Ebony Isis Booth is a board member at the YWCA and she spoke with KUNM’s Elaine Baumgartel. Booth says women leaders of color have powerful stories to share and that’s what she was thinking about as she put the panel together.
Booth: Where it’s like, you are a woman who’s about this work, who is a leader, who’s created an organization specifically for the purpose of eradicating racism and you founded that organization and continued to work through that for your entire life. We should talk about that! I am certain I have something to learn from you. I wanted to be intentionally intersectional. It’s a compelling conversation when you put a group of people who are like-minded work but different walks of life in the same space and listen to them tell their stories.
KUNM: What do communities gain when there are women of color in leadership positions?
Booth: You get all this magic! I think that you gain perspective. You start to learn about the human experience as opposed to the individual narcissistic me/my/I worldview. It kind of upsets that narrative around, ‘Oh, well, I’m not racist, I’m not homophobic, I’m not whatever' we say in response to things. It removes that filter and it’s like, this is not about you, actually, it’s about other people who have experiences to share and you might actually learn something from that if you listen. But if not given the opportunity to do so, you would never know that there was something that you did not know. We don’t know what we don’t know.
KUNM: A lot of people have a lot of feelings about race, issues of race, issues of ethnicity. What kind of a space do you need to have in order for this kind of dialogue and sharing to be effective and functional and productive? And what kinds of things might interfere with that? What are you hoping to create with this event?
Booth: This event is about having a conversation. When you are a woman of color in a position of power or leadership – just being a woman of color in the world, period – it can be very isolating. Very lonely. You don’t really find yourself in places where you can properly or adequately advocate for yourself based off your needs, your limitations, your weaknesses, your strengths. It makes it difficult to speak up, because you are operating in this institutionalized place that was not created for you. You’re kind of the exception to that rule. So that makes it difficult to debrief. When we all come together, we are in a safe space that was created for us to be able to come and do some best practice sharing and say, ‘I see you.’ And to also be in a space and not be the only one, is quite powerful. It’s therapeutic. And it’s necessary to the work.
KUNM: I’m thinking about the processing that I do with other members of the journalism industry, for example, and you can get to that moment where you’ve kind of worked yourself up because you’re so deeply frustrated or angry or enraged about an experience you might have had and I find myself challenged sometimes to transform that energy into that productive, forward-looking kind of conversation. Strategies for doing that and ways that you’ve been thinking about that?
Booth: We’re looking at all the facts. We’re like, here’s what it is. This is what the current policy is. We are still underpaid. We are still underemployed by comparison to our white male counterparts. These are the facts, right? Now, what are we going to do about it? What do we actually need? Is it impactful if there are changes to the Family Medical Leave Act? Would that actually impact your work and your life and your family? If those things were to change tomorrow, how would that affect the work that you do here in the city?
- What: YWCA 10th Annual Stand Against Racism Community Discussion
- When: Thursday, April 27, 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m
- Where: 514 Central Ave. SW #2, Albuquerque
- For more info: contact Aimee Chavez at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ebony Booth at email@example.com
- Xicana Directora - director, Chicano and Chicana Studies at UNM
- Bahati Myhelatu Ansari - founder, Racism Free Zone
- Melody Wells - development manager, New Day Youth and Family Services
- Samia Assed - coordinating council president, Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
- Natalie Nicotine - graduate student, community activist
- Ramona King - performance artist, owner, Catch A Story Productions
- Jaelyn DeMaria - photographer, performance artist, educator