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Letter: An evening of diversity, inclusion

I want to thank the community for your support of the Women’s Works program in October. As the girls from the county group home left newly inspired I knew our work would have been worth it, even if they had been the only guests. For those who missed the show there will be an encore performance at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 22, at the Little Theatre in New London, free tickets available at Eventbrite.

Women’s Works was the culmination of an idea that started a few years ago with the movie “Captain Phillips.” A Minnesota Somali actor was nominated for an Oscar. This was exciting, especially for the Somali community.

When I saw the film I noticed Somali families and their children in attendance. I thought great but, in the film all the Muslim Somali characters are the bad guys and every single one dies in the end.

This reminded me of my Native American friends who told me as kids they used to go see cowboy and Indian movies just so they could see someone like them. They did this despite the fact that they were always portrayed as the bad guys. They went because it feels better as a human to be included, even if it isn’t positive.

I promised if I ever had a chance I would find a way to show a fuller and more positive way to represent my Muslim friends and neighbors. Then I saw the award-winning dance ensemble Al Taw’am. They are twin sisters who choreograph and perform original pieces wearing the hijab. They believe their abilities are a gift to be used to inspire others.

From this spark a show was created that included original work from local artists including dance, storytelling and music. The pieces spoke about gratitude, friendship, ability, living and dying as women. We used our individual talents to bring us together.

We came together as the Business and Professional Women’s Association, Empower of United Way, League of Women Voters, Polka Dot Powerhouse, Willmar Area Community Foundation, and Vision 20/40 and it was a success.

Jessica Rohloff