By Francine Holmes
I am sure by now most people who’ve made the customary new year’s resolutions are gradually doing that slow backpedal of excuses as to why they’re breaking them. Well to that I say: “No, no no, NOT I!” I am tired of not keeping up with my resolutions, so I didn’t make a single one. Looking back, 2017 had several momentous events that made me pause as a woman of color, a daughter, a friend, a wife and especially a mother. To name a few, president Trump and his whirlwind drama, the devastating hurricanes, women fiercely standing up to the patriarchy with #metoo #timesup, the long overdue NFL players’ black lives matter protest, and the list goes on. So, I instead collected all of my thoughts and intentions into hopes for a better 2018, but nothing happens without action. As a side note, I know there has been some contentious debates over this issue, I will make my position very clear! Trans-women are women, period! end of discussion. So, here are some that I see as universal hopes that women of color can either identify with or strive to put into action for a better 2018.
1. VALUE YOURSELF Foremost above all, we have to know our worth and the value of our contribution, and let me explain what that means, because value and worth can be quite abstract without context. They can mean, You’re worthy because yourself and others care, appreciate, and love you for who you truly are unconditionally. It is also understanding that the whole of you, your time, attention are precious gifts, and in your allocation of those gifts, it is perfectly fine to be unapologetically selective. This logic applies to anything, as the importance of not being so hasty to settle for less, or rather, just what you can get! You deserve the best so strive for just that by not shying away from opportunities out of fear of the unknown. Reach for those goals and always remember that you are valuable. Along the way, learn to appreciate what you have and what you bring to the table, don’t dwell on what you don’t! This is a hard one, arriving at a place where you don’t measure your success against others. Remember, we all have different starting points, we are all unique in our own right, we cannot have the same journey so measure your accomplishments by the goals you set, not those of others.
2. YES WE CAN! We all have that perpetual internal voice of self-doubt in our heads. My internal shade thrower has an old African woman’s voice, with disdain on her face, pointing her hand at me, palm up saying “Look at you! Just look at you” in that moment, doubt and a laundry list of reasons as why my ideas aren’t great and all the ways I can potentially fail; automatically washes over me. Well, in 2018 we have to stand firm, turn down the volume on that voice, tell it to take several seats and turn up by believing that we can accomplish all that we envision. We must take that first step and fully commit to making our vision happen no matter how small that initial step.
3. SISTA, I GOT YOU! This very important! black women are often the bearer of all burdens, with all the hats we have to wear in addition to societal standards and micro-aggressions. Yet we are expected to remain strong in the face of it all to our detriment. Mental health is a major component of our overall wellbeing, seek professional assistance if you’ve been struggling emotionally or psychologically, there are people who are trained to listen and provide you with the tools to alleviate some of these burdens. (Therapyforblackgirls.com). Let’s stop the stigma associated with mental health continue to drag us further into the abyss.
While we’re busy holding everyone up, who’s propping us up? Who has our back? Think Sandra Bland, Tee Tee Dangerfield, Erica Garner, Karen Smith, Brandy Seals, Omarosa (yes her too). We are being assaulted on all fronts, so enough is enough. We are a vulnerable population, and assistance isn’t always readily available to us. It is time for us to receive some attention, let us no longer be concerned with the optics and respectability politics. Again, we cannot do it alone, so let’s start by building a support system. (The operative word is “build” it doesn’t happen overnight or without effort). If you live in the tri-state area, a meetup group called W.O.K.E (Women of Kolour Empowered) is a wonderful resource to meet women of color to make connections and have worthwhile discussions. Sister-up! Let this upcoming year be the year of connections. Network, reach out to support, engage with, befriend, mentor a sista! Because let’s tell it! It is getting too real out here for people of color, especially women. It is time to foster the sisterhood in a meaningful way, look out for a sister and be her keeper, look out for the signs and check in on her, rather than drag her along with the rest of society!
“When Black Women stick together, we are the most powerful force in the universe.”-Alfre Woodward
And those are my hopes, that cognitive, interpersonal and behavioral changes can set things in motion for the best, without any judgment and pressures derived from resolutions. Let’s do the best we can, WE CAN DO THIS and let’s make 2018 count!