Originally Published October 2015

Enough has happened. Truthfully, more than enough has happened. More than enough has happened to black women to convince me that we need a new iteration of sisterhood. Whether it’s political, social, or pop culture related there is no shortage of reasons for black women to co-sign our glory under hashtags of encouragement a la #blackgirlsaremagic, #blackgirlsrock and #melaninonfleek while the validation for our public gatherings and unification has come in the forms of the most heinous of acts from Eric Garner to Sandra Bland.

The stat quo for the community of black womanhood has changed significantly. We represent a wealth of information based on our levels of professional success, personal experiences and our push to be included in a variety of areas that would have been previously unavailable to us and still often represent limited access without a connection. While we are aware of the continuous upgrades made to our proverbial hard drive, the rest of the world often sees us as a floppy disk relegated to archival shelves and incapable of improvement. Our upgrade to some has come in the form of replacement by women who adopt our appearance and affect while wearing a much more historically acceptable skin suit.

Like Hollywood actresses in the screenplay of life, Black women are allocated the role of a monolithic grouping fulfilling less than positive pictures projected through pop culture. By groups who refuse to take us seriously, we are reduced to bodies worthy of caricature and minds void of anything but twerking and turning up (neither of which I frown upon and may occasionally do). For an entirely different group of onlookers, and in my opinion the more detrimental to our collective well-being, we are perceived as a dangerous machine that is rapidly changing and almost incapable of being pinned down. Spiraling out of the reach of those who would benefit most from controlling us, we are a study. Our vernacular, bodies, trends and collective thought are feared and therefore, worthy of paid commissions to better understand us, stifle our visions and in many cases co-opt our thoughts and ideas to package and distribute to the masses.

Sound nefarious? Perhaps, but we have seen worse. Paranoid? The naysayers would use this as a description, much like calling Dave Chappelle crazy for the purpose of discounting the validity of his experience and watering down the value of his words. However, that is this writer’s perspective and ultimately my reasoning for why we need Sisterhood 3.0.

We have seen the magic of black girls through the actions and leadership of the Black Lives Matters movement and various groups of new activism. We have watched the continuation of the mission of empowerment brought to us by bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Julianne Malveaux through womanists and feminists using social media and blogs as their platform. There has been no shortage of sisters speaking out on intersectionality and marching for justice for the life of yet another black man, but we still have work to do.
Sisterhood 3.0 would see MORE of us willing to stand with each other in spite of our differences. It would see us banded together and resisting the urge to argue over the merits of natural hair vs. relaxed. S3.0 would remove the need to champion the messy representation peddled through entertainment vehicles because we would create alternatives and support those who know these alternatives to be true (we see you Issa Rae).

The new agenda would slap the hands of those who engage in silly slut shaming tendencies because we see it for what is, an ongoing promotion of patriarchy and the continued desire to have domain over black women’s bodies. While sliding up and down, the pole may not be the way to your means we would rather keep that to ourselves than disrespect any part of our sisterhood.
The new representation will reduce the need for a black woman to leave her children in a vehicle when going to a job interview because the village would offer her a way. While it may seem utopic, it’s not far-fetched, we have years of historical anecdotes and even personal experiences to prove it.

Investment in Sisterhood 3.0 would be free of cost, requiring time and commitment while netting us all significant return. We would band together to discuss the impact of repealing and defunding public health initiatives that offer underprivileged, women of color, opportunities to be responsible about their reproductive, sexual and general health. The Affordable Healthcare Act would be untouchable because we would vote as a body that understands that we are our sister’s keeper and my corporately funded health plan or your privately paid plan is not as easily accessible to our sister working for less than a living wage.

The new Sisterhood would ask the Sheryl Sandberg’s of the world what Leaning In will look like for non-majority women. Will it look like the baby step of an increased wage to put women of color on par with white appearing women before we take the giant leap of fighting for equal wages to men? Will it acknowledge that Leaning In for women of color can be perceived as aggressive and often end up in unlawful terminations in “at will states”?

Additional investments in Sisterhood 3.0 would place the same value on black womanhood when it is in need as it does when it is being taken advantage of. For instance, black women would hold the feet of public officials to the fire by consistently voting at local levels. Public officials who do not speak out about exclusionary or race oriented incidents in their districts would be directly impacted in the areas that concern them most: the polls and their pockets.

This iteration of Sisterhood wouldn’t be monolithic. It would simply recognize that there are issues of significance that we should be willing to come to the table to discuss without vitriol or necessary inclusion of the voice of “allies” because we understand our collective power.

This covenant of Sisters would agree that labels are not worthy of us. We can be fluid in our musical, clothing, artistic, and relationship choices without denying that our connection through the thing that we can not change is imperative to protect, respect, and reflect upon.

S3.0 would see black women less likely to take the advice of black male relationship gurus simply because they are male. It would hold those gurus accountable for giving advice to black men rather than suggesting that black women pay greater attention to unscrupulous beings (most of us already know that but wouldn’t it be great to see someone go after the problem rather than attack those who are subjected to it). The Sisterhood would agree that we can love our brothers while holding them accountable and that these two things are not exclusionary.

The Sisterhood would not be judgmental of one another without offering solutions. We would see our own flaws and directly address them with each other before making them a part of the dirty laundry that others use as WorlStar fodder. The Sisterhood would recognize that even with our imperfections we are more likely to succeed when working united.

We would have a covenant greater than the boundaries of pink and green, red and cream, or affiliations in general. Our covenant would commit to combating the idea that black women don’t get along not just in word but in deed. We would shut down all naysayers as though they were coming for a blood relation.

Finally, the Sisterhood would be real. It will not be without it’s moments of fiery rhetoric, it will not all be “kumbaya”, but it will approach the mantle respectful of the fact that your skinfolk CAN be your kinfolk if we place value on our past and present history. We will agree to disagree on some issues. We will not allow others to shape who we are through their media to make money off of us that will never be “trickled down”. We will be real, approachable, and aware of our legacy of greatness. We will pass that legacy on to the next generation who will continue to demonstrate that we aren’t a floppy disk and in most cases we are the new thing before “they” even knew it. We will give them reason to continue to study, fearfully, the thing that can not be captured in a room full of suits and manufactured in a lab.

Sisterhood 3.0..there is no time like the present.

Featured Photo: CreateHer Stock