Tosin’s Images & Anecdotes (TIAA) is my self-assigned photography challenge of 2022. The immediate objective is to select one image from my inventory (a cityscape, landscape, portrait, oddity, etc.) each week and write something about it. This “something” could be the story behind the photo, a triggered memory in relation to the photo, or simply a reaction or reflection based on the subject matter featured. The long-term objective is to encourage myself to add more content to “La Vue Atypique”, which celebrates its first decade in publication this year.
What can I say about the photograph above?
This week’s entry is a little different from previous ones, and for good reason.
The picture for this week features 16 portraits of women who I either know personally, professionally, or who gave me permission to capture their portrait for my “100 Different Faces” project.
Within the first two weeks of December, a lot of recent news — in addition to events in American society as well as overseas in the past several years — led me to become deeply reflective about the challenges, struggles, and uprisings of women. (This is not unusual for me, but this month, I’ve just noticed recurring themes all around me, and they are all thought-provoking). The content of this entry is a culmination of the thoughts and observations that I’ve had, and I would like to use my blog to express them today.
Specifically, three stories have encouraged me to dedicate this week’s TIAA entry to women as a collective entity.
Lizzo’s Speech at the People’s Choice Awards 2022 / December 6th
To be very honest, I only know one of Lizzo’s songs, “Juice”. I am not familiar with her career. If someone on LinkedIn hadn’t shared the news about her acceptance speech at the People’s Choice Awards, I would have been completely ignorant of the beauty and elegance that had transpired. (Please watch the video). Lizzo used the time for her acceptance speech not to speak about herself or her accomplishments, but to give acknowledgement to 17 activists who are each achieving phenomenal feats in their individual respects.
All of the activists who shared the stage with Lizzo were women. Lizzo stated each of their names, the names of their organizations, and provided a brief summary of why they are each significant.
Personally, I was flabbergasted by the speech, the representation, and the personification of what each women was striving to achieve, or already in the process of achieving. My respect was overflowing. When people talk about lifting each other up, encouraging each other, and recognizing each other, I believe — especially if you’re a celebrity or public figure — what Lizzo did is how this should be done. There was something profoundly powerful about seeing each woman’s portrait in monochrome tones at the back of the stage while each woman herself, in person, in three dimensions, stood behind Lizzo as she described them all with vivacious enthusiasm and heartfelt emotion.
Trevor Noah’s Monologue on his Final Episode of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” / December 8th
Trevor Noah concluded his seven-year tenure as the host of “The Daily Show” earlier this month. In the final episode, he was given nearly 20 minutes to just speak his mind about his experiences on the show and about life in the United States. Although the entire speech is certainly worth a listen, for his humor as well as his intellectual perspective, he dedicates his final minutes to women — specifically, Black women — in America and abroad. (Begins at 15:00 on the video’s timeline). It was probably the first time I ever saw Noah become emotional, only underscoring the sincerity and gratitude in his words. The things he said resonated with me regarding the women who I know, as family and friends, in my life.
The Legacy of Nancy Pelosi / December 15th
I’ll conclude with Nancy Pelosi, the outgoing Speaker of the House for the United States, and the third in line to the American Presidency (until January). She is arguably one of the most powerful, influential, and consequential women in the history of the nation. There are not many women in this exclusive club within American politics and federal government, but Pelosi has been instrumental to expanding the membership to many other women of multiple walks of life. The Washington Post had a wonderful and very personable op-ed about Pelosi’s career and legacy.
I was moved by learning several aspects about Pelosi of which I wasn’t previously aware.
Pelosi began her work in office as a House Representative at age 47 in the year 1987.
(Please read that sentence again).
We live in an era in which we constantly judge each other about physical appearance, gender, and age. Pelosi defied all of these detractors during a period when judgment of women was a lot worse and the opportunities for women to progress were not nearly as available or abundant. The 1980s were only four decades ago.
As a middle-aged Black man, I am truly inspired by her career and legacy. There are a few glass ceilings I’m trying to break in my profession. (Hopefully, this has been obvious to most of you who have followed my work). Meanwhile, I have always promised myself to never let the perception of age or ageism deter my own efforts. I just refuse to let age be the reason to not pursue my objectives.
Nancy’s story is that of tenacity, perseverance, and resilience. I’m so happy for her. Look at where (and when!) she started, and look at where that led her to be today. I feel more empowered to not give up on myself.
This article is in tribute to women across the United States, and across the globe. I can’t wait to see what the next four decades reveal.
50 articles down for the TIAA challenge. ✌🏾 ONLY TWO REMAIN! ✌🏾