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By Imani Williams
Peace and love ladies, I hope this article finds you doing well and enjoying your beautiful selves this summer. I’m well. It has been busy as heck and June went on forever with event after event. I’m glad to see July – if for nothing else but to catch my breath at the end this month and the conclusion of Hotter than July! I turned 42 on the first day of June. My beautiful wife and partner Jocelyn and I exchanged wedding vows on June 3. My baby girl graduated High School on June 5. It was continuous. Now that I’m into full mode for this year’s HTJ! Pride celebration I feel compelled to get some things off my chest. If you bear with me, my hope is that you will pick up on my love of community and the need for sistas to get involved and claim that which is all of ours.
I’m coming at you today about community in general and about Sisterhood in particular. As a board member of both the Black Pride Society and SPICE (Sistah’s Providing Intelligence Creativity and Empowerment) I believe in us doing for us. I believe in community and sisterhood. I’ll mention for the sake of this piece that I am also a long time member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., another service-oriented organization. If you were anywhere in the vicinity of downtown Detroit July 12-16 you saw lots of pink and green and about 10,000 sistas who converged on the Motor City to hang out, and take care of community business. Themselves.
I’m bringing a couple of things to the table today. BPS and SPICE are both close to my heart and strong on my mind. A little background on these two entities. As Community Based Organizations we run on volunteer oil. Nobody gets paid; we’re involved because we want Detroit’s same gender loving community to exist and to have accessible resources that support SGL sistas and brothers in a positive light.
Each January BPS asks for the community’s input on how to make our annual pride celebration better for everyone. We get some takers to the table but room abounds for plenty more to step forth and offer ideas and solutions so that we offer one of the best prides in the country. We’re the oldest black pride in the Midwest and, if you didn’t know, this is our 11th year. We strive hard each go round to make it bigger and better. That happens when you get involved.
A lil’ on SPICE: I got involved in 1999 when I began to go through a nasty and foul custody battle with my ex-husband over my hearts; my girls. I didn’t know anyone else who was self-identifying as a black lesbian that shared my woes. I went to Affirmations and sat in on a group session, and though my white sisters were welcoming, (I was the only sista with nappy hair up in the space), I sought something different. That came through SPICE. Those womyn became my haven once a week offering sanctuary – a spot where I could come in and let my hair down and be Imani.
Sisterhood has always been important to me and the bonds that were created each Friday as sisters shared stories of dealing with the daily ism’s of racism, sexism and just plain getting from day to day while maintaining sanity has kept be centered and balanced. I truly believe I’m a better woman, sister and friend due in part to having a space to just be me.
At present we (SPICE), the only lesbian based discussion and political forum for womyn of color in the Metro Detroit area, is running low on fuel. Our board of directors is made up of me, Felicia Wilson Renfroe and Jocelyn Bellamy (the latter being my wife). Jocelyn and I are out of here in January of ’07. We’re answering a spiritual call to explore terrain in another area of the country. SPICE will die without your love and support. This is your CBO and your safe space. Please get involved.
Special thanks to sistas who volunteered their time and energy to the cause in the past year. I’m a name names: Alicia Skillman, Melissa El, Terri Leverette, Marian Banks, Elaine Bishop, Robin Bundy and Jade Brown for making a way for SPICE to become a grantee. Sistas who reached into your pockets and dropped something in the pot to cover rent and food for group, we thank you. To each and every one of our participants we thank you for support and ask that you continue and please bring three more sistas with you. We can do this ladies. As I watched my sorority move about this town with grace and dignity I was proud and I want no less for my SGL sistas. We’re worth it, and with each other and the Creator we can have all we deserve.