“Black women are made out of brown sugar, cocoa, honey and gold
And the strength of ten thousand moons”
#Blackgirlmagic is one of the top trending hashtags of 2016. Created by CaShawn Thompson, “Black Girl Magic” illustrates a feeling that some of us have known all along, that black women are universally awesome and it is impossible to count all the ways that we are dope, inspiring and mind-blowing.
I am a firm believer in the idea that black women everywhere, at every opportunity, ought to congregate to celebrate our dopeness, to support each other in living out our fullest potentials and to find ways to be there for each other. If we don’t have our backs then who will?
The Amsterdam experience
When I moved to Amsterdam in 2011, beyond the beauty of the city and the openness and sense of freedom I experienced, one thing that also struck me was how “white” the city was.
Now I’m not saying that it was a negative experience from the beginning, but the truth is that most times I was the only black girl in my classes at the University of Amsterdam, in a café in the city centre or at my job…and it got lonely really quickly.
When I would encounter another black person, it felt like finding an oasis in the desert and I would try to make the most of the encounter, unsure of when it would happen again.
During these times I often wondered where the black people in the city congregated and if there were any spaces in the city where I could just walk into and not feel out place. I eventually came to the conclusion that there weren’t and so I set out to find or co-create a space where black women in Amsterdam could feel safe and secure enough to meet and share stories from their personal and professional lives with like-minded women.The Amsterdam Black Women’s Network was formed to provide community for black women Click To Tweet
As the saying goes, “Seek and you shall find”
Almost 4 years after I moved to Amsterdam, through luck and determination, one evening I found myself sitting at a table with four amazing, talented and courageous black women from America, Jamaica and Bermuda. We had all been looking for the same thing since we moved to Amsterdam and by the end of our discussion, that evening the foundations of the Amsterdam Black Women’s Network had been formed.
In a year, our numbers grew from the 5 founders to a community of over 100 women in and around the greater Amsterdam Area. We recently asked some of our members to share their experiences since they joined the group and these are some of the stories we gathered.
It’s been hard to feel part of a community
- “Co-creating Amsterdam Black Women was a way for me to connect to other like minded women from all over the world, and also help to provide a community where we can share experiences and resources.
- Our group is becoming about collaboration and support for all of us and I’m here for that. I love that we are now starting to connect and help each other in all our different endeavours.”
- “What I love most about this group is how it brings together all these dope black women who are doing great things who can serve as a source of friendship, inspiration and support for each other! So excited to see us grow together.”
- “I have lived here for seven years and have tried everything to meet awesome black people but it’s been hard to feel part of a community. This is something I really need in my life and it comes at a great time. Thanks again for taking initiative. Also it’s so great that the group is so inclusive. It’s important that people feel safe in such a group.”
- “There’s something special about being able being able to turn up in a foreign land and find a community with whom you know you’ll be understood and accepted, where you’re just allowed to be your unadulterated self.”
- “I like the multi-faceted events, i.e. book clubs, going to the club, brunch, shopping, visioning, etc. I also like that I get to meet black women from all parts of the diaspora: UK, Netherlands, US, France, Germany, etc.”
Our motto is simple: Connect, Belong, Soar
We are here to create a space where black women can be amongst others who fully share and understand their experience. With the Amsterdam Black Women’s network, we envision a community that is centred on empathy and support that provides a non-judgemental space of communion for those who enter. We want to facilitate growth and support of goals while nurturing inner strength. We aim to be a space of service and advocacy.
It’s not easy juggling full-time jobs, families and other commitments while trying to build a group that achieves all of the stated objectives and strives to become a staple in the black community in Amsterdam. But from the sounds of it, we are well on our way and so we will keep putting in the work because #blackgirlmagic.
If you are ever in Amsterdam, please look us up on Facebook, Instagram or email us. We would love to welcome you into our little family, show you our Amsterdam and most importantly ensure that you have a place that where you can go that feels like home.