Okay, it's true, I can't resist a good pun. But making my mark, with my markers, is exactly what I was up to last month at the Women's Convention in Detroit. The thing is, it didn't feel like it was about "my" marks at all - it was about all of us making our collective mark. On history, on this moment, on our own lives, and the lives of those around us.
The convention was three days long, and my role was simple: to scribe the plenary sessions. To give visual shape to the content of so many incredible women, voices, and visions. This engagement put me right into the flow. Despite arriving in Detroit with a head cold, despite hitting the ground running with a last-minute trip to Blick for 8' foam core boards that hadn't arrived (and then fitting them into a Lyft, no less!), despite subsisting on nothing but apples and salads for three days straight, because those were the only vegan and gluten-free options available (note to self: pack more instant soups), I was in flow. The content was real, the people were real, the imperative was real, and I was on. On, to listen. On, to record. On, to capture the energy and pay it forward, as a memory for everyone in the room, as a touchstone for everyone who couldn't be there.
Yes, it was a thrill to hear how many folks found my maps to be a highlight of the weekend for them. Yes, it was incredibly humbling when a woman approached me on the final morning, asking me to autograph her convention tote bag. Yes, I was damn proud of myself for drawing that likeness of Maxine Waters on the fly, just moments before she took the stage.
But none of these were the most amazing parts of the Women's Convention. The most amazing part was this: that it was the most intersectional and respectful space I'd ever encountered.
That women and our allies, of so many identities, traits, beliefs, characteristics, cultures, all came together in the spirit of fostering honest and meaningful exchange, for (as the weekend program stated) "the collective liberation of women of all races, ethnicities, ages, disabilities, sexual orientations, gender expressions, immigrant statuses, religions and economic statuses," and we DID that. The bravery was palpable. The respect in moments of insight or disagreement was consistent. October 27-29 is why I majored in (among other things) Women and Gender Studies, some 16 years ago. And October 27-29 is why I started picking up markers back in 2014 and drawing on walls. Why? WE are why. The creative imperative to heal and grow is why.
Sometimes I ask myself why I'm not doing more for [insert worthy cause here]. The truth is, I'm not cut out to be a community organizer, and I never will be. But I AM cut out to reflect, magnify, and depict the energy, intent, and trajectory of a community. I AM cut out to draw and mirror back their journey, its highs, lows, and goals. I AM cut out to synthesize new meanings and package them neatly and articulately in the right few words. So I CAN offer this, and I DO: To keep making my mark. To let it be an honor to do so. Yes, even, and especially, when it's with markers.