The air was nothing but still as Jessica Weiner and a generous group of 24 African-American women spoke at the business table inside of the Marriott in Glover Park on March 2nd. Strong, solid voices echoed against the walls of the conference room. However, the voices that were being heard were not sounds of anger, but moreover sounds of urgency as the women discussed the dire need for young African-American women to have entrepreneurial guidance and educational stimulation and ways to help.
Jessica Weiner, 37 youth minister from Atlanta, GA, has been working on developing a study for youth African-American women that will teach them the fundamentals of life while educating them on hard-work and the “women’s place” in society. “It’s important for someone to consistently uplift young women considering the obstacles and distractions that they face everyday,” says Weiner. The distractions that Weiner is referring to are the negative images that the media has placed on young black women and the need young girls may feel to adhere to that image.
Weiner and the other 24 women sat in the conference room at the Marriott hotel to discuss the future plans for establishing a workshop for young women at different junior high and high schools in the DC metropolitan area. The workshops will be entitled Black Women and the Better Tomorrow. The workshops are built to empower and inform women on the many opportunities that are available that perhaps are overlooked and the trials and tribulations that may hold them back as young African-American women.
“Look at the music videos today. They really are degrading, misleading, and truthfully, disgusting. And yes, there are a million different groups that protest the negative images hip hop gives young women, but we are trying to be directly correlated with the women affected, says Akwabaa Ondelu, 36 partner with Black Woman and the Better Tomorrow.
In order to do that, the women have enlisted the help from business professionals in different fields to come speak to the young women. ” I’m on the schedule to speak at Benjamin Banneker High School on September 26th. What I would like for them to know is despite our economic down falls, there are still better opportunities for these young women after college. But first, we want to continue to encourage them to go to college,” says Kathryn Hill, 41 private detective for DC Metropolitan Police.
According to the DC State Department of Health Statistics, the 2007 teen pregnancy rate is 58.6 pregnancies per 1,000 girls age 15 to 19 in DC, most of these women being of black race. “Teen pregnancies aren’t too common in my school, but I know a few girls who got pregnant and now don’t have the chance to pursue their ideal careers,” says Banneker student Alisha Newburn, 17.
Black Women and the Better Tomorrow are not only fighting the increase of teen pregnancies, but the void that many black women may feel from coming from single mother homes. “My father left before I could even remember he was there, and the feeling that stemmed from that altered my self-perception and self-worth. We want to give that self-worth back to these girls,” says Weiner.
The program is committed to beginning seminars in the upcoming school year with the first seminar at Benjamin Banneker High School in September.