[ PAST LETTERS ]
“So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we’re still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up.”- Michelle Obama
It’s September, which, for me, means the beginning of a new school semester! As much as I love learning, studying, and research, this last year of coursework is already proving to be a real challenge, and I am beginning to realize why that is: I’m beginning to shake up tables that I never thought I would.
I have found myself at many tables in life, but I did not always know what to do once I found my seat. Was it not enough to be the only Black woman, the youngest adult, the one with dark skin and locs, or the most formally educated? Did any of those things help me gain access to the table? My presence may have raised eyebrows, but I quickly learned that it meant nothing to be present unless I was going to be fully present. There was no point in being at the table if I was not going to use my position, my voice, and my ideas to shake it up. Once I came to this conclusion, I noticed the many ways that the women I admire most live by a similar motto.
I learned that while we work hard for access and positions that grant us power and a platform to make amazing things happen, many times we waste those opportunities for fear of making too much of a change or not having the support that we need to make a real difference. If I allowed that fear to stifle my fervor, Feminessay would not exist. There are, and there will always be, naysayers and people who would choose not to support this community, but I also have faith that the Black women I know and those whom I have yet to meet in person will be more than enough to sustain this space. We all have stories, experiences, and ideas that we want to share, and I continue to trust that this space will be the perfect outlet for that sharing to happen.
Women who would otherwise not share their stories are empowered to begin writing because of the stories that they read on Feminessay. The feedback that I receive from readers who are not Black women, for example, shows an appreciation for our stories- one that recognizes the beauty and artistry in the words and truth that we share in telling more about ourselves than one could ever know without reading. Our stories are shaking up tables by letting each other and the rest of the world know that we are here, we are writers, and our stories matter.
Last month, I read an amazing piece on The Cut that shared firsthand accounts of what it is like to be Black while working in the fashion industry. I recognized the names of editors and stylists whom I hold in high regard, and I appreciated their honesty and candidness in sharing their experiences. As a Black woman working and studying as a minority in the field of education, I could personally relate to most of the things that were shared. Some contributors spoke of feeling silenced, being afraid to express their Blackness in different ways, and even recognizing the microagressions that took place at work. While I’m sure some of those who contributed input had these same discussions with peers, putting their stories out into the world is a powerful move.
It was while reading that piece that I was reminded that Feminessay is a growing community where the same type of sharing happens. Many versions of the stories shared here have been told time and time again amongst ourselves, but there is also power in sharing those stories with the world.
Do you want to shake things up? Take your stories beyond your imagination, your journal, your friend circle, your confidants, and share them. Your story has never been told, and this is the perfect place to start.
— Tiye Naeemah Cort,
Editor-in-Chief + Founder