Blog Entries

International Activist Bloggers & Bravery

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Are you brave?
Ever since I met Simone Leid and Reem Abbas at BlogHer '11, I've been thinking about what the word bravery really means.  And while it was certainly one of the first spelling words I learned in grammar school, I felt compelled to look it up.

brave [breyv]
Possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.
Synonyms:  bold, intrepid, caring, dauntless, heroic.
Brave, courageous, valiant, fearless, gallant refer to confident bearing in the face of difficulties or dangers.  Brave is the most comprehensive:  it is especially used of that confident fortitude or daring that actively faces and endures anything threatening.

Yep.  That's what I thought.  Simone Leid and Reem Abbas are brave.

About Simone
When I first met Simone, she was sitting at a table in a Change Agents seminar where I took up a chair.  I could tell that she was a bit of an introvert (she admitted it later; plus, I have a bit of it myself) but I introduced myself and she responded with a polite hello.  We spoke briefly at the break; just enough to learn that this was her first BlogHer event and that she had come all the way from Trinidad and Tobago.  I'm a Bajan Yankee, I told her.  She politely smiled.  I didn't see Simone again until the next morning.  She was sitting at a table by herself at breakfast.  I do that, I thought.  Sit alone I mean.  I stopped by and said Good Morning as I made my way to the breakfast buffet.  I saw her a few more times in passing during the conference.  And then I went to the International Activism session where Simone was on the panel.  As one of BlogHer's International Activism Scholarship recipients, she was speaking candidly about her blog - Women Speak - and about how women are typically afraid to speak out about discrimination.  Simone is offering them a place to do so.  "The WomenSpeak Project encourages women in Trinidad and Tobago and throughout the Caribbean Region to tell their stories of discrimination - in the home, in the workplace and in the public domain."  [Source]  There can often be repercussions for speaking out and I think Simone and the women she convinces to tell their stories (even anonymously) are brave. 

Reem Abbas (pictured right) and I at BlogHer '11
About Reem
Reem Abbas has a smile that you can see a mile away.  I must have seen her a dozen times before I saw her on the International Activism panel as she bounced around the conference and asked questions in sessions.  She made me smile everytime I saw her.  As the 2nd of 4 International Activist Scholarship recipients, Reem is a freelance journalist from Sudan that writes for an English daily newspaper in Khartoum and blogs at I Have No Tribe, I'm Sudanese.  If you know anything about Sudan (and not just what George Clooney has to say), then you know that Reem epitomizes bravery as a young Sudanese woman that candidly shares her feelings about Sudan and its government.  In fact, I was so concerned about her safety that I was was hesistant to tweet anything she said in the session.  But I did it anyway.  If she can be brave, then so can I.

"Having a blog is the best cross-cultural experience for me." via Sudanese activist blogger @ReemAbbas #BH11intlactivist #BlogHer11

BlogHer's other two International Activist Scholarship recipients that were unable to attend were Fungai Neni from Zimbabwe and Yoani Sanchez (of Generation Y) from Cuba.  Even with  the push by Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) to get Yoani to BlogHer, the Cuban government would not relent.  They consider her a criminal for blogging about her point of view.  #sigh

Brave is a pretty easy word to throw around, but not an easy word to live up to.  These ladies live up to the word and I'm proud to have met at least two of them.  Gives me something to aspire to...


Reem Shawkat on: August 16, 2011 at 12:35 PM said...

I loved reading your post. It was greet meeting you at Blogher. I really want to come next year with friends to connect to women from all over the world. Thanks for coming to my session and I hope we stay in touch.

By the way, I came across your blog a million times before <3

Unknown on: August 16, 2011 at 3:55 PM said...

Thank you, Reem. =) I hope to see you again next year. You are an inspiration...

simone on: August 16, 2011 at 4:09 PM said...

OMG, guess I didn't hide my social awkwardness very well. I have to tell you, it certainly helped seeing your sunny face around. I felt a little more like I belonged.

As for Reem, who could not love her. Such a beautiful person inside and out. It was a great time. I'd really love to come back Next year. We'll see.

Unknown on: August 16, 2011 at 4:20 PM said...

Awww, thank you for that, Simone. I've been accused of being aloof for most of my life and still struggle with feeling like I don't belong. It's something I'm not sure I'll ever be able to completely master, but I try. (Plus, I'm WAY better 1-on-1 than in groups.) In the meantime, I just get in where I fit in and then make my own little world where I'm comfy. We probably have more in common that you know. It was a pleasure meeting you and you're right, Reem is a pure delight! I can't wait to get to Trinidad & Tobago. =)

Aqueelah on: September 4, 2011 at 6:52 PM said...

I enjoyed reading this story. It's comforting to know the world will be in the hands of women who set an example of love and and understanding of diversity. My mother used to say I was just "carrying on" when I marched for voting or wore an Afro or embraced "foreign" cultures but I've learned it is a very good thing. So carry on ladies.


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