Acting Up

Acting Up

My name is: Sarah Sophie Flicker.

I’m known for being: Kind (I hope), a good listener, a friend, a mom, a partner, an artist, an organizer, an aerialist, a collaborator. 

I’m talking about: I am a cultural organizer and artist. So, I’m talking about abortion access and our rights, in general! I helped organize the recent “Rallies For Abortion Justice” (October 2nd, 2021). Thank you to everyone who organized, participated, posted and got the word out. This is an all-hands-on-deck, shoulder to the wheel moment. The right wing arm of the court, which is now the majority, has been attacking basic constitutional rights and, more specifically, the right to privacy, at a breakneck speed. There seems to be no end in sight and abortion is the canary in the coal mine. It's clear that contraception, marriage equality, trans rights and sexual freedom are on the menu—not to mention voting rights and immigration. We are at a moment where our rights and our futures are truly intertwined, and we cannot wait for SCOTUS to overturn Roe, or any of the above. We must continue to act now! 

The other joyful thing I’m talking about is our Resistance Revival Chorus album, This Joy, out on Righteous Babe Records and on music platforms everywhere! I’m a co-founder of the chorus, which now has around 50 members who are women and nonbinary folks. We've played everywhere from a street protest near you to Carnegie Hall to music festivals everywhere. We have many sister choruses all over the country and a few globally!

I'm also a founding member of the The Meteor, a feminist production company and collaborative—a group of journalists, artists, filmmakers and media leaders who believe in the power of words, images and stories to advance gender and racial justice and equity and transform the world. We have a new podcast out called “Because Of Anita,” commemorating the ripple effects of Anita Hill's testimony and work, as well as a first-ever conversation between Anita Hill and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Another amazing podcast is Brittany Packnett Cunningham's “Undistracted.” We are going into production on some films around reproductive justice which I'm excited about! 

You can find all this at: Resistance Revival Chorus: righteousbabe.com/products/resistance-revival-chorus-this-joy.

The Meteor: wearethemeteor.com

Abortion Justice: womensmarch.com/mobilize

Before I began this work, I was: I have been a cultural organizer for a few decades now. I am a founder of the Women’s March On Washington and a co-author of the Women’s March official book, Together We Rise, which was released in January 2018 and was a New York Times bestseller. I've worked as a producer and organizer on campaigns for organizations such as Rally For Abortion Justice, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Emily’s List, Lady Parts Justice, PLUS (paid family leave), United We Dream, and Families Belong Together. I am a  founder and creative director of celebrated political cabaret group, The Citizens Band, and a founder and member of The Resistance Revival Chorus (which appeared on the Grammys in 2018 and released our first album, This Joy). I also co-founded Joy To The Polls at the height of the pandemic to encourage safe, joyful, equitable access to voting during the 2020 general election. I am an editor-at-large for Violet Book, and my writing can be found at Refinery29, Shondaland, W Magazine and The Cut.

What inspired me to start was:  

My parents are pretty righteous politically, so it was ingrained from the get-go! I lived in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS pandemic there (AIDS is still a global pandemic) and had many young friends get sick and pass away. I was so inspired by ACT UP and was a fledgling member. I went to Law School and tried my hand at professional acting and then producing and directing. It took me a while to figure out, but I realized my odd and unique skillset was working at the intersection of art/culture and politics. This has always been where my passion lies! 

How I approach it is: The work entails all sorts of skills, depending on the issue and action being taken. Most importantly, the work entails centering the voices and needs of the most impacted. People closest to the pain of an issue are also the closest to the solution. This means listening and not centering yourself or your ego! It can be anything from producing, to artist outreach, to fundraising, to community building, to performing, to public speaking, to logistics, social media strategy, creative approaches, to just showing up. It also entails a ton of joy and laughter; no one is built to fight all the time. Toi Derricotte wrote that, “Joy is an act of resistance.” People might think that the work I do is all anger, rage and fight, but, really, there is so much community and joy and creativity. 

What makes it special is: What makes this all so special to me is the community-centered work, where I am so honored to be in spaces with brilliant leaders, artists, designers, organizers and friends. 

One thing you can’t miss is: Feeling that your work is important and facilitating change and understanding around complicated and nuanced issues. Like I said above, the joy, the laughter, the deep relationships, the creativity. 

My favorite secret detail is: The wide range of people I get to work with. It's endlessly interesting and inspiring. I constantly get to learn and grow. I also think that this work combats the hopelessness that is so easy to feel. Mariam Kaba says that, “Hope is a discipline.” And this work is a disciplined effort towards a future where everyone is cared for and living from a place of joy and abundance. Movement work and art allows me to make sense of our experiences and demystifies systems of hierarchy and oppression that might feel overwhelming.

For me, what it means to be a woman warrior is: This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.”― Adrienne Rich. I am a lifelong feminist, but I think we get in trouble when we identify too closely with qualities that are coded as “masculine.” Bravery, in my opinion, really stems from vulnerability, patience, communication, humility, curiosity, critical thinking and a general willingness not to accept the status quo as the norm. Liberation can't mean emulating patriarchal hierarchies that benefit no one, including cis white men! So, I guess I have a hard time identifying myself as a “warrior” because the common understanding of the term entails some kind of lonely revenge, violence or combat. I'd love to redefine the word warrior to involve something more akin to the solidarity we find in working towards collective liberation and revolutionary love! 

It’s important to affect change in innovative ways because: If we don't think in expansive and innovative ways, nothing changes. What we accept is what will continue, and there is just so much that we can't accept right now and historically.

This can help us live our process because: We get to choose who we want to be in the world. The process, in my estimation, is a curiosity and willingness to change one's mind and grow. Grace Lee Boggs said, “You don't get to choose the times you live in, but you do choose who you want to be.” I love that idea because it suggests that part of the process is choosing the most righteous path where you are forever learning. I feel lucky that I get to live in that space, even when it is painful or uncomfortable or scary. 

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