Why Do We Need Programs for Young Black Women? Part 1
YouthREX supported netWORKING: A Young Black Women’s Mentorship Project, an initiative of Toronto’s Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre, to evaluate program impact. REX Blog is sharing reflections from participants on the themes that emerged, and including quotes from mentors who were asked to examine the impacts they witnessed for mentees, themselves, and the community.
Programs like netWORKING, geared towards Black women, are needed to affirm our experiences, and build confidence and community connections.
Navigating your career, personal growth, and academia can be a lonely journey if you don’t have a support system. Programs for Black women provide a support system because it offers tools to address our specific experiences with microaggressions, exclusion and imposter syndrome.
It’s easy to dismiss your own experience if you feel like you’re the only person going through it, but, in reality, Black women have unique shared experiences, and we can learn from each other and feel validated at the same time. This affirmation of what we individually experience but can collectively relate to can offer us the ability to dismantle false ideas of worthiness and build confidence in our true identity and strengths.
This is of particular importance to young Black women because self-confidence is the foundation of how we grow in all aspects of our lives.
Social media, social systems and outside opinions have long tried to dictate what a ‘Black woman’ should be like, but in a space full of Black women, we can define what being a Black woman means to us – for me it means being yourself with no regrets. netWORKING was a space that helped build our confidence individually and collectively, validating everyone’s experience, and working to uplift us all.
WATCH this video from Women’s Health in Women’s Hands on the impact of the netWORKING program:
Toronto is a vast and diverse city, having a program for Black women created relationships and bonds to better build our sense of belonging within it. Community building is critical, because you can’t get through this life on your own, and programs like netWORKING have this incredible network of Black women who can learn from each other, give advice, and help one another to feel brave.
It is also important to have access to resources tailored to Black women and provided by Black women. Resources are necessary when building a community because we can all connect through our shared lived experience. netWORKING has been instrumental in providing support for Black women with mental and physical health challenges, in navigating careers, and in redefining our self and community care.
Programs for Black women are essential for the community because we need to be able to share our experiences, cultivate our confidence, build meaningful connections, and provide resources to one another. These are important because we are stronger together, and need each other to go far. As the South African proverb Ubuntu reminds us:
“I am because we are.”
What impacts have netWORKING program mentors experienced as a result of mentoring young Black women?
- Alisha Morgan, netWORKING Mentor, Physiotherapist & Certified Life Coach: My experience of mentoring young Black women has greatly impacted me. I have been inspired by the determination that I see in these young women. Even if they aren’t exactly sure where their life journey is headed, they courageously take the first step. The fact that these young women had the desire to receive support and then took the action to join this program to receive that support is monumental. I’ve been touched by the wisdom of these women. Although they are young, they are very emotionally intelligent and deep. I’ve even found myself jotting down things they’ve said that I wanted to remember later as guidance for myself! These young women have me so hopeful for the future.