You Have to Do You

Continuing to celebrate Women’s History month, this week’s subject is an activist. She challenges stereotypes about Muslims, in particular Muslim women. And she not only believes “you just have to do you,” she lives it. She is a Somalian-American, a poet, a rapper, a feminist, and so much more. She is Mona Haydar. Women our future is winnable  We gotta be indivisible. Mona Haydar from  her song “Barbarian” Early Life & Education In 1971, her parents immigrated from Damascus, Syria to the United States. She was born in Flint, Michigan, in 1988, one of seven siblings. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint. Then in 2011, Haydar went to Damascus, Syria. She studied Islamic spirituality at Jami’ Abu-Noor. When the Syrian conflict erupted, she returned to the U.S. In 2012, Haydar lost a close friend to suicide. This made Haydar question how she lived her own life. She left Flint where she had been working as a substitute teacher and moved to the Lama Foundation  in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.  The Lama Foundation is an off grid, inter-spiritual community and retreat center. There she met her husband. They married and had their first child there. She also lived in the Redwood […]

An Inspiring Woman In Space And On The Ground

From last week’s strong Mohawk woman of the revolutionary war era we’re coming forward hundreds of years. This week’s Women’s History Month spotlight is on an inspiring woman in space and on the ground, Ellen Ochoa. Ms. Ochoa, a Hispanic-American Woman, made history in our lifetime. Engineer, inventor, astronaut, and administrator, she is a champion of and for women. “We do a disservice to society as a whole, if we are not providing the same kinds of encouragement to women to contribute as we do to men.” – Ellen Ochoa Early Life Ochoa’s paternal grandparents immigrated from Sonora, Mexico to Arizona. They later moved to California where Ochoa’s father, Joseph, was born. Ellen Ochoa was born May 10, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, U.S. Her parents were Joseph and Rosanne (née Deardorf) Ochoa. She loved math and science in school, even if other kids looked down on her for that. She played the flute and wanted to be a musician. Like many of us, she watched the moon landing. She was eleven. It never occurred to her to want to be an astronaut. There were no female astronauts then. Education Ochoa’s parents divorced while she attended  Grossmont High School in El Cajon. She graduated […]

Spy, Loyalist, and Diplomat

Next on our list of extraordinary women of history is Molly Brant. Brant was an influential Mohawk woman in the American Revolution. A Loyalist, a spy, diplomat, and a clan matron, Brant straddled two worlds. But she kept her native heritage in her speech and dress throughout her entire life. Early Life Brant’s native name was Konwatsi’tsiaienni (also spelled Gonwatsijayenni) which means “someone lends her a flower.“ The daughter of a sachem (chief), she was probably born in Canajoharie, a barricaded long house village on the south bank of the Mohawk river, in about 1736. Her mother was Margaret Sahetagearat Onagsakearat. The man assumed to be her father was Peter Tehonwaghkwangeraghkwa. Both of them were Mohawks of the Wolf clan. The Mohawks The Mohawks were members of the Iroquois Confederacy (native name: Haudenosaunee Confederacy), a political union of six different Indian nations in the northeast. The Iroquois were a matrilineal society. They passed property and responsibility from mother to daughter. Iroquois women controlled land and wealth and had influence over policy issues. Learn more about the Mohawks. A Surname Peter died in the 1740s, leaving Margaret destitute. She had a brief second marriage to a War Chief who was killed in a raid. […]