threads of our fabric

Reflections on navigating between two cultures and understanding the self-awareness process

Can we be sisters? November 25, 2011

For the past week I have watched Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls” about 7 times. I enjoy the intricate artistic portrayals of diverse unique Black women’s lives. Each character has a powerfully delicate story with a mysterious depth that unveils and sometimes unravels as the movie progresses. I really should be singing praises to the eloquent prose of Ntozake Shange in her play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.”

Perhaps the reason I push play so frequently on the DVD player is because I can relate to certain situations or different character’s reactions to some incredible life experiences. Or maybe it is the soulful lyrical words of the different soliloquies. Or simplyjust  enamored by the expressive beautiful movement in choreography. However, above all I love the beautiful closure of the movie in the “laying on of hands”…It sealed the bonds of a newly formed sisterhood between the Black women. I remember soon after this movie was released, there was alot of discussion on how Black women need healthy positive relationships with each other.

This past week on our Facebook page African Girl Development in the U.S., the Threads of Our Fabric Project team started a discussion topic on Sisterhood…

The gift of sisterhood certainly makes life’s journey worthwhile! They say women are their own worst enemies; some call it “a woman’s issue”… backstabbing, competitiveness, envy, and jealousy…. What are your views on that?…”

 

The responses were fascinating! Some included:

  •  “I feel women that do try to one up each other also have insecurities within themselves that are manifesting as competition.  Where those insecurities arise? Probably, upbringing and social situations that they’ve experienced.”
  • The high pressure on women to present themselves or mold themselves into what is agreeable  in their culture or society. When these expectations go against who they truly are there is a tipping and oftentimes explosive point.
  • “The competition amongst women/ young ladies nowadays is usually channelled towards the wrong direction like who’ s won what, who’s boyfriend is cuter, or who owns what?”
  • Education is crucial  “because someone with a good education has better social, critical thinking and problem solving skills than someone who is not well educated. Education enhances thought processes and gears them toward more peaceful interactions with others and better choices in life.

Maybe it takes one person believing in the possibility of healthy, strong, and positive sister relationships for a connection to occur. Like Shange’s Tangie and Nyla, most of us sisters can begin healing our current relationships by just being there for one another. Simply making ourselves available and supportive, not threatened by the infinite beauty in the presence of another sister, but celebrating our unique strengths, talents, and possibilities. Instead of looking at what separates us, let us extend loving hands with a promise to cherish, applaud, and hold one another.

Photo credit: Trendy Africa

We enjoyed hearing the insightful voices on Facebook and you are invited to comment on the page or on this blog. Stay tuned for more thought provoking dialogue!
 

The vision behind my mission for African Girls January 20, 2011

So by now you have probably read my few posts and are asking yourself: “Where is she headed?”… Excellent question, so glad you asked!!!

As you are aware from my earlier posts, I am currently in the very early crafting phase of a development and integration program for African young ladies ages 15-24yrs. The vision is to provide a safe supported environment and opportunity where these young ladies can address important issues that come up during the transition process into America. Issues such as identity development, self-awareness, ethnic pride, cultural values and traditions etc. As I continue to review responses to the Threads of Our Fabric project survey that I had implemented in July 2010, most of the main issues identified in almost all of the surveys focused on the lack of information and a support network after entering the United States, and the rude awakening from pre-migration ideation.

I have always been fascinated by the latter. Let’s briefly talk about that migration fantasy that oftentimes morphs into a grotesque obsession, well for some of us who were lucky enough to have had time before taking the big flight. I had 48hrs from the moment I found out that I was leaving my first home to when I stepped on a plane headed for America. I like to call it my very own mini-operation “shock and awe”… But from what I have heard, the usual pre-migration story goes something like this…YAY! I am finally approved for a visa, but have to prepare big time before leaving. I have to go shopping for some necessities, there are school transcripts to gather, some personal properties to be redistributed, hearts to break and promises to be made during my extensive goodbyes. Oh America!…that land where I will make beaucoup money than I will know what to do with…I will return rich and successful!

Fast forward a few months, maybe years later to having taken the big flight…slowly reality drifts in…

You know…The “Is this the Promised Land?”…”What happened to the “Beamers, Benz, and Bentleys”, or the “Party Everyday”, that was guaranteed by expats when they came back with pockets full of money. The major, if not sole point of reference for preparing to migrate to America aside from popular western-world media. Sometimes it is the “I want to continue my schooling but the College Board’s evaluation report shows that my current academic credentials are not sufficient”

Constantly feeling as if you are stuck on a treadmill, running full speed ahead but in reality you are not really going anywhere… still in the same spot… Or do you find yourself using all your resources and strength scaling mountainous obstacles only to look-up once you reach the top into the horizon to see nothing but other mountain peaks in front of you? Feel free to insert your own “what happened to…” experience here. I know you have one…

Such scenarios are just a small portion of the number of challenges associated with immigration that can overwhelm anyone! The development and integration program is a personal commitment to invest resources towards the long-term welfare of recently immigrated young African ladies (15-24). Helping them explore this new world, understand the impact of the immigration process on their developmental processes, and successfully establishing themselves in America. I am looking for a counterpart seeking to implement something similar with young African men.

Personal Mantra: My problems are not my problems, but the perception of my problems.