This weekend felt like a big hug from my fellow Black sistren everywhere! And everyone knows that we give some of the best hugs ever!
I legit looked forward to this Summit all year; so much so, that I invited every woman that I know, including my sister, who attended the event with me. I attended the Summit for the first time last year, and it was something that I knew I would have to frequent for years to come. This event is like an annual recharge of energy needed to face the world as a Black woman. The event consistently provides a safe space where women of color come together to learn from and uplift each other. I’m not talking about the fake, momentary kind of support, either.
I feel as though every woman there was there to better themselves and share what they had with every other woman. There was no shade, no side-eyes and no competition. There was just an atmosphere of sisterhood. Friendships were forged, networks were extended, ideas were born, lives were changed, fires were lit, and everyone left inspired. This is what happens when Black women, women of color, and just women in general come together.
Can I just stop for a moment and acknowledge the fact that Issa Rae was the keynote speaker on Saturday?!
The Issa Rae. This woman that totally gets me and knows my life, because she clearly based her show on the cringe-worthiness that is said life. She is hilarious, intelligent, and a pretty decent human being. For her to go from starting a web series from scratch, to sitting in meetings with Shonda Rhimes and HBO executives, yet still maintain the integrity of her work is even greater cause for me to support whatever she does. This past Saturday, she came all the way to Boston to offer words of advice to attendees and sign books, posters, etc.
She was warm and genuine in her interactions, and she was a perfect addition to the day’s atmosphere. I will continue to swoon and fan-girl over her, and then pay good money to see her work.
P.S. Go out and get her book “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl“, because it’s pretty damn good from what I’m reading so far.
One thing that I gathered from her (and many others) is that the film industry will easily take your idea and try to shape it into something unoriginal, something that fails to represent the artist, the audience or the original idea. Clearly, Hollywood isn’t yet comfortable with people of color telling their own stories or looking…well…Black. For this reason, it has taken much longer for her to release the content that she wants on a larger scale. I respect this level of integrity, because it sets a good example for other girls and women of color, in and outside of the industry, to remain true to their own ideas.
I’m not a part of the Hollywood scene (yet… 😉 ), but I do know that it is something of a beautiful beast that you must navigate carefully once inside its belly. You can be chewed up, devoured and spit back out, especially as a woman or “other”. You have to be strong enough to ride the current as well as the Issa Raes, Regina Kings, Sofia Vergaras and Lavern Cox’s of the world. But what I’ve noticed is that within the small, tight-knit community of Black actors that were able to break into the industry, there is this unbreakable support system between them, especially among the Black female actors. That was on full display last night at the Emmy’s. Watching the clips gave me the same warm fuzzies that I felt at the Summit on Saturday.
These women weren’t supporting each simply out of necessity, but out of genuine love and a sense of sisterhood. This spirit of giving and support that Black women naturally have exists in any space where we don’t have people in our ears pitting us against each other through some false sense of scarcity.
This idea that there is only enough space for one of us at to thrive at any given time takes us out of our element. As a result, we have situations like what is played out on supposed “reality” shows and the pages of Worldstar, where all we seem to do is tear each other down and sabotage ourselves for attention.
This weekend made me feel so thankful. I’m thankful for what I experienced first-hand at the summit, and thankful for what I witnessed unfold at the Emmys. I’m relieved that there are still people like this in the world.
To be honest, I didn’t even watch the Emmys in real time. I didn’t know of the wins until all of my social media feeds lit up with trending Emmy topics, and I watched the playback clips. I don’t think I’ve ever really sat through an airing of the Emmy’s, because to be honest, they are usually painfully tame, bland, and lacking some serious diversity in not only the audience but the nominees categories.
However, last night, the Emmys was a proud moment for all of America to see. They got to see beautiful, intelligent, talented women prop each other up and celebrate victories that any one of them could have hoarded individually. All of the Black women nominated were friends, but not one of them were upset or disappointed when their sister won. They cheered with and for them, they cried the same tears of joy, they stood for them in thunderous applause, and they cheered as loud as they could, making damn sure that they knew that they were still in their corner with or without a win.
These women continue to support each other, because they know the importance of a strong support system. No matter how famous or successful you are, everyone needs a genuine, stable support system. It makes a huge difference when you have people in your corner, pushing for you, relating to you, and hoping the best for you.
This is the image that America needs to see consistently. They need to see what we are really like as human beings. There is room for a range of characters, personalities and experiences. The world needs to see this range of experiences that we really do have, and see with their own eyes that we are damn good at pouring these experiences into powerful roles. This applies not only to Black people, but Asians, Native Americans, Latinos, our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, and any other that is often forgotten. We can be the lawyer, the political powerhouse, the sister, the Muslima, the ’round-the-way girl, the executive, the nerd, the rebel, the mogul, the maid, the wife, the seductress, the sophisticated, the street-savvy, emotionally strong and weak, all of it. There are so many faces and experiences that make us who we are.
And when these actors are given a chance, America gets a glimpse into the kind of people we truly are. We are diverse, we are complex, yet we are simple. We want to be happy just like everyone else.
But when we love, we love hard. When we support the ones we love, no matter what they look like, we do it with our entire heart and soul. It is part of the DNA that connects us across the Diaspora and across generations, and it is part of what makes us who we are as people.
To the ladies that I’ve met and to ones that I have only seen on screen, thank you for being part of that support net. Thank you for continuing to not only open the proverbial doors, but for representing us all proudly.