– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
My mom, my grandmother, Shirley Bassey, Diahann Carroll, Harriet Tubman, Queen Nanny of the Maroons, Louise Bennet and Billie Holiday. They were all strong, beautiful, fearless women who charted their own paths and stood for what they believed in.
Women who inspire you now?
Malala Yousafzai, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sade, Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Maxine Walters, State’s attorney for Baltimore Maryland -Marilyn Mosby, Rosie Perez, Debbie Hardy from clothing line, Martine’s Dream and my daughter Willow Parchment. For the same reasons.
Most valuable lesson taught by your Mother or any other women growing up?
Get an education and never let anyone convince you that you are less than.
“Do I think older women are valued or celebrated? Not in western cultures, especially American which is basically a youth culture. But in the Caribbean and African cultures, older women are revered and seen as keepers of tradition and wisdom.”
Through the decades!
20s: I was traveling the world, living in NY and then in Paris. I was acting, DJ’ing, dancing and falling in love… pretty much what I am doing now.
30s: I moved back permanently to New York, got pregnant with my daughter, Willow and my life both changed and didn’t. I still DJ’d, danced and acted but my focus was on raising my child as a single mom. I became much more involved in politics and social justice because of it. I never made a decision without questioning how it would affect Willow.
40s: Still doing all the things I did, traveled more, became more invested in my activism and started using my talents to effect change.
50s: My daughter is in college now so it is a whole new learning curve for me. I am appreciating my free time more, doing more things for myself, writing, reading, creating projects with likeminded friends and continuing my activism.
What are you most grateful for?
My family, my friends, my community, the ability to love and the ability to help others.
Has there been a significant circumstance good or bad that changed your outlook on life?
The birth of my daughter Willow. It completely changed my focus from selfish to trying to be selfless and putting her before my needs. Some challenges have been learning to accept that I was an artist, knowing that I would have none of the perks of corporate America and being OK with that, and raising my daughter as a single mom in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and getting out of my own way…I am still learning.
Thoughts on aging,
The downside…The physical limitations that come with getting older. I feel it as a dancer. Although I still dance, I have had to modify my dance to accommodate the many aches, injuries and aging of my body.
The upside…Not giving a damn about what people think about me. I have paid my dues and I am ready to live fully.
Your advice to young women of today?
Get off social media! Get an education, travel the world. fall in love, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, give back, pay it forward, understand your own power and use it for good
Images courtesy of Belinda Becker unless credited otherwise.
FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS!
Book/Novel: Too many but to begin with, anything by James Baldwin.
God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Spider’s House by Paul Bowles, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe,
Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima, Hidden Music by Rumi, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
Song: As a music lover, I have way too many but to name a few: Lady-Fela, I Feel Good– Beres Hammond,
I loves you Porgy– Nina Simone, Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix, Sweet Thing – Chaka Khan,
My Favorite Things– John Coltrane
Film: The Harder They Come, Rockers, Orfeo Negro, Raise The Red Lantern,
A Woman Under the Influence, In The Realm of the Senses
Scent: Gardenia Passion by Annick Goutal
Style Icon: Eartha Kitt, Dorothy Dandridge, Katherine Hepburn, Lysa Cooper, Willow Parchment
City or place: Great Bay (Jamaica), Santiago de Cuba (Cuba), Jacmel (Haiti), Sado Island (Japan),
Marrakesh ( Morocco), Cascais (Portugal)
Skincare product you can’t live without: I am a minimalist when it comes to skincare products so the only thing I could not live without is Trader Joe’s Vitamin E oil. I use it for everything, my face, my body and my hair.
Make-up product: Maybelline Stiletto Lash Mascara
Food/Meal/Cuisine: Jamaican, West & North African, Haitian, Japanese, French, South East Asian
Artist: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Egon Schiele, Kerry James Marshall. Frida Kahlo, Gustave Klimt