Intercultural Sisters’ Dialogue emerges from Public Policy Forum conflict: Women explore racism, poverty, militarism and war – Part 1

Beginning the process of healing new and old wounds – Intercultural Sisters Dialogue

According to the Dialogue to Action Initiative
Beginning the process of healing new and old wounds – Intercultural Sisters Dialogue

According to the Dialogue to Action Initiative

Intergroup dialogue is a process, which enables people from all walks of life to talk deeply and personally about some of the major issues and realities that divide them. Dialogues are powerful, transformational experiences that lead to both personal and collaborative action. Dialogue is usually deliberative, involving the weighing of various options and the consideration of different viewpoints for the purpose of reaching agreement on action steps or policy decisions.

The Intercultural Sisters Dialogue circle group arose out of an event where communications could have broken. A few months ago, I participated in a panel discussion along with Dr. Rose Brewer, and Dr. Gwendolyn Pough for the KMOJ/Insight Public Policy Forum at Lucille’s Kitchen. The topic was Feminism and Womanism in the African American community. The event had been planned by Samantha Smart one of the founders of Speak Out Sisters (SOS). For whatever scheduling reasons, our panel ended up speaking at the end of the broadcast. Samantha had apparently understood that the topic would be given the entire broadcast. After the broadcast, Samantha and some of the audience listeners felt that we (the presenters) and the topic itself had been slighted and this was just one more example of patriarchy in the African American community.

Subsequently, Samantha sent a letter expressing her appreciation for the opportunity for this issue to be a part of the broadcast. However, she also expressed her concerns and specifically named the issue of this situation being an example of patriarchy in the African American community. Well, by the time I was made aware of the letter, I was pretty disappointed with my understanding that it had been written to speak for me and two other adult African American females, and without our input! I also talked about the issue of paternalism toward us. Samantha is a Euro American female.

When Samantha and I had an opportunity to talk, I made it very clear how I felt about the matter and that there is a history and legacy to this type of behavior. Behavior where white women feel compelled to speak on behalf of women of color. Samantha listened very intently and explained to me her perspective, that as a revolutionary activist, she thought that it was important for her to speak out about issues of oppression, no matter what the source. She explained that she wrote the letter, feeling responsible as the initiator of the event, for taking on the risk and heat that she felt would be generated from feedback she saw as provocative and honest, intended as wholly constructive in nature. She also let me know that she was quite aware of the history of conflict between Black and white women and had spent most of her life in struggle against white supremacy as a “traitor” to her “race”. Furthermore, she explained that her observations of the dynamics of the event came also from conversation with audience listeners, both Black and white women.

Though we both felt strongly about our views, we talked a while longer and decided that this could be the catalyst for a key dialogue between women of different cultures. We needed to talk about all that “stuff” that we generally don’t talk about together those elephants under the rug. Key to this was both my and Samantha’s willingness to be vulnerable by allowing the story to be told. There is strength in vulnerability, and there is love and hope.

We decided to begin an Intercultural Sisters Dialogue. Our first invitation read: “We are not sisters simply because of our commonality of anatomical body parts. Sisterhood is about relationships. It’s about our common being, common heart, common celebrations, common struggles and the acknowledgement of those things that we d

July 1, 2003
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