ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Angela Burt-Murray challenges Black women to embrace one another.
When people learned that we wanted to photograph Iman, Taraji P. Henson and Serena Williams for our April cover, the comments started immediately. "Oh, they'll never get along" was the refrain most often heard. It was as if the notion that three beautiful and accomplished Black women might come together for a joint cover shoot was just too outrageous to entertain.
Yet the murmurs weren't totally without precedent. After all, Black women's relationships with one another have often been fraught with tension. Truth is, we are sometimes our own worst enemy. Wall Street executive Carla A. Harris told us recently she had noticed that in the workplace Black women are sometimes the ones derailing other sisters. Certainly we've been guilty of tearing each other down in our personal relationships as well, even fighting over a sorry man who tried to play us against each other. But with all the challenges facing us, it's more important than ever that we as Black women make a conscious decision to support, love and affirm one another at work, in our communities, in our churches and in our organizations. It's time for us to wake up to the fact that our problem isn't between us; it's with all the forces that teach us to undermine one another instead of pulling together to strengthen us all. Whatever happened to lifting each other as we climb?
Now, I'm not saying we're all going to get along all the time, but if we can cherish and accept our sisters as we would want to be cherished and accepted, we will go a long way in setting a new tone in our often-fractured relationships. If we can stop the sideways glancing when one of us walks into a room, if we can stop the head-to-toe assessment of others in the club, if we can stop calling people out behind their backs-while smiling in their faces-if we can put an end to all that, we can start to reclaim the spirit of our sisterhood.
Let's begin by greeting one another with open arms and minds and stop assuming that we're out to get one another. The next time a sister you don't know walks into a room, the next time a Black woman you've never met starts working at your job, go out of your way to introduce yourself and give her a compliment. You just may make a loyal new friend.
I'm pleased to report that not only did our three cover beauties warmly welcome the idea of a joint photo shoot, but they were also genuinely supportive of one another on set, each one complimenting the other's hair, makeup, clothing and careers. As Beauty and Cover Director Mikki Taylor said, "Love was in the air and in the hearts of these three icons as they embraced one another, shared familiar stories and struck the pose again and again."
How are you going to embrace your fellow sisters? Join our discussion below.