“How ya doing, sis?”
That check-in is sometimes all we need as Black women to get through the day. It’s not often that others genuinely ask us how we’re doing. In fact, the loudest “how are yous” can be the most disingenuous because they’re just empty salutations from people who don’t really know – or care to know – what we experience. Most people are focused on what they can take from us or what we can deliver for them. But that simple sentiment of checking in is what matters in our day – a caring note from a sister who has the best intentions.
We know: The world is harsh for Black women and girls. We’re reminded of that every minute of every day from the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court to the actions of a health care system that never cared for us to educators who unfairly discipline us and leaders who ban the truth of our existence in schools to colleagues in the workplace and neighbors where we live. We are not loved enough. We believe we’re not smart enough, good enough, or worthy enough because we internalize others’ expectations of us rather than living for our own.
Black women are buried under mountains of debt, feel like the economy never returned for us, are yelling that the country is heading in the wrong direction – yet are expected to show up and save everyone else while our lives are literally and disproportionately on the line. We all shared in the horror as two Black women poll workers, Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman, testified about how they were wrongly targeted for attempting to uphold democracy. And even when we survive domestic violence, we are not seen. Tracy McCarter, a nurse and survivor, is being wrongly prosecuted and the DA who campaigned on her innocence will not drop the charges. She has spent her entire career fighting to save lives, and now, no one will save her. LGBTQIA+ sisters’ lives are at stake, too – fighting from all the intersections of identity. Brittney Griner is still not free. So many of us are still not free. We are simply not safe. So, who will save us?
The answer? Us.
It can be exhausting simply existing as Black women with all we face, but the truth is we are all we need. We see the dignity and humanity in each other when no one else does.
Black women are phenomenal, but collectively we are unstoppable – and people are often threatened by our presence, our voices, our votes, our visions, our advocacy, and our beauty. Yet, we have learned to turn those threats into opportunities to thrive. The four of us are stronger because of our sisterhood and the validation we need comes from our check-ins, affirmations and advice. We push each other toward greatness. We dream together. We root for one another and we focus on consolidating instead of competing. Though we are all different, we share the collective lived experience that comes with a capital “B” and a “w.” We know that no one has our backs the way we do – and that if one of us succeeds, we all succeed.
As founders of our own ventures, it can feel isolating at times. But we share the freedom that comes from sitting at our own tables. One sister learns from the next and we grow and glow together. And when we need thought-partners and to bounce ideas off of someone, we can count on the others’ brilliance.
Though many may know us from social media or commentary or books we’ve written or TV shows we’ve appeared on or events we’ve done, including the most recent ESSENCE Fest panel, the truth is the only visibility that matters is when we see each other. Unlike other surface-like endeavors, our sisterhood is deep, sustaining, life-changing, and authentic. We may be traveling or living in different states while fighting for justice, but we keep going — motivated and inspired because of us.
We shine brighter because of our ability to truly support and uplift one another every day. We show up and show out for our sisters because we are enough. Our voices combine in a chorus to manifest our dreams and build the legacies that our ancestors imagined and founded even though they didn’t know what was possible. True joy and peace comes from knowing that each sister is really okay.
Check in with your sister and help her check out when she needs it.
Trust us, it will matter. To all the brilliant and beautiful Black women, we ask, “How ya doing, sis?”
Dr. Uché Blackstock is the founder of Advancing Health Equity, and an MSNBC medical contributor. LaTosha Brown is the founder of Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium and co-founder of Black Voters Matter. Minda Harts is a three-time best-selling author and founder of The Memo. Takirra Winfield Dixon is a writer, activist and founder of Unapologetic Communications.