White Men Explain Things to Me

I stared at the screen, trying to figure out how to frame my response. I had already deleted a few replies, concerned that they might seem too caustic. It was New Year’s Eve, after all, and I did not want to end the year on a cynical tone, especially in what I had hoped would be a humorous thread. After an exchange with my 11-year-old, I’d posted on Facebook: “At what age do children stop gaslighting their parents? This didn’t get covered in my psychology training. Piaget must not have actually interacted with any children outside the lab.” My tongue-in-cheek jab at Jean Piaget – the Swiss psychologist whom Wikipedia rightly describes as “the most influential developmental psychologist to date – was part of my ongoing social media commentary about how having a doctorate in clinical child psychology did not help with basic parenting issues.

Almost immediately, a response from my former colleague – a white male professor with whom I had once shared an office – popped up. Missing the humor – and quite frankly the entire point – he explained that Piaget’s theory was, in fact, based upon observations of his own three children in twentieth century France. Well, thanks, Captain Obvious, I thought. After all, wasn’t it self-evident that anyone who used Piaget to joke about parenting would know something of his background and methodology, especially if that person had a doctorate in clinical child psychology?

It was peak whitemansplaining. I knew, or at least I hoped, that my colleague had meant no harm. He thought he was being helpful. Unfortunately, he was being helpful in that condescending way that men often are to women by taking it upon themselves to explain things that they assume women don’t understand. It’s what is commonly known as “mansplaining,” a term inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s viral article, “Men Explain Things to Me,” which became the titular chapter in her 2014 book.

Solnit begins the article with an anecdote in which, after learning that she had just published a book about Eadweard Muybridge, the male host of a party she was attending insisted on telling her about “the very important Muybridge book” that had been released earlier that year. After listening for a while, Solnit realized, first, that he was telling her about her own book, and second, that he had not actually read her book but had only read about it in the New York Times Book Review. Let that sink in. Upon hearing that a woman had authored a book on a topic, a man decided that he needed to educate her about a book that he had not read. And that book turned out to be one that she had written.

Now in the academic world, if a person writes a book on a topic, they have probably read much of the previous literature on that topic. Moreover, because academics tend to present their ideas at conferences before they publish them, they are usually aware of other forthcoming books on the topic. Nevertheless, Solnit’s interlocutor assumed that her expertise was insufficient and that she would benefit from his explanation. Men do that a lot to women.

Mansplaining is not usually intentional or even conscious. It is a symptom of living in a patriarchal society, which socializes men to believe that they know more than women and that it is their duty to share what they know with us. That socialization begins early in life. For example, it happens in schools when boys are rewarded for speaking without raising their hands, but girls are penalized for doing the same, or when girls get labeled as “bossy” for the same assertiveness that earns boys the label of “leader.” Boys and men learn early that their words matter more than those of girls and women. They begin to think that their opinions matter more and that they are more informed, even on topics that they know nothing about! Of course, women can do that too, and men can mansplain even to other men. But there are far more instances of men mansplaining to women. It’s why most women immediately recognize what is meant by mansplaining the first time that they hear the term. As Solnit’s book states, men love to explain things to us.

As with all things patriarchal, mansplaining is heightened when sexism intersects with other forms of oppression, such as racism. So when a White man with a PhD decides that he must educate a Black woman with a PhD about a progenitor in her own field, he is not just mansplaining; he is whitemansplaining. That is, he is falling into the trap of overestimating his own knowledge and underestimating that of a Black woman.

Black women and other women of color who are professors encounter this a lot, not only from our White male colleagues but also from students. In my nearly 20 years teaching in higher education, it has been rare that women students (of any race) have assumed that they know more about the topic that I am teaching than they do, even in cases where they have actually taught on the college level in similar fields!

On more than one occasion, though, I have had to call out male students of varying races when they attempted to ignore my knowledge and credentials. Since their behavior is not usually intentional, it is often enough for me to point it out and to ask them whether they behave similarly with their male and White female professors. Often, they sheepishly admit that they do not. Over the years, I have had several transformative classroom moments resulting from such an intervention.

It was the possibility of such transformation that made me decide to call out the whitemansplaining in my colleague’s response to my Facebook post. It was much harder to convey a tone of respectful conversation online than in the classroom and I struggled with how to frame it. But there really was no easy way to confront it. Finally, I simply typed, “There’s no gentle way for me to point out how much whitemansplaining you’ve just done.” I hit send.

The reaction was not what I hoped for. My colleague went from whitemansplaining to White fragility in an instant, reiterating his point about Piaget and then reminding me of his PhD in educational psychology. Then, after another Black female scholar pointed out that he had doubled down on his whitemansplaining, he “ghosted,” deleting the post and possibly also his Facebook profile (or at least blocking me).

Perhaps my original question should have been, “At what age do men stop gaslighting women?” Apparently, he hasn’t reached it yet.

Why White People Think We All Look Alike

“Hey Tracey,” the dean said. I stared at him blankly for a few seconds before saying, “I’m not Tracey.” He was embarrassed. “Oh, right! I know that. I’m sorry Chanequa.”
We were only a few weeks into my first year at the school. I had been surprised that the dean of student life had made an attempt to learn the names of the 180 new students. He had gotten my name right before, so I didn’t hold it against him that he had mistaken me for my new friend Tracey, who was also new to the school. I probably would not have remembered the incident at all. But it turned out that it was not the last time that a White faculty, staff member, or classmate confused the two of us for each other.

It became annoying. “Do people keep calling you by my name?” we asked each other. We couldn’t figure out what that was about. Tracey was noticeably taller with low-cropped curly hair; my locks hung well past my shoulders at the time. Perhaps we had the same face shape, but her face lacked any of the moles that dotted mine. We were close in complexion, but not close enough that we would wear the same Fenty shade. We did not look alike. We did not even look like each other’s people – our biological relatives. And both of us look very much like our people. Tracey happens to have a cousin who could pass as her twin, as do I.

For Black people and other people of color, being mistaken by White people for another one of our racial kinfolk is a common occurrence. Remember the interviewer who confused Samuel Jackson for Lawrence Fishburne?

“White people think we all look like,” is a common refrain among African Americans and Asian Americans especially. We are not making that up. Until they learned that it was politically incorrect to say it aloud, White people used to actually say, “You all look like.” It is such a common racial trope that people of color often bristle the moment that someone outside our race tells us that we look like someone whom we obviously do not resemble.

People of color often bristle the moment that someone outside our race tells us that we look like someone whom we obviously do not resemble.

As with many forms of racism, confusing two people of color for one another is usually done without malice. My hypothesis is that it happens when people lack enough exposure to a particular racial/ethnic group to develop the ability to delineate between our features. In a White supremacist world in which one’s race determines one’s freedoms and rights, we are all socialized to see each other first in terms of race. For centuries, White people have been socialized not to look much further than that if a person is another race. Black people are especially accustomed to being unseen by White people, including those whom we know.

It is one of the hardest things about being in predominantly White spaces for people of color – being rendered invisible. In seminary, I became accustomed to being unseen by White classmates in the hallways. We could sit in classes together for an entire semester, but they would routinely pass me in the hallways without making eye contact. If they happened to look at me or even if I said hi, their eyes glazed over me without any real sign of recognition. It is the dominant experience that I have at the annual meeting of my academic guild each year. As I walk through the hallways, panning the crowd for signs of familiar faces and scanning the name badges for signs of connection, White colleagues glance at me without seeing me. It happened just a few days ago at the farmer’s market, when a former White student looked briefly at me and then turned away before I could say hello.

White people are socialized not to look at us. So it is no wonder that they are more likely to confuse us with other people of color whom we do not resemble. Lord forbid that there be an actual resemblance, as in the case of the two U.S. congressmen John Lewis and the late Elijah Cummings. In October 2019, Cummings passed suddenly at the age of 68; two months later, Lewis announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In covering both events, major news outlets confused the two men for one another. So many people confused the two men when Cummings died that Lewis’s name became the top Twitter trend for the day. Fox News posted a photo of Lewis when Cummings died. Two months later, CBS used a photo of the then-deceased Cumming when news of Lewis’ diagnosis was announced.

Photo of congressional representatives Elijah Cummings and John Lewis seated beside each other.

Granted, the two men looked remarkably alike, so much so that they reportedly joked about it. And it turns out members of Congress get confused with one another a lot. Everyone makes mistakes, and not every mistake is racist. Even Black people made the mistake of confusing Lewis and Cummings. Likewise, over time, Tracey and I noticed that it was not just White people who confused us with one another. Several of our Black classmates did it too, including those with whom we were good friends. Apparently, though we did not look alike, there was something about us that evoked a similar response from other people, just as there was something that drew us together as friends from the opening moments of orientation.

Sometimes racism involves situations that occur uniquely to Black people (or other people of color) and solely because of their race. But sometimes, racism involves situations that happen more frequently to Black people because of our race, especially when White people are also involved. It turned out that White classmates and professors confused me and Tracey for each other far more frequently than did Black people. And there was something qualitatively different about it when it happened. Our Black peers caught themselves making the mistake as soon as they did it. “Did I just call you Tracey? I don’t know why I did that.” And having made the mistake once, they never did it again. In contrast, we usually had to point out to White classmates and professors when they had called us by the wrong name. After we did, they would often stare blankly for a few seconds before they realized their error, almost as if they were searching their mental rolodexes to determine which of their two Black friends we were. I could always see the moment of recognition when it dawned. But why did it take so long for their brains to register our actual faces and names? Why did it take so long for them to see us? Perhaps, like the media professionals who repeatedly confuse Cummings and Lewis, their eyes and memories had not been racially trained enough for them to see the differences between two Black people.

Their eyes and memories had not been racially trained enough for them to see the differences between two Black people

Neither Elijah Cummings or John Lewis are obscure congressmen. Given the political and historical importance of both men, every reputable news outlet should know who they are, that they look alike, and that special care needs to be taken to identify them correctly. News correspondents who cover Capitol Hill should be taught to discriminate between them, in the same way that they have learned to discriminate between the various Bushes and Kennedy’s who have held political office. Plus, neither incident involved a brief or chance encounter. They involved photos, documents that are protected by copyright law and that must be properly credited to their photographers. Moreover, they involved situations where media professionals – sometimes even multiple media professionals – had to glance at a photo and story before it made its way on the air. Or more specifically, they involved situations where White media professionals had to glance at a photo of a famous Black person before it went on the air.

Photo clip from film, "Pulp Fiction,' showing Samuel L. Jackson as his character, Jules Winnfield, pointing a gun. Text overlay reads: "Say 'All black people look like' one more time. I dare you."Tracey died the year after we graduated from seminary. I still see glimpses of her sometimes in strangers. In some ways, I would love to be somewhere and have someone yell “Tracey!” at me, because it would mean that I am in the presence of someone who knew both of us and who knew that there was something about each of us that reminded people of the other. I would probably laugh it off, but then I would tell them, “You know me and Tracey don’t look alike.”

My Book Is Coming!

When there are long periods of inactivity on my blog, it’s usually because I’m working on a book project. Over the past two years, I’ve been grinding away at a book on racial reconciliation, I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision of Racial Reconciliation. It will be out this fall and is available for pre-order now.

People often ask me how long it takes me to write a book. That’s a hard question to answer. With both of my books now, I spend years living the book before I sit down to write the book. I spent 10 years immersed in the Christian racial reconciliation movement, from 2006-2016. From the beginning, I was plagued by “Yes, but” moments, but that didn’t stop me from being all in. I loved being in spaces where diverse Christians had honest convo about race and racism. I had only experienced that previously in Black church spaces.

Even though it always felt something was missing, my view of the movement was rose-colored for a long time, probably because I was surrounded by its best: folks like Jonathan Wilson-Hartgove, Dominique Gilliard, Zakiya Jackson, Jonathan Brooks, Soong-Chan Rah, Vince Bantu, and the late Richard Twiss. I thought they represented the norm (spoiler: they don’t).

It honestly took me a while to recognize the movement was almost wholly evangelical. It was an “oh shit” moment but I stayed. Since childhood, I’ve always had an “outsider within” status  that helps me bridge diverse groups. If we share common cause, I can be down with you and we can work through our differences. I’ve always been the person whose friendship group included the most popular kids and the social outcasts. And I could usually get them to the same table sometimes.

So there I was: a radical womanist theologian in an evangelical world, bringing my full hermeneutic of suspicion amongst folks with inerrant and infallible views of scripture. Talk about the lion lying down with the lamb! (Wait, am I the lion or the lamb?). It was bonkers. But again, I was surrounded by a “guilded ghetto” of radical evangelicals so I thought there was greater possibility than there actually was. It didn’t take long for me to realize the movement has a very shallow theology of reconciliation. Ok, it has NO theology of reconciliation. It’s more like a vague biblical inspiration lived out through a weak relational praxis. (That kind of describes most of White US Christianity, doesn’t it?)

There are some great scholars who’ve examined the idea of reconciliation. James Cone and J. Deotis Roberts wrote books debating the idea with each other decades ago. The movement NEVER pays attention to them. Allan Boesak and Curtiss DeYoung have also produced rigorous thinking in this area. But the movement prefers literature about friendships among Black and White men. The dominant evangelical paradigm of reconciliation is so weak that it disintegrates whenever issues of intersectionality arise. That’s why womanists generally don’t even fuck with the concept. We know evangelicals ain’t about that life.

It’s a mistake, though, to assume that Black women and other women of color don’t write and teach about reconciliation. We do it all the time, but we don’t use the word “reconciliation.” We don’t even use language that most evangelicals would recognize as being about reconciliation. There is a whole canon of Black women’s literature envisioning what healing and justice look like in a world fractured by racism, patriarchy, and classism. Not to mention all the kitchen table wisdom handed on from Black mothers, grandmothers, and aunties, who know “relationship” is not the answer to racism. Because we have ALWAYS been in relationship with white women, men, and children in our forced roles as domestics. And that doesn’t protect us.

So that’s what I attempt to do in I Bring the Voices of My People. I try to bring all that wisdom to describe how race and racism work, what reconciliation really looks like, and how faith can help us to work toward it. There are no “Can’t we all just get along?” stories here. Honestly, I want to blow up the whole racial reconciliation movement, turn it upside down, inside out, eviscerate it, and then say, “Start all over.” But because I’m pastoral caregiver, I won’t tear down without at least attempting to build up. So I’mma give y’all some tools. I pray that they’re meaningful.

I Quitchu: A Lenten Journey

I’m giving up church for Lent. To be truthful, beyond the worship services that I’ve attended at my campus and at this year’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, I gave up church two months ago. It was at the beginning of January that I notified my pastor that I would be resigning my leadership position and eventually leaving the church. What I’m giving up for Lent is the guilt that I inevitably feel on Sunday mornings when I stay home working in the garden or go hiking with my family.
I’ve been a member of the United Methodist Church for 10 years now, but in my heart I’m still a good Baptist (which is maybe why I keep teaching at Baptist seminaries!). I still remember my baptismal vows at the historically Black Baptist church of my youth. In them, I promised that if I were to leave that church, I would find another as soon as possible. Since then, I have always tried to keep that promise. And my family has held me accountable to it. When I moved to Miami at the age of 21 to attend graduate school, every phone call to my maternal grandmother would include her asking, “Did you join a church yet?”
The thing is, it is hard to be an African American woman with progressive theological, political, and social commitments and find a church. It is not just that there are elements of the worship experience that make me feel uncomfortable. I can deal with discomfort. In fact, I think that if worship doesn’t regularly stretch us beyond our comfort zone and force us to encounter God through the eyes of others, it’s not worship at all.
I’ve always been willing to make compromises. I can give up my preferences for music or preaching in a certain style if the teaching is theologically sound. I can deal with being one of few people of color in a congregation if the voices of women, young people, and LGBTQ persons are respected and empowered. I can tolerate a certain level of dysfunction in the leadership and organization if the commitment to intersectional justice is strong enough. And I can put up with a combination of those factors if my kid will have the chance to participate in a strong children’s ministry that is discipling him well.
My issue is that of being in churches that – whether in their music, prayer, teachings, polity, or practice – routinely make claims about God that I believe to be contrary to who God is and who God calls us to be. I am opposed to being in church that deny the imago Dei (image of God) within myself and others by forcing us to conform to their image of who we should be. And that has been the experience in almost every congregation that I’ve attended. Ultimately, the pressure to conform reveals itself in one way or another.
When I joined the leadership of this new church plant 18 months ago, I took it as a chance help build a new type of community from the ground up, a place where we would make a radical commitment to becoming beloved community, where people of diverse backgrounds would find themselves welcomed and empowered in the fullness of who they were. What I absolutely did not want was to create another “Benetton” type of multicultural congregation, one where the church was filled with people of different races/ethnicities but who were all culturally white. But eventually, it felt like that was precisely what we’d become.My repeated efforts to redirect us were not successful. It began to feel like I was Sisyphus, doomed to eternally push a boulder uphill by myself.
My freedom came one Friday afternoon when I began reflecting about my perpetual struggle of being a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. “What am I losing of myself each time that I shave off bits of myself to fit? And what if I simply stopped trying to fit into these spaces?” Even the thought of the second question was terrifying. It meant that I would have to let go of a lot, including this new church family that I had grown to love. Over the next two days, after continuous prayer and dialogue with my partner, I decided to take the leap.
So, church, I quitchu. I quitchu with no plan to return to you as you currently exist, because you are abusive. I quitchu along with my many Jesus-loving friends who have quitchu, along with those who are considering it. I quitchu because you are incapable of loving me in all my complexity, because you are incapable of loving those whom God loves. I quitchu because you are more concerned with preserving your own existence than being beloved community. I quitchu because you quit me a long time ago. I quitchu because I need to heal from the pain and damage that you have caused me, and I cannot heal while being in relationship with my abuser. I quitchu because I realize that I can love Jesus better and more freely beyond the confines of your concrete walls and your restrictive theology. I quitchu, the institutional church, to join the church in the wild, the church in the catacombs.
Amen and Ashé.

What You Don’t Know About the Cosby Allegations

Many people think the allegations about Bill Cosby are part of some plot to destroy the legacy of powerful Black men. Some of you have been people whom I respect. I’ve been trying to figure out how you think so many women could be lying (some probably are, but not all). I’m trying to figure out how you think that one woman should have had the courage to come forward 30 years ago when no one believes 50 now. But then I realize you don’t know the stories.

You don’t know how many other stories are out there, some carried til the grave, some whispered from mother to daughter, some told only in the company of women who are willing to hear.

You don’t know that 4 out of every 10 Black women you know carry these stories. You don’t know just how many of us have been raped. You don’t know just how many of your family members, your leaders, your superstars, your heroes have been raping us.

You don’t know how many legacies Black women have protected and continue to protect. You don’t know how many of your heroes’ images we could take a hammer to, if we were simply to tell the truth about them.

You don’t know because you don’t want to know. You don’t ask us to share our stories. You don’t read, watch, or listen to our stories. You don’t attend the conferences, seminars, or courses about “women’s issues.” In your “race-first” mentality, you put our “issues” on the backburner in the name of racial solidarity. Meanwhile, you parade our rapists in your pulpits, lamenting their legacies while we’re trying to hold together the pieces of our shattered selves.

You do it over and over again, unless the accused is a white man, in which case you line up in front of the cameras and demand justice.

You create an environment in which it is impossible to tell. And when we finally tell, when we finally get up the courage, you say, “You must be lying because it wouldn’t have taken you so long.”

You don’t know. But you could know if you simply tried. The question is whether you want to.

If you’re ready to listen, to learn, to know, educate yourself. Below are a few resources to help you get started.

Watch this clip from Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ NO! The Rape Documentary. Then watch the full video. You can order it here. You can also check your local public and university libraries. Many of them will have it or order it upon your request.

rose-longing-to-tellRead an excerpt from Tricia Rose’s Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk about Sexuality and Intimacy. The firsthand narratives will help you to understand just how many Black women’s experiences of sexuality involve rape, incest, and other forms of abuse. The amazing thing is that Dr. Rose did not necessarily set out to study sexual assault. It’s just that common.

surviving-the-silence.jpgRead an excerpt from Charlotte Pierce-Baker’s Surviving the Silence: Black Women’s Stories of Rape. Dr. Pierce-Baker, herself a survivor, explores the silence surrounding sexual assault within African American families and communities.

Check out the website for Men Stopping Violence, an organization that mobilizes men to prevent violence against women and girls. If you’re a father, make sure you check out their Because We Have Daughters initiative, which gives fathers the knowledge and skills to empower their daughters and reduce their risk of victimization.

And guess what? After you do all this, you can still think that Bill Cosby may be innocent. But perhaps you will know how to talk about the allegations against him in a way that doesn’t contribute to rape culture.

 

Journey to Self-Care

SelfCare Journey email header

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.
-Audre Lorde

Do you need to get serious about self-care? Maybe you’re struggling from stress-related health problems after a lifetime of self-neglect. Or perhaps you’ve gone through a move, divorce, or some other major life transition that’s disrupted your self-care patterns. Or maybe you’ve experienced a developmental shift or illness and your old self-care patterns aren’t enough anymore.

Self-care is easier said than done. It is countercultural in a society that values productivity over profit above all else. Some of us learn to put others’ needs ahead because of lessons we learned in childhood. For some of us, it happens when we become parents or caregivers. Others of us are helping professionals or social justice activists who put self-care on the back burner because of our vocations.

Some of us have never embarked on a self-care journey, while others have tried but been knocked off-course. Either way, it’s time to get on the self-care wagon!

If you’re ready to get serious about self-care, sign up for my 2016 Journey to Self-Care series. You’ll get one email per month with inspirational messages and practical exercises for kicking off, reviving, or enhancing your self-care plan. I’m going to be practicing right along with you, so you’ll get my reflections on what works for me, what doesn’t, and what keeps me going.

Why Women of Color in Christian Social Justice Need a Retreat, and How Others Can Support

On November 14, 2015, the Christian Community Development Association will host its first (but hopefully not its last) post-conference retreat for Women of Color. A few months ago, I wrote about the need for the retreat. For 24 hours, African-, Asian-, Indigenous-, and Latina-American Christian women who are engaged in social justice, community development, and reconciliation ministry will gather together for fellowship and renewal. For some of us, it will be the first time that women of color gather across racial/ethnic lines to discuss our common needs and interests, as well as the impediments to our solidarity. woman-mixedrace

Many of us spend the vast majority of our days as racial-gender outliers. We are used to being one of few people of color in white-dominant circles, one of few women in male-dominant arenas. And we are almost always the first or only woman of color. We are the marginalized among the marginalized. We are used to walking on eggshells, filtering our words and behaviors so as not to make waves, having our opinions discounted even as people affirm how important it is for us to be present. Being a woman of color in evangelical social justice organizations is akin being a three-dimensional creature trying to live in a two-dimensional world. We’re constantly flattening ourselves. Next week, we get to take a big inhale and puff up again.

There has been some pushback. It has been outweighed, however, by the outpouring of support that we have received from White women and brothers of all races who have supported us. Several have donated scholarship funds to pay for the registration of women who want and need to be at the retreat, but who cannot afford it. Some have volunteered to handle registration and logistics to free the steering committee and women of color on the CCDA staff to attend – rather than work – the retreat. Others have spread the word about the retreat to the women in their ministries and encouraged them to attend.

We still have people asking how they can help. Below are a few suggestions.

Pray for us. Pray that the women who need to be part of this healing, safe space will get the support that they need to attend. Pray for the speakers, worship team, steering committee, and CCDA staff who will be supporting us, even as they are worn out from an already full conference schedule. Pray that the Holy Spirit will show up and do her work, that she will meet each participant where we are and give us what we need to continue.

Provide financial support. There is a waiting list of women who would like to attend but who cannot afford the registration fee ($79) or the additional hotel stay ($149). Many women of color do CCD ministry on a volunteer or part-time basis with organizations who cannot afford to pay for their attendance at the conference or the retreat. You can donate to the retreat online. Be sure to check the box at the bottom stating, “I’m donating to a specific event” and enter “WoC Retreat.” You can also call the CCDA office at 773-475-7370.

Do some self-examination. Examine your own relationships and organizations to determine how they can be more hospitable to women of color’s three-dimensional existence. Reflect upon your vision of indigenous leadership development and how dimensions of race, gender, and power may be at play. Did you think the indigeous leaders would all be male or perhaps assume that the development would be done by Whites?

Educate yourself on the needs and experiences of women of color in social justice ministry. Learn how our needs differ from those of white women and men of color. If you’re attending CCDA, go to workshops and plenaries that feature women of color talking about our experiences. There are plenty of opportunities this year, with speakers such as Alexia Salvaterria, Christena Cleveland, Rahiel Tesfamariam, Sonia Stewart, Sandra Van Opostal, Q Nellum, and Catherine Gilliard, among others. There are workshops on women’s leadership development as well as upon issues that disproportionately impact women of color, including domestic violence, human trafficking, and trauma. There is a Wednesday night art and jazz session featuring Shanequa Gay, who uses art to address issues of race, gender, and justice. On Thursday at 1:30pm, I’ll be teaching a workshop on the StrongBlackWoman. Buy and read books by and about women of color. The more you learn, the more you will understand the need for the retreat. If you still don’t understand, it’s because you haven’t learned enough, you haven’t listened enough.

Spread the word. Tell other women of color about the retreat. Ask friends and colleagues to support the retreat. Direct them to this article as well as other blogs by women of color.