The Many Faces of Resistance 

By Nicole Carey 

Hey, everyone! Welcome to March—a month that’s not just about praying we’ve seen the last snow and welcoming spring but also a time when we celebrate the incredible achievements of women around the globe. Yes, it is Women’s History Month. It’s a period dedicated to honoring the fearless women who’ve shaped our past, influence our present, and pave the way for our future. Resilient women who resist the limitations others place on them.  

Indy Equity Collaborative at WE Brunch.

WE Brunch, an organization that hosts brunches and happy hours designed to empower and uplift diverse women committed to advancing equity, held their first brunch of 2024 this past weekend and it highlighted three women and their stories of resistance. Most of the Indy Equity crew was in the house and we are still in awe of the badassery of the three women who shared—Nasreen Kahn, Seni Gonzalez, and Najia Sherzad Hoshmand. Their stories also gave voice to a very important truth: there are many manifestations of resistance. So, with our blog/podcast series this month, we’re diving a bit deeper, focusing on the many faces of resistance, and I can’t wait to introduce you to some of the incredible women who influence me every day.  

Women’s resistance isn’t a new chapter in history; it’s the spine of the book. Resistance can mean many different things to different people at different times, from silent protests to loud marches, from art that speaks volumes to stories that move mountains. It’s in the courage of women who challenge the status quo, in the voices that refuse to be silenced, and in the daily acts of bravery against systemic injustices. But it’s also found in some unexpected places. Let’s chat about it, shall we? 

What Is Resistance? 

What comes to mind when you think of the word resistance? Oxford defines it as the refusal to accept or comply with something; it’s the act of standing against or opposing a force or system. In social and political contexts, resistance is often used to describe actions taken by individuals or groups to fight against oppression, injustice, or tyranny. Maybe a protest comes to mind. Maybe Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem? Or Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of a bus? Yes, and resistance doesn’t have to make headlines to make a difference. Sometimes it can be quiet. It’s in the everyday—in the persistence to push forward, in the quiet but firm refusals to accept the status quo, and in the creation of spaces that uplift and empower. It’s found in designing innovative solutions to complex problems.  

At Indy Equity Collaborative, an organization where every single team member is a woman who resists the status quo, we show our resistance in many ways. We create intentional spaces for critical conversations. We conduct research. We strategically plan. We nurture leadership development so others can also be disruptors. We coach. We facilitate. We design.  

But guess what, my friends? You ain’t got to do none of that. bell hooks, an incredible woman in resistance, taught me that white cis-heteropatriarchal norms are born from lovelessness, and the only way to challenge them fully is with love. Let me say that again for those in the back: Not picket signs or strategic plans. LOVE. Imagine if love was the centerpiece to all our strategic plans: the worlds we could shift. Nasreen, the brilliant female artist and all-around dope human, said at this weekend’s brunch that empathy and compassion are sometimes seen as feminine traits, but she encouraged all women to lead with these qualities. hooks presents love as a pivotal force for healing and liberation, arguing that genuine love requires justice, both in our personal relationships and within the broader society. When we embrace this kind of love, we not only affirm our own humanity but also challenge the systems that seek to diminish it. Yes, simply by opening yourself to give and receive love, you are resisting.  

Adding to love is the irrefutable power of JOY. Toi Derricotte, with just a few poetic words, revolutionized what social justice work looks like for women by writing “Joy is an act of resistance.” How, you say? I’m so glad you asked. Since America is wholly uninterested in and was certainly not designed for the pursuit of joy for those who were intended to occupy spaces of subhuman laborers, any act that challenges that is by its nature an resistance. Black boys are criminalized. Black girls are sexualized. Both are adultified. There is no space for joy. Immigrant children are put in cages. Immigrant workers are exploited for labor. Immigrant families are ripped apart by ICE. Who has time for joy? There is a pervasive fear within minoritized communities that simply because we exist, we are in danger. Joy is a punishable offense because of how the system was designed. It might be more radical than a social justice protest. I’ll tack on to this thought the concept of rest. Audre Lorde said that self-care is an act of resistance, so for me, a mother of five, with three jobs, in grad school, serving on a board that feels like a full time job . . . I rarely get to rest. So, when I do, I intentionally make it joyful. I make it lavish. It’s absurd for me, a woman of color, to want to luxuriate and rest. Who do I think I am? Yet, claiming moments of happiness amid these narratives is not just radical; it’s essential. My friend Doneisha recently told me (as we were resting well and doing yoga by a mountain) that we all deserve “luxury rest” and quickly trademarked the term. This joy becomes an act of resistance against a system designed to suppress such expressions, affirming that everyone deserves joy, dignity, and the right to thrive.  

Solidarity as Resistance 

Another way all people, but especially women, can show our resistance is through solidarity. Trevor Noah’s reflections on apartheid in his book Born a Crime emphasize the divisive tactics used through language barriers, explaining how language can both connect and separate us: “Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared language says ‘We’re the same.’ A language barrier says ‘We’re different.’” This insight was a catalyst for my commitment to building bridges of solidarity. Noah’s observation—that the architects of South African apartheid deliberately used language to foster division among Black people, encouraging internal conflicts over perceived differences—resonated deeply. It highlighted the artificial nature of these divisions and the power of recognizing our shared humanity. This quote motivated me to work toward dismantling such barriers, advocating for unity and understanding across diverse communities, and embracing the collective struggle for justice as a foundation for solidarity. In fact, the logo of my first company, Anda Spanish, is a West African adinkra symbol, meaning “Unity in Diversity.”  

My study of language as division led me to understand other categories that divide us, and thus propelled me toward a deeper commitment to building bridges of solidarity across diverse groups. This realization has motivated me to foster unity among diverse resistance movements, including intersectional Black communities, Hispanic communities, women, LGBTQ+ communities, and white allies. They say a rising tide raises all ships. But I argue that the divisions between different communities will ultimately keep those in power right where they are. Solidarity across these groups, rooted in the recognition of our shared humanity despite the artificial barriers placed between us, becomes a powerful act of resistance. It challenges the narratives that seek to divide us and highlights the strength found in our collective struggle for justice and equity. Through understanding and empathy, we can dismantle the systemic injustices that persist, making every act of solidarity a step toward a more inclusive and just society. 

I don’t want to gloss over this point. These counternarratives and stories we share building solidarity are key. Creating spaces for open dialogue about anti-Blackness, anti-Brownness, and gender discrimination is not just a component of resistance; it is resistance. In these conversations, we challenge the very foundations of systemic oppression, shedding light on issues often veiled in silence. I’ve witnessed firsthand how such discussions can spark significant shifts in understanding and empathy, transforming perspectives and fostering a collective commitment to action. By sharing stories of personal encounters with discrimination and engaging in these tough conversations, we not only deepen our understanding but also pave the way for meaningful change. These dialogues, rooted in honesty and respect, are where the seeds of a more just and equitable society are sown. 

As we wrap up this entry on the many faces of resistance, it’s clear that the act of resisting isn’t confined to grand gestures or public protests. It’s woven into the fabric of our daily lives, manifesting in the love we share, the joy we claim, and the solidarity we build. Resistance is multifaceted and deeply personal. 

We’ve seen that love, as bell hooks so profoundly taught us, is the ultimate form of resistance against systems designed to oppress and divide. It is through love that we find the strength to fight for justice and equity, not just for ourselves but for all who face discrimination and injustice. We challenge the very foundations of oppression by celebrating our joys, standing in solidarity, and engaging in critical conversations. 

Let’s carry forward the lessons of resistance we’ve explored, pushing against the limitations set by others, to build bridges of understanding across our differences, and to create a world where every person can thrive in dignity and peace. The stories of resistance are endless, and each one of us has a role to play in this ongoing narrative of change. Please follow us all month long as we highlight Women in Resistance. 

Here’s to the women who’ve led the way, and to all of us who follow in their footsteps, continuing the fight for a more just and equitable world. 

Thanks for reading and please share!  

So now it’s your turn. We want to hear from you. How do you show resistance? Leave a comment below so we can celebrate how you show up in the work.  

Nicole Carey PhDc, founder of the Indy Equity Collaborative (IEC), is a social science researcher with expertise in race, organizational change, and community engagement. IEC is a consulting firm supporting organizations and communities through research, strategy, education, and leadership development. Aside from her day job, Nicole is raising five kids ages 1.5 to 13 alongside her partner, Chris. She’s an elected Board Commissioner for Indianapolis Public Schools.  

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