LEIMERT PARK — The silent black woman has lived through centuries internalizing the notion that her voice isn’t loud enough to be heard in a room full of her superiors.
She has lived through war, racism and oppression and to this day still fights to share her experiences with the world.
A group called the Sista Monologue has been created to provide a safe space for black women to express themselves creatively while redefining the definition of “sisterhood.”
Founded by Audrey A. Edwards and Cheyenne Ne’shay in August 2016, Sista Monologue has been providing healing space for black women since February.
Every other Wednesday, at the Kaos Network in Leimert Park, members of the Sista Monologue meet to discuss ongoing issues in the black community.
“Topics have ranged everywhere from colorism in the black community, to being the ‘angry black woman’ in your workplace or even the plight of being a black ‘sophistiratchet,’” Ne’shay said.
The women have also shed light on “insecurities as they relate to the white beauty standard to how we as black women, show up for our trans-sistas,” Ne’shay added. The dialogues aren’t exclusive to only community and worldly issues, but the ladies also are encouraged to discuss problems transpiring in their personal lives.
To change the scenery, the ladies met at Ladera Park a few weeks ago to discuss the topic of “black women’s hair.” Thirteen ladies gathered in a small, intimate circle to express their opinions on society’s fascination with their hair.
Many found it flattering that other cultures and races were intrigued by their hair saying that the “mystique of our hair comes from a place of endearment,” while almost everyone expressed how judged and insulted they felt when asked if it was real or their decision to keep it in its “natural state.”
Several of the ladies felt that women’s hair is not accepted when worn natural and it is expected of them to conform to the Europeanized standards of beauty, which emphasize straight hair.
The ladies also shed light on how certain hairstyles, such as braids, cornrows, bandu knots, among other hairstyles invented by African American women, are only glorified when other races wear them.
“The industry appropriates our experiences to capitalize it,” said one woman.
“Why do we have to change ourselves to make other people happy?” asked another.
The women all agreed that black women have to gravitate to other qualities to be considered beautiful such as their hair or eyes and that they aren’t born thinking they are less than; it is instilled, taught and perpetuated.
“I am not my hair,” was the lingering sentiment at the end of the dialogue.
The Sista Monologues is not limited to the 18 and older crowd, but the ladies also created a separate space for the younger generation titled “The Lil Sistas.” This encourages young black girls to come together to discuss what it’s like being a black girl in today’s society.
The “Big Sistas” can adopt a “Lil Sista” in hopes of building strong bonds, building self-esteem, showing and giving support and much more.
“Our goal is that through these processes, black women and girls can have safe and healthy outlets while exploring their creativity and building sistahood,” Ne’Shay said. The ladies are also working on a Sista Monologue script to bring their “black girl magic” to the stage.
The Kaos Network is a quaint, intimate space located in the heart of Leimert Park and is the home of many personal, thought-provoking discussions. Just last week, a small group of ladies attended the Monologue dialogue where the topic of discussion was relationships.
One question that was raised was whether any of the women had ever been in a relationship for financial security. Society’s negative scrutiny of women who date wealthy men can be degrading and insulting and ultimately stigmatizes black women as gold diggers.
The idea that money can be used as a form of manipulation was discussed.
“A lot of men feel good when they can take care of their woman,” said one sista. The ladies concluded that society needs to define what being taken care of truly means. Relationships should be based on wealth and building. As one attendee said, “Not a gold digger, it’s in his budget.”
The topic shifted from dating for money to social media’s effect on today’s dating scene. The ladies described this as the loneliest generation that wants love. Love was easier back in the day when social media didn’t exist. However, in today’s society, the internet is important. A lot of interpersonal skills have been lost.
To conclude the “Sista Circle,” the women touched briefly on interracial dating and the fixation with being biracial. The ladies believe that it is only a problem when the girl or guy in the interracial relationship tries to appropriate black culture.
The women were passionate about the stigma on darker-skinned women and society’s negative judgment. The notion that dark women are more ghetto is only what enhances this “anti-blackness” within the black culture, the group said.
Black men will search for certain qualities outside of their race when the same qualities can be found in their own.
To conclude, the circle spoke on how society is enamored with being biracial and the perception that being black is boring and many want to sound more exotic.
For more information on the Sista Monologue, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sistamonologue/.