13 Oct Family is Family… Love is Love
By Nzinga West, Board Chair.
One of the best and most magical aspects of ICAH is its ability to both acknowledge and build chosen family. The idea that we can all be family based not simply on shared biology or legalities, but based on values, experiences, respect, like, and care for each other is EVERYTHING. It makes me consider my family…
When I think of family, I think immediately of the women in my life.
I think about…
- My daughters, Ysanne and Katherine, and how they are the greatest influencers in how I embrace this world.
- My niece, Bree, a model, beautiful overachiever who is making her mark in this world while setting a brilliant example for her daughter.
- The Katherine who gave birth to me.
- My great-grandmother, Ophelia, who was a young, single parent in the 1920s.
- Maggie B. who gifted me with a belief in the general goodness of people.
- My father’s mother, Cleoda, and how she encouraged my individuality before I even knew I was an individual.
- The Connies, who gave me a safe and non-judgemental space to be a teenager.
- Leanna, who provided me with a love for all things coffee and the perfect visual of black womanhood.
- Alleen and Lois, who ignored my flaws to celebrate my potential.
- My sisters, Ann, Selina, Faith, Vykye, and Kristin, with whom I can be my true and multi-faceted self.
These women are my family. It does not matter that I share neither mother nor father with my sisters, that most of my mothers and grandmothers will not be listed on my family tree, and that only one of my daughters shares my DNA.
Knowing that is important. Acknowledging it is powerful. Sharing it is necessary.
By creating a space where young people and their allies can voice the love they feel for their families, both given and chosen, while sharing their experiences and the resulting impact, ICAH is breaking down the walls of ignorance and fear that foster an environment in which all of the harmful “isms” rule.
Thank you, ICAH!