Lena Dunham's newsletter pre-launches with an essential interview about Sandra Bland
It’s been over a month since Lena Dunham and Girls showrunner Jenni Konner revealed that they would be starting their own newsletter. But until this morning the content of said newsletter, entitled Lenny, was rather vague; Dunham and Konner only said that they would be covering “feminism, style, health, politics, friendship and everything else,” starting in Fall 2015.
Today, the duo released a preview of their new project, featuring an interview led by Dunham with Chenai Okammor, a close friend and colleague of the late Sandra Bland, who died last month of an apparent suicide in a Texas jail cell after what should have been a routine traffic stop. As it turns out, Bland and Okammor were collaborating on a web platform called Woman4Woman, which finally launched today with the goal of creating “a global multi-age, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-color network of women who will support each other on issues addressing a healthy MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT.”
In the interview, which features stunning locket-style illustrations of Bland and Okammor by artist Nathalie Ramirez, the women discuss Bland’s untimely death at the age of 28 as well as the power of women supporting women:
“Lena Dunham: You met Sandra through church, right?
Chenai Okammor: Oh my goodness. Me and Sandra. When I retired I joined a church committee that Sandy was on. Her ideas were so brilliant they left an impression on me. So I said to her, “Let’s exchange phone numbers and keep in touch.” I called her the next day because she was on my mind. She reminded me of myself when I was younger. There was a lot in me but the self-confidence wasn’t there . . .
Sandy was raised by a single mother with a bunch of sisters. And she said that when she was growing up, she held back her thoughts at times. What became clear to me as I met more with Sandra was that she was finding her own voice. After a couple of meetings, Sandra shared our project with her sisters, encouraging them to join our group. She had such a commitment to having women tell their own stories and she helped them talk about things they hadn’t talked about before.
Sandy said to me, “I’m 28 and I’m just now beginning to identify what I stand for. I do know that when something is wrong, it bothers me so much that I take it to heart.” When she started working on this project I asked her what she wanted to accomplish with it. She said, “I want to be able to share my story with young women out there.” Because she still thought she was alone in her quirkiness.
. . .
LD: Your mission with Woman4Woman is so inspiring to me. It teases at what the Internet could be for women. How did you decide that this was your passion?
CO: The transformative moment came about two years ago when I was working for an educational company. I worked with educational leaders, and I started noticing the women weren’t moving up the ladder the way the men were. Their approach was different, because the men run schools, but the women nurture schools. Big difference. And a lot of the women were getting sick and a lot of them were getting fired or demoted. And it was always a tragic story about a great leader that could have been. I wanted to help them.”
The interview is a chance to really see Sandra Bland as a person and not just a victim of police brutality. It is essential.
Check out the whole conversation between Chenai and Lena here. And 100% sign up for Lenny.
[Images via Twitter and Instagram]