Before I start writing, Happy Girl’s Day – Hinamatsuri, Japanese Girl’s Day. I grew up celebrating the Hawaii-Japanese American version of the day. It is a family favorite celebration since we make, eat, and share chi chi dango mochi.
Last night I went to a fabulous dinner hosted by a friend to celebrate her book. It was a carefully curated guest list of women who supported her over the years. It was an honor to be there and to be in the company of women who understood the power of the collective.
Being in that room reminded me how we need to support and sponsor each other willingly and joyfully. Supporting women of color is an act of honoring our past and building for the future. It is something we can all do, including white people.
Since it is hinamatsuri, Girl’s Day, here are some ways you can amplify women of color in your life.
- Find the women of color in your life and support them. Think about the women of color in your life that you have an authentic relationship with. How do you know them? How can you authentically (not weirdly) support them? Maybe it is sharing information with them that can help them land their next job. Or maybe something more personal that can show them you care like cooking a meal during a time they need one (make sure it is on their terms).
- Do small things in ongoing ways. Support for women of color needs to be ongoing, not just one off big gestures. The little things count. Have you said thank you to the women of color in your office that support everyone? The janitors, baristas, the crossing guards at your kid’s school? Say thank you. Also offer them support – small gestures like a coffee gift card, fresh produce, tips, or saying something nice can go a long way. Also, say thank you to the women of color leaders in your life — they appreciate hearing how their leadership impacts others.
- Use your influence to support women of color. We all have influence in different spheres of our lives. Use that influence to support another woman of color. When I was an admin assistant at a nonprofit many of us at the support staff level would make sure we helped each other out and looked out for each other. I mention this to say influence comes in many ways it doesn’t always have to be formal power.
- Read writings by women of color. Learning from women of color is important – read their work. Please read Ruchika Tulshyan’s book Inclusion on Purpose; her book just celebrated its first book birthday! Ruchika’s book is about creating spaces where women, especially women of color can thrive. Angela Garbes Essential Labor is another great book talking about women of color labor. There are so many women of color authors we need to keep reading their work and amplifying it so they keep writing.
- Don’t ask women of color to justify their decisions. Too often women of color are expected to explain and justify their decisions. Trust women of color, if you don’t then maybe ask yourself why that is. Often the work is on you to build that trust and reciprocate it back.
- Support the collective. Women of color need each other and need the support of allies. Find ways to support individuals but also the collective space to build each other up. I remember a Black friend saying “Sometimes we just need a comfy couch and some snacks,” that really sounds doable as a way to support other women of color – lend them your couch or help to provide the snacks.
- Invest in women of color owned businesses. If you need ideas on how to find women of color owned businesses, check out the Intentionalist. As their motto says, “Spend Like it Matters.”
- Finally, be authentic with the women of color in your life. If you try to fake it we’ll see it, just be real, be you, and if you can’t support women of color authentically tap out, we don’t need your emotional burden.
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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawai’i; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.