society claims “these people” would not have enlightened views of women. Horseshit. Many of them (like me) had been raised by strong, loving, single moms. They (like me) had become in essence, “organic feminists.” Not ideological or card carrying ones who say they are in college to get into someone’s pants. Rather, these organic feminists had seen firsthand the incredible strength of the other half of the species. It was not conceptual, it was experiential. Big difference.
More stories such as these were shared by my four teenage sons. Isolated males brave enough to speak up to other males, pushing back on ignorant peers. A slow but steady erosion of these destructive codes of “traditional masculinity” is quietly occurring among men. Not women telling men they “should” do anything. Men challenging themselves and other men about the world they want to live in. This silent revolution is shaking the foundations of the earth.
Violence Makes the World Go Around?
I reasoned from this, these “micro-confrontations” must be occurring all around the earth. When I recently started traveling the earth into Africa and Europe, I discovered my thesis was in fact, correct. I saw that women in Islamic countries (like Senegal) can, in fact, wear the hajib, and still be strong. I saw women in Kenya who backed down to no one, male or female, civilian or soldier. I saw the vast majority of men treating women with respect. Of course, there are exceptions. Exceptions exists everywhere and with everything.
I watch as the Weinstein’s of the world fall, the Ava DuVernay’s arise. I was told by my babysitter Misses Pellow (who was a proxy grandmother to me) that “What goes up, must come down.” She was teaching me that though injustice may seem impenetrable, and sweep upon us like the darkness of a storm, the dawn eventually rises and blows darkness away.
I sense that Brand New Day is sweeping in, blowing away all the dust in its wake. I see with my eyes what a great father my son is to his daughter. I see African men, men in England, men from Watts and Compton pushing strollers and being there for their kids. I see men in construction sites working hard to build something new.
I see women and men allied, working to create something new that has never been built, never been seen, never been done. Women and men across this earth are building something quietly, though hard work, brick by brick; with brave conversations, new stories. We are building anew, each day, The Brand New Day.