Walking up to Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley I’m walking through raindrops. It’s a cold rainy night but I feel nothing, the anticipation, and curiosity of what lays ahead overtake my thoughts and the water feels like a cooling mist rather than an unwanted nuisance. Entering this modernly decorated space I’m greeted by a 6’4 chocolate man with a huge smile on his face.
he blurts out without me having to say a word
I confirm with a smile and a nod, he instructs me to head straight back to the restaurant, as I walk away he tells me I look like I’m coming off of a runway so of course, I give him a serious sashay. Am I being objectified… yep, does it bother me right now… nope. I have bigger fish to fry; I’m here for empowerment, diversity, and fun.
I walk to a long table where there are three beautiful smiling faces staring back at me. I hug Kamilah, my friend, and promptly the other women get up and share their energy with me. I feel…. safe. There’s a stunning Indian woman that has on the flyest shirt I’ve seen in a long time; she possesses the kind of beauty that intimidates most but her energy is inviting and her eyes are kind. There’s a Latino Stunner, who gives me a “Mary Hug” The kind of hug that makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. The kind you want to live in for longer then the two politically correct seconds a hug is supposed to be.
We sit and start chatting and more women of color enter the space.
The group is diverse, all different backgrounds with all kinds of careers, successes, failures, and challenges. The shades of our skin are different, our stories are unique, but our struggles are the same. As the table fills we play the introduction game, and everyone is on the verge of tears. A rule is quickly made that states we will not be ashamed of our tears, we will not hold them back, we will allow them to flow like streams because crying isn’t bad and we are safe here.
One woman shares she recently decided she is going to move to LA to live on the beach and pursue a modeling career. I instantly blurt out words of encouragement, grab this beautiful woman’s hands and tell her she can do it, I believe in her and she will fly! We both tear up and we have a moment, I don’t know her, she doesn’t know me but she appreciates my support and I appreciate her braveness. Tears come, no one stops us, no one tries to fix it, we let them land where they fall and dry as they may. The connection is strong; this is real. I feel an immense amount of support from these women that somehow, some way have become my BFFs in 5 minutes flat.
When everyone arrives, we order three delicious courses, and the conversations begins. From talks of the upcoming Women’s March to struggles in life to breakups, we all share ourselves. We drop the masks we show to the world and expose our true selves. The first course comes out, and it’s delicious, now we have good food to match our passionate conversation. I share stories of not being accepted by other women and being overwhelmed in my business, as I talk I feel eyes on me, kind eyes, loving eyes, supportive eyes. No one snickers or checks their phone, everyone is present, we all care.
In the middle of a discussion about empowerment, a dabber older black man approaches the table and says:
We all excitingly shriek in unison, and someone gets up to hug the man. This is what I came for; this is better than the spicy Malbec I have waiting for me at home.
Once the entrees come we split into two groups; one group discusses Money the other Life. I went to the money group. The goal is to be financially stable this year. Thought-provoking questions are asked, and we all have the floor for a few minutes, I share my worries, my obstacles, and my desires. I get an output of love and understanding coming my way. It’s overwhelming. We listen, no one interrupts or tries to steal the show, we just send invisible positive vibes to each other.
Of course, the night ends too soon, by the time its time to leave I have gained ten new sisters. We exchange social media accounts, phone numbers, and long hugs. No more worry about being politicly correct, 5-10 second hugs are allowed now. As I say my goodbyes, these fantastic women express their gratitude for me, their excitement for our budding friendship and their appreciation for this event.
I’m invited to a marketing workshop at Mills College the next day which I promptly agree to attend, anything I can do to keep this feeling of empowerment going I’m going to do. I don’t want to leave. I want to stay there all night but I have work waiting for me at home, work is never done.
As I exit the building the same man is standing at the door, this time he says nothing he just admires me, he nods his head and this time I don’t feel objectified I feel light and fluffy like I’m walking on a cloud.
It’s been six days since the dinner, and I’m still on a high. I feel empowered, connected and oh so lucky. I finally found my tribe, I fit here, and I’m never letting go of this feeling or these powerful women.
SISTERS FOR LIFE