‘Where there’s fear there’s power’ – so says Starhawk, witch, author and political activist. Growth is uncomfortable. But these times when one is backed into a corner can bring out the best. It is here, feeling attacked and maligned that a person can see the contours of their self, their soul, capabilities and capacities. Many times in my life, I’ve been the only woman in the room. Literally and metaphorically. Ironically, this is where life leads me, again and again. Facing down fear, again and again. Transforming, being the changer and the changed, again and again. In my 20s, I used to argue and negotiate for my Feminism, my Womanism. Nowadays, I have no time to argue, I just act – knowing that the more I stand in my self-respect, the more certain others will despise me. How many women have to do this, day by day? It just has to be done. Sometimes it’s very, very uncomfortable, isolating and frightening. The price – being ostracised and discredited. The prize? – self respect. Priceless.

So today I’d like to cheer on any and every woman who feels she’s in the battle zone, in extremis, alone and without support. And especially, I’d like to appreciate Elaine Brown.

Have been re-reading A Taste of Power (by Elaine Brown.) For everyone that knows this amazing woman’s story, there are millions that don’t and will have no idea as to her crucial role as leader, yes leader of The Black Panthers, during Huey Newton’s exile in the 1970s. It was her that set up the free breakfasts, made crucial alliances with celebrities and politicians, liased with police and lawyers, survived beatings and death threats from fellow Panthers and police alike, raised a child and sustained a recording/songwriting career.

She eventually fled the Panthers, in fear of her life from infighting and male violence from within the ranks. Her story is an inspiring one and one she broke some taboos to tell. It speaks to every woman who’s ever struggled with divided loyalties or multiple oppressions, who’s ever dealt with isolation or been the only woman in a male environment.

By the way, October is Black History Month in London, UK.

Recent newspaper commentary asks, why just October? Too true. I feel the same about International Women’s Day and Gay Pride. These things should be all the time – celebration and inspiration should be daily – just as the struggle and grind surely are.

Anyway, praises to Elaine Brown – I return to your story again and again. You survived to tell your tale and leave the rest of us with no excuses.