Image Makers

The Sisterhood of Keeping

July 12, 2016

We hope that you have been able to take some time to sit with our latest exhibit. The stories that we have collected have been so rich and full and moving. The stories are based on the tenets of the Sisterhood Creed; joy, suffering, acceptance, sharpening and keeping. We received stories representative of every tenet, except one.

The Sisterhood of Keeping.

I know full well that we are holding space for one another. I know that Black women are taking care of their mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and beyond. I know that we have taken up our swords and committed to do battle for one another, when we are in need and when we are hurting. And I know that this is true for more than a few of us. But there is another reality that many Black women face while in relationship with other Black women.

This past winter, I went to a restaurant with a friend. As part of the hospitality, a hostess, who, in this case, was an older Black woman, walked from table to table, asking patrons about their meal, and overall their experience in the small, popular venue. I took notice of this woman and observed the manner in which she visited everyone. I noticed how she tried to make herself smaller as she approached the table of white men and how she moved all about our table, but waited until she was almost finished with all of the tables on our side before she arrived at our table, extending us the hospitality even vaguely congruent with what she had exhibited before. When she approached our table, she was kind, but she was not invested. It was almost as if she assumed that we were good and we really didn’t need her help. In fairness, we didn’t need her help but we did want her attention. We wanted her brand of sweetness suited to us, the same way she did for the white men.

After she quickly  did her due diligence to cover our table, my friend and I talked about this and how it made us feel. It reminded me of the case of the last five smiles. If all you have to give are your last five smiles, who are you giving them to? Are these the folks closest to you, like family members and fiends, or are these strangers with whom you have no real  relationship? I do think that the hostess wanted to give us one of her last five smiles, but she was saving them for someone else, or some other time because she figured that we were okay and we didn’t need it. It was painful to watch her give one away to someone so different from her when her daughters were sitting right there with her, eager and excited to share space with her. The thing is, so many of us do this to one another. We get so busy fighting in the world that we expect our sisters to have their stuff together, to be able to march and fight with us, not need us to fight with them. The Sisterhood of Keeping is about this–taking care of one another by holding space for one another, making room for another, and so much more. Are we keeping each other when our weaknesses make us heavy to bear? Are we keeping one another when our brokenness makes us hurtful and harmful? Are we showing gratitude for all the times that we have had to be kept?I believe we are.

Will you please lift your voices and share your stories so that we can encourage our sisters to keep fighting for one another? #weallwegot

Head to our Get Involved page for more information about submitting a story.

2 thoughts on “The Sisterhood of Keeping

    1. Hi Jalila – on our Get Involved page you’ll see the instructions on how and where to submit your story.

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