Front Porches and Meshed Screens: Reflecting on the Importance of Black Women in Community

by Jasmyne K. Rogers

Front porch with wooden boards and meshed screen housed conversations, revelations, and remarkable storytelling that shaped my world as a young girl child growing up in Wilcox County, Alabama. My mind fancies soul-stirring memories of the gathering of Black women who sought solace on my grandmother’s small porch and the scattered oak trees in the barren yard that danced to the rhythm of the wind. Paint rusting on the rocking chairs as my grandmother, women-relatives, and sister-womenfolk from our small town rocked, hummed, and bared their souls. I remember the inflection in tone and the power and deep affection delicately wrapped around their voices as they shared their stories. My grandmother’s front porch served as a safe haven for a community of women who shared their lived and learned experiences—soul stories that fostered glimpses of freedom, healing, and survival. Those rich narratives told by Black women—who were uniquely similar—are forever embedded in the basement of my mind and etched in the art of my own form of soul-searching storytelling.

The significance Black women in community expands from the small parameters of my grandmother’s porch with the meshed screen door. Although I was a young girl enthralled by the brilliance of the unfiltered conversations, polemics, and tittle-tattle, I now realize that there has been a consistent need for a platform, a space, for Black women to thrive, shed, and reveal their lived and learned experiences with each other. As a result of the advancement of time and progression of technology, various platforms exist to convey the complexity of interpersonal relationships between Black women today.

Although various mediums and platforms allow Black women to share their lived and learned experiences in diverse ways, many of these platforms have been problematic agents to the notion of Black women communing together as a catalyst for healing, liberation, and survival. Within the framework of many mediums—reality television shows in particular—gatherings of Black women exhausts chaos, confusion, inauthenticity, and downright pettiness.

I cannot recall one reality television show that has painted the community of Black women in a positive light. The perpetuation of negative images in regards to interrelationships among Black women is stifling to our collective progression. There is abundance and strength in sisterhood, in our circles. Our sisterhood circles allow us to reflect wholeness when we acknowledge our uniqueness and embrace the power of recognizing ourselves in each other. Even the most fragmented pieces of ourselves are made whole when we trust, help, and confide in each other.

Our soul stories are sacred.

I remember watching one of Iyanla Vanzant’s segments on OWN one evening and she passionately declaimed, “I am not my sister’s keeper; I am my sister.” Within this statement lies the prominent truth about the power of the community of Black women. The deeply felt narratives shared on my grandmother’s rustic front porch were not only crucial to the survival of the beautiful women baring their souls, but to the collective progression of all Black women.

At the age of 25, I revisit each soul story gathered throughout the years and placed gently in the basement of my mind when I find it quite difficult to be a woman. These soul stories—from my grandmother’s front porch to the various platforms that offer a positive space for the community of Black women to exist in our fullness—have shaped my world as a mother, daughter, friend, sister, scholar, writer, Black woman, and spiritual being.

Community between Black women is crucial. Our shared stories—sometimes shattering our worlds and displaying our fragmented pieces—bring us healing, glimpses of freedom, and unwavering peace to our weary, yet courageous souls.

It is high time that we remember ourselves and understand that our collective queendoms are necessary. There is and always will be strength in sisterhood. May our community of Black women foster love, fullness, light, alliance, and collective empowerment. So, when our souls are gathered on metaphorical and/or physical rustic front porches with wooden boards and meshed screen, we will collectively exclaim, “I am not my sister’s keeper; I am my sister.”

And we’ll mean it.

Photo: Shutterstock

Jasmyne K. Rogers is a graduate of Georgia State University and native of Wilcox County, Alabama. She thoroughly enjoys writing pieces that reflect the culture, history, and progression of our community. She is a contributing writer for Nu Tribe Magazine and her writing has been featured on For Harriet, My Black Matters and is forthcoming in Nia Magazine.

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