The Year of Living Out Loud

As 2014 shuffles off its mortal coil, I want to amplify the many voices of 2014 that inspire me to live out loud in 2015. What these voices all have in common is that they are no longer living quietly, accepting the status quo. Instead, they expose their truth, expressing rage, conviction, joy, authenticity, and hope. 

"I Can't Believe I Still Have to Protest This . . . "   

Protester in Washington, DC. #blacklivesmatter
Photo: Ben James.
Yes, 2014 was the year Americans came out to protest police killings of black men. And to protest grand juries not indicting the white police officers. Even when it is filmed. And in Dublin, Ireland, people protested the fact that Irish women still have no access to abortion services.  

Photo: Sharon Davis.

In New York City, protesters demanded the release of
200 Nigerian girls kidnapped from their school.
Photo: Michael Fleshman.

And people around the world took to the streets to demand the return of 200 Nigerian girls, who Boko Haram kidnapped from school.

Photo: Malik ML Williams

A Photograph. 

In August of 2014, Lynsey Adarrio photographed 16-year old Yasmin Ritaj with her daughter in her arms in a refugee camp in Jordan. She had just left her abusive husband, while pregnant, to return to her family. The photograph was included in 2014 The Year in Pictures, a compilation of the best single images of the year. 

Project 562.

A young patron of the Tacoma Art Museum
pauses to contemplate Project 562. Photo: Deborah Espinosa.
Project 562 is the brainchild of photographer Matika Wilbur.  Thru Project 562, Wilbur is documenting all 562 federally recognized tribes in the United States (which are now numbered at 566). Wilbur, a Native American woman of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes in Washington State, explains, "My goal is to represent native people from every tribe. By exposing the astonishing variety of the Indian presence and reality at this juncture, we will build cultural bridges, abandon stereotypes, and renew and inspire our national legacy." She further explains her work in this video.

In 2014, I had the privilege of viewing Wilbur's work at the Tacoma Art Museum. The Project combines compelling portraits with oral narratives -- some in native languages -- about all aspects of their lives. Project 562 is a true contribution to our understanding of Native Americans.

Italian Boys and Violence against Girls.

When asked why he refuses to slap a girl, a young
Italian boy explains. Photo:
"Slap Her," a video is making the rounds on Facebook and it blew me away. Italian boys between the ages of 7 and 11 are asked a series of questions, including "What do you want to be when you grow up? (In case you are interested: firefighter, soccer player, baker, pizza maker, and a police man.) And they are introduced to Martina, a girl. What follows is touching and makes you wonder what happens as Italian boys grow up. 

A compilation of data on the prevalence of violence against women, as of March 2011 by UN Women, found that 31.9% of Italian women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. That figure is just a few percentage points lower than the 35.4% of Indian women who experience the same.    

In January 2014, an Italian court ruled that acts of brutal violence against one's wife and children are not considered family abuse if such acts do not happen on a regular basis.

The Comic Book Priya's Shakti.

Cover of comic book, Priya's Shakti.
The December 16, 2012 fatal gang rape of a 23-year old woman on a moving bus in New Delhi shocked the world.  Two years later, a news article recounts the limited progress made in India to prevent more atrocities, including passage of an anti-rape law and a prohibition on the retail sale of acid to deter attacks on women. The article further notes a recent study published in the Hindustan Times that found that 91% of women between the ages of 13 and 55 said that New Delhi is no safer two years later, and 97% had continued to experience some form of sexual harassment.

And along comes the comic book, Priya's Shakti, created by Ram Devineni. Priya is a super hero/ gang rape survivor, who conquers her attackers on the back of a tiger with the help of Parvati, the goddess of love and devotion.  

Need I say more? It's a must read (and available for free)! And there's an app for that!

May your 2015 be filled with peace and joy, love and light. Loudly.