I’ve been calling Jenina “Ali” practically since I met her. She truly is the greatest.
She told me to stand in my truth unapologetically.
She told me to write.
She told me, “Fuck everybody who ain’t here for you. You might not be everyone’s cup of tea and no one should want to be.”
She told me I was magic.
I love you, girl!
Brown Girls has been a lot of work but good, meaningful, brave work for me. 💜
-March 16, 2017
This is my idea of sisterhood.
Last year, I found myself doing a lot. I was writing poetry, I was blogging about parenting and was sending a lot of my content, what I was afraid to share, to Jenina for proofreading and general encouragement.
I realized that she was one of the few people who “got” my mission when sharing The Conscious Parent Collective and that constantly going to her as a consultant and presenting a product with her help was less fair to her than actually working with her and letting her shine the way she should. The fact that I even ventured out to start writing is largely in part of watching her have difficult conversations and fill a void on Smart Media Mom.
In January as I drove to her house to help assemble party favors, a thought came to mind:
Work WITH Jenina.
I sat at her dining room table surrounded by colorful ribbons, card stock and labels and decided I’d let her get this party out of the way before bringing up this wild idea. A week later, timidly I said…
Before we were like, “We should write a book together!” And you said, “We already have. Look at our conversations!” But now I’m thinking, what if we blog together? There is less pressure in the editing process and we can keep up with current times and themes or do whatever the fuck we want to do.
I was terrified to ask, I mean, I truly think Jenina is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever known. She knows so much, about so much. I was afraid that she’d be like, “Nah, B. I’m good”, to my proposal but instead, she LOVED the idea. Immediately, she started throwing out ideas, about what the site would look like, who our audience would be, trying to find a way to monetize our work. She did what she does which is sprawling big picture.
I’m constantly in awe of her work, of her drive and her ability to get a million things done running a house with six kids and still having time to write here and have more ideas of awesome things we should be doing. I’ve grown so much as a woman, as a mother and as a writer having had this woman as my sisterfriend.
One of the things that we really have had as a cornerstone in our project is uplifting and empowering Women of Color. We want to venture outside of the stereotypes of us that exist. Sometimes we are loudmouthed baby mamas, sometimes we are doctors, and sometimes we are loudmouthed baby mamas with medical degrees. And all of it is okay. We wanted to create something where we celebrate achievements and mediocrity in the lived experiences of women of color that we can all relate and/or aspire to. Representation in media, be it TV, print, or as content creators, is so incredibly important! While there won’t ever be enough publications dedicated to Women of Color, and though we are excited to share our own experiences and thoughts, we are ecstatic to have the opportunity to amplify the voices and support the work of our sisters in a myriad of ways. This includes eventually having guest contributors who are paid for their content. (You can definitely help us continue this work by becoming Patreon supporter, with special perks for our upper tier supporters who help us meet our goals faster! Click here.)
We look to people like Leslie and Marissa at Safety Pin Box, whose business model of positioning themselves as experts on anti-racism (which they are!) and literally packaging it as a product is revolutionary. The idea that the intellectual labor of Women of Color (and in their case, Black women) is something that we should be compensated for is trailblazing work in a world that tells us we owe and never deserve credit, compensation, love or much of anything else. Their market of paid anti-racist work is dominated by white and male voices (and white women too… Hey there, Jane Elliot.) Jenina and I both know this to be true, as we frequently combat racists who find their way into our online spaces or well meaning white people who ask for personalized lessons on race in our inboxes and we think, “This would be easier to deal with and a bit less exhausting if there was money tied to this!” Leslie and Marissa made us think that there is nothing wrong with asking for financial support for our content, whether our pens are used as swords or magic wands.
But, back to my idea of sisterhood…
I want to be a woman who uplifts others. Who is there to have the hard discussions, to comfort when its needed, to guide, support, direct, to be grounded and purposeful. To be a woman who always finds more to give and is able to recognize when she’s found something worth giving herself to. I’m thankful to know women like this.
To Jenina, thank you for your love, for always reminding me to live out loud, for your sense of humor and for cooking up magic with me. ❤
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