April 27th 2013 was a good day for women in Los Angeles, and it was a great day for the sisterhood! While it would be easy to take the 13th Annual KJLH Women’s Health Forum for granted as just another little community health fair, it would be a mistake to do so.
Much is made of how women supposedly don’t get along and are in a state of perpetual competition and desperation. Leading that pack of stereotypes is the “angry Black woman.” You’d think we were all in a “bad girls club” as seen on reality TV fighting over men and showing no respect for ourselves, or each other. It seems we are on the top of everybody’s one-foot-in-the-grave lists from HIV to obesity. And we are rarely seen in the all-mighty general market (IE mainstream America) showing love, solidarity or even fondness for each other. Even our almost impossibly perfect First Lady, Michelle Obama is the subject of ridicule and scorn (she’s too fit, too healthy, and too, um, Black…) In that crazy context an event that brings over 10,000 African American women together to celebrate, educate and fellowship with one another is more than a breath of fresh air. It’s mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Those of you who know me, know that I don’t do big crowds. I prefer kitchen table conversation, a coffee shop at most. But there is an intimacy to this gathering that defies it’s being located in the Los Angeles Convention Center or having lines around the block. That closeness is camaraderie. It is that important, but rarely recognized factor known as the sisterhood (sistah-hood if you prefer.)
Laugh if you want, but this loving bond is saving lives and uplifting spirits in the realest way. And that was evident everywhere you looked at Saturday’s event. Women hugged, and shared, and smiled at each other. We were truly happy to see one another. We welcomed each other. No rolled eyes, no ugly tweets, no tabloid emotional agenda was anywhere in sight. Ahhh! Girl, yes! Yes we can. Breathe it in, soak it up, pass it on.
The spirit of sisterhood was so strong that actress Vanessa Bell Calloway was moved by the moment. She was scheduled (her favorite word) as the keynote speaker for the Wellness Village, my alternative health pavilion inside the KJLH Women’s Health Forum. But the star of Broadway, television and film had made it clear she did not want to speak about her personal story. I was fine with that, since I had no idea what her personal story was, and I am a fan of Ms. Bell Calloway. But when she took to the stage she made a different choice. In front of at least one thousand of her (new) closest friends Ms. Bell Calloway revealed that she is a breast cancer survivor. It is a secret she had held close since her mastectomy in 2009. A personal battle she had seen fit to keep from …read more