Photo by: defendernetwork.com

By Marilyn Marshall

In preparation for the upcoming State of Black Women Summit, the Defender Network and the Barbara Jordan Institute at Texas Southern University hosted more than 100 Houston-area women.

The goal of the State of Black Women Roundtable, held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas-Houston Branch, was to develop a list of the most pressing issues for the summit, which will be held Friday, Sept. 20 and Saturday, Sept. 21 at TSU.

Education, family, finances, health, law and criminal justice and politics topped the list of issues shared by the group.

The Defender asked several SOBW Roundtable participants to discuss the greatest challenges and opportunities facing Black women today:

WANDA ADAMS, HISD trustee

One of the greatest challenges affecting Black women is having the same equality as our male counterparts. We can do anything as Black women but people just don’t see us as equal. If they can begin to see that we can provide the same quality of work, the same standards, then we’ll all be on the same page. The greatest opportunity is being the best mothers, raising the best children and being able to set the bar high. I’m a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and I am amazed knowing that we have eight powerful women who are Deltas and serve in Congress. We can accomplish anything as long as we put our mind to it.”

JUNE WILLIAMS COLMAN, M.D., Ob-Gyn

“The greatest challenge is that we are discounted every day. We are only as strong as the weakest among us. I desire to host a Mother-Daughter Initiative empowering all mothers with knowledge and wherewithal needed to raise successful, whole daughters who will not succumb to the pitfalls of life that can destroy or limit us, like unplanned pregnancies, educational failures and poor choices in our friends (both romantic and platonic). I feel we are obligated to help those who may not have had the benefit of the lessons that we were taught that helped us become successful. We have an opportunity to reach back and help others.”

TONI JACKSON, Attorney, Jones Walker

“We still have the challenges of dealing with the institutional racism that people think doesn’t exist anymore, but comes in micro-aggressive form. We have to recognize how to deal with that, always be 200 percent better than everyone else and not let the stress of all of that weigh us down when we’re trying to achieve in their world. The greatest opportunity for us lies in our strength, because we walk in knowing that we have been raised and groomed for those challenges by the women before us.”

JERALYNN MANOR, Attorney, the Manor Law Firm

“One of the greatest challenges if not the greatest, is division and the inability to come together for various reasons. I find that in our community we have one thing that is a big deal for us, which is competition as opposed to coming together, holding each other up, reaching back. Lately, I see a lot of colorism, and stigma with hair and that type of thing. I find that a lot of times we’re judging ourselves and each other based on a standard and perception that was set by someone else. I think the day we’re in now, is the day of the woman. We have more opportunities, especially in Harris County, open and available to us.”

GEORGIA PROVOST, Owner, Provost & Associates

“The challenge I see today is that we don’t share. We should have a sisterhood. We should share our plans and start networking with each other so we can be a more powerful force.

Everything is a good opportunity for Black women now and if we don’t take advantage of it, it’s going to be too late. First of all, society has recognized that we are here. Number two, they recognize that we are a force. Number three, they’re threatened. So, we have our opportunity if we just take advantage of it. My favorite word is l-o-v-e. If we love each other we automatically have unity, and if Black women fall in love with themselves, fall in love with the good Lord and their sisters, we will be an unstoppable force.”

This article originally appeared in the Defender News Network.

Roundtable participants address challenges, opportunities

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