Being a black woman in America is equivalent to feeling like a “double, triple, quadruple minority,” says Florence Noel. She argues that this is not only reflected in national statistics, but also in their everyday experiences.
Noel is a woman of color, and a duel graduate student at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and School of Information. The former is a place where minorities make up 23 percent of MBA candidates.
She has created Dear Black Women, a for-profit group and affirmation movement for black women, by black women.
Growing up in Westchester County, New York, Noel’s community was so diverse, she often didn’t even realize it. It was normal “to have people from all over the United States and all over the world” near you, says Noel. In these spaces, she often felt affirmed by the Haitian and other Caribbean cultures that surrounded her.
When Noel came to Ann Arbor, she wanted black women to feel better about who they are. She began forming affirmation circles, whereby black women have the chance to talk about things that they've written about themselves in a safe environment. The events became so popular, she began to formalize them into the organization, Dear Black Women, which now has over 500 attendees locally and 4,000 nationally.
When asked whether the organization is exclusionary, Noel responds that the group is embracing the differences people exhibit. “I think if we are talking about the lived realities of people based on identities, then we have to appreciate that not everyone’s experience is the same," she said.
"And as such, not everyone’s needs are the same. It is imperative that black women have safe spaces where they can feel reflected and affirmed."
To hear more about Florence Noel and her group Dear Black Women, listen above.