Who is Dorothy Johnson-Laird -in brief -Dorothy has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University. She has worked as a Community Social Worker in Manhattan for the last nine years, serving the older population. Dorothy comes from a family of musicians and is passionate about African music. She contributes journalism to http://www.afropop.org and http://www.worldmusiccentral.org. Dorothy is also a poet and a long time activist, whose focus has been on women and girl issues. She has also devoted her time to progressive causes in Africa. She is now developing a project on Women Warriors.
Your greatest artistic Achievement– I have written poetry since I was seven years old. As a child, I kept my writing to myself, it was a private exploration. In my early twenties, I began to explore the local poetry scene in New York City. At first, I was very inhibited to perform my poetry openly. Finally, I found the courage to perform. Poetry takes on a different dimension when it is spoken to an audience, it can hold a different power than when you read it to yourself. As a woman, it feels powerful to share with others in a public setting and to start believing in yourself as a writer. For me it was a great achievement to perform my poetry aloud, but also to perform it for causes that I believed in, for justice, sometimes to hundreds of people. Since growing older, I always encourage younger people. So many of us are talented creatively. Why keep those gifts for ourselves alone?
Role you are playing in transforming communities around you-As a professional leader and social worker in a senior center in my community, I hope that I and my team are making a difference in the lives of the older people. I always like to believe that we are listening to and approaching work with older people in a deep and comprehensive way. As a poet and activist, I hope I have provoked people in positive ways, made them think about issues that they may not otherwise have considered.
Your future prospects– I am developing a project on what it means to be a warrior woman. It is true that not all of us as women are warriors. I think it is vital that we critically examine the role women warriors such as Harriet Tubman and Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti have played. Often they have been overlooked in our classrooms or by society as a whole. There is so much we can learn from these great heroines. There are so many traits of the woman warrior that we can learn from, openness, boldness, strength, determination, to name just a few. I have developed a facebook page devoted to this initiative and I hope people will join me there: https://www.facebook.com/JourneywithWarriorWomen
Your parting shot to the reader– In a documentary I watched recently about Muhammad Ali, “I am Ali,” he asked one his daughters as a girl, “If everybody was born for a purpose, what do you think you were born for?” In a sense it is a very basic question, but in another way it is profound. As women and girls we sometimes undervalue ourselves and our place in life. It is important that we each work on improving our self-esteem and that self-esteem is so often connected to our passions in life, whether they are professional, in the work force, or personal, for example, in creative work. As women, we need to consider ourselves and our lives more seriously than we sometimes do. Questions that we can ask ourselves as women are: Instead of looking to another person for power, leadership and direction, what strength/s do you have within you? What courage do you have within you?
This blogger is greatly touched by your love of West African Pop music and your depth in rhythms of deepest African roots!
Contact Dorothy -Twitter: @MusicIntoWords
Face book: http://www.facebook.com/pages/African-Music-Into-Words
By Mbizo Chirasha