To understand and, ultimately, address the problems that exist within our community, leaders have to ask those in need and listen. But, who do we ask? What do we listen for?
Marginalized communities can mean many different things. They take on many forms. But, in the simplest terms, they are those from whom we hear the least from and whose needs are met less often. That was the impetus for the Charleston Activist Network's first ever event, Sisters Speak: Modern Black Feminism. The voices of Black women, in the South in particular, have largely been ignored. Though, the buying power, trends, vernacular, fashion, etc. of Black women are all significant contributors to American culture, they are seldom recognized for their value.
So, I gathered a room full of bright, upwardly mobile women of color and asked them, basically, if they felt empowered by "feminism". I learned very quickly that traditional feminism didn't define who they were. Their answers illustrated that they felt empowered by access to resources that would help them finish the race they began to run. A race where the baton had been passed to them from previous generations of hardworking, accomplished Black women.
We're not talking "hand-outs" or entitlements. These women sought out mentorships, access to capital for their businesses or advancement in their careers. These are the areas where this group of women felt the least supported.
Feminism for many of these women didn't look like a march or a pussy hat...it meant the power to create wealth and equity. It meant having the flexibility to raise a family while navigating their careers. And while this may sound very similar to many women of all backgrounds, these goals are unusually difficult for Black women.
Connecting with this group of amazing women was eye opening. While we've come a long way here in the South, there are needs that still need to be met. More people to listen to. More barriers to break down. But, C.A.N. is engaged and up for the challenge. With your support, you can help be a part of the solution.
This event raised $195.00 from ticket sales. This money will be donated to the Greater Charleston YWCA, an organization that works to eliminate racism and empower women.
Stay tuned for more events and opportunities to support causes close to your heart. Hopefully, these actions will make us all better listeners and more effective givers.