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Wisdom for Women as Black History Month Approaches

January 31, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom and Inspiration for Women and Women Entrepreneurs

In 1999 I remembered being deeply moved by the film “Glory.” The film is about one of the first military units of the Union Army, during the American Civil War, to consist entirely of African-American men (except for its officers), as told from the point of view of Colonel Shaw, its white commanding officer. The regiment is known especially for its heroic actions at Fort Wagner. To this day it is one of my favorite movies because of the eventual unity, mutual respect and dying love the soldiers and officers had for one another.

I grew up in a small town that did not have many African American people. Our town was made up mostly of Italian immigrants, like my grandparents. The few black people I knew were talented football players from our high school who I still see regularly at our high school reunions. Rome, New York was also an Air Force Base town so friendships were made and then suddenly gone when their parents were deployed somewhere else. Although the Air Force families could live on base, many lived off base giving me insight to people from around the country. I always loved meeting new people and getting to understand their background.

About fifteen years ago a dynamic African American woman walked into my downtown office. We hit it off immediately and before she left she said, “I do believe we are sisters,” I agreed. I have felt that way about Gwen Webber-McLeod, my one and only true black friend ever since. I have asked Gwen many questions about why more white and black women aren’t friends or why each group doesn’t do business with the other more. Gwen has given me enlightening perspectives on the difference between the two cultures and how difficult it can be to mix them together. This seemed strange to me at first as someone who embraced integrating with new people from other parts of the country.

What moved me most about ‘Glory’ was the inhumane way blacks were treated. I felt horrible for them especially when I compared it to my Italian family who welcomed anyone to our dinner table. My mother taught dance to deaf students and some of them were black. It was wonderful breaking bread with them and having diversity around our table even if I had to use sign language.

So this month as our country celebrates Black History Month, I am celebrating my friend Gwen Webber-McLeod and her production of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” which is playing at the Auburn Public Theater, supported by Artistic Director Angela Daddabbo. I bought ten tickets for the February 8th show so women interested can join me and learn more about our African American sisters during Black History Month.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is meant for you to think about whether or not you do business with African American women or if you celebrate any as your friends. There are many black women in our community we should know better and consider giving business to. If you don’t have many diverse friends, I challenge you to think about starting new relationships with women of different races, religions or backgrounds because women are the future and that means all women.

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