This is a guest blog post by Thameka Thompson of I Am a Black Woman, Yes I Matter, a project that amplifies and elevates the voices of Black women to a wide, inclusive audience and discusses topics such as COVID 19, financial empowerment, entrepreneurship, education, health and politics with the goal of creating sustainable and actionable change.
I am a Black Woman, Yes I Matter has created a new Givitas group for anyone who identifies as a Black woman. They wanted to share more about the philosophy behind the group. Join the free Givitas group for Black women, and follow the project on YouTube.
“All that you touch you Change. All that you Change Changes You. The only lasting truth is Change. God is Change.” – Octavia Butler
I’m always drawn to what DuBois dubbed “double-consciousness” in his book, The Souls of Black Folk. He wrote: it’s “a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.”
As Black women, the confluence and intersection of race and gender compound our awareness of, and operation within this double-consciousness.
The white gaze and the male gaze – two sides of the same coin. Freedom, for Black folk – and not coincidentally, for women – requires not just a radical acceptance of us as whole human beings. It requires not just acceptance of our free-will and autonomy over our own bodies and economies; or, at a minimum, tolerance for us merely existing, for simply breathing. It requires a complete and total departure from the hierarchical narratives that we’ve all been sold and told to date.
However, especially once I started studying African American history and literature in earnest in college, I saw the conundrum we face. When we step outside, we largely cannot hide the fact of who or what we are.
First impressions – by strangers, by the law – are often based on phenotypic characteristics. Society and culture conditions us to believe that we can use outward appearance alone as the basis of judgment and to surmise one’s character and inherent worth. It’s a product of the patriarchal structures and belief systems upon which we were founded. It’s so entrenched in the fabric of our society that, like the gaze, it’s almost inescapable.
Part of systemic racism and gender prejudice serves to erase us as Black people and as women.
It strips us from our own identities. It’s an attempt to leave us bereft of a sense of spiritual grounding, and again of being safe in the world. The erasure of Black women; the appropriation and co-option of our style, our words, our work, all whilst failing to acknowledge us as whole human beings, let alone as creators and originators, as leaders and empowered beings, is part and parcel of most if not all of the systemic structures which surround us. We are at once encapsulated while we are constantly working to escape.
Society and culture expect Black people and Black women especially to perform at a level and at a rate that eclipses all other demographics. Yet we are the most under-valued and least-served demographic. Assisting one another has been one of the only ways we’ve even managed to survive, let alone thrive in the ways in which we already have.
To be Black, and to be a woman, means also, to dream.
It means to dream of a different way of being. We dream of being safe in fully embodying one’s whole self; all facets of one’s identity – creatively, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
The literary behemoths – Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, to name but a few – taught us that our survival is contingent upon our freedom. Our freedom is contingent upon extricating, if not our bodies, then at a minimum, our minds and our spirits from the limitations and restrictions that society seeks to impress upon us.
Some find these safe spaces at home, with loving and supportive family members or other caregivers. For others, it may be at school, in the nooks of books, or with teachers or mentors who act as angels on Earth. Some may find this support amongst friends – in person, or otherwise, online. Others perhaps in the pursuit of their work and life purposes. For many, it’s likely some combination of the aforementioned.
Sadly, some may seek and yet may never find any safe space that exists outside of themselves.
Black Women Matter serves to be at least one of those safe spaces.
Black Women Matter chose to partner with Givitas because their platform provides an easy and efficient way to seek help and advice. Givitas makes it easy to share resources and to make lasting and meaningful connections.
Givitas believes in the power of the collective; in the power and flow of both giving and receiving. What’s more, they also take online safety and security seriously, instead of just paying it lip-service. Givitas genuinely encourages connection, generosity, gratitude, and trust. These are all qualities that speak directly to our mission on a deeply intrinsic level.
Again, the totality of our offerings is about cultivating and curating true abundance. We’re doing it in the form of assistance, business, comfort, connection, guidance, networking, online safety, security and the ultimate luxury – free-time – for Black women.
Through their platform, Givitas re-imagines the social media experience and landscape.
Most social media apps and websites suck users in, keeping them scrolling endlessly. However, Givitas provides a more targeted approach. Engagement with the platform is more intentional, and ideally takes up less time.
Their data and research also show that engaging in giving and altruistic activities (think of it like online volunteerism) increases overall happiness and productivity. This occurs both on an individual level but also in terms of our larger communities.
Those of us aware of the fact that we are spiritual beings first know that “as above, so below.” This easily translates into “as within, so without.” Our external environments and realities reflect our inner experiences and feelings.
If you can’t already tell, there’s a collective shift happening. Givitas for Black Women is part of that shift.
It has been for some time, and it will continue, exponentially, and while not without challenge, unabated. In some astrological circles and communities, we debate whether or not we’ve entered or are entering into the “Age of Aquarius.” Either way, there’s no mistaking – especially over the course of the last year – “the times they are a-changin’.”
In order for this community to work, in order to do the work, both within and without, we too have to be willing to change. We have to be:
- Honest with ourselves and be willing to seek and ask for help.
- Open and unafraid to share our experiences and resources with one another.
- Dogged in shedding and throwing off the limited ways of being and of thinking that have heretofore sought to plague and oppress us.
- Brave and radical in our attitudes of acceptance and abundance.
In so doing, we cultivate not only a deeper sense of belonging. We expand our respective networks and realize that we are in fact never alone. We’ll also then be seeking, or better yet, creating the future that we dreamed and imagined. The future is one in which we can have it all, and be it too. We’ve all heard the old adage “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” But as a good friend reminded me recently: once your cup is full, it’s your duty to pour it out over others as well.Join Givitas for Black Women
About the Author
Thameka Thompson is a freelance writer and spiritual practitioner based in Brooklyn, NY. She has a B.A in African American Studies from Yale University. Her sister, Kwamara, is the founder of Black Women Matter.
Note: We follow the AP style guide, which capitalizes Black in this context. Here is a further explanation of their decision. Columbia Journalism Review, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, NBC News and Chicago Tribune are among the organizations that have recently said they would capitalize Black but have not done so for white.