Farah Tanis, Executive Director, Ex Officio, Black Women's Blueprint
I believe art has always provided us as a people, and particularly as women of the African Diaspora, an important venue for handling a myriad of cultural crises. Combined with a history of political activism, art has enabled us to galvanize others and organize ourselves to address poverty, violence, and other forms of interpersonal and state repression in societies around the world. Art has enabled us to make the invisible, visible, and to take joy in small and large victories. The intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than provoke emotional and psychological arousal or sweeten one's individual life. Art within the context of Black Women's Blueprint and Mother Tongue Monologues has helped connect people more deeply and collectively to the issues confronted by Black women. Via our annual Mother Tongue Monologues, art helps to open all audiences to new ways of seeing Black women in all of their diversity--as powerful, as alive, as human.
Farah Tanis conceived of Mother Tongue Monologues in 2009. She is the producer and editor of this multi-media production and performance, steeped in transnational and Black feminism. Mother Tongue Monologues is a vehicle for communicating Black feminist praxis at the grassroots and for addressing Black sexual politics in African American communities. Farah Tanis has also been executive producer of such documentaries as "RECLAIMING PEACE” a documentary on the resilience of survivors of domestic violence and contributed to other such documentaries, like “TAKING A STAND: Women of Color and Community Empowerment” and “LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR”, a feature length documentary that investigates the movement of world citizenship. Tanis has also developed several curricula on women, race and human rights.
Farah Tanis is an ardent human rights activist and advocate, has over 16 years of experience leading social justice movements, grassroots initiatives and organizational development and is currently the Executive Director of Black Women's Blueprint. She serves as Almoner for the Havens Relief Fund which provides emergency grants in New York City. Tanis currently serves on the Board of Directors of Right Rides which ensures women’s safety in public spaces and serves on the Board of Haki Yetu meaning "Our Right" in Swahili, which works with survivors of Rape in the Congo region of Africa. She is on the Advisory Board of the New Americans Leadership Project which prepares immigrants for civic leadership, political participation and to hold political office. Tanis recently served as National Conference Coordinator and on the Host Committee for The Anita Hill Twenty Years Later: Power, Sex and Speaking Truth Conference.
Tanis’ work began in 1995, with refugees living with HIV/AIDS and women in the New York City shelter system who had been victims of domestic violence and sexual violence. Tanis co-founded Dwa Fanm, meaning “Women’s Rights” in Creole in 1999, and served on the Founding Board of Directors of Girls for Gender Equity until 2003. In 2004, Tanis chaired the advisory committee for the development of service policies for the Family Justice Center, of the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and in 2006 developed a multi-year collaboration with the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU’s School of Law to support human rights research and advocacy on the intersection of violence, poverty and discrimination as it impacts black immigrant communities.
Tanis worked domestically to galvanize support in the Diaspora communities, raised funds and other resources to support the work of human rights defenders in Haiti who fought to implement legislation against sexual violence, making rape a crime in Haiti for the first time in 2006. Tanis worked with the V-Day movement to bring the Vagina Monologues in Creole to Haiti, and to the Haitian immigrant communities of NYC for the first time in 2007. As she transitioned from Dwa Fanm as its Executive Director in 2008, Dwa Fanm won its 11th Award in eight-years, a Community-Police Partnership Award, resulting from 6 years of forging relationships, and providing cultural sensitivity training at police precincts.
Tanis has a B.A. in Science from N.Y.U., an M.A. in Social Work from Fordham University; a Post-Graduate Degree in Family Therapy from Hunter College and is an alumni of Columbia University Business School's Institute for Nonprofit Management. Tanis is a 2000 Open Society Institute Fellow; and has received several awards for her work in the social justice, including a 2001 Union Square Award; A 2003 Everyday Hero Award; An 2004 Emigrant Award; A 2007 Extraordinary Woman Award, a 2007 Soroptimists International Award and two New York City Council Proclamation. Tanis is a 2012 U.S. Human Rights Institute Fellow.
Favorite Quote: “Courage is Not the Absence of Fear, It Is Inspiring Others to Move Beyond It.” Nelson Mandela