Keiyonna Dubashi opened up her address at the December 11, 2021 Profound Ladies first annual Gala quoting the eerily relevant words of author James Baldwin:
Let’s begin by saying that we are living through a very dangerous time.
In 1963, Baldwin shared these words while addressing a group of educators in the throws of integration responsible for teaching Black children, and even though we are nearly 60 years from this moment, undoubtedly, his words could not feel more present and palpable today.
Educators of the 2021-2022 school year have had to navigate year three of a unrelenting global pandemic that has not only taken the lives of millions. They’ve held students in their arms — masks soaked in tears — grieving the death of loved ones and exhausted by the uncertainty of a pandemic. Educators have buried students whose lives were taken mercilessly at the hands of school shooters. Our teachers navigate the ongoing hostility and misinformation that surrounds whether or not teachers can be honest about our nation’s histories of inequality.
As women of color educators, these multiple pandemics are only exacerbated. For us, the toll of the pandemic has been the harshest as our relatives and loved ones have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The unique racialized nature of school shootings deepens our feelings of terror as we navigate systems that are not meant for us. The debate around curriculum in schools threatens to erase not only our stories and histories but our contributions and legacies from the classroom spaces where we teach. To say we are exhausted and fearful is an understatement.
It is in this precarious — but, as Baldwin reminds us, not unprecedented — moment that Dubashi, the founder and executive director of Profound Ladies, courageously chose gratitude and ancestral hope as way to bring together the village of stakeholders that support women of color educators who are navigating the education system during these trying times. Education partners from the business sector, state, district, and local level came together as partners in a bold dream for our education system: a dream that says women of color teachers matter and their contributions are profound. Dubashi invited attendees to reflect on the resilience of women of color educators, celebrating their ancestral, historic, and present-day calling to inspire, energize, and nurture the next generation of students.
The night was full of student voice, teacher presence, and raw emotion – unapologetic joy at the power of women of color teachers and unfathomable heartache at the pain of the moment. Finding comfort in between and betwixt the polarity of exuberance and heartache is a superpower women of color have always and will always possess. It is precisely this dexterity to build and dream in this space that makes investing in women of color teachers essential for the future of education.
Fortunately, this is precisely Profound Ladies’ mission. Profound Ladies is an organization committed to the recruitment and retention of women of color teachers. Unlike other organizations, Profound Ladies is especially attune to the unique gifts and experiences of trauma that women who are teachers and who are people of color face while navigating the institution of schooling. Through rigorous and restorative development spaces, partnership with districts and schools, and a shared commitment to nourishing students of color educational dreams, Profound Ladies offers the education system a much needed and innovative solution to crisis of BIPOC teacher retention.
You can help Profound Ladies expand its reach by donating here. If your district deserves this type of partnership, learn more about how Profound Ladies is nurturing the seeds of BIPOC women’s pedagogies by visiting our website.