Featuring Tara Dorabji

I wanted to be angry because it gave me something to feel that took the pain away.

About Tara

Tara Dorabji is a writer, strategist at Youth Speaks, mother and radio journalist at KPFA. Her work is published or forthcoming in TAYO Literary Magazine, Huizache, Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion, Center for Asian American Media, Mutha Magazine and Midwifery Today. Tara is working on novels set in Kashmir and Livermore. Her projects can be viewed at dorabji.com.

We had the opportunity to interview author Tara Dorabji, whose essay “A Note m'Ijo" appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned…

What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?

The piece came out of remembering a moment – a moment that was broken. Writing into places where shame tries to find a home is part of my practice. In editing my piece for All The Women in My Family Sing, I found traces of hope that weren’t in the initial piece and that brings me joy – to see light growing from a journey that is hard. Sharing this piece is tough. Women see me as a strong leader, powerful. Showing the moments where I’ve failed, been vulnerable, hurt, weak – there is a power in that, too. I’m not afraid of those parts of me and in that – there is a sort of healing.

What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the 21st century?

I think my biggest challenge is around boundaries, about knowing how to give without giving pieces of me away. In love, in work, in family, in the movement – everyone is hungry for parts of me. It’s easy to lose myself in so many wants. To give freely of yourself is truly a gift, to be consumed, not so much. I’m not here for the taking. I keep coming back to my skin – all these gaps around me aren’t meant to be filled by my skin.

Give an example of women’s roles in today's social justice movement.

I can really only speak to my own experience, as I know women around the world, in their own communities, from tributaries of different movements have their own experiences. As a woman, I hold a lot, absorb a lot, and bring a lot together. When I see young women doing a lot of grunt work and men on the stage in social justice movements, I try to shift that dynamic.  I’ve seen that a ton, over and over again. When I was a young woman of color organizing – people were super down for me to do a lot of work, but I had to fight to be on the mic. Some old, white guy would usually be on the podium. The same oppression of the society we are trying to change is pervasive in the movement. Something else I see is women covering for the anger and rage that our men bring home. There’s an imbalance in the movement right now, it permeates into families and into homes.

What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color? 

As a woman of color in leadership my tactics evolve. I’m not afraid of my power anymore. What I love most is that my strength as a leader comes so much from motherhood and daughterhood and being a single mom. That’s the shit that makes me strong, confident, unafraid to lead. Our culture is full of slightly ridiculous expectations on leadership norms around gender. There are daily insults, but I try to find humor in it. Sometimes, I play the game to achieve a goal or outcome. I love passing the mic as a leader. Leadership is endless learning. I strive to lead more from my heart.

What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?

I hope readers will connect more deeply with themselves, their community, those they love. I see this collection as a bringing together, a strengthening.