What will you do with your seat at the table?
There can only be one woman at the table. This idea has been disseminated to women and other marginalized groups. Even more concerning, some of us have digested this idea as truth, that there can only be one of us at a time at the table of opportunity. As if there is a penalty assigned to us all when that one seat is filled. This idea is solidified in our behaviors and interactions which, depending on the circumstance, may be a side eye or a glance, a half hug or handshake, or withholding help or a compliment to empower another woman. In doing so we as women set ourselves up for defeat. The truth is that there is more than just one seat at the table. In fact, who created this “table”? Despite debate over the authenticity of the Willie Lynch theory, division has been used to withhold unity among marginalized groups. This ideology hinders opportunities of growth within our community as women.
The truth is, there is infinite room at the table. We should be willing to find chairs or even another table to attach to the table of opportunity if necessary because this is the true definition of sisterhood. Sisterhood means bringing other women to the table by empowering, embracing, or complimenting their attributes. Striving to be great is truly accomplished when women surrender the urge to secure that one seat at the table. Striving to be great truly is accomplished when women recognize that their greatest potential is not hindered when other women are at the table. Striving to be great truly is accomplished when women understand that nothing is lost when acknowledging another woman’s power.
Find your tribe.
In fact, find multiple tribes.
One’s greatest potential is released when surrounding yourselves with other powerful women. I have been blessed to have loyal and strong women surround me for almost two decades. These women know me well and through honest dialogue, we keep each other grounded. Despite their loyalty, I needed a tribe that would understand my daily trials and tribulations that the journey of pursing a Ph.D. creates. My fellow sisters in Sister Ph.D. fulfill this need. We celebrate each other’s individual successes because we know it’s a win for everyone. We hold each other up and pray when life happens outside of the classroom. We all bring a different flavor to the table which provides enough motivation and balance to the journey of obtaining our degrees. Each one of us provides substance to our table and realizes that we cannot endure this journey in solitude. The reality is that we need support at the table once we gain a seat.
Having other powerful sisters sitting and strategizing the next move together at the table is far more powerful than going the distance alone. I caution the desire to just gain access to a seat. Once the seat is occupied, make sure you take action to extend the table. An extension of the table helps to disseminate power and privilege. Sitting at the table is not the goal but bringing others along by mentoring, coaching, engaging, and empowering is the goal. So, the question remains.
Connect with DaVida (She/Her/Hers) via twitter @DLALLCSPEAKLIFE