The soft light of candles and smell of incense lingered in a room at Dance Mission Theater Saturday night, toning down the guava pink, lime green and lemon yellow walls and calming a group of 15 as they tapped and sighed their pain away.
The healing session, lead by Mayah Hegre, was the second component in a night to recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children.
It was one of the 16 days of activism that started with a press conference and performance at City Hall on Nov. 25 and will end on Human Rights Day Dec. 10.
“We are thinking globally but acting locally,” said Sylvia Parra, the artist and activist who goes by MamaCoAtl and began recognition of the United Nations-mandated day in front of the 24th St. BART station five years ago. November 25th marks the assassination of three Dominican sisters killed in 1960 for speaking out against their country’s dictatorship. Mayor Gavin Newsom signed a proclamation in 2008, making San Francisco the only American city that officially recognizes the day.
“We don’t waste our time being offended,” Parra said of the artists and community organizers who began the movement. “We said ‘enough protesting, let’s propose something’” to address the range of atrocities–from trafficking, genital mutilation and sexual violence, to femicide–that plague women across the world.
“Tonight we break the silence of kidnapping, torture, rape and violence,” said activist and radio host Nina Serrano.
The Oakland-based choir Vukani Mawethu got things started, raising their voices in solidarity. The group’s African freedom songs washed over the packed theater getting everyone to sway along with them. “When you strike a woman, you strike a rock” exclaimed the conductor introducing one song.
The spoken word poetry of Avotcja weaved in and out of acts. “A Screaming Silence” described her experience as a teacher having to deal with knowing that some of her students “had been molested before coming to school” some days. “Madness on MacArthur” described the scene of pimps and their young prey near gas stations in Oakland.
“We have to bring it up, heal it, celebrate that we’re still here, transform it, then turn it into joy,” Parra said before the show.
“We all know somebody [who has been a victim of violence], and if we don’t, we really are not relating to one another,” Parra said, noting that it is the number one cause of death of women in the United States.
“It has been hushed,” Parra said. “It happens, it shocks you, and then we forget about it, we forget the context,” she said noting the surprise and outrage the Bay Area felt in response to the recent gang rape of a high school girl in Richmond.
Parra’s own life was touched by violence in her childhood. “My mother was beaten by my father when I was very young. It hurts me to remember that as a child I saw her face bruised and how it was accepted by the culture.”
“Rosas en el mar” is the title of a popular song in Spanish, and Parra’s inspiration for the evening of celebration. “I will find those roses and bring them to my mother” because she was a battered woman, said Parra. Through life, she has found that “those roses are inside us. We are that miracle that we are looking for.”
November 29, 3 to 6 p.m.: Dance Mission Theater space available for an activity.
November 30, 7 p.m.: Film night at Revolution Café, 22 St. and Bartlett, “In the Time of Butterflies” and “El Camino que se Abre.”
December 1, noon – 2 p.m.: Writers’ Sanctuary Presents Elimination of Violence towards Women and Girls: “They are all our daughters!”
Hosted by Kim McMillon who will interview MamaCoAtl, Maria Ochoa, the editor of the anthology, Shout Out: Women Of Color Against Violence, and two of the contributors, Teresa Pedrizco Romero, and Jackie Joice.
6:00 p.m. Community Newsroom/Sala Communitaria, POOR Magazine’s Bi-lingual Indigenous News-making Circle, will dedicate its December 1st Newsroom meeting to the 16 days of Artivism.
8:00 p.m. The Po Poets Project/Poetas POBRES of POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE, the bi-lingual spoken word and poetry performance group, will perform poetry on the theme of violence, healing, and community consciousness for our children and our families impacted by globalization, violence and death.
POOR Magazine, 2940 16th street #301, 1 block below 16th St. BART.
December 4, 10 a.m.: Good Samaritan Family Resource Center hosts Max Dashú, Origen del Patriarcado y la Historia del Movimiento de Mujeres en Español, 1294 Potrero Ave.
3 p.m. EL Camino de la Abuela/The Grandmother’s Wisdom Way, KPFA 94.1 fm Radio premiere, Bay Area Elders speak about healing violence.
9 p.m. Border OUT At Ti Couz Too, 16th St. at Valencia, Ti Couz PRESENTA: noche de artistas LGBT y sus aliados! Rosa Los Santos, Maria Machetes, Nora Roman a la Vocalista del Grupo Sang Matiz, Trilce Santana, Joel Molina y TUrururu.
December 5, 10 a.m.: La Casa de Los Sentidos, 2649 Folsom St, RESTORING POWER AND PROTECTION THOUGH ANCIENT HEALING: Suzanne Savage RN Shamanic Practitioner has been studying, practicing and teaching shamanism for over 10 years. This includes shamanic training with the Foundation of Shamanic Studies and individual studies under Michael Harner, Ph.D. and Sandra Ingerman, MFT, Betsy Bergstrom, Flordemaya (one of the indigenous grandmothers) and Iranian Master Healer, Berooz Danadoost and Tom Cowan.
8 to midnight: MAPP, La Casa De Los Sentidos, Red Poppy Art House, Mission Area Artists create a street installation piece Taking Back The Night, Many artists invited.
December 6, 3 p.m.: Sunrise Cafe, 24th St. between Shotwell and Folsom, El grupo de mujeres salvadoreñas, proyecto miramundo presenta: homenaje a las hermanas maryknoll para nunca olvidar y decir no a la violenica hacia toda mujer!
December 7: Film night at Revolution Café, 22nd & Bartlett, “Senorita Extraviada/Missing Young Woman” and “El Camino que Se Abre.”
December 8 and 9: open for healing events, meditation circles, or media events.
December 10: International Human Rights Day: official closure, TBA.