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Activate Panel! L to R: Gabby Griffie, Nichole Lee, Headmistress Jill, Katy Jackman Tyndell, Precious Smith

One of my favorite things about being the Headmistress of the Finishing School for Modern Women is being able to bring people together to talk about what’s going on in the world. Not to commiserate, as much as to strategize. As a community of Modern Women, we can make an impact in planning solutions and talking about how we can help each other.

Women have a unique way of looking at situations that differs from men. Maybe it’s the gift we’ve been given to grow other humans inside our bodies. Perhaps it’s an “outsider” perspective that’s been forced on us to watch silently from the sideline. We certainly understand what abuse feels like since most of us have experienced some form of that in silent secrecy.  

Women have been socialized to be the caregivers in society. It hurts us when we see blatant abuse. We often won’t fight for ourselves but threaten those we love, and our inner warrior queen will come out to slay.

With everything that’s going on in the world, there are many battles to fight and wrongs to be righted. It is time to expand our world view to see beyond our experience and learn from others. This is why I hosted Activate! Advocacy Training on July 9. The panelists and the experience were amazing. (Check out their bios here.)

Here’s what I learned:

Not being racist isn’t enough.

It is time to take a stand for antiracism. The difference is subtle but powerful. Antiracism is about actively opposing racism and working to promote change and racial equality.

Show up.

The simplest thing we can to do be an ally is to show up – take action. There are a lot of ways to do this besides protesting. Donating money and/or time to nonprofits that benefit the black community, spending money with black-owned businesses, or attending events where you may be the only white person are a few suggestions. This will also help broaden the diversity of your friends, contacts, and allies.

Raise antiracist children.

Changing society by raising children that can identify racism and stand up against it is part of the revolution too. Don’t forget it or think what you're doing isn't important.

Be a sponsor.

Sometimes as allies we need to walk beside our sisters of color. Sometimes we need to walk in front and break down barriers. Watch for opportunities to connect and recommend black and brown women into what you’re doing. Purposely be inclusive in the places where you have the power to be.

Don’t be afraid to ask. 

We may worry too much about being offensive when it comes to inviting people of color into our tribes. We want to be more inclusive, but we worry about making someone feel “token.” This fear keeps us segregated. Reach out to your friends and contacts and ask for recommendations. Ask people you know to invite friends and broaden your circles. People feel like they belong in places where there are people who look like them, so don’t stop at inviting one person.

Get Curious.

One of the things I hear most from black women is that they are tired of trying to teach people what it means to be black in this society. It is exasperating how long they’ve been trying, to mostly deaf ears. There are books you can read or listen to. (Here’s a great list to start with for children and adults.) There are podcasts and all kinds of amazing information waiting for you on the Internet. Google it!   

Don’t get invested

Learning more about the injustices in the world is going to bring up a lot of emotions. Don’t get invested in those reactions. Experience them, then let them go. It’s part of growth and learning to process anger, shame, conflict, righteous indignation, guilt, and all the feels. But don’t let them get a grip on you. Keeping your mind open, without judgment, will help you go deeper.

Not everyone agrees.

The part of the discussion that got the most passionate was about what needs to be done about policing. This is such a tough, complicated issue that’s emotionally charged because it keys into our most basic human needs to thrive – safety. That black parents must have “The Talk” with their children about surviving police interaction is a huge red flag that change needs to happen. I don’t think anyone knows what that means yet, but lots of dialogue with citizen input around this topic is past due.  

You wouldn't touch a queen's crown. Don't touch her hair!

Keep your hands to yourself.

I’m shocked that I even have to say this. DO NOT ask to touch a black woman’s hair, and most especially DO NOT touch her hair without asking. You’ll pull away with a nub – and you deserve to. I mean really. I can tell you from experience that taming textured hair is an art form. My hair can go from fabulous to frizz just by sweeping the hair away from my eyes. If you’re curious and can’t stand it, go to a wig shop and ask the people working there all the questions you want and maybe you’ll be allowed to touch the wigs.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

People are complicated and so are the issues around us. Learning more about what’s going on in the world can feel like wearing a hair suit. There are so much anger and animosity toward people who hold different opinions than we do, and our society is seriously divided. That should make us all feel uncomfortable.

We all need to expand our world view and realize that not everyone's experience is the same as ours and love them anyway. Or at least get to know someone before judging them.

A huge thank you to Gabby Griffie, Katy Jackman Tyndell, Nichole Lee, and Precious Smith for making up our panel. Everyone was worried that our usual 2 ½ hour class was going to be tough to sit through, but our conversation was so compelling it felt like it went by fast!

I love panel discussions and plan to have more in the future. Stay tuned!

Stay well!

Headmistress Jill

P.S. We are donating $150 to Black Women Empowered in Wichita, Inc. from ticket sales! Thanks to everyone who bought tickets.


Because We’re Never Finished

The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers classes to help women find their authentic selves; not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages, to learn from experts and each other, how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life.

To learn more about our in-person and online classes  for our classes and free social membership.

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