The Table of Sisterhood
I attended the Leveraging the Power of Black Women symposium sponsored by the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. The discussion focused on how "Black women work every day on the front lines and behind the scenes as advocates, organizers, leaders, and powerful voices for progress and social justice but their work is often unsung and unrecognized, yet Black women play a critical role in the success of their families, workplaces, communities, and society overall."
I appreciate these types of gatherings because it is always invigorating to sit with other women (of all backgrounds) in a room talking about things that are important to us. However, as I observed and chatted with the people around me, I thought about the power of culture.
The event consisted mainly of Black women, but we are a part of many cultures (women, black women, professional, educated, traveled, mothers, policy makers, DC/MD/VA residents, etc.) that, at times, can feel exclusive.
I observed our style, our language (jargon), expressions, ways of being and it made me chuckle to identify the cultural norms in that setting and how we (I) followed suit.
• We sat with a certain sophistication.
• We exchanged business cards, and every other woman had earned the right to use “Dr.” in front of her name.
• We checked out each other’s outfit and made flattering comments, “You look cute” or “Gurll (girl), where did you get that outfit!”
• We inquired about the work of the other,” Do you work in the policy space?”
• The speakers used terms and referenced people that only the women of certain communities could follow immediately:
Aunty Max (reference to Rep. Maxine Waters)
“Reclaiming My Time” (phrase coined by Rep. Maxine Waters)
Luvvie (reference to Luvvie Ajayi, author of I’m Judging You)
Issa (referring to Issa Raye from the show Insecure).
• When the speakers said something that resonated with us, we would utter an “Amen” or a grunt with just enough attitude to make it uniquely woman; uniquely Black.
While observing, I thought about how smart, funny, powerful, and creative we are. The truth is, ALL women share these characteristics regardless of race or socioeconomic status, but many don’t have opportunities. The lack of opportunity can make many women feel excluded. Sitting there I realized I am in an extraordinary place of privilege (sometimes I forget), but my privilege is insignificant if I do not work daily to support and share with other women. We may come from different places, but that does not mean ALL of us cannot or shouldn’t have a seat at the table of sisterhood.