African Dance 1

The Circle

On 6/21, we celebrated Summer Solstice with an Afro-Brazilian Dance Class led by my long-time sister friend Haninah. Haninah and I have been friends for more than 20 years. I used to talk with her about this idea called urban university. She listened and nodded her head. To have her teach a dance workshop for our moms, 20 years later, inside my dream, made me think about the power of sisterhood.
After the class, we all danced a circle around one of our moms. All beautiful sisters, Margaret, a kind and gentle soul and mother who has shopped at and supported our store since it first opened, Haninah, there’s Asinea (our five year old daughter of one of our moms reaching up), and Diane, our devoted volunteer. All surrounding Eternity. As you can see from the look on Eternity’s face – she’s somewhat embarrassed by the attention, as if she wasn’t comfortable with being in the “spotlight.” As we circled around her, she relaxed and smiled.
And I thought this circle was “the,” essence of this picture.
But it’s wasn’t, if you look closely, there’s a woman standing at the top left, outside of the circle. That’s Lisa, one of our moms. She wasn’t feeling well that day and couldn’t join and get too close to us. While I felt good circling around Eternity, and grateful to hold hands with my sisters around this sister, it didn’t feel quite complete with Lisa standing “outside,” the circle. I want women to be “in,” the circle.
And that’s exactly one of the underlying pillars I recognize our programs and services stand on, a circle of women holding hands, bringing together resources, including each other, extending our circles. I know that doesn’t always happen, for one reason or another. For this picture, Lisa didn’t feel well. She was out the circle. Sometimes it could be women judging one another because we’re socialized to compete with one another. We’re out the circle. It could be a woman of a higher social class, not turning back to reach out to another woman or a woman of a lower social class, not looking up to ask for help. Outside the circle.
As I scale this vision and work with some of the bay area’s most caring and talented women, on the behalf of some of the bay area’s most beautiful and promising women, it’s my hope as we gather together and create a powerful ecosystem of services for single mothers, that we all get to stand, right in the middle of the circle.