About the blogger
“I am passionate about everything in my life—first and foremost, passionate about ideas. And that’s a dangerous person to be in this society, not just because I’m a woman, but because it’s such a fundamentally anti-intellectual, anti-critical thinking society.” —bell hooks
My name is Mariam Williams, and I strive to be honest about womanhood and about race in America.
My life’s work is to inspire women and men to rethink their world view, change their lives and change the culture of their communities by using my skills as a writer, performer and public speaker to educate them about sexism, racism and their resulting social injustices.
As bell hooks said in her book by the same title, “Feminism is for everybody.” To me, feminism is a mindset, movement and mission. Feminists know institutionalized oppression exists over women and men, recognize it when they see it, and not only desire to overcome it but also to transform it. They know that the same –isms that lead to debates in the home over who cooks and cleans lead to the uneven application of the death penalty, wealth gaps, terrorist attacks and wars. To quote bell hooks again, this time from Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, “to be ‘feminist’ in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.”
Liberation starts with knowledge. I spread that knowledge by sharing my personal experiences in essays, memoirs and columns, and fictionalized experiences in scripts, performances and public appearances.
My experience is that of a daughter born to parents who love and practice poetry, visual art, theater and music. Both were the first in their families to go to college, and in their blue-collar, black neighborhoods in the largest city and county of the red state of Kentucky, both were oddities. While they lamented that my love for art and books often made me the only black person I would see once I left the house, they encouraged me to be different. To this day, I’m pretty comfortable with being that one in the family who doesn’t eat pork, that person in the grocery store who has a cart full of vegetables and ice cream and the woman who isn’t afraid to go out and enjoy an event alone.
These days, one of my parents might be considered a Christian conservative and the other a John the Baptist-like radical. Their views and what they allowed their families and institutions to teach me about faith, godliness and holiness remain one of the greatest influences on my work.
I currently work as a freelance editorial columnist, business journalist, grant writer and communications consultant. Most of the time, it sucks—also, being (grossly under-) paid to give my opinion has the unintended consequence of having unsolicited opinions about everything and filters about nothing—but when I write something I’m excited about, it usually turns out well.
My opinion columns have run in the Courier-Journal since 2009. I’ve also been published in Underwired Magazine. I’ve performed in productions with University of Louisville’s African American Theatre Program and with Juneteenth Legacy Theatre at Actors Theatre of Louisville since 2007. And I recently brought the house down at The Moth Story Slam in Louisville.
I’ve been recognized by various media and arts institutions for excellence in journalism, copywriting, playwriting and creative nonfiction, including: several Best Writing/Reporting awards in three different categories from the Society of Professional Journalists Louisville Chapter in 2011, an Al J. Smith Emerging Artist Award from the Kentucky Arts Council in 2010 (creative nonfiction), the Gabehart Prize from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference in 2010 (creative nonfiction), Artist Enrichment grants from The Kentucky Foundation for Women in 2006 (playwriting) and 2009 (creative nonfiction), and a Juneteenth Festival Playwriting Award from the University of Louisville in 2003.
I’m available for all the work I described above and for fun stuff like public speaking, readings and sitting on panels about gender equity or race relations, and for leading workshops on creative writing, grant writing, blogging, following your heart and making your own way in the career of your choice, and any of the issues I write about. Browse the categories on the right and check out this page for an archive of all my Velocity columns to get a better feel for how I feel. Then contact me here.
And do stop by Redbone Afro-puff again soon. I so enjoy our visits!