Featuring Editor Deborah Santana
Editor Deborah Santana is an author, seeker and activist for peace and social justice. She is founder of Do A Little, a nonprofit that serves women and girls in the areas of health, education and happiness. In 2005, she published a memoir, "Space Between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart," and has produced five short documentary films. She is mother to three beloved adult children: Salvador, a songwriter and instrumental artist; Stella, a singer/songwriter; and Angelica, an archivist and film producer. She is a leadership donor to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. and has a master's degree in philosophy and religion, with a concentration in women's spirituality.
photo: Entropic Studio
Three years ago when author/activist Deborah Santana decided to publish All the Women in My Family Sing, she felt a growing need to illuminate the diversity and complexity of women’s experiences in the world. We had the opportunity to interview Ms. Santana about her process creating this anthology. This is what we learned...
What inspired you to create this anthology?
I had dreamed the title, All the Women in My Family Sing, years ago, thinking of the diverse ethnicities in my own family – women of Black, Irish, Japanese, Mexican, and Spanish descent--and thought it perfect for the anthology. I was alerted to the low statistics of women of color publishing books in the industry and wanted to promote change. I partnered with my friend Christine Bronstein, founder of Nothing But The Truth Publishing, to lead the editorial and creative aspects of an anthology by women of color. I hired an assistant, saw the artwork by Favianna Rodriguez, which expressed the powerful theme, and we sent out a call for essays. As essays came in, I read with great interest the intersectionalities in the stories of all the women.
What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the 21st twenty-first century?
Growing up biracial, I felt society pointing its finger at me as a technique to foment separation. I grew up during the civil rights era when Black and brown people had to march, hold sit ins, and hire legal representation to enjoy the promises of the American Constitution. The challenge for me has been to witness the institutional racism still being forced on people today. I have a constant awareness of the ways government and society have not evolved spiritually or morally to accept and respect all people, especially Native Americans on whose land we live.
What is your perception of women’s roles in today's social justice movement?
When I was studying for my Masters in Philosophy and Religion, I studied Matriarchal Societies around the world, the histories of the Feminist Movements and the concept of becoming Conscious Allies in the world. Women have and can lead with intelligence and justice. The early anthologies of Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa gave context to personal stories of women who have the power to change systems of oppression. Women have been fighting to overcome the mythology of inferiority and the abuses of our bodies and the alienation of racism for centuries. Today’s social justice movement is a powerful platform for the voices of all women, as evidenced by the Women’s Marches of 2017 and 2018. I am exhilarated and inspired by the number of women running for public office.
What do you most hope readers will take away from this book?
My sincere desire is that everyone who reads the essays will open their hearts to examine how they have accepted the “norms” of society that have advantaged some and disadvantaged and marginalized others. I want readers to expand their knowledge of cultures different from theirs and to respond with respect and awe. I want dialogue across differences and for circles of listening to be created without fear. I want meaningful alliances between communities to eliminate forms of oppression. The anti-apartheid movement in South Africa can teach us how to do this. The leadership of President Mandela, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee led by Archbishop Tutu were able to create healing in that very broken country. Women can be that change in America.