By Dèja Pocahontas Mays, Art Director Graduate Intern
When I first started writing this, I thought to myself… this is an opportunity to vocalize my opinions about the hurdles women of color go through. Then it dawned on me. We know. Every day of our lives in some form or fashion we are reminded of the hardships we face based on something out of our control. We need more solutions than focusing on the problems.
We need to be reminded how wonderful we are, not how much the world may be against us. Whenever you look in the mirror, don’t forget who you are. You are remarkable. You are amazing. In a society that was not built with you in mind, here you are. Look at all you have accomplished. Think of your mother, your grandmother, your great grandmother, and all the beautiful women of your lineage that came before you—think of how proud they would be.
You may not be where you want to be, but never forget how far you have come. It is okay to have vulnerable moments. It is okay to cry. That does not mean that you are weak. It is okay to be a woman in whatever way you want to define it. Never let society define how you choose to express yourself. Never be apologetic for being who you are. You were not born to blend in and to be silenced. You were born to vibrate rooms with your brilliant energy.
Thank you to the women who have been first to overcome barriers. Who did not choose the safe and easy route. You could have played it safe, but now because of you, another woman can dream. The younger woman looking at you and admiring you is now able to visualize herself.
To the people who wish to aid us along our journeys, here are some tips to remember…
How to be an Ally to Women of Color:
- Understand you can never truly relate to their experience because the world will never put you in their shoes.
- Be open to having uncomfortable conversations and viewpoints that challenge your way of thinking. Everyone has had their own unique life experiences that shape the way they think and believe.
- Pay attention to the culture. More than ever, social media has made it easier for people to have a platform to voice their opinions. Women of color are vocal at discussing their daily hardships. Even if the woman you know has not said it, she more than likely still has similar feelings or thoughts.
- Offer mentorship or guidance. Usually, people have mentors who see themselves within in them. Women of color do not, yet, have the option of having a plethora of mentor options that look like them.
To quote the Late and Great Maya Angelou:
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
To the women who have felt unheard and unvalued: you matter, no matter what anyone says. Do not question your value or your worth. You are wonderfully and fiercely designed. You will rise. We will rise. Never be quiet in a room you deserve to be in—let everyone know you have arrived.