A few days ago, a co-worker asked me why I chose to develop the Brown Girl Collective and what I hoped to accomplish by starting this group. While his question was innocent, it really caused me to reflect on the journey that led me to creating a place for sisters to network. Please allow me to share a part of this journey with you.
As I mentioned in my last blog, The Evolution of a Brown Girl and Her Dream, I have always had a desire to create a magazine of sorts for African-American women, even though my career took another path. Additionally, I became heavily involved in the church a few years ago and felt a call towards Christian ministry, which I began to pursue with all of my heart. During that season of my life journey, I created an online ministry for women (Fruitful Vine Ministries), attended seminary, and became ordained as an associate minister at my local church.
I truly loved Fruitful Vine Ministries because it gave me the opportunity to "minister" to women (and a few men) all around the world. I enjoyed serving the people at my church and delivering thought-provoking sermons to the congregation. I grew excited whenever I had the opportunity to reach out into the community and assist those who were in need of a helping hand. I learned a great deal about my Christian faith and met a host of wonderful people while I was attending bible school. However, in my private time, I always felt as if I was heading in the wrong direction.
Now I know that all of the Christians out there are probably gasping for air right now, so let me explain myself further. I realize that the call to pulpit ministry is one of the most honorable positions that one can hold, but it is not for everyone. No matter how many people sit in the pews, watch a preacher on television, or buy Christian tapes, there are a large number of people who will not be touched by the great Word that is delivered on any given Sunday. Let's be honest, some of the people who call the church their second home are the least likely to help a sister in need. I believe that my true "calling" in life is to help repair the brokeness that exists within and between African-American women, both inside and outside of the sanctuary.
We are living at a time in history that our foremothers would have never imagined: We have a president of African ancestry and an African-American queen by his side; we have a Black woman sitting at the helm of a Fortune 500 company; the Jewish faith recently named their first African-American female Rabbi; two Nubian princesses were nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards this year; and Oprah Winfrey is still making tons of money. All of these things (and many more) give us a reason to rejoice and celebrate the strides that we have made in this nation.
However, in spite of all of the positive aspects of living in the new millenium, "brown girls" have still got some major issues: African-American women are contracting HIV/AIDS at higher rates than any other group in the United States; young black women are being portrayed as "gold-diggers" and "hoochie mamas" in music videos; the majority of black women are raising children alone; more and more African-American teenage girls are becoming victims of sexual and physical abuse; and too many of us are spending time tearing each other down instead of building each other up.
Brown Girl, please know that I love you, because you are my sister. When I look in the mirror, I see your reflection. When you are angry, I am angry. When you rejoice, I rejoice. When you cry, I cry. When you smile, I smile. When you fail, I fail. When you succeed, I succeed. I AM my sister's keeper!