Tuesday, March 25, 2008

History Made (and in the Making)

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attend the Liberian Partners Forum at the World Bank February 13, 2007 in Washington, DC. Sirleaf outlined several areas of post-conflict development that she wants the partners to discuss during the forum, including building the country's security forces, rebuilding roads, job creation and debt relief. Rice announced that the United States will forgive $391 million in loans to Liberia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I know. Someone is really going to get me for this. At the very least because this moment is over a year old.

However, I watched Iron Ladies of Liberia on Independent Lens tonight and one of the shots at the end really floored me. Just a split second image, but it was of these two women, side by side, after Rice made the announcement on the debt forgiveness.

And I must confess--for that split second, I loved it. As a woman of color.


Well, consider what it means that these two women in their capacities as Secretary of State of the United States and the President of Liberia, even exist. Their being means that the way the world represents power, what the world sees when it thinks "that is powerful" or "that is a leader," is not the same as it was ten years ago. It hasn't changed in a a radical way, a structural way. It doesn't necessarily make me feel safer when I walk out of the house in the morning or go to bed at night. I don't imagine that "oh, women of color are in positions of power now! we are liberated!" Not at all.

But it makes me think.

I do not agree with the tangled skein of politics that the photo embodies. But I don't have to like the situation to appreciate the site--to understand that this photo is very different from ones of world leaders I have seen before.

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