Brooklyn congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke wants Black women to make themselves “the priority,” urging that they practice “self-care.”
“For generations, Black women have been on the frontlines of many battles. From the Civil Rights Movement to the Women’s Rights March, we have quite literally put our bodies on the line to protect our men, our families, our communities and one another, and are often taken for granted,” said Clarke, representative for the 9th Congressional District in addressing the 5th Annual Shirley Chisholm Women’s Empowerment Conference Saturday at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College.
“But our magic is no longer free,” added the daughter of Jamaican immigrants. “Now more than ever, Black women must focus on our selves. We must make ourselves the priority. And, we must practice self-care.
“If we are going to talk about the self-esteem of Black women, we must acknowledge the impact of the daily messages we are bombarded with, that tell us that we are not brilliant, beautiful, powerful and capable,” Clarke continued.
She said these messages have left “an imprint on generations of Black women.
“But we are phenomenal women, are we not?” she asked patrons. “For every negative image, there’s a Shirley Chisholm, Maya Angelou, Tameka Mallory, Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama.
“For every culture vulture, for every appropriator, there is a content creator,” Clarke added.
The conference, held under the theme, “Women Self-Esteem: A Light Shining in the Dark,” was sponsored by the Caribbean Research Center at Medgar Evers College and co-sponsored by Black Women for Fairness, Equity and Justice.
According the objectives, the conference gave the community, among other things an “opportunity to bring to the attention of the Caribbean Research Center at Medgar Evers College major issues that affect the community, so that the center can include those issues in working groups that seek solutions to/or remediation of those issues.”
Conference organizers said the center documents and publishes implementation of policies that benefit the community in general, especially women.
Public Advocate Letitia James received this year’s Shirley Chisholm Award for a Lifetime of Contributions to Humanity. Clarke was the 2016 honoree.
The late Shirley Anita Chisholm (née St. Hill; Nov. 30, 1924 – Jan. 1, 2005), was born in Brooklyn to a Barbadian mother and a Guyanese father.
A politician, educator and author, Chisholm, in 1968, became the first Black woman elected to the US Congress.
She represented New York’s then 12th Congressional District for seven terms – from 1969 to 1983.
In 1972, Chisholm became the first Black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
In 2015, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.