Four more years.
As you may recall from last year’s anniversary post, ThisWomansWords started nine years ago as nothing more than a cute Twitter handle inspired by Maxwell lyrics and my love for writing. March 18, 2021 marks the four-year anniversary of the launch of www.thiswomanswords.co! This website and the work of ThisWomansWords continues to shift and change to match and fill the needs that exist in the communities that I am a part of.
Again, I have to say THANK YOU to all of the people who have supported me through this journey! Thank you for reading my words, for sharing my words, and for sending and offering me opportunities to write for other publications. Your support means more than my words can express.
In 2019 we lost one of my greatest writing inspirations, Toni Morrison. In 2021 we were introduced to one of my new writing inspirations, Amanda Gorman. As you may recall, Ms. Gorman penned and performed the poem “The Hill We Climb” during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Early-on in her piece, she said:
“We've braved the belly of the beast,
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn't always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn't broken,
but simply unfinished.”
Knowing that I have braved much, learned even more, and that I continue to weather and witness gave me a new sense of and a plethora of new ideas for what ThisWomansWords could be. Since January 9, 2021, I have coordinated and/or hosted multiple events on Clubhouse, including #ThisWomansQuestions Live and LGBTQ+ POC Poetry Nights. On February 6, 2021 I began hosting virtual reading events for youth in my community via Zoom and Facebook Live in an effort to address the growing literacy concerns that have become even more noticeable in this era of virtual learning. My goal was to promote reading among our youth by showing them authors and characters who look like them. What started as four events featuring local authors of color has become a fourteen-week series with authors from all over the nation who write children’s books featuring characters of color. I am confident in saying that this is only the beginning of what ThisWomansWords can and will be.
So, as is the tradition in this space, let us continue to write the words that we need and want to read. Let us continue to stand in the gap by fulfilling the needs that are identified but seldom addressed. Let us continue to work towards finishing the business of our ancestors in a nation that seldom speaks their names or recognizes their excellence. Here's to a future that we create from the magic of our words and the strength of our faith. Here's to naming what hurts us and celebrating what heals us. Here's to the words – both written and spoken – that leave their mark on those we have never met and that enter rooms where we will never step. Here's to Toni Morrison, Amanda Gorman, and Ida B. Wells. Here's to four more years!
Shereá D. Burnett (aka Shereá Denise) was born and raised in Alamance County, North Carolina. She identifies as Afro-Indigenous and is a proud citizen of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation. Shereá attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in Political Science and Afro-American Studies. She also minored in Social and Economic Justice. Shereá received her Juris Doctorate Degree from Elon University School of Law.
Shereá Denise is a Social Worker at heart. She spends her days directing efforts intended to assist people who are experiencing homelessness and her evenings as an Adjunct Professor at a local college. She primarily engages in projects and activities focused on Women of Color, Children of Color, and those identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ Community. Shereá serves in various capacities for local nonprofit and community-oriented organizations. She is interested and actively involved in community service and advocacy work throughout the state of North Carolina. In addition to writing, Shereá is passionate about literacy programming for children, promoting the work done by Black and Indigenous women, and raising awareness about the issues impacting marginalized communities.
Shereá attributes her love for writing to the many Black writers and poets whose work she has had the immense pleasure of reading and whose personal stories she has had the opportunity to learn about. In particular, Shereá Denise credits much of her love for writing (and reading) to Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Pauli Murray, and Ida B. Wells.