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Front Porch with Wooden Boards and Meshed Screen: The Significance of the Community of Black Women

By: Jasmyne K. Rogers

Front porch with wooden boards and meshed screen housed conversations, revelations, allegations, and remarkable storytelling that shaped my world as a young girl child growing up in Wilcox County, Alabama. My mind fancies soul-stirring memories of the gathering of women—Black women who sought solace on my grandmother’s small porch with wooden floorboards and the scattered oak trees in the barren yard that danced to the rhythm of the wind. Paint rusting on the rocking chairs as my grandmother, women-relatives, and sister-womenfolk from our small town rocked, hummed, and bared their souls.

I remember the inflection in tone and the power and deep affection delicately wrapped around their voices as they shared their soul stories. My grandmother’s front porch served as a safe haven for a community of women who shared their lived and learned experiences—soul stories that fostered glimpses of freedom, healing, and survival. Those rich soul stories garnered from Black women, who were uniquely similar, are forever embedded in the basement of my mind and etched in the art of my own form of soul-searching storytelling.

The significance of the community of Black women expands from the small parameters of my grandmother’s porch with meshed screen. Although I was a young girl child enthralled in the brilliance of the unfiltered conversations, polemics, and tittle-tattle, I realized that there has been a consistent need for a platform, a space, for Black women to thrive, shed, and reveal their lived and learned experiences with each other. As a result of the advancement of time and progression of technology, various platforms exist to convey the complex notions of the interpersonal relationships amongst Black women.

Although various mediums and platforms allow Black women to share their lived and learned experiences in diverse ways, many of these platforms have been problematic agents to the veracity of the notion of the community of Black women as a catalyst for healing, liberation, and survival. Within the framework of many mediums, reality television shows in particular, the gathering of Black women exhausts chaos, confusion, inauthenticity, and downright pettiness.

I cannot recall one reality television show that has painted the community of Black women in a positive light for survival. The perpetuation of negative images in regards to interrelationships among Black women is stifling to the progression of Black women, our community as a collective. There is abundance and strength in sisterhood, in our circles. Our sisterhood circles reflect wholeness when we are privy to the uniqueness and power of recognizing ourselves in each other—even the broken, fragmented pieces of ourselves are made whole when we trust, help, and confide in each other. Our soul stories are sacred.
I remember watching one of Iyanla Vanzant’s segments on OWN one evening and she passionately declaimed, “I am not my sister’s keeper; I am my sister.” Within the confined space of this empowering proverb lies the prominent truth about the power of the community of Black women.

The sundry soul stories that were shared on my grandmother’s rustic front porch embodied lived and learned experiences that were not only crucial to the beautiful and baring souls on that porch, but to the collective progression of all Black women.
At the age of 25, I reflect over each soul story gathered throughout the years and placed gently in the basement of my mind when I find it quite difficult to be a woman.

These soul stories—from my grandmother’s front porch to various platforms that offers a positive space for the community of Black women to exist in its fullness—has shaped my world as a mother, daughter, friend, sister, scholar, writer, Black woman, and spiritual being.

The notion of the community of Black women is significant. Our shared soul stories—sometimes shattering our worlds and displaying our fragmented pieces—brings us healing, glimpses of freedom, and unwavering peace to our weary, yet courageous souls. It is high time that we remember ourselves and understand that our collective queendoms are necessary.

There is and always will be strength in sisterhood. May our community of Black women, our circles, foster love, fullness, light, alliance, and empowerment. So, when our souls are gathered on metaphorical and/or physical rustic front porches with wooden boards and meshed screen, we will collectively declaim, “I am not my sister’s keeper; I am my sister.”

Peace, light, and blessings.

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As someone raised in the South I can really relate to this piece. I remember those long afternoons and nights on front porches. Not necessarily sharing my own stories but experiencing those of my elders and it lives with me still today.

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