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Lions Roar : March 2014
dominated? Between those who have privilege and those who don’t have privilege? Trust is part of what humanizes the dehu- manizing relationship, because trust grows and takes place in the context of mutuality. How do we get that when we have pro- found differences and separations? Eve Ensler: I’ve always wished we could talk more deeply about the distrust. Sometimes it feels like the Civil Rights movement happened and then there was a blackout. We just stopped com- municating. It was as if it all got better—we were living in a post-racial world. As opposed to examining on a much deeper level—on an emotional, political, and spiritual level—what really goes on between people. What are the dynamics, what are the thoughts, what are the feelings? Congo is a perfect example of this question of trust, because it was probably one of the most colonized and pillaged places in the world. When Dr. Mukwege first invited me to come, he was sure I wouldn’t show up, because everybody else promised they would and then they didn’t. But I did show up, and every time I came back, they would be even more amazed. It’s taken a long time to develop trust, but walking through that fire of distrust is part of this struggle. To come up against people’s distrust and say, “Okay, it’s completely legitimate dis- trust, and I’m going to keep showing up in the face of it to see if we can move forward.” Part of it is understanding that it’s much bigger than you. You’re struggling on a much bigger level for something. And also that when it hurts, it hurts! When people don’t trust you, it does hurt. But that doesn’t mean you don’t keep going. bell hooks: As I’m sitting here, I’m trying to imagine, where are the spaces of change? In Congo, Eve has helped create the City of Joy, which is one space of enormous change. But in the U.S., black females are up against a media that is so powerful, and our bodies are part of this plantation culture. Where is the space in popular culture where we can talk about the black female body having dig- nity of presence and being? And not being a body of despair. Because behind all of this trauma is grief and despair. Young black girls feeling that no one in our society pays attention to the traffic in black women. No one noticed all those black females who disappeared in Cleveland. No one talked about it, but we are still talking about JonBenét Ramsey. Most of us cannot name the four little black girls who were killed in the Birmingham church bombing. We can’t recite the names of Carole Robertson, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins the way we can rattle off the name of JonBenét. Even small black children know who she is and that something had happened to her. How can we have a world where the bodies of all women, and especially women of color, can be defended and protected? Eve Ensler: As Terrance McKenna says, culture is not our friend. We have to unplug from the culture and create our revolution where you are. We’ve become passive recipients of a culture that is not only dividing us from each other but from ourselves. bell hooks: Thich Nhat Hanh says that you are what you are watching. Technology has made it so we consume so many more negative images. When I saw that Miley Cyrus video, which peo- ple forced me to watch [laughter], I kept thinking about how ugly the bodies were, how ugly the message was, how degraded sexuality was. Yet everybody was watching. These are things we have to be willing to take the action of stopping. Eve Ensler: Last year we organized the first worldwide One Bil- lion Rising day to end violence against women and girls. I look at the videos from that all the time, because it inspires me so deeply to see women around the world—particularly women PHOTOSBY(LEFTTORIGHT)ELVERTBARNES;RAINER/KEYSTONEPRESS;APPHOTO/AARONFAVILA