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I made a promise to myself to do more moving beyond the words. I have a ton of things to do on my list. My list of things that I want to accomplish. I guess it is sort of a buckle list because I certainly want to do them before I die, but this list is more about community engagement and community involvement.
Early this year I was fortunate to attend the Know her Truths conference in Wake Forest right after the passage of HB2 the bill that states people much use the bathrooms of their biological bodies. Yeah, an issue for another post. Anyway, this conference brought together scholars, students, community organizations, researchers, policy makers, foundations, and activists for an intensive series of discussions about the circumstances, challenges, and opportunities facing women and girls of color.
And let me tell you, I met some amazing women. And I have the stack of business cards to prove it. More importantly I made contacts that will enable me to do a lot more moving beyond the words. Since that conference I have reviewed the political participation chapter of Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s (IWPR) upcoming report on the status of black women in the United States. That alone made me want to do backflips or at least cartwheels if I knew how. And meeting Melissa Harris Perry was a huge bonus. Just being a room of accomplished women of color was exciting. I mean, I knew they existed. I know a few, but having so many in one place at one time was just freaking awesome. And to be counted among them was worth my student loans.
I was particularly inspired by Amina Simmons who presented on her Day of Dialogue event at the University of Miami. After hearing her, I turned to one of my colleagues and said we need to do this. So we plotted on how to make that happen. I am proud to say that we made it happen. Yes indeed, on Thursday, June 30th a group of unlikely collaborators–representatives from institutions of higher education, non-profits, the criminal justice sector, businesses, and community leaders—engaged in rich, deep, and often uncomfortable discussions about the welfare of women and girls of color in Chatham County. This Day of Dialogue was inspired by a national initiative, put forth by the White House Council of Women and Girls, aimed at addressing the disparities that exists for women and girls of color in areas of health, education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, and domestic violence. The goal of the Day was to provide a space for organizations who operate in different arenas to come together and start the conversation of how to collaborate on programs and policies to empower women and girls of color in our community to reach their full potential. Attendees participated in breakout discussions at roundtables with a targeted area of focus and assigned prompts to foster raw, spirited, and rich dialogue.
Then on October 18th, Dr. Sinclair and I presented “Intersectional Community Engagement: Dialogue for Change” at the South University Virtual Conference which shared the context of the project and the framework we implemented to make it happen. We are not done. We now have working groups who are truly vested in addressing the issues of women and girls of color. We are holding each other accountable. We are moving beyond the words.