Kitchen tables remind me of the women in my family, who gathered after Sunday church service and talked about the week’s events. At Bigmama’s kitchen table, you were encouraged to speak. You were encouraged to give voice to the details of your days, whether you thought it to be significant or not. Sometimes those listening would capture importance from small things. Or they’d gleam meaning from the way your body moved. Everything about you mattered at the kitchen table.
These child-hood memories have an indelible place in my heart. So, as an adult, I’ve searched for the “kitchen table” where women are gathered to support each other in intimate ways. I’ve looked in rows in mega churches. There, the women look straight at the pulpit and file out after the sermon is finished. Fortunately, I’ve found a church that prides itself on small groups. I’ve looked in organizations, where, again, women sit, neatly, in rows, with little or no space to speak and to be heard.
My search intensifies in difficult times, where I’ve had to create my own experience, at times. In the 90s, after the racial strife in Los Angeles, I founded a non-profit while teaching in Watts after a parent of one of my favorite second graders showed up drunk. In the early 2000s, I did it with an inspirational SHOUT (Shine, Have Hope, Overcome, Use God’s Power, and Take Charge©) that I shared at schools, agencies, county facilities, homeless shelters, and more.
Now, in these tumultuous times, I’ve done it again. This time it’s #DOU, or #DOUtherevolutionbeginswithin.
On Saturday, I invited 10 women over to share about their hopes, dreams, and gifts because women will get this country back on track again, and we will do it in intimate settings. We will do it in living rooms, one relationship at a time. In my meditation, the night before the gathering, it was clear that I needed to say, with conviction and passion, only a few things:
Life is short – I shared a funeral program of my dear sorority sister who passed suddenly. I’ve had her program on my family room table since January. It reminds me how very short this life is and pushes me to get on with important things.
Discover your anointing – We’re all gifted with certain talents, which never expire. Your age doesn’t matter. It’s our duty to figure out what those gifts are and to share them with the world. The world will be healed when each of us do our part by sharing our gifts in our very own unique way. No other person has our DNA and will do “a thing” like we will do it.
Live from your core – Your core is that deep place that defines who you are. For example, I must be positive. I must communicate. I must encourage others to allow their voices to be heard. I must have fun. How I do something is more important that what I do. I’ve shared my core qualities as a teacher, as a corporate worker, and as a writer. If I worked in Starbucks, I’d be the same. I must always live from my core and other women should do the same. You must discover what your core is.
Be Authentic – Once you discover your anointing and identify your core, don’t live from any other space. Don’t do what others are doing just for the sake of fitting in. I’m creative. I love to dance, laugh, and write. I’m no good in conservative, strict environments, although I understand that as an adult, I must, at times, navigate those spaces. I no longer beat myself up because environments that seem normal for others, make me uncomfortable as heck. I define who I am and what I need. And then I share my “I am” authentically, and you must do the same.
Speak. At the kitchen table in my childhood, all the women spoke. If you didn’t speak, then that meant something was, drastically, wrong. Your voice was, vitally, important. It’s so important for women to be in environments where we’re encouraged to speak. Hillary Clinton talked about this in her last speech, although I’d already coined the term “Kitchen Table” by then. We all spoke on Saturday. A #DOU gathering must build in time for all the women to speak.
Listen. We must listen to other women. Take a deep breath and just listen. Because I didn’t have help on Saturday, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, which prevented me from hearing everyone speak. My biggest disappointment was that I didn’t hear everyone’s story. We learn from each other’s stories.
Support other women. There is nothing like receiving encouragement from another woman and hearing them say, “Yes, you can.” On Saturday, we encouraged each other as we talked about our futures, hopes, and dreams. We explored steps to take to full-fill our destinies. Here’s a video of Shalonda, a playwright, director, producer, and actress. Shalonda starred in my Our Voices play and is an amazing actress. Her plays are phenomenal. You can learn about her latest play here: https://5courtdramas.eventbrite.com/
There were more examples of women supporting women. There are pictures which I haven’t gotten permission to use:) There was a beautiful, young professional woman, who spoke about feeling isolated in her industry and wanting to increase the number of women in her field, at which time one of the other women whipped out her cell phone and connected her to the writer of a popular movie that celebrates women.
Please have your own #DOU gathering with 10 women who you want to encourage. Make the gathering informal and relaxed. Have fun. Throw some flowers in a vase. Put on some soft music. Keep it simple. Provide light snacks so it’s not overwhelming.
Public gatherings in a library or at a restaurant are great also, as long as it’s an environment where all voices will be heard. Then encourage the 10 you’ve gathered to commit to gathering 10 more.
10 women x 10 women x 10 x 10 x 10 x10 equals 1 million women inspired to heal our nation with our gifts and talents.
Please share with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you decide to invite 10 women over for an intimate #DOU gathering.
The revolution that our nation needs will begin in women’s hearts and at kitchen tables across .
#DOU #DOUTHEREVOLUTIONBEGINSWITHIN #Kitchentable