Alibi V.25 No.32 • Aug 11-17, 2016 

Wonder Women

Marya Errin Jones and Tylina Hardy

Tylina Hardy
Tylina Hardy

Tylina Hardy: I guess we should start with introductions. I'm Tylina. People seem to recognize me most from Facebook and my participation in the actions at the Trump rally.

Marya Errin Jones: All eyes were on you that day, Tylina!

Hardy: I've been an activist for a little over a decade and started becoming politically active in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first protest I participated in—aside from silent protests in high school—was in September of 2005. [It was] an anti-war demonstration that was coordinated in conjunction with other demonstrations across the country and [places] as far as London.

Jones: I'm Marya. I'm a writer, performing artist and curator, among other things. I wouldn't call myself an activist, but I have been Black all of my life, and “woke” for most of it. That's not to say I didn't have a good childhood—I am grateful that I actually got to be a kid and experience fun and wonder and innocence whilst writing letters to Jacques Cousteau, pleading with him to save the whales. I attended marches and rallies with my mom, in support of … the Equal Rights Amendment and the National Organization for Women. When I was in high school in Tallahassee, Florida in the late 1980s, my mom let me join a Florida State University college activist group. … We protested Royal Dutch Shell Company and supported various international campaigns to help end apartheid in South Africa.

Hardy: My mission in activism and my Facebook presence is to empower people to recognize and harness the power of their voice. … I'm super glad to have the opportunity to talk about our community and impact with you, Marya! I really admire your dedication to the Tannex and your commitment to giving people a place to use their voices. … I think it's impressive that on top of organizing multiple events every week you find the time to create your own art, music and zines!

Jones: Thanks. I've worked hard to keep the Tannex going. As much as I see the Tannex as a space for people to use their voices, it's for me, too. If you're not creating space for yourself, you have no place to go. Creating space for one’s self and others can also be a political act, and safer spaces are necessary in this world. ... As far as doing a lot and creating my own work—I don't sleep much!

Marya Errin Jones
Marya Errin Jones

Hardy: Also, all the congratulations on being awarded a grant through the Fulcrum Fund! … How did you get interested in becoming an events organizer?

Jones: I don’t really see myself as an “events organizer” who implements other people's ideas—sometimes that's true, but mostly, I devise my own plans. I went to a physical theater school in northern California called Dell'Arte International—all of our work we devised from scratch. I know no other way, other than to do things myself. I make things I think about. I host events I also want to see or be part of. I aim to present unique experiences, whether they are my own creations, or I'm producing someone else's. … There wasn't a zine fest in Albuquerque, so I made one. I started the Albuquerque Zine Library with my own collection of 500+ zines. When women in Malmo, Sweden were attacked by fascists wielding knives [on] International Women's Day, I felt like I wanted to do something, even indirectly. I collected 200 zines written by women and people of color and delivered them to Stockholm's main library—that collection is now touring the library system. I wanted to provide some sort of literary support for women and girls, and introduce more stories of people of color into the culture, and what better place to start than the public library? … Tylina, how do you see your life in ten years? What do you want to be doing that you aren't already?

Hardy: Thinking about the future is … weird to me, because I have a hard time drawing the line between what is possible and what's fantasy. This year, I've started concentrating on “adulting” and as I whip my motivation into shape I'm starting to become more passionate about my ideas for the future—the one I'm most concerned with is making sure that as Albuquerque grows as a city, the growth is healthy for all the people [here]. I'm in the process of applying to academic college—I feel like getting a degree will help with my understanding of law and my credibility as a politician as I eventually run for city council and, if dreams can come true, the mayor of Albuquerque. … I know I want to contribute to making Albuquerque a fair place to live for everyone and preserve the beauty, culture and communities in Burque as we grow.

“Thinking about the future is … weird to me, because I have a hard time drawing the line between what is possible and what's fantasy. This year, I've started concentrating on “adulting” and as I whip my motivation into shape I'm starting to become more passionate about my ideas for the future...”

Jones: How do you take care of yourself? What are some of the things you do to practice self care?

Hardy: By trade, I'm a spa professional; being in the spa setting has been very helpful for me to remember about self care. Sometimes, for me self care means sitting in bed, looking at my dirty clothes, promising myself I'll do it tomorrow. Sometimes it means eating fried appetizers before my three-course pie and ice cream dinner. Sometimes it means drinking a protein shake before bicycling to the pool to swim laps for an hour. Lately it means strapping on roller skates and hitting other girls with Duke City Roller Derby. The most important [element of] self care, for me, [concerns] my mental health. I see a therapist weekly and a psychiatrist and my primary doctor monthly. … Self care is a really important topic, especially for women, because we're often taught to put other people before ourselves. When I started going to therapy regularly last year, a lot of the discussion was about how I can be assertive without feeling like a bitch, or how I can take care of myself and my needs without feeling like I'm being selfish. That seems to be a common problem among many women. … Protesting, hosting a safe space for women and POC and organizing are not passive acts. Have you ever felt like—or been told—you were being “too aggressive”? How did you deal with that?

Jones: In a way, neither word has negative connotations for me. Basically, I grew up with a very strong sense of self and a strong, positive sense of identiy, no matter what assumptions, tropes and stereotypes the culture has tried to encapsulate me in since birth. So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed being me! I'm a 46-year-old Black woman living in the United States—someone is going to make assumptions about me, based on what I look like and who they think I am. But that's based on their own internal monologue and a lack of diversity of their own experiences. That has nothing to do with me. Mostly, I have stopped giving any fucks what people think about me, because at some point respectability politics won't save me from labeling. I don't owe anyone an explanation for my raison d'etre. I don't need to smile, grin or laugh when I don't feel like it to make some people comfortable, and I am not obliged to give full disclosure of my every thought so that I can be vetted and determined not to be a threat. … That's not to say I'm not a diplomatic person, I have [a] fairly high tolerance for shenanigans. I have to choose my battles or I'd be “fighting” all day about this injustice or that slight, when I'd rather opt to have a good day. I think deciding what you can let go of, and what you must fight for is inherent to being a woman, because we're so often asked or told to yield, bend, forget or recede from our own power and dynamism.