Throughout the month of March, NBCBLK, NBCLatino, and NBC Asian America have partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women for #31Days of Feminism to spotlight women of color who, through their actions and words, lead the way toward a more equal world.
Charon Asetoyer (Comanche Nation), 64, Executive Director of the Native American Community Board/Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center in Lake Andes, South Dakota on the Yankton Sioux Reservation
What do you love the most about the work you do?
Charon Asetoyer: It's very powerful to see young people getting involved in social change in our Reservation communities. After a talking circle or a workshop young people will come up to us and want to know how to get more involved, and often they'll disclose their own personal trauma to us and want to help other young people work through their trauma. That's when you know you've made a positive impact on the young persons life
What is feminism to you?
For native women feminism is being who we are. Embracing our traditions especially those from before pre-colonial times. We were seen as equals, respected for our female powers of life-givers, and included in decision-making.
Can you pinpoint the moment when you decided to become a feminist? If you don’t consider yourself a feminist, why not?
I consider myself a Comanche woman and fight the white male dominated society to maintain what we've had and continue to have as Native women.
What is the best way we can all be “feminists”?
The best way we can all be feminists is to understand our female power that lives within us, to embrace it and to respect it and to understand the female power that surrounds us. Female power is all around us and needs to be taken care of and respected, the way we relate to ourselves, to other women, and to mother earth and all that she is.
Who are your “sheroes”?
The late Wilma Mankiller, the late Ingrid Washinawatok, Eve Ensler and Gloria Steinem
Favorite feminist anthem?
My favorite feminist anthem is that first cry that a baby makes after they take their first breath.
Favorite feminist artist? (authors, singers, dancers, actors)
Writers, Sarah Deer and Joy Harjo. Joys music and poetry. I also admire the courage and strength of Mariane Pearl and her writings. I also love Janis Joplin because of her no-nonsense free spirit that she had. Dancer, Maria Tallchief The prima ballerina she set the bar very high and no one has reached as of yet.