The Power of (Black) Women

After seeing the Black Panther movie and being part of the whole “Wakanda Movement”, Black Women are back on the map!  I know many people don’t think so…I am here to tell you, we are.  That movie showed impeccable strength, dedication, power, illumination, sense of character and family.

So many women, have no idea, of the power they instill in themselves. I can reassure you, that this is only the beginning of a new end.  When I say the beginning of a new end, I am referring to those women who think there lives are over, due to dead end jobs, family obligations, lifeless relationships and more. You can become POWERFUL.
(Willie Mae Williams my Great Grandmother)
Willie Mae Williams You Me NYC
(Powerful Black Woman Passed at 105 years old)
Not only is it Women’s History Month, we should  be celebrating every day of our lives as to how powerful we are.  I mean power of the mind, body, and soul! What do you want from your life?  Are you afraid to go out and get what you truly desire? I know I use to be afraid to let the world see how talented I am.  I was hiding in the shadows because I didn’t have a degree, I was allowing my  peers to treat me as if I didn’t matter.  Many of them had all these so called great careers, I was making more money than they were and I never said a word.  When people brag and boast about what they have, they lose it quickly.

As a powerful woman, you must stand your ground and figure out what it is, that you want out of life. I’m a “Silent Warrior”, I kill people with kindness but I also back away slowly.  I was in the literary field for over 10 years before going over to Civil Service and now I am a published author, life coach, empowerment speaker, and giver of life.  I use to put my family and friends first and when I realized that they weren’t doing the same for me, I decided to change my life.  I woke up one Sunday morning and said “What in the world are you doing to yourself?” I was exhausted and grew to resent them.  I was unhappy because they didn’t respect me.  That’s when I said “I have to learn to respect myself and stop letting other people take advantage of me.”

As a powerful black woman, we endure so much pain.  We deal with horrible bosses, who don’t know or value our worth.  We stay in dead end relationships hoping our mates are going to change for the better.  Our children are all over the place, driving us crazy, by not succeeding in school or unwilling to participate in after school or weekend activities that we pay for.  It can wear and tear on a woman’s soul.  They say “We are at the bottom of the totem pole.”  I refuse to believe that old saying.  I think we are at the top of the totem pole.  We are just fearful on how to get to the top because we allow individuals and groups to stop us from shining.

Among my research, I found this remarkable tribe, called the “Umoja Village.”  They are a Sisterhood that believes in protecting their own.   Umoja, means “unity” in Swahili. They are an all female matriarch village founded in 1990, located near the town of Samburu County, in the capital of Nairobi.  It was founded by Rebecca Lolosoli, a Samburu woman, as a sanctuary for homeless survivors of violence against women and young girls running from forced marriages.  The women of the Samburu people, do not agree with violence and the traditional subordinate position of women.
(Umoja Village)
Umoja Village You Me NYC
(Umoja Village)
Their story moved me so much, it is similar to what I believe in.  I am a strong believer in teaching, guiding, and protecting my village.  Thanks to my Associate Myra, after a couple of weeks of researching on powerful black women.  She assisted me in finding this tribe.  If a village there in Africa can do it, then why can’t we here in America?  All my life, I heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” So where are all the villages? There is a majority of black women who don’t care about assisting other black women, that’s scary, yet they are the first to complain when something doesn’t go their way.

I want you all to remember that black is the most powerful color in the world. No other color can outshine it.  No matter what, you mix it with…the black and brown are going to show up in some form of fashion.  As a black woman, I want other women to become more dynamic and look for ways to help other women become influential.  Taking baby steps is the key to becoming great. As my best friend Sinatra, always use to say to me “You are destined for greatness.” That statement is so compelling!  You see, women are powerful no matter your economic status, cultural background, neighborhood or education.  We all have something unique inside of us that is destined to soar.

I am going to give you some quick tips to become even more powerful!

Tip #1 – Stop being a people pleaser!
Tip #2 – What is your dream, aspiration or goal?
Tip #3 – Do you have a hobby or something that you are good at?
Tip #4 – Focus on one goal, dream or aspiration at a time?
Tip #5 – Learn to say NO to people and work on you!
Tip #6 – Give yourself a timeline of 30, 60 or 90 days to accomplish one goal.
Tip #7 – Don’t forget to show gratitude, to how far you’ve come in reaching your goals.

When you get the chance, check out my book “Ready Set Go, 30 Days of Motivation To Get You To The Next Level.

Blessings,
Ms. Mikki A. Ealey

My Passion – My Therapy – My Life

From Hitsville USA (Detroit Michigan) to Bed-Stuy (Bedford Stuyvesant) Brooklyn, Kendra J. Ross, professional dancer, professional choreographer, teaching artist, arts administrator, and community organizer was able to set aside some time out of her extremely busy schedule for us so that we may get to know more about this “Detroit” native, now one of the most well-known performers in the Brooklyn and New York City dance community.  Growing up in Detroit has shaped Kendra into the proud black woman she is today.  One of the most segregated cities, Kendra was always surrounded by black people of all shades, colors and aptitudes.  According to Kendra, black has always been beautiful, she never experienced being a “token” until her adulthood.  Being from Detroit, has given Kendra a love for the flashy elements with a little bit of grit.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

In her early years, growing up in Detroit, Kendra (pictured here courtesy of Longtower Photography) was always a performer.  Her career started with a performance of an assortment of MC Hammer and Michael Jackson interpretations, in a well-know venue to her, which was her living room in front of a very tough crowd, which happened to be her parents and grandparents.  Even though Kendra did not start taking formal dance lessons til she was twelve years old, she was always fascinated with dance.  Her eternal love for the art was conflicted with also wanting to go into the legal profession as an attorney and she would have, until her AP Chemistry teacher told her that aspiring to be a dancer is a “waste of her talent”.  “I do not take kindly to people telling me what I cannot do so I decided to prove her wrong” Ross says.

When asked what she loves and what are some of the challenges she faces in her field of expertise, we find that connecting with other people through movement is what Kendra loves about what she does in her chosen profession.  She can express so much more than words can signify through her choreography,  especially at that moment when she discovers a quality about herself through dance and when she is able to help someone else reveal an attribute about themselves through their progression as well.  With her love for contemporary dance and folkloric dance, specifically Afro Caribbean dance, which tends to be underfunded, coupled with the fact that people aren’t going to live shows as much, unless it’s Broadway or a very well known company, due to the growing popularity of the Internet,  Kendra has to take on the role of multiple jobs while creating and performing her masterpieces.  Fortunately she works in the realm she also creates in, Kendra is the “Director of Programs and Administration” for “Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance”.  According to Ross, the labor can be exhausting and not as financially rewarding as the amount of work she puts in, however, in her own words “art is my passion, my therapy and my life so I do it anyway”.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

There is a large source of influence and inspiration Kendra pulls from, including, her family, ancestors, the Orishas,  Detroit and Bed-Stuy and her appreciation for music, all of which inspire her and the different moods it creates.  As far as individual influences, Kendra holds in high regard, both Katherine Dunham and Pearl Primus for their movements and strict commitment to evolving tradition.  Adia Tamar Whitaker the “director” of the “Ase Dance Theater Collective” and the way she continues the legacy of being grounded in tradition along with creating new tradition also has quite an impact on Kendra, who is also a member of this company.  Efeya Sampson, a beautiful dancer, teaching artist, cancer survivor and Kendra’s best friend also inspires and influences her by reminding her to be strong, to walk the world with grace and power, while challenging her to be a better dancer because she doesn’t want to be out-shinned by her “bestie”. (photo courtesy of Erik Bandeiro)

With all that is going on in Kendra’s life there is actually a fraction of downtime.  Kendra has started a new Sunday morning self care ritual.  She starts off by playing her music, then she starts dancing in the mirror, followed by dancing over to the kitchen, to fix herself some “gluten free” pancakes.  On other days, she likes to talk to friends and family in person or over the phone or watch television, her new fix is a show called “This is Us”.  She loves to cook and on days where the weather is cooperating, she loves to walk around  the rapidly changing Bed-Stuy especially during the warm months or sometimes just sitting at home in silence contemplating in her peaceful surroundings.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

Her current residence of Bed-Stuy surrounds her with diverse motivations, ideas and enthusiasm, all a part of community and legacy the two most important factors about what she does.  Since her work is rooted in the African Diaspora, she believes in upholding and carrying on these traditions that hold the ancient knowledge that the people of the African Diaspora have used for survival. Through her work, the companies she dances with and the art she administers, Kendra believes that she is creating community for people.  Hence her creation and founding of “STooPS” a conduit for community building and intentional artistic experimentation.  New York City is massive, it can feel over crowded and lonely at the same time, the community she creates along with other communities she is a part of, serve as a family support system for herself, for those she works with and the continuing of the “Kendra J. Ross Legacy”. (photo courtesy of Ivan Forte)

Kendra J. Ross Teaching Artist

(photo courtesy of Erik Bandeiro)