On Translating Talk of Reparations Into Practice

Reparations is not an act of charity, it is a deliberate practice in humanity. We repair our present by being truthful about history through education by expanding access to critical resources and services. We can make reparations every day with simple gestures (i.e. invitations) and grand gestures (i.e. scholarships and policy-making). 

Yoga Dance: An Embodied Practice for Holding On to Justice, Strength, & Fun

Yes, it’s a thing! And I’m almost done crafting my social justice playlist for my yoga dance workshops.

To me, a justice-focused playlist needs to feel energized, determined, and loving. It needs to make way for reflection, charge, and heart. And it needs to help people tap into joy and sometimes, sorrow. The dancing itself needs to be liberating. Otherwise, we can’t move through the barriers that we encounter in this world. We cannot heal...

Gwendolyn VanSant and Tuti Scott on Embodied Leadership

By working intentionally with high impact cohorts of women leaders and through trainings with organizations, I know we can shift the tide. People are ready for systems change. People are owning that our systems don’t work, owning all the “isms”. Now it’s just figuring out how to be brave enough to move through them. This is the time we’re in: people have to act, and there needs to be some guidance. Anybody doing anything positive and well-intentioned is better than nothing. Then we can get organized to do the really powerful work.

Honoring W. E. B. Du Bois, Restoring a Civil Rights Icon’s Legacy

Just earlier this week, as I sat with my colleagues looking at one of our legacy accomplishments —a Du Bois family photo in Great Barrington’s Town Hall—I felt Du Bois smiling upon us. Through his legacy, he continues to change the tide… restoring, repairing, and helping us all forge ahead. After a year like 2017, in which we discussed what statues and figures we need to take down as a nation dedicated to equality and justice, we must also ask ourselves who we choose to lift up.

I am so proud that we have come together to lift up the legacy of one courageous African American man, Dr. W. E . B. Du Bois. May we continue to lift him up, celebrate his life, and make him proud.

Coalition Building Always Starts At Home

True collaboration takes time, attention, and intention. So often we feel the urgency in our racial and social justice organizing and cannot wait. Both are true. We all must work while educating, self-assessing, and building relationship... and there is no time to spare in any relationship: home, work, and government

Lean In: What I’ve Learned Working for Equity & Justice in The Berkshires

Yes, this personal and cultural work around racial and social justice is challenging. We will encounter barriers and fail, sometimes miserably, or see things we don’t want to see. What will we learn? How will we rebuild, work through, repair and restore? How will we do something different next time? As we advocate for and educate others, we must start with our own commitment to ongoing self-education. It takes the practice of an athlete or a pianist to work for justice. Self-care, training, education, and practice in cultural humility. 

Overcoming White Supremacy with Love in Action

Cultural humility means listening to stories of white supremacy as it has been experienced by people of color and believing them. I notice a consistent desire on the part of white allies to “fix” and “help”. Too many people of color work to exhaustion, hoping white allies will dig deeper and make real changes in their families, churches, and networks. We work willingly and just ask for the same level of investment, risk, and listening.

Women’s Advocacy Day Remarks at Massachusetts State House 2016

We are women living well above and well below the poverty line, women of African American heritage, women who are transgender, women who are of Latina heritage, women of the millennial generation, women of Muslim faith, women seeking refuge in our new country, women with disabilities, women of European descent, women who identify as survivors or in recovery. And all of our voices and collective wisdom are needed… We should speak whenever, however we can because now, more than ever, I am convinced women will save the world alongside our counterpart at board tables, in the workplace, right here in the State House as well as in our neighborhoods, churches, school committee meetings and town meetings and Chambers throughout the Commonwealth.

Women’s Advocacy Day Remarks at Massachusetts State House 2014

We have community organizers, non-profit leaders, business owners, social workers, and educators. We are native Berkshire families and “transplants”. We aim to ignite our networks and form a strong collaborative much like in the history of the origins of our commission. Our energy and focus comes from our collective personal and professional experience. We are a diverse group of women and strong group of activists, and we have a clear vision. We take seriously our job to represent the voices of the women and girls of Berkshire County, the real Western Massachusetts.