I took myself along to see and hear Alice Walker at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Only single seats were left and I got one of the last tickets.
That’s okay. I was planning on going alone anyway.
I wanted the intimacy of just Alice and me in a room full of strangers.
A key phrase of hers is ‘we are the ones we’ve been waiting for’. It’s simple and empowering. She’s an activist activating us.
It’s likely not many people I know would think of Alice the way I do. And when it comes to some of Spielberg’s greatest work, I’m probably the only person among my friends who would include The Color Purple. (Terrible spelling error in this trailer!)
The 1985 Spielberg-directed film was nominated for 11 Oscars – won none (!?) – and starred Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey in career-defining roles.
It doesn’t matter people will scoff and mock me for it.
I know what the Pulitzer Prize-winning story does to me every time I see the film.
My favourite song from the soundtrack is achingly emotive Blues at its very best.
I marvel that singing along, I cannot get to the end because it chokes me up every – single – time.
I identify with every archetypal woman depicted in the story.
It’s like Alice Walker picked up the beautiful and the broken pieces of women like me, then nurtured that feminine jigsaw into characters who inspire empathy for others and a little more kindness towards ourselves.
Alice Walker’s own authentic empathy runs deep. She has devoted her life to activism for living creatures – not seeming to favour one species over another. She sticks up for life.
If you aren’t familiar with the woman, here are two excerpts from her website:
‘Alice Walker is an internationally celebrated author, poet and activist whose books include seven novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books, and volumes of essays and poetry. She’s best known for The Color Purple, the 1983 novel for which she won the Pulitzer Prize—the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, though (in her opinion) not the first African American woman to deserve it —and the National Book Award. The award-winning novel was adapted for Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film and later for the stage, opening at New York City’s Broadway Theatre in 2005, winning a Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical in 2006.’
‘Walker has been an activist all of her adult life, and believes that learning to extend the range of our compassion is activity and work available to all. She is a staunch defender not only of human rights, but of the rights of all living beings. She is one of the world’s most prolific writers, yet tirelessly continues to travel the world to literally stand on the side of the poor, and the economically, spiritually and politically oppressed. She also stands, however, on the side of the revolutionaries, teachers and leaders who seek change and transformation of the world.’
If you prefer visuals – here is a 9 minute profile on her:
If you want to have a similar experience to what I just had at the Opera House, here’s around half an hour of another Q&A with Alice Walker:
If we don’t like the way things are, if we wish things were different, if we long for a saviour to help us live compassionately in a world of harsh realities – remember her words:
‘We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.’
And get cracking 😉