There are so many things that empower me, and they range from simple to
I’m empowered by things as simple as watching children play, to things
as complex and esoteric as how the universe functions. However, what I’m most happiest about right now is that I am discovering new things and people who empower me all the time.
As an academic, I’m empowered by knowledge and education; I consider myself to
be blessed with both. I often compartmentalized these two concepts because at times
they can be quite separate entities, but they often intersect and converge.
Sometimes, I meet people who are educated, but lack knowledge of the most basic
and logical things. Then, I meet people who do not have a formal education, but are
the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met. The late Dick Gregory use to joke
and say that if he ran for president, his cabinet members would only have a
grade-school education. The inference is that formal education makes people not
very useful and unable to solve real-world problems. As an educator, I try to
inspire my students to be both knowledgeable and educated, so that they will
become global problem solvers.
But overall, one of the most powerful agents of empowerment for me has been Black literature.
My library is filled with books by and about courageous and inspiring men and women. These people have empowered me tremendously; their words and ideas are resounding. The author, Haki Madhubuti, said “Black literature saved my life,” and I would have to say that it’s done the same for me. And, I’ll add to that by saying literature– Black literature in particular– gave me the vocabulary to articulate my experience as a Black women in the US and throughout the greater world.
Even more, Black literature empowered me to understand the world we live in and my place in it. When I learned this, it dismissed notions that the condition of Black people throughout the globe was by coincidence. This understanding keeps me conscious, so that I never get comfortable with my condition. There is a scene on the hit Hulu series, “The Handmaid’s Tale, where Emily chides Janine for planning a wedding and celebrating when the women are captures of Gilead and living under the most vile conditions. Janine was becoming comfortable, and began to normalize her condition as an oppressed woman. Women all over the world are still struggling for equality, to be educated, and basic human rights.
I never want to become comfortable and forget that.
And with that being said, nothing empowers me more than empowering other people. I participate in a number of charities to help underserved girls, and have dedicated a lot of my time as well. Giving monetary gifts are great, but when you’re on the ground to see and hear their stories, that’s what makes you angry enough to push for change.
When I speak to young women, I stress the importance of sisterhood. If women don’t look out for women, you can’t expect anyone else to.
Many women speak of sisterhood but their words are just ceremonial and do not reflect their actions. I want my actions and behavior to be living examples of what sisterhood means.
I believe that the greatest obstacle in forming a sisterhood is the lack of confidence and
self-esteem in women. This often causes women to be envious of one another, and prevents them from working together.
Even worse, our media perpetuates, normalizes, and glamorizes the “women against women” mindset. We have to dismiss these stereotypes that prevent women from working together.
One of the most important and immediate things we can do to address this is be
selective where we spend our dollars. We can choose not to support media that
portray women pejoratively, or celebrate divisive and destructive behaviors
because it’s trending on social media.
As a sisterhood, we have to do better. We can do better.
Website: Lake Indaski