Black women: we see you, we love to hear your voice, and we’re grateful for the privilege of holding and sharing your stories, especially over the past several months.
In June 2020, The Beautiful Project launched #HerTestimony: A Campaign About Black Women’s Experiences of COVID-19 in North Carolina. Throughout this campaign, we’ve been listening to Black women and their experiences throughout the coronavirus pandemic over the past several months. We conducted interviews, have an online survey where women in North Carolina can anonymously share their experiences during COVID-19, we created a guide, and a downloadable gift accessible to all on our website. For a more in-depth overview of what the campaign entailed, please be sure to check out the “What We Did” section below.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN LEARNING:
Throughout the past two months, many Black women in North Carolina have anonymously shared their stories with us through an online survey. We are thankful for and moved by each response. Here are a few things we’ve been hearing:
- Significant concern around work.
Navigating unemployment, job uncertainties, or the changes in schedule and structure around working from home while caring for family.
- Challenges with mental health.
Heightened levels of anxiety and stress, concern for family’s financial future.
- Changes in relationship dynamics.
Navigating feelings of loneliness among those who live alone; or families figuring out the balance between spending quality time together and still getting necessary alone time.
- Changes to self-care practices.
Whether worship and faith-based, or physical; many women have had to face changes and different dynamics in how they feed their souls, bodies, and minds.
- Concern for community.
Many women expressed deep concern for the Black community: for access to resources, housing support, employment opportunity, and wanting our Black community to have a pathway to thrive. Women highlighted needs in their direct communities as well the Black community at-large.
- Sources of joy.
Women defined finding their joy in: spending time in nature, connecting with family and friends, laughter, their faith practices, music and dancing, spending time in solitude, and even intentional practices like having fresh flowers.
This is just a snapshot of some responses we received during our survey.
WHAT WILL COME NEXT:
We aim to continue building on the foundation of #HerTestimony and serve our communities with the information we had the opportunity to gather.
Sharing our Findings.
Our goal with this campaign has always been to document how this pandemic specifically impacts Black women so that our experiences and insights can be best positioned to serve us, our loved ones and our families not just right now, but in the year ahead. We will analyze the data and stories collected over the past two months and develop a report. This report will be freely available on our website, and will be shared with partners, organizations, and community members so that as organizations seek to serve Black women and their families, they will be able to serve according to the needs that Black people themselves state they have.
Her Testimony Virtual Youth Apprenticeship
We will also continue this work by supporting the growth and development of Black girls, via our first virtual youth apprenticeship. Black girls, ages 14-18, who live in the Triangle area of North Carolina are invited to apply to this program that will provide experience-based education to train them in The Beautiful Project’s methodology of centering and uplifting the narratives of Black girls and women. The program will run from September-December 2020 and apprentices will be trained in storytelling, research, and analysis by Black women mentors.
Four girls will be selected to participate in this paid apprenticeship. Applications are due on Friday, August 28th, so we invite you to share this with Black girls you know who may be interested! You can learn more here.
With hearts full of gratitude, we thank Doretha, Jasmine, Derria, Melissa, Erika, Brianna, and Angela for granting us the honor of telling you their stories.
We also thank each woman who took the time to complete the #HerTestimony online survey. Your responses are helping to shape the understanding of what Black families need in North Carolina as the pandemic evolves.
Thank you to each person who shared, forwarded, and reposted our campaign in any way. Many hands make light work.
Thank you to you – for your partnership and support of The Beautiful Project, and your value for lifting up the voices of Black women.
#HERTESTIMONY: WHAT WE DID.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted Black communities in significant ways – among the precious lives lost, there have also been significant economic impacts, changes in relationship dynamics, and clear highlight of need. As a collective of Black women storytellers, we are passionate about creating space for Black women’s voices to be heard. Historically, Black voices have often been overlooked during crises, but The Beautiful Project – like many other Black-affirming organizations – has been committed to ensuring that Black women and their families will be seen and heard during this time.
The #HerTestimony campaign has been a response to the need to raise Black voices – for the community to get the support needed, Black voices must be heard.
Our campaign had several components.
Sharing Your Testimony: The Online Survey.
Beginning in June, we launched an online survey designed to collect stories anonymously from self-identified Black women 18 and older, across intersecting identities, living in North Carolina. They answered questions around their needs, challenges, ways that COVID has impacted various aspects of their lives from employment to family, to physical and mental health, and beyond. Participants also took time to share the hopes that they have in the midst of these difficult times, and hopes for their future after we emerge from this crisis. The survey closes in two days on August 28, so if you’d like to share your testimony, you still have the opportunity to do so.
Read #HerTestimony: The Narrative Project
Throughout the months of April and May, several Black women across North Carolina conducted interviews with The Beautiful Project during which they expressed their personal stories and experiences during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pains, challenges, hopes, and learnings they discussed resonated deeply. In their stories, we saw themes of faith, healing, purpose, peace, village and community, worth, and worship. Many thanks to Doretha, Jasmine, Derria, Melissa, Erika, Brianna, and Angela for taking time to bravely and vulnerably share their testimonies with us. Please take a few moments to read their stories on our blog.
#HerTestimony Giveaway: The Raffle
In support of Black-women owned businesses, we raffled off five $50 giftcards to: Semicolon Bookstore (Chicago), The ZEN Succulent (Durham), Jeddah’s Tea (Durham), and Cafe Con Libros (Brooklyn).
Foster Community in Testifying: The Guide
We believe in the power of storytelling to provide a place for community, a channel for healing, and serve as a tool for change. We created a guide to give you a way to extend the Her Testimony project to your own community, be it in North Carolina or beyond. This guide provides the list of interview questions that we asked for our narrative project. It also includes several ideas on how to engage people in conversations about how their lives have been impacted during this period of time. The guide is available to download for free.
Affirm the Truth of Your Testimony: The Gift
We created a gift of affirmations that were inspired by the testimonies that have been collected. These affirmations are available to download as digital wallpaper for phones and tablets. We believe in the power of surrounding ourselves with truth and affirmations. During a time where so many messages have been harming our spirits, let us hold tightly to the truth that uplifts and strengthens. You can download the gift on our website.