A beautiful smiling sista walked up to me in the caf a year ago. Her stride was spontaneous and strategic. She was focused and friendly. I was unarmed, skeptical and mid-bite. My girls and I just concluded a decrescendo of chuckles at our millionth inside joke of the day.
The sista then excused herself for interrupting our conversation.
She handed me a crisp, ivory envelope.
An optimistic skeptic, I hoped she wasn’t out to anthrax me. The envelope sat stiffly, as if challenging my curious fingertips.
I looked up and caught a glimpse of her glossy curls as she left the dining hall.
My girls and I exchanged quizzical expressions. The envelope transformed into Tupac, who assured me that this occurrence was nothing but a gangster party. OK, not really. But that’s so much more exciting than what occurred.
Spider-like fingers destructed the envelope, but kept the mahogany card in tact. The handwriting was legible, yet appeared written in happy haste. The content floored me.
No, it wasn’t a scholarship. It wasn’t a Wal-Mart gift card to sponsor my inner fat kid. It was one of the kindest paragraphs I’ve ever read. It was complimentary and heartfelt. And we weren’t friends. She wrote me a message of affirmation just because.
“National women’s month is a time for us to love one another and encourage one another just in case we forget during the other 11 months,” it read toward the conclusion.
I fancy myself a pretty urban sista, in touch with my emotions, but able to summon my Dad’s East Coast nonchalant edge; however, the words nearly caused a saline dam to add more salt to my half-empty lunch plate.
I’ll never forget her random act of kindness. So in honor of the kind spirited sista with springy hair and a beaming grin, I celebrate oneness with women on campus, in the community and in the world.
We must rekindle this connection, even though society rewards us for allowing it to falter. It’s too easy for women to assume dog-eat-dog mantras. Many women who do so are perceived as analogous to dogs.
Some women dissect each other in attempts to inflate faulty egos. My seventh grade science teacher, Mrs. Parnell, said that men enjoy watching women tear each other apart.
I’m all too familiar with these pathologies because I’ve been there. As a former victim of a self-esteem deficit, I now do my best to avoid revisiting that corner of cowardice and individual uncertainty. Deconstructing someone else creates the facade of a sounder personal foundation.
But there are other options. We’re called to celebrate each other’s wonder. We can’t allow patriarchal systems to pit us against each other in a perpetual pursuit of men and materials.
We also must dissociate ourselves from the belief that cattiness is inborn in women.
We should create innovative ways to keep each other uplifted because redemption often comes from our tongues.
It starts with a day; then, it becomes a week, month, season and before you know it, a year has passed and a fond sista sits over a keyboard wanting to pay it forward.
So, all of that is to say thank you for the card that now adorns my room and reminds me of the value in appreciating each other.
Next time someone merges spontaneity and kindness, I will try not to think Taliban