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The S.I.S.T.A. Method™ Helps Black Women Navigate Diverseless Spaces

Teaching Black women [and girls] how to practice speaking up for themselves.

Pictured: Black woman gazing to the left wearing an afro. Credit: Wix Images.

At its heart, self-advocacy is the ability to communicate your feelings, wants, needs and beliefs.

The practice of self-advocacy starts with identifying your values and goals - personally and professionally.

As Black women, we are often on the front lines in our homes, communities and at work, but historically and reluctantly struggle with speaking up for ourselves as a protective mechanism in many spaces.

This results in facing negative stereotypes, systemic and institutionalized racism, discrimination and misogynoir leading to being underestimated, undervalued, and overlooked.

The unfortunate expectation is for us to conform to certain societal norms and be seen as “strong” and “unemotional." This leads to pushing our own needs and wants to the side and even settling for another person's perspective and vision of you.

It's important to remember that self-advocacy is a means of elevating your voice, regaining control over your life and empowering yourself. By speaking up, you can challenge take ownership of your own narratives.

As you practice self-advocacy, the goal is for you to learn to think differently and confidently rather than just going along with the flow when it's not aligned with your values.

I don't know about you, but every Black woman desires to know how to self-advocate and reap benefits especially in diverseless or predominately White spaces.

Using The S.I.S.T.A. Method™, Black women can help you building a greater sense of independence, internal resources and self-worth while affirming your experiences.

State the Stressors

It's important to name the stressors, barriers or problems contributing to you feeling underestimated, undervalued, and overlooked.

These stressors can greatly impact a Black woman or girl's mental, spiritual and physical well-being. When stressors go unnamed, feelings of alienation, fear and insecurity may surface.

Addressing these barriers requires a collective effort from individuals, organizations, and society as a whole to promote equity, inclusion, and support for Black women.

Identify the Impact

Black women are at the center of multiple and interacting groups relating to identities and experiences such as race, gender, class, sexuality, and more which is known as intersectionality.

For Black women, these areas intersect and impact our ability to advocate and as they are layered by oppression, discrimination and bias.

When Black women are unable to self-advocate, they may not be exposed to opportunities for growth, advancement, and fulfillment. This includes struggling to have your ideas and contributions recognized and valued which leads to feelings of frustration and disappointment.

Black women who are unable to self-advocate may struggle to establish and maintain healthy relationships, and may be more at-risk or vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Strategize the Solutions

By identifying the strengths and limitations of your self-advocacy abilities, you're better positioned to strategize how to navigate spaces for you to advocate. The goal is to reduce [and prevent] the negative and even traumatic impact of your experiences.

It can be helpful to reframe negative thoughts and beliefs about self-advocacy. Instead of thinking of it as being aggressive or pushy, try to see it as asserting your rights and speaking up for what you deserve.

This can involve saying “no” when you need to, and speaking up when you feel that your rights or needs are being violated.

Knowledge is power and understanding the challenges that Black women face around self-advocacy. Make a commitment to read books, articles, and other resources to gain insight into these issues and develop strategies for making sense of them.

As you strategize, surround yourself with people who uplift, empower and listen as you share your experiences as a Black woman. Find other Black women who are in similar situations and create a supportive community.

Having a group of people who understand and can provide encouragement can make a big difference. This is important for several reasons:

  1. Emotional support: Self-advocacy can often be a difficult and emotional process, especially if you are facing a challenge or advocating for a sensitive issue. Having supportive friends, family members, a sponsor (active ally or accomplice) or a therapist can provide you with the emotional support you need to most resilient.

  2. Practical support: Practical support can be incredibly helpful when self-advocating. For example, having someone to help you gather information or to accompany you to a meeting can make the process much easier.

  3. Encouragement and motivation: Self-advocacy can be challenging, and it's important to have people in your life who believe in you and encourage you to keep going. A support system can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals with speaking up for yourself.

  4. A sounding board: When self-advocating, it can be helpful to have someone to talk to about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. A support system can provide you with a sounding board and help you make informed decisions. This is very different than emotional dumping.

Tell the Story

Black women's stories involve taking up space which means to assert your presence in spaces where you have historically been marginalized or excluded.

This can refer to physical spaces, such as in public, home or in the workplace, but it can also refer to social or cultural spaces, such as in politics or media.

By telling your story, Black women assert their right to be seen, heard, and valued, and to have a voice and agency in shaping their own lives and the world around them. This can involve pushing against systemic barriers and biases, and creating or finding spaces where they can express themselves freely and fully, without fear of discrimination or oppression.

By embracing your unique experiences, you can develop confidence in yourself and your abilities. This doesn't always mean you will be embraced or even liked merely because you're a Black woman.

Assess the Atmosphere

Truthfully, as a Black woman, you won't been seen or supported at many phases of life. You have a shared responsibility for assessing the temperature in spaces where you are especially if you're the first, one of the few or only one in the room.

When entering white spaces as a Black woman, it's important to be mindful of the dynamics and cultural differences that may be present.

Sure, it's not always easy to pivot out of these spaces and sometimes there are opportunities within them for you. In order to define these opportunities, you must take care of your whole self - mentally, spiritually physically.

Let's wrap up!

Self-advocacy is a superpower for Black women to elevate their voices with the goal of taking control of their lives. Through the S.I.S.T.A. Method™, you can identify where you need the most practice and make steps towards speaking up for yourself.

It's important to understand that your voice and experiences are valuable and deserving of respect and consideration. Don't be afraid to use your voice and share your thoughts and opinions, even if they may be different from those around you. Know what you are and are not willing to tolerate, and communicate those boundaries clearly and assertively.

Self-advocacy is a process and that it's okay to make mistakes. The important thing is to keep learning, growing, and advocating for yourself and your needs.


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