A few years ago I was invited to join a circle of POC women leaders in Seattle who just happened to attend my church. Full disclosure, I wasn’t really on board at first, but not for the reasons you probably think.
I know a lot of people believe the lies that women can’t be friends. I don’t know why that is even something people put into the atmosphere. Seriously, the sisterhood is hella strong and has been for a long time. I love and respect the collective sisterhood. My friendships with girls and women have always been healthy and full of love.
And as a member of the greatest sorority on this here planet and all the universe beyond, I recognize the power of sisters to uphold and support and edify you at all stages of life. Oh, those Delta girls!
The thing was, while I had certainly cultivated deep, meaningful relationships with black women in my life, I hadn’t really done that with a diverse group of women of color and I wasn’t sure I wanted to enter into that kind of space. My experience with non-black POCs had been pretty disappointing up to that point and I didn’t fully trust that I would be able to find space in that kind of environment.
Thankfully, what God wants for me always trumps what I think is best. Ok, I’m stubborn so it might take me awhile to get there. The point is that I always get there. I always say yes to God.
Whew, chile. Let me tell you how saying yes has put me in some super vulnerable places. This group, called 10410, was one of them. It has been a little more than two years since we took that journey together and I can’t stop giving thanks for what it birthed in my life.
Because it’s the end of the year and I’m feeling all kinds of altruistic, I wanted to share a few of the things I learned from my badass sister group of POC women leaders.
- Having a safe space to let your hair down and breathe is mandatory for your thriving. We live in a world that really expects POCs to survive. We are supposed to do miraculous things with far less than our white counterparts. We are supposed to be grateful for crumbs and never rock the boat because we are lucky just to be invited to the party. When you have a safe space to just be, you’re able to be poured into and replenished. It’s like getting an extra dose of fertilizer so you can go out and flourish in the dirt we call life.
- No one can speak life and possibility into you like your sisters. Of course, I’m talking about sisters who love you and genuinely care about you. None of that frenemy foolishness. Leave the birds to their own kind. When you are surrounded by other women who want God’s best for you, they will speak it into existence with you and for you when you’re struggling to find the words to do it yourself.
- A true sisterhood will pull the best out of you, especially when you’re robbing the world of your greatest gifts. I can’t tell you the times these ladies reminded me not to sleep on me. And the beautiful thing was I could turn around and do the same for them. When you decide to be vulnerable with people and allow yourself to be seen, you stop hiding. Sure, all of your insecurities come to light, but so do all of your strengths. When you are able to focus on your strengths and grow in those areas, your confidence grows and suddenly those insecurities aren’t that big a deal. You find your lane in your strengths and go forth and conquer.
- Going deep with people takes time. You can’t rush intimacy. You have to be intentional about your desire to know and be known by people. This is hard stuff because we like to hold on to our stories and we keep our pain close to our hearts. But the key to building intimacy is sharing your story. We don’t have to have the same story for us to connect, but in sharing your story, you give voice to your journey and you invite people to walk with you through it. One of the things we had to do in our group was share our story. We could share whatever we wanted but each woman chose to share the parts that aren’t usually for public consumption. That requires trust and what I have learned about trust is that it is built in the small moments. Don’t shy away from the small moments as you’re building intimacy with someone. Like God said, because you are faithful over the small things, I can trust you with the big things. (That’s the Nourisha translation)
- Women of color have historically been divided and pitted against each other, fighting to maintain the top spot on the proximity to whiteness scale. Within each of our respective cultures, there are stories of colorism, elitism, and crippling sexism. It looks different for each of us, but when it’s stripped bare, the skeleton looks the same. White supremacy and patriarchy have stifilled so much greatness throughout generations. That is why there is something incredibly powerful and earth rattling that happens when women POCs come together as sisters.
As I look back on our evenings together laughing, crying, cussing, eating, praying, and journaling, I am reminded of the power of presence and solidarity. When I left our gatherings, I always felt like no matter what I faced, I was well able to kick its ass. The main reason was because I spent the evening hearing stories of other women POC who had faced what I faced and made it through.
Listen, 2018 is coming to an end soon. That pimento cheese hairpiece in suit that occupies 1600 pennsylvania avenue has done his damnedest to make life for POCs in this country as miserable as possible. We are all exhausted. You owe it to yourself to cultivate some spaces where you can breathe and be while you’re uplifted and fortified. I found that in a group of women POC leaders in Seattle. They are my boos forever. Make it a priority for 2019 to call forth your badass group of sisters to be your homebase. Your success in this thing called life depends on you having a sisterhood that has your back fr fr.