why Teamwork Makes the Community Dream Work
why the Founders of Sister Circle Brunch believe community and self-care should be top priorities.
Destiny Arturet & Alisha Acquaye
Occupations, affiliations, and projects.
Destiny: TEDx Licensing Associate at TED, member of NOW’s Inaugural Virtual Chapter, Co-founder of Sister Circle Brunch, SEEING RED and Womanologues, daughter, sister, tia and friend.
Alisha: I’m a writer and the other half of Sister Circle Brunch. My work has been published in Teen Vogue, Elle, OkayAfrica, The Establishment and other places. I also like being in pictures and am working on a few projects around friendship and intersectional identities.
PEOPLE WHO DO FOCUSES ON THOSE WHO TAKE ACTION TO PURSUE MEANINGFUL WORK AND LIFE PASSIONS—WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO “DO”?
Destiny: I’ve always “done”. I’ve always been moving and going and growing because I become anxious when I stand still for too long. Part of this has to do with my upbringing and my parents always encouraging my ideas and curiosities and plans. My parents never told me I couldn’t do something. It’s important that I “do” because I would be unhappy otherwise. I’m grateful to say that I love my full-time job, that I love the projects I work on after hours, that I love the opportunities I’ve had to explore the world, that I love the friendships and communities I’ve built over my lifetime. I do because it makes me happy, allows me to fulfill a purpose and gives me a chance to make an impact.
Alisha: In my journal the other day, I wrote about how the act of trying and doing—pursuing passions, dreams and exciting opportunities—takes a great amount of energy and tenacity. It can be exhausting. But right now, our nation feels exhausting and tiring. When your environment feels unsafe and uncertain, that lights a fire under your ass to be more creative, conscious and ambitious. It is important for me to “do”, especially while Trump is in office, because the act of doing and striving is even more crucial during this political climate. Sister Circle Brunch is one of our ways of doing something to resist the backlash of white rage, misogyny, xenophobia, racism and more. Community and self-care can be arsenal against the horrors of the news and government right now.
Tell me more about why it was important for you to create Sister Circle Brunch?
Destiny + Alisha: With Sister Circle Brunch, we wanted to create a loving, inspiring space where women of color can unfurl their true selves and have stimulating conversations over potluck meals. The idea blossomed out of a phrase that Lauren Ash, founder of Black Girl In Om, said at a self care and entrepreneurship discussion she had last winter. When asked about ways women of color can build community while simultaneously practicing self care, she blurted out the words “...have a Sunday sister circle brunch!” Our eyes lit up and we ran with the words, encouraged to expand it into a bigger idea. Activism, self-care and community building are some of the most important things to us, and we thought this brunch would be the perfect marriage of those ideas and allow us to express and empower ourselves.
To date, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
Destiny: Building a community that I can count on; establishing meaningful and long-lasting friendships; traveling on my own; finding a job that I love; growing in my relationships with my mom and dad.
Ailsha: Being emotionally vivid—making an effort to truly live my emotional truth. As a creative person and a scorpio, I’m super into emotional awareness and emotional intelligence, problem solving and transformative friendships. Unfortunately women are already narrowed into being emotional creatures, and it’s usually perceived as a weakness or somehow less credible than logic, so there was a time when I felt ashamed for being sensitive. But as a feminist, better yet, a womanist, I’ve learned that the best way to combat a harmful stereotype or notion is to reclaim it and express the beauty and power of it.
Sensitivity is a superpower, and using my emotional intelligence as one of my compasses while navigating life has led to some of my bravest adventures, most fulfilling relationships and best accomplishments.
#1 motivating mantra to get through tough moments.
Destiny: This is not the end of the world. You will learn, you will grow, you will do better next time.
Alisha: No matter what happens, you will be okay.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned so far this year?
Destiny: In the short time of 2018, my favorite thing I’ve learned is to sit with my feelings. I’ve been processing a lot of “new” feelings over the last month, and I say “new” because they’re feelings that I’m not used to experiencing, such as irritability, annoyance and apathy. But what I’ve learned to do, per my therapist’s advice, is to just sit with them. Allow myself to feel them instead of trying to understand them, break them down, find the root cause. As women, I think we’re taught to avoid or push away certain feelings that are uncomfortable or aren’t conducive to positive interactions with those around us. But we’re human and we’re dynamic and we need to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable and be annoyed, frustrated, apathetic, etc. even if we don’t understand exactly why we’re feeling that way.
Alisha: If you keep asking and asking the universe to send something your way, you’ll eventually find it. But maintenance is the true test.
What’s your favorite lesson you’ve ever learned?
Destiny: Slow down your judgement. This is a lesson in cultural intelligence that I learned while living and working in Ghana, and one that has proven to be so valuable to me even in the US. To break it down, slowing down your judgement means making sense of a situation before making a concrete conclusion about it. It’s easy to quickly judge something based off of your own knowledge, experience and perspective but this could lead to a false conclusion about the situation in question, especially if it’s in a different cultural context.
This has really helped me to adapt to life and living in New York because it’s such a diverse city where you encounter people from all walks of life - sometimes good, sometimes bad. It can harden you and irritate you, it can make you quick to judge others that annoy you or get in your way when riding the train or walking to work. But I try to come back to this lesson, to slowing down my judgement, and remember that I don’t know the context of that person’s experience. This keeps me humble and grounded.
Alisha: I’ve realized that everyone is out for themselves, naturally. We all want to do us, to find happiness, and to protect ourselves, and for the most part, we aren’t out to hurt or disappoint anyone. Sometimes our words, actions and intentions disarm or injure another. It’s how we deal with our unintentional impact on others that reveals our true character.
What's your go-to song to put you in a better mood?
Destiny: “Losing You” by Solange
Alisha: Right now it’s “Me and Those Dreamin Eyes of Mine” by the genius D’Angelo.
Favorite method for logging any kind of inspiration.
Destiny: My phone! I always have it on me, so I can take a moment so write down a quote, make a voice memo or snap a photo of something beautiful or captivating.
Alisha: My notebooks. Nothing beats the movement of transporting your ideas from brain to arm to hand to fingertips to page. My ideas and dreams also feel more tangible when I can touch it and see it on a page.
Top 5 people you would invite to a dinner party.
Destiny: This is always changing but (right now) the following people: Durga Chew-Bose, Tracee Ellis-Ross, Michelle Obama, Matt McGorry & Tituss Burgess
Alisha: Frank Ocean, Uglyworldwide, Roxane Gay, Miranda July and of course Solange.
What’s the best piece of advice that you can give someone right now?
Destiny: Take it day by day. Be gentle with yourself.
Alisha: Do something - or someone - before the day is over.
3 words that you want to be remembered by.
Destiny: Passion, style, justice.
Alisha: Enigmatic, intelligent and sensual.
What’s the next goal?
Destiny + Alisha: Creating a brunch kit! Sister Circle Brunch has gained traction and we’re so excited that other women want to join this community. We’ve had people reach out to us through social media or through a friend expressing interest, so we’ve welcomed many new faces and friends to the brunch. However, we want to keep an element of intimacy and familiarity, plus there are a limited number of people we can have in the apartment! So, moving forward, we want to create a brunch kit as a way to empower other women in other cities and states to organize a SCB in their own apartments, homes and communities.
By "do-ing", you create your own unique legacy. How do you want your legacy to look?
Destiny + Alisha: We want Sister Circle Brunch to be remembered as a place that provided safety and comfort during a time of bewilderment and fear. We can confidently say that for us, and the women in our community, this is the most politically divisive moment in our lifetime thus far. We’re trying to pursue our careers, make time for our friendships and romantic relationships, stay healthy, and grow as individuals all while trying to seek justice and make change. This is new for many of us and we’re learning to adapt to a new way of life. Our hope is that Sister Circle Brunch is part of that new way of life because we need each other. We need to learn from each other and support each other and love each other. That’s the only way forward.