4 Reasons This Community is F.U.B.U.
Personally, I created Freeing She to capture an authentic reflection of my growth. I wanted a place to document my experiences while I worked towards discovering my true passions and my life purpose. Initially, I felt that starting a blog would provide me some sort of accountability— how embarrassing if I gained a follower who witnessed me not actively working towards my goals. While talking with my sisters, best friends from Rice University, and husband, about my idea to start a blog to document my journey, I realized a few things:
- I truly value and enjoy my sisterhoods. I love the transparency, the accountability, and the encouragement in these sisterhoods.
- I believe the “quarter-life crisis” is the point in life where you either decide to actively define your own unique path or allow the world around you to continue to do so instead.
- Just because I haven’t “arrived” doesn’t mean that I do not have resources and the experience to help other women thrive when they make the decision to live life on their own terms.
Subsequently, I began desiring to build an online and physical community of millennial women of color who also made the choice to actively define their own lives! My blog was meant to be more than a virtual commentary on my life! However, my questions became:
How can I curate the diversity that I was seeking? Would the phrase “women of color” make non-black women from other minority racial and ethnic backgrounds feel excluded? Should I label Freeing She a multicultural or diverse community to increase my reach?
To answer these questions, I had several conversations with my family and friends. A few of the following themes stood out from my conversations:
- Use multicultural, you want to be inclusive of all ethnicities and races.
- Use diverse, don’t place a limitation on your reach and audience.
- Use women of color, women who want to engage, will do so.
Diverse or multi-cultural communities do not equal a community of color.
Ultimately, I decided to continue labeling Freeing She a community of women of color. My decision was intentional because of the conversations I hope to curate and the mission I plan to accomplish.
Here are 4 reasons why Freeing She is F.U.B.U.!
By distinguishing the Freeing She Community as a community of women of color, I am centering the conversation of defining oneself and creating one’s ideal life on the unique experiences of being a woman of color.
Though I have always lived in multicultural communities and maintained a diverse group of friends, I of course encounter very different life experiences and barriers than my white peers simply because I am a black woman. My blackness and womanhood are not mutually exclusive and both collectively shape my life experiences. I'm sure that you can say the same regarding your background.
Freeing She is designed for us to express ourselves, celebrate our successes, and live our lives freely.
The terms diverse and multicultural place the burden of diversity on people of color. In other words, many white people do not consider themselves a contributing factor to diverse or multicultural environments. We are what makes it diverse. Ironically, we can be in the same environment deemed diverse and easily feel that the environment is actually predominately white. Consequently while in these white spaces, some of us may feel guarded in order to uphold a positive image of our racial or ethnic group, pressured to assimilate to better fit in, or flat out uncomfortable— just to name a few feelings that we have all experienced at least once. Often, we operate within these feelings while at work, school, and even sometimes around the neighborhood. Within this community of women of color, we can set aside these inhibitions and just be!
Freeing She is a curated space for all millennial women of color—women of the African diaspora, Africans, Latinas, Asians, Middle Eastern, Native Americans— where we can come together to share our stories and flourish together.
Systemic racism and sexism joins together all of us. Though not all of us may experience the same levels of systemic oppression, our varying triumphs and trials are all-important and should be recognized. Furthermore, some of us are from multiethnic backgrounds or even in intercultural relationships. As our heritage continues to become more blended, we should be able to embrace all of our cultures, explore our life nuances, and not feel pressured to select a side.
By emphasizing intersectional feminism, Freeing She is a space where we can discuss our perspectives on our life experiences, current events, culture and the arts, etc.
Historically, the feminist movement has centered on the unique struggles of white women—some common examples include shifting the role of a woman from housewife to working woman, voting rights, embracing feminine sexuality. Today, conventional feminism continues to center on and largely benefit white women, especially middle- and upper-class white women—this form of feminism is labeled “white feminism”. As a direct response to the unmet needs of women of color, intersectional feminism offers a feminist movement standing to benefit all women, regardless of race and ethnicity, while directly addressing the inequities between white women and women of color.
After I officially launched Freeing She, I’ve had several conversations with a few of my white girl friends who wanted to join the community, whether online or at our Houston-based meetups, but who were uncertain if they would be intruding on a space created for women of color. Ultimately, they love my vision and want to support me too. But, they wanted to be respectful.
If you are not a woman of color, you can still support the Freeing She Community and mission if you:
- Do not believe in colorblindness. Intersectional feminism and colorblindness is not compatible. Whereas colorblindness ignores race and ethnicity, intersectional feminists embrace race and ethnicity in addition to class. Freeing She is a community of women of color—we see color here lol.
- Understand that conversations about race/ethnicity may implicate you, but that your voice should not be the center of it. I urge you to empathize with the experiences and perspectives of women of color. As an ally, we ask that you amplify our voices instead.
- Accept that sometimes you may feel uncomfortable. When women of color discuss systemic racism and white America, we are not targeting you. You are not a proxy for the white community. Therefore, try not to get defensive and re-center the conversation on yourself.
- Acknowledge that your experience is uniquely different from women of color. No matter how supportive you are of us, or how much you do understand, you will not fully understand our experience. However, there is value in listening, acknowledging, and validating our experiences.
- Recognize, or are willing to learn, that understanding race and racial healing are deeply connect, but different concepts. Understanding race starts with dialog, listening, and studying. Racial healing only comes through action: practice intersectional feminism, eliminate acting on your biases, advocate for our equality even if an issue doesn't directly affect you.
Main Blog Photo Credit: WOCinTechChat.com, license under CC BY 2.0