Happy 30th anniversary, Minnesota Women’s Press!

“What if women were in charge of public words and the news? What if our voices were being heard?” These questions became the impetus for a women’s newspaper when it was just a dream in the head of Mollie Hoben in 1983. At the time, she was on leave from her job as a teacher of vision-impaired students. She was working as editor of the Park Bugle, a community newspaper in St. Paul, and was taking classes in feminist studies in literature at the University of Minnesota. Continue Reading

Learning in traditional ways from Native children’s literature

n Ojibwe tradition, as well as in all other Native cultures that I know of, womanhood from birth until the return to the spirit world is a sacred state, honored and respected. Countless generations of storytelling, combined with observation and experience, are the foundation of Ojibwe teaching and learning. For girls, this has been intertwined with preparation for the passages of the female life; the words themselves, ikwe for woman and kwesens (“small woman”) for girl, indicate a meaningful seamlessness in the cosmology of tribal womanhood. The position of Ojibwe woman is equal in status and power to that of Ojibwe men; this concept is so basic to our worldview that it is rarely even stated. Many Native women feel that our cultural role, including our gifts and resulting obligations, is beyond the constructs of majority American feminism, that “indigenous feminism” as defined by majority feminists is not empowering and inclusive so much as simply missing the point. We are Native women; our culture honors womanhood. The students in the American Indian Women course that I teach, both Native and non-Native, have sometimes struggled to understand (and to reconcile with some preconceived stereotypes) the manifestations of female power and position in cultures unfamiliar to them. As their teacher – a storyteller and an older Ojibwe woman – I thought that they might find it helpful to apply their own experience and knowledge to their questions by stepping back to their childhood days through an examination of Native children’s literature. Diverse though our experiences may be, we were all children once, and I believe that reading children’s literature helps us to see and learn through the lens of that commonality. Continue Reading

Writing toward hope: How New Yorker Sherrie Fernandez-Williams found her voice in Minnesota

Sherrie Fernandez-Williams was a child of few words. That’s surprising since words are now her stock-in-trade. “I was slow to speak,” says the author of the new memoir, “Soft.” “I used to create an imaginary world in my room, and I actually came to story before I came to words.” Her mother, a single parent raising eight children in a housing project in the Brooklyn section of New York City, was pretty happy that her youngest child was content to play in silence. But Fernandez-Williams is no longer silent. She discovered the joy of words as a third-grader when she was assigned to write a short composition. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | West Broadway business profile: Paradise Beauty Salon

Marie Egbujor has been operating Paradise Beauty Salon on West Broadway in North Minneapolis since 2009. The inviting salon is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 7pm. Ms. Egbujor is kept busy by her loyal clients; Paradise Beauty is famous for its Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday-only specials: $75 for a full weave sew-in, and dread retouching for just $40. Egjubor’s expertise is evident in her clients’ satisfied faces; “She’s very gifted at what she does; her hands are blessed” explained a client named Tiquita, who only entrusts her hair to Egjubor. However, what’s truly remarkable about Paradise Beauty Salon is the sense of calm, care and tranquility that one feels almost immediately upon stepping inside. “When you come in you feel the difference. Continue Reading