Tag: Bennett College

Photo by @CREATEDBYJARROD from nappy.co

What Kenneka Jenkins’ death can teach us about sisterhood, friendship, and accountability

The saying, “If you go together, you leave together”, were some of the first words to leave my mother’s mouth before I left the house with my sister or friends. That was the golden rule before we left the house, let alone the block. That rule applied to family outings, gatherings, and parties – especially. In fact, it is still applicable.

When I arrived at Bennett College for Women and I was told during orientation that, “You never leave your sister”, those words weren’t hard to receive. When we stepped foot off of the sidewalk on East Washington Street to head over to North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University or onto Gorrell Street to be picked up I took seeing my sisters off on their way seriously. Before the luxury of high-resolution cameras built into cell phones, I wrote down and even would even memorize license plate numbers of the cars my sisters entered and asked for young men’s numbers/addresses to be shared with me. This is something that every girl is taught on the campus as they matriculate into womanhood.

In addition to the safety protocols, we are taught how to love on one another. No, we aren’t perfect. Love and respect, nevertheless, are a huge part of feeling the need to protect others.

At Bennett College, we are taught to see one another as ourselves. Good, bad and indifferent. And, while we were all different, we were taught that we were one. At the root of it all, we are sisters.

When I think about what we do and do not know about the unimaginable death of Kenneka Jenkins, of course, I think about the disappointment and heartbreak her family and Black women are feeling around the world. What I also think about is how we as a community need to reinstill and teach the importance of sisterhood to young black girls and women.

“When I look at you, I see myself. If my eyes are unable to see you as my sister, it is because my own vision is blurred. And if that be so, then it is I who need you either because I do not understand who you are, my sister, or because I need you to help me understand who I am.”- Lillian P. Benbow, Past National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

It is hard to leave a sister hanging. And, if you do, you’ll have to live with it for the rest of your life.

Here’s a little advice, Sis:

  • Trust your gut.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, make that known.
  • If you do have to leave who you came with, don’t be afraid to call someone to let them know what’s going on. Be sure to call a car service, share your ride information with someone, and stay on the phone with them until you arrive at your destination safely. That doesn’t make you a coward or less of a woman, it makes you smart.

Although the public does not have all of the facts regarding Jenkins’ death, the fact that some young women can’t conceptualize the value of another young lady’s body and life possibly beyond money pains and sickens me.

Teaching girls and women how to love on each other is imperative. It is time to reclaim our love for one another and the time we invest in sisterhood.

I got your back, Sis.

 

Photo by @CREATEDBYJARROD from nappy.co

 

 

A Night to Remember

November 7, 2016

In a matter of hours, either history will be made or this country will be in critical condition. As millions of Americans head to the polls and cast their votes tomorrow [GO VOTE] people are reflecting on their memories as first-time voters and expressing what this election means to them.

 

On Friday, November 4, 2016 young black professionals took to social media to reminisce on what was a historical night 8 years ago when Barack Obama became the first Black president of the United States. Oh, how he will be missed.

 

Below is a screen shot of a Facebook memory of mine from last year that appeared on my timeline. It inspired me to go through old photos on my Mac from the night POTUS won the election.

 

FB Post Obama

 

I was that enthusiastic first-time voter away from home in college in a red state that turned blue in 2008. My vote counted along with thousands of other college students who rallied for hope in solidarity with Barack Obama in efforts to make history. I was a Bennett Belle and anyone who knows anything about Bennett College, Congresswoman Alama Adams and the history of voting knows that “We are Voting Belles.”

 

With that being said, after scrolling through photos from 8 years ago I found 18 images from my trusty 10-megapixel point and shoot camera from the night of November 4, 2008. Years later, I wanted to know what that moment meant to some of the young women I photographed that night so I reached out to them.

 

Here is what they said about 2008 and what they think about this election.

 

Lastactia Sanders – Somerset, NJ

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Lastacia Sanders [photographed in the Free Jena Six Shirt] experiencing a chilling celebratory dive with friends from Jones Hall dorm in the Reflection Pool on NCA&T’s campus.

 

 

“Anything is possible,” is what my mother reiterated to me throughout the entire 2008 election process. On November 4, 2008, I believed every word. With so much joy in my heart, I marched with my sisters and brothers into a new beginning.

 

Today, what my mother said still holds true. In a room full of republicans, I am usually the only democrat. Silent, but knowledgeable, I am aware of the political views discussed around me. My political etiquette derives from the 1960’s, where our actions spoke louder than our words. Now on November 8th, 2016, I may be able to help make history again. This time providing the world with a women’s prospective. As Susan B. Anthony said, “The day may be approaching when the whole world will recognize woman as the equal of man.” That day will be Tuesday.

 

 

Antoinett M. Atkins – Tacoma, WA

 

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Antoinett M. Atkins with chanting in celebration of President Barack Obama on NCA&T’s campus.

 

Eight years ago I was a Freshwoman at Bennett College interning with the Obama Campaign. I was also Miss Political Science and felt an obligation to be involved with the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

 

I remember that day to be very cold and rainy. I spent almost all morning and afternoon with my Campaign Manager knocking on doors trying to make sure people were going to the polls to vote.  I went back to campus tired, wet and nervous.

 

I remember sitting in my dorm room when Barack Obama was announced the 44th President of the United States. I remember hearing my Belle sisters screaming and running in the hallways. I remember being in my pajamas and taking my ObamaBiden sign with me to the flagpole where all the Bennett Belles gathered to cry, pray, and rejoice that President Obama would serve as the first African-American President of the United States. It was pouring down rain, but it did not matter. The rain felt like I was being washed in a pool of liberation.

 

Marching with my Bennett Sisters that night meant everything to me.

 

Ryanne P. Thomas – Houston, TX

 

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Ryanne P. Thomas exiting the Reflection Pool after taking a victory dive in celebration of POTUS Obama.

 

Well, it was my first year voting. I have always heard about history but it was amazing to be a part of a life-changing event. I knew that I contributed to our country’s success and I was so proud.

 

Imani Cohen – Los Angeles, CA  

 

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Imani Cohen with raised fist symbolizing Black Power

 

It was a magical time! I actively participated in the election process and was extremely proud and eager to be part of the student campaign for Barack Obama. I remember going door to door in Greensboro, North Carolina registering voters and feeling so proud to be contributing to this concept of “Change”. I remember the night Obama was announced as president. It was a time I will forever cherish and think of joyfully. That was a moment where I felt so much unity as a community. Obama superseding the opposition showed me that with the right determination and execution that I, too, could be anything I wanted.

 

This years election has really lifted the veil on the injustices and hate that flourishes and thrives in this county. I feel that this election has forced our awareness to be focused on the REAL issues. Although this political process has been discouraging, I feel collectively as a black community it is our obligation to participate with the same enthusiasm as we did to elect President Obama–not because we have the best candidates but because we need a candidate that will continue to encourage the change this country is in such desperate need of!

 

 

In 2008, these young women took part in making history.Tomorrow, you have a moral obligation to actively participate in one of the most critical decision-making processes in the history of this country.

 

Your vote matters. Whether you once felt the Bern, are not interested in either of the two nominees or think that things will never change–this is not the time to silence yourself by not voting.

 

Tomorrow, do your part.