What do I know for sure? I know we as Black women if we aren’t already must learn to love and care for ourselves unapologetically.
We live in a society which devalues women. A patriarchal misogynist society which has conditioned women to believe their needs and concerns are secondary. All men do not feel this way. I am of a generation of women taught to be a cook in the kitchen, a lady in the parlor and a whore in the bedroom. I was taught that if I looked good, smelled good my husband or partner would be faithful. I was groomed by a patriarchal society that conditioned women to serve. I witnessed strong independent thinking women conflicted at times. Women who constructed and navigated their own paths for moving throughout society. I saw disparities growing up, in my home, at school and throughout my community. As a fifth grade student denied an opportunity to represent my grade school in a citywide essay contest because of gender. Two teachers decided my classmate should represent colored manhood and leadership. My classmate lost. I knew I could have won for my school. How many girls and women are being denied opportunity because of gender?
The time is now! There needs to be more forums for discourse like “Black Women Creating A New Narrative” as well as private discussions and conversations.
On November 22, 2014 Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. Scholar Lecture Series presented “Black Women Creating & Building A New Narrative. Our distinguished panelists were Dr. Eugena K. Griffin, Nicole Junior, Esq, and celebrity beauty expert Sophia Lenore. My co-moderator for the afternoon was poet, storyteller and educator Heather Archibald.
What is “Black Women Creating and Building A New Narrative?”
Creating and building a new narrative means Black women speaking in our own voices, whether as individuals or collectively. It’s defining ourselves for ourselves. It’s Black women deciding when and where we enter. Free of oppression, stereotypes, misogyny, sexism, ageism, colorism and all isms. It’s loving, and liking ourselves. It’s addressing our needs spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, physically and creatively. It’s charting our own paths. Black Women need to come from out of the closet and give voice to our pain and concerns.
My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.
– Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider
Our first presenter was celebrity beauty expert and entrepreneur Sophia Lenore. Her presentation centered on mental illness. Sharing her experiences with female clients with low self esteem, and colorism within the beauty industry. She spoke of diverse populations using eye contacts, weaves, dyes, skin bleaching to achieve what they have been conditioned to believe is a global standard of beauty. Individuals are harming themselves mentally and physically to achieve these so-called standards outside of their culture and ethnicity. All cultures are trying to lighten or darken their skin. There is a misconception in America based on racism and white supremacy that Blacks are hated globally, to the contrary. Black women are seen as attractive, desirable and intelligent. She emphasized and not in some exotic fetish way. America perpetuates this mythology to justify its racism and system of injustice. She encouraged audience members to seek help if needed. Audience members were also encouraged to expand their worldview by travel.
The b.Girl Movement, LLC, an internet-based community promoting positive images of black and brown women. Founded and owned by
Nicole Junior, Esq., and lawyer Nicci Page. Two women who are comfortable in the boardroom as well as on the neighborhood block. The b.Girl movement has an appeal to women of socio-economic, and educational backgrounds. The b.Girl Movement has a blog and a YouTube show, “This. That. & the Third.” Both the blog and This. That. & The Third. feature discussions of real issues in a way that is easily accessible to all.
Nicole Junior spoke eloquently about the b.Girl Movement and what it is and what it hopes to achieve. She’s passionate about the b.Girl Movement and the eradication of negative images of Black and Brown women. This requires working tirelessly to deconstruct stereotypes and mythology surrounding Black and women. They do this with humor speaking from experience. Nicole Junior spoke about the importance of mentorship, education, mental health and positive self esteem. Her video presentation of an episode of the b.Girl Movement had attendees bursting with laughter when she commented using humor to speak truth to power. What does being a b.Girl mean? Its b.BBrilliant., b.Blessed, b.Brazen. Justb.Girl!
In her book “Letters to the Black Community” Dr. Griffin aims to educate individuals about the illness, internalized oppression and how this affects the psyche of the Black community. In addtion, to this dilemma, Dr. Griffin offers everyday solutions for the Black community to gain self-awareness and eliminate oppressive ideas that serve to limit the achievements of the Black community. Dr. Griffin
is required to publish as a tenured professor. She decided to self publish because she wanted control over her work and to write it in a language that was accessible to everyone.
Dr. Eugena K. Griffin gave a brilliant overview utilizing a clinical framework and her expertise as a Clinical Psychologist. She spoke of self care for Black women, men and children focusing on Black women. She addressed the need for Blacks to pursue academics. Stating Black males need the paper even if they do not use it. This system is designed for the destruction of Blacks. There is a concerted effort to dismantle all that we have achieved. Speaking to the importance of mentoring and how she mentors a large group of students. She and her mentees have an annual dinner
where the discussion focuses on constructing an academic path for their futures.
Key to her presentation was the fact that Blacks do not act in our self interest unless something catastrophic happens. We must be vigilant in our own self interest. We must protect and support those who fight for us. Reverend Al Sharpton is being attacked because of his influence, and because he is on the frontlines fighting for Blacks, people of color and the poor.
Words cannot express my gratitude for those who came out to support Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. Scholar Lecture Series ” Black Women Creating and Building A New Narrative.” It was a phenomenal afternoon, thanks to the brilliance of our distinguished panelists Dr. Eugena K. Griffin, Nicole Junior, Esq., and Celebrity Beauty Expert and Entrepreneur Sophia Lenore. Thank you, to my co-moderator Heather Archibald. All presentations and audience participation were incredible, making for a passionate discussion. Attendees included members of Unveiled and Unlocked and Howard- Jennings family members, Juliet, Nicholas and Norma and two attendees who travelled from Washington to be with us.
©Lorraine Currelley 2014. All Rights Reserved.