THE LAWMAKER by Rocio Ortega

Respect is paramount in my family. Not only respecting the elders and our traditions, but – most important for me as a Hispanic teenager –  respecting my father, “the lawmaker.” In a traditional Mexican family, this respect is not only expected, but demanded.

As far back as I can remember my father has been the lawmaker in our household. Father gives us permission, provides us with food and shelter, and maintains order in the family. We don’t live in a Confucian society, where the father rules in the family, but a social hierarchy has been established in our home and he has placed himself at the top of it. Anyone that dares to break his house rules faces the consequences. He has never hit my older brother, sisters or mother but he verbally scolds you in such an intense way that he makes you completely and immediately comply. He never shows emotion and rarely communicates with his children; if so, it’s usually because one of us is in trouble and will be scolded. He is a traditionalist and is not open-minded.

So when it came time for me to ask my father for permission to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I knew I had to be prepared and have a strong strategy before I approached him. I had applied to work as an intern for Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, and later had been sponsored to be a Congressional Page this summer in Washington D.C., although my position had still not been confirmed. The opportunity is fabulous enough for a teenager but the fact that I was born and raised in East Los Angeles made it almost inconceivable; opportunities here are few and far between – this stuff just never happens!

I knew I would be facing a major struggle because I have never asked my father permission for something this big and I also because I have very limited direct contact with him. I just never really talk to him about personal things; he hasn’t even given me the sex talk.  I  knew that this would definitely be breaking the ice in our relationship.

Before doing anything, I asked my eldest sister, “what are my chances of getting permission?” She was completely honest with me and answered, “If you were my little girl, I wouldn’t let you go because it’s for a whole month and it’s all the way on the other side of the country. I just don’t think he’s ready for that.” Those sharp, painful words haunted me. I started questioning my existence and my reasoning for always trying my best in everything I do. Did I really work all this time just to run into a dead end? Or maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. Whether I wanted to or not, I had no choice but to leave the room in burning tears. I just couldn’t breathe anymore. I ended up crying myself to sleep that night.

The next day I woke up furious as hell and I decided to take action. I knew I had been working my whole life to make something good happen and I wasn’t ready to let this opportunity go by. I guess you could say this was my “dare to be fabulous” moment! I had cried a river and now it was time to stand up and rebel against “the lawmaker,” no matter how tough this was going to be.

I printed out a copy of the internship application and waited for him to come home from his daily, exhausting truck driving job. He didn’t come home until 10pm but I stayed up, ready to explain the internship and ask for his permission. I honestly felt like I would stand before him with my mouth open and the words wouldn’t come out, but fortunately the neurons in my brain functioned and I told them to speak. I could tell he was tired and wanted to knock out already but I knew that it was now or never.

I started off by introducing him to some basic information about the program and how I came to be sponsored. He immediately started interrogating me. He questioned why the heck I wanted to go and what it was good for. For once in my life, I didn’t shut-up. I knew I had earned this opportunity on my own and that it was vital for my future. I kept fighting for myself and my life; I knew this internship was something I had rightfully earned and deserved. I was clear and direct, presenting him with all the facts. What surprised me was that I never stuttered. I knew that if I wanted my dream to come true, then I would have to fight against all odds – even if I peed my pants, I was determined to get my point across. Somehow between the previous terrible teary night and the next morning, something had changed inside me: I was confident and completely determined to start making my own laws for my life and give my father no other choice but to obey them.

I implemented my strategy: to show my father the world that was opening up to me. I told him I had already scheduled an appointment with the Congresswoman’s Field Representatives, Benjamin Cardenas and Evelyn Herrera, and I expected him to come. For once I was the one making my demands and I pushed him to fulfill them. He seemed stunned by my certainty and agreed to go to the meeting.

I remember we went to the meeting the same day that the famous, former math teacher at my school, Jaime Escalante, died (March 31st, 2010.)  I wondered if that was an omen of the misfortune that was waiting to happen . . . I tried to breathe deeply and go with the flow. He picked me up from school and boy! The ride from East Los Angeles to Santa Fe Springs seemed like a trip to the moon! It was so long, silent and just plain uncomfortable. He was in his working uniform and I was in plain old jeans and a t-shirt. I know we should have gone more appropriately dressed, but looks didn’t really matter to me at that point because attaining permission was the only thing on my mind.

We arrived at the District Office and right away, I felt like I was in a safe place. Mr. Cardenas and Ms. Herrera welcomed my father in such a warm and friendly way that I thought there was no way in the world that he would say no to me. It felt really good when Mr. Cardenas and Ms. Herrera put in a good word for me, telling my father what a great asset I had been to their office when I was an intern there. (I had recently helped out in their office for the months of January and February after my Senior Army Instructor scored me the job).

My father was in awe the whole time – his mind was blown away – I guess it’s partially my fault for not telling him all that I’m involved in, whether it’s in school or in the community. Hearing and seeing the Congresswoman’s staff made my father realize that this kind of opportunity doesn’t just fall from the sky, it takes a great deal of hard work and he should feel proud that his daughter can take part. In a way, I was really a reflection of all his hard work and proof that his wish of achieving the American dream had been granted, or at least that’s what they made my father understand.

A month after I sent in the application I received the letter from Nancy Pelosi officially inviting me to become a Congressional Page. I felt a huge relief. The twenty page application seemed like nothing compared to getting my father’s approval. I showed him the letter of confirmation and I told him to get the airline tickets because…I’m going to Washington D.C.! I’m going to be the first one in the Ortega family to go to the nation’s capital! That is the best feeling in the world because I’m proving to him that I appreciate all his work and sacrifice and that his coming to this country was completely worth it.

Our relationship is better now because we actually talk! I call him more often from my cell phone and am around him more, too. We recently took a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and thank God we did, because I finally felt like his little girl again. We shared laughs and swam together in the beautiful blue water off the gorgeous beaches. I truly felt like his daughter.

It took me 16 years to stand up to my father, but I did it. Throughout my life I have found that the key ingredient for being brave is – determination. Some people don’t even come up against these sorts of pressures at a young age. While I wish I didn’t have to struggle as much as I have, in a way I’m glad I did because it has taught me to be a better, stronger person. Now I see how civil rights activists like Antonia Hernandez or Latin attorney Monica Navarro have the strength to do it in the real world. This is only the first big step on my journey to becoming the person I want to be, but that first step always starts with daring – daring to take a position, daring to do what you know is right, daring . . . to be fabulous.

Rocio Ortega lived in East Los Angeles and attended high school there. The daughter of two Mexican-born parents, she is bilingual and proud to represent her Mexican culture. This story was written while she was in high school. She’s since graduated from Wellesley College, worked with the U.N., lived abroad, and won notable awards. She currently works with the ACLU.

ON SELF-ESTEEM by Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem "On Self-Esteem"

A story about an experience in her pre-feminist days that led her on the path to activism . . .

Read her personal story, and many more, in the new book.
Released in August, 2022
Dare to be Fabulous: Follow the journeys
of daring women on the path to finding their true north 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT GLORIA STEINEM

Gloria Steinem is a writer and activist who has been involved in feminist and other social justice issues for over fifty years. A major figure in the launch of the women’s movement in the 1960s, she is one of the few to span generations and cultures with such newer U.S. feminist groups as the 3rd Wave and Choice USA, and international human rights/women’s rights groups including Equality Now. Steinem is the co-founder of New York Magazine and Ms. Magazine, and author of such touchstone books as Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions; Revolution from Within, and Moving Beyond Words, among other influential writing.

IN VINO VERITAS by Ginny Lambrix

In Vino Veritas Ginny Lambrix

Writing about what makes a person fabulous is incredibly easy, unless that person is you. Suddenly you are struck with writing something similar to a personal ad and my first few lines were something like “loves slugs, and ice cream, but not slug ice cream”. Perhaps my ad would go unanswered? But seriously, one of the hardest things about writing this story was realizing how difficult it must have been for my parents to watch a daughter whose sole goal in adulthood was to flee her childhood. I wish that I could instead write about them and the friends who have helped me along the way. I am sure it was not easy for them and they are truly fabulous. But here is my story.

I spent much of my adolescence roaming the fields around our farm in upstate New York, planning my escape. In retrospect, it was not that life was so bad. Shoveling up after cows was just such a far cry from the pages of the fashion magazines that I subscribed to. I wanted to live in a city, be sophisticated and look bored and mysterious. When I was accepted to Colgate University and awarded some scholarship money, I knew that my calculated efforts were paying off. With glee, I shed my McDonald’s after school polyester uniform, loaded up my mother’s car, and promised to never look back.

Even though the university was a short 45 minutes drive from the farm, I spent the holidays at school working. I could not see beyond the campus that held the promise of success, glamour and a glimpse of a world that was so completely foreign. My new friends willingly made me their project, giving me makeovers and things to wear. It was surreal. At some level though, I never quite left behind my love of the land and the outdoors. In the summer, while my friends took off to work as interns in NYC, I was holding a garage sale to raise money to move to New Mexico, where I lived and worked in a state park selling hot dogs and hiking. Not the fast track to corporate success, but I was happy. While I could now dress reasonably well and navigate a cocktail party, the core of who I was proved to be much more resilient…

I am grateful that the twists and turns of life have led me back to farming. Ironically, when I went to apply for a job as viticulturist at De Loach Vineyards, the biggest impediment seemed to be that I was dressed too well to possibly be a farmer! I had to convince the French owner of the company, Jean Charles, that I could be completely happy in grubby clothes, with dirt under my nails. My Colgate friends would have been so proud! I think I even said “I can be really dirty” and then turned eight shades of red as I back pedaled. Fortunately the opportunity was granted.

My work is now completely interwoven into my life. I help guide our farmers (that Truett-Hurst sources fruit from) towards organic and biodynamic farming practices, showing them the things that their piece of land is trying to tell them. A combination of awe, when a conventionally farmed vineyard suddenly comes to life when the chemicals are removed, and passion for making great wine have forged friendships that are real. The people I work with both at the wineries and in the fields have become a second family.

I have no illusions about being the most beautiful, intelligent, athletic, or interesting woman around — the competition is too fierce. Although more than one person might nominate me for being the most stubborn!

What makes me unique is a reverence for nature, a commitment to being true to myself, and the ability to open other people’s hearts to the lessons that can be learned from the earth. Each season, together, we learn new things about the complexity and beauty of life. These resonate within us, and, if we are lucky impart the finished wines with a fresh and elegant voice.

As partner, Ginny Lambrix oversees winemaking for the brands of Truett-Hurst Inc. which also consist of VML Winery , named after her (Virginia Marie Lambrix). Not only is Ginny one of a handful of women vineyard managers blazing trails in the wine industry, she has led the way for establishing sustainable farming in grape-growing practices.

FINDING MY VOICE by Renel Brooks-Moon

Renel Brooks Moon Finding My Voice

I’ve been announcing San Francisco Giants’ games for many years and every game is a new experience; it’s more fun than I’d imagined. My first day of announcing was a totally out of body experience! Last week, I heard my voice announcing the Yankees line up and I was beside myself. I mean, I hear my voice saying, “Number 2, Derek Jeter! Number 13, Alex Rodriguez!” And then, Roger Clemens was called to pitch in relief and pitched to Barry Bonds. A rare occurrence indeed!

All my life I’ve been a baseball fanatic. My parents became Dodgers fans as a result of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. My grandfather was a big fan of Negro League baseball long before that. My grandfather even taught my mom how to score games. My mother was pregnant with me in 1958 when the Giants moved here from New York, and she has been a fan ever since. So this team has been a part of my life since I was in the womb! My brother had aspirations of being a big league pitcher. My family has always been into baseball. The A’s and the Giants. When I was growing up, you could actually support both teams and both leagues. Those days are pretty much over!

The Giants are a very progressive organization. There are lots of women in upper management in the organization that you don’t see. The VP of Marketing for the Blue Jays came into the booth to say hello last week. Women are increasingly in heavy-duty positions. And the Bay Area is very tolerant. I feel protected and supported by the guys that I work with; they’re great. We are like family during baseball season. I mean, we see each other more than we see our own families! And some of the guys in their 20s and 30s have told me that they see me as an example; that they learn from me, and I in turn learn from them. You want your work to speak to have that kind of impact. I had no idea what to expect from this group of guys, and they all could not be more supportive and caring.

I’m a Virgo and I have the qualities ascribed to that sign. I strive for perfection. I put more pressure on myself than anyone else ever could! I have a sense of responsibility now, because I am looked at as a pioneer and a trailblazer, so I don’t want to screw it up!! Radio wasn’t a possibility when I was a little girl. I’m so proud to have a little something to do with inspiring young girls and women and changing their thought processes and expanding their possibilities! When I was young, there were few women and even fewer women of color doing what I’m blessed to be doing now. Getting into radio was pretty much a stroke of good luck. Although Oprah Winfrey says there’s no such thing as luck…but rather it’s preparedness and opportunity coming together. When I graduated from college, I took an entry-level job at KCBS, worked my way up and around, and also, I have to say, was in the right place at the right time more often than not. Opportunity meeting Preparation!

I’ve been in the business for over 25 years and it’s not easy to see my male counterparts make more money than I do, and be treated with a great deal more respect and professionalism. But I stay true to myself and keep on pushing, and so far it has served me well. If you stand up for yourself, as a woman, you’re viewed as not being a team player, you’re considered a bitch or too aggressive. But I will ALWAYS stand up for myself. Always. I’ll be as professional and as courteous as I can be, but I will always stand up for myself, and my team for that matter. I’ve been demoted, I’ve had my show taken away and replaced by a syndicated show that turned out to be a failure, but in the words of the great Destiny’s Child, “I am a survivor.” I have my audience to thank for that, because when management does something shady, they write, they call; they are very vocal in their support for me. That means so much. In radio, you have to be competitive…or what are you doing? But I think you can have a healthy competitive spirit, and not be mean-spirited or nasty. I think I’ve proven that you can have a successful and entertaining radio program that is positive and uplifting. I don’t get down like the so-called “shock-jocks,” that will never be my thing or my style. It isn’t necessary, as many women I’m sure understand.

Of course I feel fear. I feel fearful every day. I’m the biggest wuss! I just keep on going. I think of my dad saying, “C’mon, don’t let ‘em getcha.” That brings me to earth and sanity. My parents have been through so much. My mom just turned 81. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 80 and she went public with her experience. Her attitude is wonderful. Instead of “poor me, why me, God?” she’ll say, “Lord, just guide me.” She stood by my dad and I can’t even put into words the admiration that I have for them. My dad was the first African American high school principal in San Francisco. He always had a big personality and I take after him that way. I’m definitely a daddy’s girl. He passed away four years ago, but I think of him every day. I want to make him proud. He’s my greatest inspiration and role model. Thinking of my parents and the experiences they endured gives me great strength. My dad and I are the same person. Same astrological sign, same sense of humor, same face!! Everything I’m doing now in my career is everything that he and I enjoyed together…music, comedy, entertainment and sports. I definitely think of myself not as a broadcast personality, but as a performer, something my husband and my immediate family will attest to!

I found my voice at Mills College in Oakland. Kind of ironic, I suppose. Or not? Mills is a women’s college and is all about women finding their voices. Up until then, I struggled with my voice and my sense of self. My school years were difficult as they were during the height of integration and the civil rights movement. I had a really hard time finding my place, and struggled to be accepted by both black and white students. My first day of high school in 1972, students threw rocks at the bus. It was like Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1950s! But again, I would think of my parents and find my strength; I CAN do this and I MUST do this. I entered Mills College in 1976 and that experience forever changed me. It forever changed me. It was that experience that helped me find my voice and confidence. I met wonderful women; African American women with the same experience as my own. It helped me find my voice as a feminist and community activist. My parents’ greatest lesson was: “The biggest deterrent to racism and sexism is education. Get your education and be the best Renel you can be. And make a difference in the community and the world.” Last September, I delivered the convocation address at Mills. That was AMAZING. Unbelievable. I had come full circle and that was a profound moment for me.

As we get older, we start to just get it. I have a posse of five best friends. We’ve been tight for 14 years. Every December we have a blowout slumber party at my house. We met at our neighborhood Jazzercise class and we all just clicked. And all these years later we realize we were all meant to be together as sister-friends. We’ve been through divorces, cancer, raising children, aging parents, career struggles… you name it. There’s nothing better than best girlfriends to pull you though the ups and downs of being a woman in this world!

My husband was a student at UC Berkeley when I was at Mills. That’s when we met, but we didn’t get together until 13 years later. He saw me performing in a talent show on campus and claims that he knew one day I’d be a performer. It takes a special kinda brotha to be married to me and all that comes with the “Renel Experience”! I think it helps that he’s the oldest of six siblings, four of whom are sisters! And while his dad was in the Air Force, he had to step up and help his mom raise the family. He and his mom have a great relationship, so Tommie is pretty good with women!

My favorite thing to do is just to sit with a glass of wine in the tub. I usually take a vacation during the All Star break, but hello! Not this year! We’ll probably go this fall. I love tropical weather, so I like to go to Mexico or the Caribbean. I can sit there for hours. My husband will visit with me, but then he’s off to do something again. I guess I love sitting still because I don’t get to do that very much in my daily life. I usually get up at 4:00AM to start getting ready for my morning show, which airs until 10:00AM. Then, I’ll go to they gym or take a nap. Or prepare for the next day’s show. I have to be at the ballpark by 4:00PM for pre-game interviews. Then, after the game, I’ll go home and do some more preparation for the next morning’s show. I usually sleep about five hours. People have called that amazing, but it’s not amazing. Single moms are amazing! Moms in general are amazing! There are women who are juggling way more than I am an under great adversity. That’s what I call amazing.

I wouldn’t turn back the clock ever. Not on your LIFE. Life is good. Life is good. It’s quite the journey, is it not? When I think of the woman I was in my 20s and even 30s I refer to myself as “her,” because she was totally a different person…but she got me to the woman I now am…preparing to turn 50 next year, welcoming it, and daring to and continuing to be FABULOUS!

Renel Brooks MoonRenel’s voice is widely recognized in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been the host of popular radio programs and the public-address announcer for the San Francisco Giants. Renel marks the first time in history that a woman announced either a World Series game or an All Star game. These are among many firsts for Renel, whose infectious enthusiasm and positive example have been an inspiration to people everywhere. 

OF MEN, A MACHINE AND A PRETTY COOL MOMENT by Anne Singer

Caution Men Working sign

A story about saying “yes” to a construction worker’s street-side invitation  . . .

Read her personal story, and many more, in the new book.
Released in August, 2022
Dare to be Fabulous: Follow the journeys
of daring women on the path to finding their true north 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT ANNE SINGER

After living most of her adult life in New York and Washington, DC, Anne Singer now lives in rural Virginia, where she writes about policy from her home office with pink walls. 

SOMETIMES IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS by Sara Arason

Sometimes it's the Little Things

I am a child of the ’50s, which puts me in my 60s. I am lucky to have had a shot at several careers-and I’ve had a blast at all of them. After college, I worked my way from the selling floor to the buying office in a department store. After that I was a Russian linguist for the National Security Agency. From there, I moved to a small division of the Library of Congress as a Soviet Specialist. I’ve been in the Library for almost 25 years now. Early in my career there, I completed a two-year degree (night courses) in computer science and moved into IT, administrative, and project management work. Writing this down, I feel like I “dared to be fabulous” in my willingness to try new careers. But that’s a big thing. I’m talking about a small thing today.

I “blame” the ’50s view of women for my steadfast belief, lo these many years, that part of my job is to be accommodating to everyone else’s needs and schedules. Until recently, if someone wanted to have a meeting or needed something done, I would change my leave plans, doctor appointments, lunch dates, etc., to be available.

That is, until I discovered “The Manicure.”

Several years ago, a friend of mine became legally blind from macular degeneration. Although she has some sight, she is unable to do things like her nails or eyebrows. I started having an occasional manicure with her, in lieu of lunch, just to spend some catch-up time. I have never been too concerned about my nails in the past outside of making sure that they’re clean and somewhat well-shaped but, after a few manicures, I found that I positively LOVE having my nails done. This is a two-fold “having my nails done”: I love the act of having my nails done and I love the results of the act.

My manicures were sporadic at the beginning, always at the mercy of someone else’s schedule at work. One day, though, it occurred to me that what I want might matter. What makes ME happy might be important, worthwhile, acceptable, or, at least, OK. So, with more than a bit of trepidation, I refused to schedule a meeting that would have forced me to cancel my manicure. On top of that, I told everyone-including my boss-that the reason I could not come to the meeting in question was because I had an appointment for a manicure and, in fact, I had a manicure every Friday!! Faces blanked, faces blanched, brows were raised, furtive looks passed between the interested parties, but nothing was said and the meeting was scheduled for another time.

And the sun rose and set as scheduled as the world continued to spin on its axis-

And my nails looked great.

Since “Freedom” Friday–the day I chose to do something for myself for no other reason than to make myself happy, my “Kyoto Pearl”-ed nails remind me that I am not merely a circling spoke in a great bureaucratic wheel. I am a real person, a woman, and a fabulous woman at that.

Besides her Library of Congress career, Sara, or Sally, as her friends and family call her. is an accomplished singer, having performed as leads in operas such as Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro. She also sang The National Anthem for a Washington Redskins game. As a season-ticket holder, that felt utterly fabulous. Sally has also spent a lifetime rescuing homeless and suffering cats and dogs. 

TALKING TO THE DEVIL by Dianne Reeves

DIanne Reeves

I look at my life in seasons and chapters. I was blessed by growing up in a nurturing, close, extended family, full of amazing personalities, strong and beautiful women and all kinds of characters. We were always able to laugh at ourselves, keeping a sense of humor and perspective through both good times and hardships. I was secure in the midst of a strong mother, aunts who were as close to me as second mothers, uncles and cousins – all with wonderful stories of their own to tell – and all the natural beauty of Colorado.

It was in junior high – a very difficult time of life for most girls – that I discovered I could sing. Not only did I discover that I had a voice, but the discovery of how it made me feel to sing was even more significant. Even then, like now, I thought of my own voice not just as sound, but as something deeper that was uniquely mine.

A few years ago I came to a crossroads in my music – my livelihood.

I had a great relationship with my then record label – a label that had given me total artistic freedom to explore and express my music, the freedom to reveal through my music who I was as a woman, as a spirit, as an artist.

A subsequent merger with another record label threatened to change the idealized situation I had with the jazz label. My current release, Art and Survival, was not being promoted by the head of the new label who did not like the album nor understand my art. This album contained many songs that not only expressed me artistically, but changed my life in the process of recording them.

Ironically, one song in particular, “Endangered Species,” which I wrote with a good friend, seemed to sum up the situation with which I was now faced – recording for a record executive that not only did not understand jazz, but had no affinity for my personal artistic style of jazz.

“Jazz is just three musicians on stage, nothing more,” was his opinion, with no view to changing it. I knew I was facing a moment of truth here – at a crossroads in my career. Would I take a stand, dare to be who I am, or would I comply with the mandates of the powerful record executive who wanted me to knuckle under and record music that fit his somewhat narrow definition of what I should sound like to be able to sell records for his label?

I am an endangered species
But I sing no victim’s song
I am a woman I am an artist
And I know where my voice belongs

His office was clearly designed to intimidate. I remember a huge, high desk that made him appear above it all, like a judge or an inquisitor. The chairs facing his desk were small and scrunched together, designed to make the visitor feel small and unimportant, lucky to be granted an audience at all.

I listened to him explain to me how I would have to adjust my musical vision to be considered an asset to his label and worthy of promotion, and to receive the monetary rewards I would be able to reap by doing it his way and only his way. There seemed no room for negotiation. It felt like I was having a conversation with the devil; he was dangling a carrot in front of me, waiting for me to sell my soul.

And then he said:

“Dianne, I have tamed the best in the industry. I can tame you too.”

With that one sentence, I had immediate clarity.

I chose my soul.

These are the lyrics to my song, Endangered Species:

I am an endangered species
But I sing no victim’s song
I am a woman I am an artist
And I know where my voice belongs

I am a woman I exist
I shake my fist but not my hips
My skin is dark my body is strong
I sign of rebirth no victim’s song

I am an endangered species
But I sing no victim’s song
I am a woman I am an artist
And I know where my voice belongs

They cut out my sex they bind my feet
Silence my reflex no tongue to speak
I work in the fields I work in the store
I type up the deals and I mop the floors
I am an endangered species
But I sing no victim’s song
I am a woman I am an artist
And I know where my voice belongs

My body is fertile I bring life about
Drugs, famine, and war, take them back out
My husband can beat me his right they say
And rape isn’t rape you say I like it that way

I am an endangered species
But I sing no victim’s song
I am a woman I am an artist
And I know where my voice belongs
I know where my soul belongs
I know where I belong

RDianne Reevesecognized as one of the pre-eminent voices in the world of jazz, Dianne Reeves has won several GRAMMYS for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. She has the distinction of being awarded the most consecutive awards in GRAMMY history. Dianne has also been the Creative Director of Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in charge of their jazz programs at the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall. In addition, Dianne is acclaimed for her featured performance in George Clooney’s film, Good Night and Good Luck

ODE TO GRAY by Michele Maggiora

Ode to Grey

A story about stopping the ritual of dyeing her hair, and letting it go gray . . .

Read her personal story, and many more, in the new book.
Released in August, 2022
Dare to be Fabulous: Follow the journeys
of daring women on the path to finding their true north 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT MICHELLE MAGGIORA

Michele Maggiora stopped dyeing her hair shortly before turning 59 years old. “My writings often point to the political and social connections between sexism, racism and classism.” She currently lives in Mexico, and works as a mentor, writer, visual artist, poet, and photographer.