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An Encounter with Georgia Love: Giving Voice to the Other

Georgia Love places a medal around the neck of a young woman at Mary Seacole Hall.

I met Georgia Love over a year ago. Our meeting was neither dramatic nor out of the way, it was perhaps inevitable because somewhere in our past we started a journey that would have eventually led to our meeting and connection. Our first encounter was a Saturday morning leadership training programme with the young women of one of Jamaica’s two major political parties, I found that I was drawn to Georgia’s wisdom, she engaged the young women and the rest of us in the room with a certain kind of confidence, I couldn’t define it then but in our subsequent encounters I began to recognize that she was grounded in an authenticity and clarity that could have only come from a very strong belief in herself and her life’s purpose. Our encounters were many, over and over again we, met and shared ideas and experiences around issues related to women’s equality, empowerment and rights.

As fate would have it I was participating in yet another workshop with her as facilitator and it was this encounter that made me recognize that she would be my interview subject. So on the day that Jamaica had its first taste of the hurricane season for 2013 and a first puncture for my new car, I was determined that my planned encounter with Ms. Love would happen. A tyre change and a brief stop at the mechanic allowed me to travel from one end of Kingston to the next, we finally settled down to conversation over Cappuccino and Hot Chocolate. Strangely enough we had done this before, but there was no nostalgia to interrupt this conversation, I was interested in getting to know where the wisdom and confidence which I have come to associate with Georgia Love came from.

Our conversation evolved around finding voice, intergenerational bridging and interrupting the hetero-normativity of the Jamaican women’s movement. Georgia is the Training Coordinator of WMW (formerly Women’s Media Watch) a civil society organization committed to reducing gender-based violence and the promotion of gender equity and gender awareness in media and communications. I asked her how she got involved in the women’s movement in Jamaica and in a calm matter of fact way, she spoke of returning to Jamaica after a five (5) year stint at university in the United States and knowing that her entry into the world of work and a career could not be the typical nine to five. She knew she wanted to do more than just earn a living and needed to be involved in social justice kinds of engagement and having done Political Science at Vassar College with a strong focus on Women’s Studies, she found community and a place to belong in the women’s movement. She spent eight years as a volunteer in different organizations, learning the ‘ins and outs’ of gender work in Jamaica and being involved from different perspectives.

In quite candid manner, Georgia was able to define her place amongst that younger generation of women in advancing the women’s movement. She explained that in the last year and a half or so she has been focused on finding her own voice in the movement, so that even as she embraces the ‘next generation’ mantle she knows that the older generation must be reassured that the movement is “not going to look like it did, but it’s okay and that women’s organizing and gender justice is going to emerge in a different kind of way and it’s going to require us to negotiate power internally within the movement.” She pointed out that perhaps a failing of the movement is that it does not do enough self-examination, it tends to do a lot of the external, looking outside critique rather than a self-critique, for an examination of the dynamics on the inside. In a tentative but decisive voice she speaks of her own contribution to the changing face of the movement, which will continue to primarily be about interjecting ‘the other’ in the pervasive women’s rights dialogue. So she says “over the last year I have made a decision that I am not okay with the underlying hetero -normativity of the women’s movement so my contribution is connecting other kinds of organizing to the women’s movement; LGBT women, HIV infected women connecting their work into a bigger conversation on women’s equality and women’s empowerment.
I explored with Georgia her own connection and commitment to a feminist project which is identifiably Christian and heterosexual and which espouses a particular kind of morality and how she interjects her own identity into that ongoing conversation . She noted that there is a larger social conversation around diversity and sexuality which is changing the national mindset and is making it easier to negotiate these realities. She was careful to point out that the women who have done the work of the movement have always had their own personal politics around sexual orientation and diversity but they have not been able to integrate it into the larger movement which has consequently had a rather narrow field of focus. But while this is going on she says her own work continues in other spaces around art and culture, other spaces where issues of sexual identity are more easily worked out.

Our conversation explored other issues related to movement building and the need to learn lessons from other women, particularly a younger generation of women in Africa who are organizing and contributing to the movement in their own unique way. For Georgia then what she most wants to bring to movement building in Jamaica is a consciousness around questions of sustainability and relevance.

And even as she speaks of the contribution she is now making to the movement Georgia looks forward to her work in preparing another generation of young women to continue the work: “Young women ought to be looking at our movement and be saying that is where the brightest, buzziest, most fascinating women are; so that is where I want to be.”

Comments

bitani's picture

keep it up

the thing i liked most is that you included yourself in the piece and justified your choice :) that was unique amongst the profiles i've read until now (including mine)

keep it up dear

pelamutunzi's picture

a role model

geargia love is a role model and someone who is inspiring. i feel that intergenerational bridging is important and it is something that cann be easily bypassed yet it is critical in the continuing work of the movement.
good interview choice.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Nadz's picture

So True

That is one of the focus of my work Pela, ensuring that the necesary consciousness raising is done so that we prepare a next generation of activists and thinkers.
Nadz

Life is just for living

Klaudia Mexico's picture

I really enjoyed the way you

I really enjoyed the way you included yourself in this conversation.
Well done!

Klaudia González

Nadz's picture

Thank you everyone

I thank you all for your kind comments.
Nadz

Life is just for living

Greengirl's picture

Hello Nadz

I like the confidence you exhumed in your writing about Georgia Love; you obviously share a lot in common with her. Jamaica is blessed to have both of you.
I am glad I read the post.

Warmly,
Greengirl

Hi Nadz,
I echo the comments of the others in particularly enjoying the opening of your interview, how you told the story and your connection with Georgia. You are both certainly "bright and fascinating women" whom other young women in the movement will want to join. I love her excitement and passion that you conveyed so well.

Warmly,
Heather

Aminah's picture

Grate work Nadz

Great way to lead us to the character of Georgia Love. I echo the same sentiments as others, a great introduction. :)

And the message she passes on is quite important about integration of the work to a larger audience and larger scope without confining too narrowly to the comfort zone of the activist. But I guess a balance is required there too.

Thank you for bringing her to us.

Salaam
Aminah

Tash's picture

what a lovely profile and

what a lovely profile and honest personality !

''She knew she wanted to do more than just earn a living and needed to be involved''
i had to quote this because its rare to find people who honestly believe in making and leaving the world a better place. Almost everyone is pushed by money to get the best out of them, we need more people like Georgia and am happy to hear she intends pass the torch on!

good work!

Kind Regards,
Patsy.

Nadz's picture

Thanks

Thank you Patsy, Georgia certainly is a wonderful woman. I consider it an honour to be able to share ideas with re.

Life is just for living

jampa's picture

Well Written & Wonderful Woman

Thank you for sharing GREAT story dear,
All the best,
Jampa

libudsuroy's picture

'buzziest'

Nadz,
I just love Georgia Love. I love her mind, her thoughts, her intellectual commitments, her questions, her answers. And I love the bond of sisterhood that you and Georgia share.
And I love to have learned the word, 'buzziest' through your article.

You've got a 'buzziest' story here, Nadeen, and congratulations!

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Manya Arond-Thomas's picture

Lovely writing style

Nadz,

Your style is very engaging, and I felt drawn to both you and George Love! I look forward to more of your writing!

Good job!

Warmly,
Manya

Manya Arond-Thomas, M.D.
Coach, Mentor, Facilitator

SamihaN's picture

Hard-hitting

Nadz,

I love that your work features not just a profile of a person but you also share a very important dialogue. As a reader, this piece has made me understand what motivates Georgia Love as well as made me think deeply about how to take this conversation about gender forward. Thank you for sharing; Georgia has found one of the next generation to continue her work.

Regards,
Samiha

Iryna's picture

Fighter

It's amazing when a woman understands early what she wants to do in her life and moves toward her target. Georgia is a brilliant woman, strong and a fighter by her soul.
I enjoyed a lot pictures of how you met, imagining cappuccino and hot chocolate in your hands while you were speaking. Beautiful writing, Nadz!

Greetings from Ukraine,
Iryna

Maura Bogue's picture

Good Work!

Great work on your first assignment! You really were able to include a lot of good details into your piece. That’s really important, so good job!

Next time, try and focus on one big accomplishment or defining moment of your subject’s life, instead of telling the reader his or her life story.

But overall, great job!

Best,
Maura

Zoepiliafas's picture

Positive

I appreciate her positive outlook on how to motivate and encourage more women to be part of the movement.

“Young women ought to be looking at our movement and be saying that is where the brightest, buzziest, most fascinating women are; so that is where I want to be.”

Zoe Piliafas

Voices of Our Future Community Manager
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