March 16 2017

¡Viva la Resistencia! with Yola Mezcal and the ACLU

New York-Party Patrol
It was a freezing night in NYC, but we had mezcal to keep us warm at The Standard, High Line thanks to Yola Mezcal. Women owned the night, of course. The ladies of Yola Mezcal presided: Mamie Gummer, Yola Jimenez, Gina Aglietti, and Lykke Li. As dinner was served, Laura Brown, InStyle's editor-in-chief, welcomed the gathered group, keeping it short and sweet, but not before announcing that InStyle would be featuring five women from the ACLU in its next issue. Then, Louise MellingDeputy Legal Director of the ACLU and Director of the ACLU's Center for Libertydelivered the heart and soul of the evening, with an impassioned statement of what the ACLU is doing for women everywhere. Yola Jimenez, the founder and namesake of the brand, provided context by explaining the significance of what Yola Mezcal is doing in Oaxaca for women, bypassing the traditional patriarchy to empower the women who produce the magical elixir. And finally, for the capstone of the evening, Lykke Li, Kelsey Lu, and Nancy Whang performed two spine-tingling songs that cast one last spell over the evening. It was the kind of night that gives us hope, that makes us feel as if we’re together and not lost, and that sent everyone off into the cold feeling that we are one. 

Over the course of the night, we talked with attendees Laura Brown, Michael Stipe, Uzo Aduba, Mamie Gummer, Louise Melling, and Yola Jimenez about how we can keep the momentum going. 
Donate to the ACLU here
Laura Brown and Lykke Li

Laura Brown and Lykke Li

LAURA BROWN
THE STANDARD: Has the current political climate motivated you to get involved? 
LAURA BROWN: Yeah, I think it's our responsibility. And I have never been a girl that marched for anything. I was always liberal and did my things to express that, but I never was active like this. I think we have to be on the right side of history. I think it's irresponsible not to be involved, honestly. 

Has it been an awkward adjustment?
I don't think it's awkward if you stay true to how you approach everything else in your life. And I'm proactive and enthusiastic generally in everything that I do, so I just applied that to this. I don’t think we should overthink it. I think we should just do good things to help people. 

Is there like a piece of media—a book, article, podcast, or song—that has been a guide for you?
No. You know why? I had my pussy hat and everything, but now there's every T-shirt with a woman’s slogan on it. It's not about sloganeering or marketing for me. It’s in your heart and it's in everything you do. And my particular involvement in this doesn't have a soundtrack. Lykke Li. There you go. That's my soundtrack. 
Mamie Gummer and Uzo Aduba

Mamie Gummer and Uzo Aduba


MAMIE GUMMER AND UZO ADUBA
THE STANDARD: Are there any resources that you think are useful for people who want to get involved or educated?
MAMIE GUMMER: I would say the Indivisible Action Guide, which is taking what was basically the Tea Party Movement and using their tactics against them.

THE STANDARD: What made you want to come out tonight? 
UZO ADUBA: Well, I think we're living in a time where just choosing to do something, choosing to make something happen, is a statement. Look at where we are, look at all these people who've shown up in support of women, in support of the ACLU, in support of a female-driven company. And then, taking that interest, that enterprise, money, and putting it towards the movement. I was into it because Mamie said, “I’m doing this, you wanna come?" It was that simple.  
Michael Stipe

Michael Stipe


MICHAEL STIPE 
THE STANDARD: What things have you seen since the election that have given you a sense of inspiration? 
MICHAEL STIPE: I feel like people are waking up and I've been really encouraged by the number of protests that I've been to, and the number of people that are there to speak out—some for the first time, some not for the first time, but that's been very encouraging for me as an activist and as a patriot and as an American. 

Could you point people toward a book, group, or something to help channel their thinking and action in a productive way? 
Rise and Resist. I would strongly recommend people connect with them. Another great sister organization to the ACLU is People for the American Way. It was started by Norman Lear. He's one of the cultural touchstones of my entire life. Such a righteously beautiful mind. So that group's definitely worth checking out. 

What was the entrance point for you into activism?
For me, it was environmental, at the age of 13, actually earlier. I come from a very modest-income family, and if I wanted to have toys, I had to recycle bottles to buy the toys for myself. I took an environmental science course when I was 14, in the early '70s, and it really set me on a path to where I started the band as a 19-year-old. One of the first shows we performed outside of our hometown was a benefit for an environmental group.


Right: Louise Melling 

Right: Louise Melling 


LOUISE MELLING 
THE STANDARD: Does this moment we’re in feel completely new to you? Or does it remind you of a past era you’ve seen before? 
LOUISE MELLING: I'm 55 and I've never seen anything like this before. There have been remarkable periods in our history before, but I have never seen this. I did not think we'd ever see something like what we saw [with the protests] at the airports, for example. And that's just one thing. I never thought we'd elect a president that would say you can just do whatever you want with women. 
Yola Jimenez and Lykke Li

Yola Jimenez and Lykke Li


YOLA JIMENEZ
THE STANDARD: How did the social justice element become such a central part of Yola Mezcal?  
YOLA JIMENEZ: In Oaxaca, where I’m from and where Yola Mezcal is born, there are still communities where the father or husband absolutely decides a woman's fate. The four women who conceived Yola Mezcal believe that we need to resist these practices or any practice rooted in discrimination. We endeavored to create a model that encourages the possibility of choice. We want not only economic improvement, but absolute self-determination for women. Dignity instead of charity. By breaking with the centuries-long practice of paying the patriarchal head of the family for the work that women do, we pay the women directly.