Story of the Month: Sister Scene

Answer the Call and Walls will Fall.

You’re Invited!

By Emily Cox

The Sister Scene Creative Justice Community is dedicated to bringing women, girls, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ people and their allies into compassionate, curious, creative relationships for multicultural events, art activities and social justice. We keep the social at the center of social justice. Our home team consists of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, LGBTQ+ families, inter-racial and adoptive families, UUs, people of many faiths and non-theists. All are welcome!

Over a period of six months, starting in 2020, our home team (see photo) gathered via zoom calls to get to know each other and clarify why the world needs the Sister Scene. Here’s a taste of our collaborative vision:

“Wise souls of all ages welcome! We show up for each other to deepen our antiracist and multicultural learning in a supportive circle of trust in a multiracial community.” Meleata Pinto and Nan Walker (top row, center and bottom row, left).

“In SisterScene gatherings, we choose compassion and curiosity over making assumptions and judgements about others,” Emily and Marie Cox-McMahon (center row, right).

“We keep it real in times of trouble,” Lutricia Callair (bottom row, center).

“We share our hospitable spirits,” Vandana Shah (second row, left). 

“We explore and celebrate our unique bold and authentic voices,” Lisa Jones and Brianna Pinto (top row, left and center). Note: The Coxes, Callair, Jones, Walker, are all members of ERUUF, as well as David Oh, top right, and Claudia Sageser-Kaplan, bottom right.

Dear Reader, What are some of the moments that moved you beyond your comfort zone?  In 2008 and 2012, when Barack Obama was a presidential candidate and when the NC Legislature put Amendment One on the ballot, I felt moved to push my comfort zone and get involved, partly because I have a daughter. Why else? My parents–I was raised by a feminist activist mother and civil rights lawyer father, but probably the bullying I personally experienced and the homophobia and racism I witnessed growing up in Louisiana emboldened me most to speak bravely (at the lunch table, on the playground and in front of my friends and family). On the other hand, a distaste for dirty money in politics, my internal anxiety, and the unearned comfort that comes with white privilege has kept me off the front lines many, many times. But once my daughter, Marie, was about six I knew in my gut I had to start showing-up braver and get other people motivated to feel included in the messy process that we call democracy-building. MY INSPIRATION to stretch comes from wanting a better future for girls, what’s yours?

An Amazing Friendship Inspires Hope: Marie Cox-McMahon and Brianna Pinto were millennium babies, born in the year 2000. And at age seven they buddied up to conquer the world at Forest View Elementary School, doing projects together, walking through the garden-window walls of their classroom to bring their scripts to direct their own plays in the outdoor amphitheatre.

By the 6th grade Brianna and Marie were in one of the coolest public middle school orchestra’s around starring in youtube rock videos with their conductor-composer teacher; he was forced to resign after a few years because of the annual budget threat to cut the program. Teachers were heroes to Brianna and Marie and their schools were their villages. At the age of 8, Brianna was clearly a prodigy on the soccer field, and by age 15 she had been recruited and signed-onto a full soccer scholarship at UNC. Living 15 minutes apart in Durham, they used Facetime to do homework. Brianna advanced into playing soccer nationally. 

See Brianna’s 2020 discussion with other Black athletes from UNC about their experience:

Throughout her childhood Marie was active in the social justice community with the Eno River UU Fellowship of Durham (ERUUF)– initiating a community response to a fire in a nearby apartment complex that affected primarily poor People of Color; going to rural NC to meet immigrant farm workers and the next year hosting a group of teen tobacco farm workers for a meal, video games and a sleepover. Later, after applying to UNC, Marie was stunned to be selected for a Pogue merit scholarship for leadership and diversity. She was so unsure of herself, she did not apply for any scholarships. See quotes from Marie’s novel that she published in high school, Ths New Normal, by Marie Cox-McMahon.

After the Republican convention in 2020, I wrote a personal cry for help to 30 of my closest girlfriends, “I cannot watch our country fall into the hands of racists, sexists and a billionaire idealogue. Will you show up with me to fight the hate and greed?” Marie joined forces with me and some of these women to bring the You Can Vote nonpartisan nonprofit for education, registration and voter turnout into partnership with ERUUF. Our first ERUUF campus You Can Vote volunteer training hosted 35 people. Since 2020, ERUUF has hosted dozens of volunteer education teach-ins, phone banks and public registration actions with a range of 15-200 people, including the Pinto family. We’ve made thousands of phone calls and recruited hundreds and hundreds of volunteers to get on board with You Can Vote. 


At the age of 16 Marie approached UNC students on their campus with voter registration forms (see photo, Emily and Marie with Audrey Green of ERUUF and You Can Vote’s L.A. Davis). On a stormy hurricane weekend, Marie went to the front of the Durham Communities in Partnership gathering to correct the confusing information the local community leaders were sharing about Voter ID laws–the leaders were from the police, public housing, neighborhood and the city council!

 In the spring of 2017, Marie and Brianna went with a group of friends-date to the prom. This cohort of young ladies regularly challenged the leadership at their high school and led responses to show up against mass shootings, police brutality and attacks on the civil rights of immigrants and LGBTQ+ folx.  

In 2020 Brianna and Meleata Pinto met with me and Marie by zoom to discuss the formulation of the Sister Scene for Creative Justice. By this time, Brianna’s parents had joined some of the You Can Vote phone banks and voter registration events and Brianna had been selected as the soccer player to announce the selected country for the World Cup with FIFA, based on her passionate advocacy for the value of building cross-cultural understanding and international relationships in the course of her soccer career.

This year Brianna said in one of our Sister Scene zoom conversations, “When we are guests in other people’s countries, we get to see how they value the lives of their fellow citizens. We have so much to learn.” On May 15, 2021 in a Sister Scene discussion she shared how her predominantly white women’s soccer team, the UNC Tarheels, responded collectively to the police murder of George Floyd. Watch our website for an article about this conversation. Please sign- up to receive Sister Scene invitations and updates: 

An Invitation to Answer the Call Into the SisterScene Community for Creative Justice: AnswerTheCall and WallsWillFall

The Sister Scene is rooted in an awareness and learning between people in our own communities. We lift up the voices and learn from People of Color, such as presidential poet Amanda Gorman, civil rights lawyer; author of “See No Stranger: A memoir of Revolutionary Love,” Valarie Kaur; and U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. We refer to the teaching of somatic therapist, author of “My Grandmother’s Hands: A Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Minds,” Resmaa Menakem. 

We lift up and invite our friends into conversation, social support and social justice action every Friday at 11am with Rev. Lisa Garcia-Sampson for the Justice Action Hour; monthly discussions with featured guests and existing events such as the monthly Pauli Murray Center book group. We find social and social justice events, film, books, art, theatre and sports events to proliferate and invite friends to join us to engage, to amplify and to voice our opinions and concerns in-person and via social media. 

Add your name to show you support our free, growing online resource for deepening social bonding for changemakers: SisterScene, we know democracy is personal. We are allies for creative justice solutions. We join with grandmas, sisters, aunties, and daughters for synergy and wisdom! Celebrate multiracial and multicultural perspectives with us. 

Choose your SisterScene Niche––BookScene Conversations; SisterSceneReviews; SSActionHours and more. SisterScene CoFounders are inviting you to join our Circle of Trust and Kinship: Brianna Pinto Marie Cox-McMahon Emily Cox Meleata Smalls Pinto Vandana Shah Anusha Agarwal Lisa A. Jones Lutricia Callair Nan Walker Jena Matzen Sign up on our website. Join our FB page and follow us on Twitter.

We are raising awareness that racialized trauma exists and is passed on through our bodies, our feelings, thoughts, dreams, our health and our actions, as well as in our cultural and institutional systems. All people in American culture are poisoned by racism and we urgently need to heal through our individual, family and community relationships as well as to attack white supremacy on a public policy and institutional level. We honor each other with compassion and curiosity. 



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