I posted a link to information about The Women’s Convention coming to Detroit in October on Facebook earlier this week and asked if anyone was considering going. A friend of mine, Nikki - a woman of color - quickly responded.
“No ma'am. It is my opinion that this is an extension of the march in January. This movement seems not to be inclusive of women of color. So many women went to D.C. and committed to reaching across the table and being an ally and champion and help provide access to women of color, and I believe it fell flat. Marching and attending conventions such as these doesn't seem to be for equality at all, and the needle doesn't seem to be moving for my sisters and me. Therefore, I will sit this one out.”
I truly don’t understand why the Women’s March felt so non-welcoming to so many of our sisters of color. What I do know, however, is that as a white woman I will never know what it is like to travel a day in Nikki’s shoes and if she says it didn’t feel inclusive, it didn’t feel inclusive. I cannot argue or challenge her experience.
The Women’s March in DC was such an empowering experience for me and such a bonding experience for the group that went together from the SheHive. Hearing its criticisms after returning made me so sad. It was good, but it could have been SO much better. I felt foolish for being so unaware of how many women felt left out of the conversation. I questioned if I was complicit. I wondered if I would ever again be able to tell the story of marching through the streets with tens of thousands of women as far as I could see without feeling a sense of shame. And I’ll admit it… I even got a tad bit angry. Why does everything have to be so complex?
The answer, of course, is because our world is complex. And it’s getting more so by the day. Charlottesville brought it to light again. Nikki’s comment reminded me that Charlottesville was just one instance in a long string of events.
Talking about matters of race, of inclusion and exclusion, is scary as hell. But it is one of the most important conversations we can have right now.
We just can’t let threat of being uncomfortable - or a fear of appearing to be stupid or unenlightened - stop us from talking. I’ll probably get it wrong 1,000 more times before I get it right - if I ever get it truly right. Let’s be honest, I’ve probably written something in the last six paragraphs that has offended someone and I’m sure to be schooled again by theend of this day. It's okay. It's how we grow and learn.
Our sisters of color don't have the privilege of just turning away from this conversation, so neither can we. We must learn how be better friends and allies to them.
I don’t know how that happens yet, but I invite you to explore with me. Nikki runs an organization called The Pack that is dedicated to stewarding honest and vulnerable conversations about inclusion in safe spaces. It has long been my dream to bring a Pack event to the SheHive - and both Nikki and the Pack’s original founder, Jessica, have offered to do so. If you are interested in attending a Pack event at the SheHive, shoot me an email or drop a comment on the blog. I’m committed to making it happen.
I’m convinced that women can heal this world, but only if we invite all women into the conversation on how to do so. Are you with me?
With much love and gratitude,