Black Girls Talk About It?
After a very successful Common Ground talk at the Dealership in July, we decided to team up quarterly to host Let’s Talk About It. It’s a space where we can come together and talk about the issues affecting us, our lives community, and our world. If we want to be agents of change then we need to keep the conversation going. With everything going on in this country, it feels good to come together with like-minded individuals who want the same basic thing, change.
Our very own Zoe was the facilitator of this event and did a fantastic job bringing everyone together with an icebreaker allowing us to introduce ourselves and explain what makes us special. Black girl magic permeated the space, and I appreciated that these women knew who they were and walked in their purpose. This was going to be a great conversation, I thought to myself.
After the introductions, Zoe charged us to come up with five topics focused on creating a positive future for our families, community, and world. The conversation was deep and we were able to touch only on a few topics during the session. I’d like to share some of the thoughts and takeaways from the group.
The Unfair Race
One of our sisters told the story of a video she watched depicting what it means to be disadvantaged. A diverse group of young adults were lined up to run a 100-yard dash, but to determine their starting positions, they had to answer a few questions.
They could move up if they answered yes or no to any of these questions. Are your parents still together? Did you ever have to worry if your cell phone would be paid? Did you ever have to help pay bills in your home?
And so on. At the end of the questions, most of the white youth were far ahead of the youth of color, who were near the original starting line. This story gave us something to think about. Forever playing catch up in an unfair race, facing barriers that sometimes we don’t even realize are there.
Supporting Black Businesses
I don’t need to tell you the importance of this conversation in our community, especially given the racial divide in this country. We need to support each other so that we can build up our communities and take care of each other. There were so many points touched on with this subject that the conversation will continue for the next Let’s Talk About It session.
It’s absolutely necessary if we are going to survive and truly embrace each other like we did in the past.
Customer Service needs to be addressed and worked on. Classes or education to help those with businesses that may not receiving the customers that they hoped for. It’s the reason we usually stop supporting.
Our dollars matter. If we took care of each other, we could be a very prosperous people. The comparison was with the Jewish community.
Increase Knowledge of Culture & Self Esteem
Black women in the mainstream media are HOT right now. It’s 2017, and we are now being recognized and awarded for what we contribute to this society.
For myself and most of the other women in the room, we didn’t have these role models to look up to. They were fictional characters like Clair Huxtable and Aunt Vivian. Our real-life role model was Auntie Oprah. And just like us, they went through hard to times to even get those platforms in the 80’s and 90’s.
With faces like Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay, Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Serena Williams, and an unending list of successful black women, the sky's the limit. We literally can do anything that we want. With black women being depicted as strong, (and we are) there still needs to be a healthy balance of self-care. We know who we are and what we are capable of. But do we know when to say no?
As black women, our mantra is taking care of our families, our homes, our community, all while working full-time jobs. But most of us don’t know what it means to take care of ourselves.
Self-care is closely related to mental health. In order to be mentally healthy, we need to learn to say no and set healthy boundaries. Taking care of yourself is not selfish but necessary for us to continue supporting our families and communities.
We also discussed the importance of our community having digital access, including jobs in IT. Knowing how to code is one of the top skills now and can be a game changer for us, especially our kids. Learning how to create programs, apps, and platforms are necessary as we continue to make strides in the digital world.
Another issue in the digital divide focused on how some communities don’t have internet access. Someone pointed that the Glenville neighborhood wasn’t receiving internet service because it had been taken away during a city council vote without their knowledge. Situations like this where basic access is being denied or preference is given to the richer communities over the poorer ones will always keep us behind.
For us to compete, we must learn how to function in the digital world, not just for entertainment, but for income and education.
Volunteering and mentoring those who may not know who to navigate the digital world is critical and providing educational opportunities for those in the community who lack access.
I really enjoyed being a part of this discussion and hearing ways that we can create positive futures for ourselves. Identifying problems is one thing, but coming up with actionable solutions is quite another. We must continue to be change agents and challenge ourselves to keep the conversation going, all of us, men, women, and youth so that we can see things from different perspectives. I look forward to the next Let’s Talk About It and I hope to see you there.
Peace & Love,