Today is the second day of our annual #WhyIRise blog series. This series shares the voices and stories of women in the 2015 cast of the Boston Community Production of The Vagina Monologues. We invite you to share read, share and listen to their stories and experiences.
Today's post is from 2 time Boston V-day cast member and Organizer of Youth Outreach for Boston @VDay, Jennifer Jeanne. Jennifer is a practicing In Home Therapist in the community and a proud Vagina Warrior. Jennifer Jeanne is currently working on a project documenting the lives of those killed by community violence as well as interviewing people about their hopes and dreams.
As I write this my little city of Boston is covered in snow. The snow is tricky for me. When I look out the window and see the sun sparkling off of the white powder, my heart skips a beat. Every time. Even after living here for five years now. From the window it is delightful. And in the first magical hours of the snow fall it certainly is exciting and fun. Then business mode kicks in. Shoveling. Plowing. Got to get to that very important place to do that very important business. The thrill is gone so quickly. Tonight, standing in a pile of slushy snow with soaked through socks on my poor cold little brown feet though, I remembered why I rise.
You see, five winters ago I was fresh in to Boston from Tennessee. I had come for my Master in Social Work and to “change everything!” I had never been to Boston before and golly was I in for it. I mean I don’t know if you can imagine this- but Boston is very different from Tennessee. I was already struggling adjusting when Winter came. I had never experienced such cold in my whole life as I did that Winter. After a seemingly dreadful commute home with frozen feet, I called my Mom. I cried and cried. I was so cold I explained to her and the city was hard. It wasn’t just the cold that had me feeling wobbly in all my choices; however it just seemed like the cruel slushy icing on a rotten cupcake. I regretted coming to the city and I wanted go home. My real home with mountains and rivers unparalleled. I didn’t fit in I told her. “I don’t even have the right kind of shoes and I LOVE shoes!” My Mom listened and said little. A few days later in the mail I received a pair of snow boots from her. My Mom hadn’t ever seemed too excited about me moving to the city. It meant a lot of sacrifice as we never had much money and as a student/social worker I wasn’t exactly raking it in. Thus my ability to go home was limited.
So those snow boots were more than just boots. They were a confirmation that my Mom believed in me. They were a reminder to try to stick it out and to try my best. I had come to Boston to learn and grow as a social worker. My Mom and Dad always taught me to help others, to respect everyone. My Mom especially had such faith in the power of community and generally she believed that we can create change if we work together. From a young age she taught me to be bold and passionate and above all to fight for what I believe in. A cornerstone of my upbringing was believing in equality for all races, faiths, sexualities, cultures and above all believing that women should be equal to our male counterpoints. Our voices should be heard just as equally and if no one would listen then we should shout. Those boots shouted at me to keep trying and to keep fighting, because I wasn‘t just fighting for myself- I was fighting for others as well.
Therefore, I rise because my mother taught me to be brave, I rise for girls who have no one to have faith in them, I rise for equality for all. I rise in honor of my Mom, who believed in equality and raised me to as well. I rise to empower others to believe in their dreams and to fight on even when things are hard. I rise.