A Letter To The Women That Raise Us
To the women who hold the beings of their daughters close to the streams of their heart. To the women whose love and spirit is as strong as the wind. To the women who speak of words that will sweeten your soul like honey. To the women who carry the aroma of a hibiscus flower mixed in with a bit of coconut and almond oil. To the women whose hearts sing of warmth and fire on a cold night. To the women who give every ounce of their heart to all that holds their passion. To the women who struggle through adversity with a smile, laughter, and never-ending tears. To the women who fought so deeply to accept their flaws. To the women who are still in search of finding their joy within and savoring their peace of mind. To the women who sometimes think of giving up but know that within the pieces of their spirit, they embody the soul of a warrior. To the women who often think of themselves last while providing for their loved ones first - do know that it's okay to take some time away to nourish all the parts of your mind, heart, body, and soul. To the women who are still learning to grow comfortable in their own skin - you are perfect and mustn't ever think of yourself as otherwise. To the women that raise us - from the depths of your being always keep the words of this poem inside your heart - for you're loved far more than words can ever express. For you're loved far more than any adversity, any flaw, any negative energy that may have the audacity to call you by your name. To the women that raise us, you'll always hold a place in the hearts of all that we are.
by Destiny Thomas
In conversation with Destiny Thomas pertaining to The Women That Raise Us:
"...We must move against not only those forces which dehumanize us from the outside, but also against those oppressive values which we have been forced to take into ourselves.” - Audre Lorde. Through experience, this concept has seemed to flow into our relationships with ourselves and our relationships with others, potentially, creating barriers and preventing us from building, supporting, and lifting one another. how can we transcend this construct?
I believe that we as women must recognize all forces that have been set against us. We must continue to stand strong and in the certainty of our beliefs and values as women of color. We must unlearn and move towards removing all negative connotations that have been made to only destroy our souls but to also put fear into those around us and generations that are to come. It is more than possible to transcend this construct by remaining honest, and true to where we come from and to where we are now in this given time, and to where we are going as a community, as a sisterhood, as a people.
"It is more than possible to transcend this construct by remaining honest, and true to where we come from and to where we are now in this given time..."
The Women that Raise Us aims to exemplify the variations of women that raise and influence us, directly and indirectly, acknowledging every connection, whether ancestral or distant. Who are the women that have shaped you or raised you? Who are the women that continue to do so?
Firstly, I believe in the power of unity and sisterhood among women in our community and abroad. I do not feel as though I have to personally know a woman to be inspired by her. I am inspired by women of all walks of life.
Women of my family, such as my mother, grandmother, sisters, aunts. Being shaped by women who hold such strength, understanding, love, and honesty despite the shortcomings or pathways of their journey certainly delight my soul. Unique hearts and souls who create art and have paved the way for other women who have owned their voice such as Mary Mcleod Bethune, Winnie Mandela, and Maya Angelou.
Women like Rupi Kaur, Qimmah Saafir, Alex Elle, Lupita Nyong'o, Slickwoods, Adwoa Aboah, Yara Shahidi, have carried the strength of our ancestors in a way that not only pays homage to who we are as a people but also shares the light of our authenticity, grace, and truth that serves as a voice and hope for many both near and far.
Do you consider "negative" and "positive" relationships and experiences with women as a contribution to your growth? Do you consider friends, inspirations, fallen relationships or even the everyday encounters as a contribution to your current self?
Yes, in my spirit I know that both positive and negative experiences whether that be noticed in relationships or kinships can contribute to growth as a woman. As a woman of color, it is most known that we pay more focus to the negative side of experiences to continue to act in the momentum of such angry and insecure behavior if you will. Not all experiences can have the same effect. I, for one, am unlearning that exact notion and to find the beauty and strength in realizing that everything occurs for a reason. There is a lesson and message to consider in every aspect of our lives. It is truly up to us to have the ability to look past the hurt, the pain, and to see the divine purpose of all that has caused us such grief, and heavy emotion.
"There is a lesson and message to consider in every aspect of our lives. It is truly up to us to have the ability to look past the hurt, the pain, and to see the divine purpose of all that has caused us such grief, and heavy emotion."
In what ways can we, as a community, release the stereotypical negative perspectives and ideas of women of color and their roles? How can we transcend these constructs and deepen the interpersonal / intrapersonal relationships with women of color?
We as a community of strong yet fragile, beautiful yet edgy, women can change the narrative of stereotypical perspectives by simply living in our truth and defying the odds no matter what. By intentionally being who we were called to be in every which way. By walking fearlessly in our light and exemplifying our nature rooted in love and in an unapologetic way. Our only role as a people should be, to live our journeys through such joy, peace, and significant courage so that others have no choice but to see the magic that shines from within.
We can transcend the given constructs by forming relationships with other women of color alike that are full of love, honesty, and genuine care for the well-being of those who surround us in everyday lives. Surely, no one walking planet Earth is made of perfection but if we remain true to ourselves, in accordance to our calling, in connection with our spirit, and continue to stand boldly within our community, we will bring forth more change among our society and elsewhere.
What are your thoughts on women of color being hyper-visible yet invisible in society and/or within their own communities?
I believe the way us women of color are seen in the public eye whether that be in the likes of the media or otherwise is quite disheartening, to say the least. There are platforms and companies, who are creating and inspiring women like myself in the best light. From brands such as Fenty Beauty who are normalizing the appearance and notion of accepting women of all cultures, to Indie Magazines such as CRWN or Hannah that are uplifting the unique voices of girls and women of color all over the world to television shows such as Insecure to web series such as We Are or Brown Girls to digital platforms such as Black Girl In Om, Afro-Vegan Beauty, The In My Skin Campaign, etc who are taking pride in sharing the authentic stories of our sisters all the while focusing on the power and undeniable magic of our people in more ways than one.
How can we lift each other while we still climb as individuals? How can this become an ongoing practice?
We can lift the souls of women around us by sharing our support, love, and words of encouragement. There is absolutely nothing wrong with supporting the journey of another while also working on growing and flourishing in one of your own. That is often the misconception of our character as women of color. It is said that we cannot fellowship, connect, and create together in a loving, honest, and sacred manner. Well, that is surely not the case and we will continue to uproot and dismantle the notions of all negativity becoming more of our reality than of our past or lack thereof.
In showing that we truly care for each other creatively, professionally, and personally it can be done as an ongoing practice without simultaneously even knowing it. Of course, we are aware but it is important that we focus on the process and journey of who we are and what ultimately sets us apart as a community. We must continue to share our stories, create art, help those in need, be a light instead of a burden, be kind and intentional when it comes to displaying our love and gratitude.
Where were you mentally, physically, emotionally, when [A Letter To The Women That Raise Us] was created?
A Letter To The Women That Raise Us was created randomly during a Saturday day or night in July. I was thinking of the specific avenue that should be taken as the curation process came about. It didn’t dawn on me until that Saturday on the fourteenth of July. I felt the intense urge to share the beauty, authenticity, and diversity of our sisterhood in a way that left no room for any negativity to arise. It was in that moment that I began to fall in love with the voice that I was given all over again. It was in that moment that I knew that my words held power and inspiration all over again. All the while sitting comfortably in the walls of my own home. An immense sense of appreciation, love, and understanding for womanhood and unity among my community filled the inner parts of my being in a magical yet indescribable way. I am here. This is me. This is her. This is for you, to the women who hold many laughs, to the women who wear many hats, to the women who are unaware of their light, to the women who are coming to know of their journey, to the women we are, in all of our sweetness and potency.
Destiny Thomas, primarily knows as herbeautyspeaks, Thomas is a writer and creative who moves through love + light with a focus on embracing one's beauty, skin and journey. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA.