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We Belong to Ourselves (2017)

$29.50

Melanie Cervantes,
8.5" x 11"
3-Color*, Handprinted, Screenprint, Heavyweight Archival Paper, Printed in San Leandro, CA 2017
* The background magenta is subtly iridescent.

Four years ago Jada Pinkett Smith publicly shared a letter she wrote to a friend addressing her daughter's (Willow Smith) haircut. A passage from the letter reads:

"This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don't belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain."

When I read this letter I ugly cried. I wept and wept because the letter brought a flood of memories of feeling disempowered as a young girl, of being grabbed and groped against my will and of of being threatened with violence in the process. It made me lament the trauma the women in my family and my friends had to carry because of sexual abuse and rape. It also made my heart swell like a balloon because the idea of supporting young girl's understanding of herself and her right to self determination was so clearly articulated.

Since that day this letter is a text I regularly visit. Reading it helped salve a deep pain I had been carrying for a long time. This piece is a reflection of myself, my sister and my friends. When I first drew it I could see their/my reflection in the little girl I drew. I felt compelled to make this piece to share the simple but revolutionary notion that we each belong to ourselves.