Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Mayor Brenda Lawrence

 Mayor Lawrence

Today the Niagara Foundation, Michigan held a panel discussion “Celebrating Women as Community Builders” in commemoration of Women’s History Month. The three women speakers were Diane Slavens, Michigan representative; Carol Cain, journalist and columnist, and senior producer and host of “Michigan Matters” on CBS 62; and Brenda Lawrence, Mayor of City of Southfield.

The three women shared their stories, of how they started their careers, the struggles and challenges they faced (and still do), how they have balanced work and career, and what advice they would give other women. I was touched and inspired by their wisdom and accomplishments, but I was particularly in awe of Mayor Brenda Lawrence – mostly because of the possibility that she would be one of our congresswomen.

As Mayor Lawrence pointed out, over 50 percent of the US population is women, yet less than 20 percent of congress is represented by women. We complain about how the country is run, and part of the problem is that this country is being run by men.

“Everyone is a unique individual and there’s no one that’s created like you,” she said. “You were created to use your special talents, whatever they may be, not to just suck air out of the room.”

Mayor Lawrence encourages women to push themselves out of their comfort zone in order to achieve their dreams, whether it is to become an artist or a stay-at-home mom. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 42 years. She brought her teenage granddaughter to today’s event. She does so much without keeping her hands completely out of the kitchen. To me, Mayor Lawrence is the essence of true success. How does she do it?

“It’s hard,” she said. “But anything worth doing is not easy, including giving birth to a child.”

She said for a while it has been said that Detroit needs a woman mayor because the city needs a mother who would not abuse or steal from her.

I say Detroit needs a mother and America needs dozens of mothers.

International Women’s Day


Last Saturday the Iraqi Human Rights Society held an event at Double Tree Hotel in Dearborn in honor of international Women’s Day. The main speaker was a dear colleague, Judge Eman Jajonie-Daman, who was born in Iraq and came to the United States in 1979, when she was 14 years old.

Mrs. Jajonie-Daman gave a wonderful speech about the history of women in the United States, the things they had to do in order to get to where they are today. It was not easy for them. They fought and worked hard and despite all their accomplishments, we women have a lot more work ahead of us.

“That’s my daughter,” the woman sitting beside me said.

“You’re Eman’s mother?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, and after I told her who I was, and she told me her name, Hayat Jajonie, it turned out that our families knew each other.

“Tell me, what’s the secret to raising such wonderful children?” I asked, after she told me how all her children (three daughters and one son) had prestigious occupations. “What advice would you give mothers?”

“To educate themselves!” she said. “And spend less time shopping.”

Oh, I was so grateful that I was on the right path.