Ever wonder how schools and community-based organizations participate in DiscoverU Week? Janell Jordan, the founder of Womxn of Color in Tech and the Empowherment project and current King County Program Quality Manager at School’s Out Washington, describes an event they organized for DiscoverU Week 2018 with Southwest Youth and Family Services’s New Futures program.
In a society where elements of joy and worthiness are strategically and systemically hindered for youth of color, it is our duty as adults in solidarity to curate spaces that recognize, celebrate, and promote Black joy as an act of liberation.
Empowherment is a space for femme, gender fluid, non-binary, and/or female identifying womxn and grrls of color to come together in community to honor ourselves, our cultures, and our communities. Empowherment is founded on the theory that we need intentional time and space to start to heal ourselves from the effects of generational and experiential trauma from racism, classism, and adultism.
Empowerment is founded on the theory that grrls of color need an emotionally intelligent skillset and social awareness to support them in the healing of generational trauma and the navigation of social structures, and to promote the advancement of resilient grrls of color in King County.
Windsor Heights’ Empowherment grrls in SeaTac wanted an event focused on professional womxn of color. The idea, these young people said, is that we can’t be what we can’t see. A theme the group explored this academic year was what are all the different ways womxn of color embed an activist lens to their work. They wanted to broaden all of our minds around what social justice, activism, and solidarity looks like in different careers.
The DiscoverU mini grant allowed the Windsor grrls to take the lead on recruiting, planning, and hosting an event for five amazing local womxn of color. The womxn ranged in age, profession, race, and experiences. The event hosted a massage/fire cupping specialist; user experience designer; a community advocate and project manager; a social activist and youth development worker; and a criminal defense attorney.
The womxn shared a meal with 30 middle and high school youth, then moved into a more structured time where each womxn was given time to tell their story of who they were as womxn first, outside their job titles. We learned about their upbringing, their struggles, their ambitions. Then each womxn talked about their careers, answering questions about how they got into that role, what education was needed, whether or not they knew their job existed when they were younger, and what they would tell their younger selves.
The event was well received and enjoyable for everyone involved. By the end of the night, all of the womxn had groups of grrls huddled around them, asking questions about everything from hair, school, and advice. A few of the grrls even ended up getting job shadowing opportunities from the event. I think we all got our cups a little refilled that night to continue to push boundaries, allow ourselves to take up space, and be unapologetically a Black or Brown grrl.