“I grew up in a house full of women, and I noticed how much we’d bury our problems or sweep them under the rug, because we weren’t taught nor encouraged to speak about things that harmed us or things we were passionate about,” she says. “Being a black woman myself, I’ve experienced my own traumas and struggles and really wanted to share this with other women who may be experiencing the same things. I reached out to some friends and asked them to share their stories, and the Instagram page instantly gained positive reactions and love. The stories were so impactful and powerful, and I noticed such a strong network of women and knew these conversations weren’t only meant for online!”
A few months later, they had their first event, an open mic for all women-identifying folks to speak about the challenges, the stories, and the struggles. “Ever since, we’ve been hosting bi-monthly events and our annual summer event, which includes a panel, showcase and visual art display—all women-run!”
Our Women’s Voices has evolved into a platform for women to use their voice and share their stories, experiences and art in order to empower women everywhere. “We create safe spaces and events in Toronto where women are heard, empowered and celebrated,” she says.
This week, we caught up with Keosha to talk about what’s coming up next for Our Women’s Voices, her latest project, and what we should be paying attention to.
SDTC: Your latest project is the creation of your first film. What inspired you to branch into filmmaking?
KL: I’ve always loved storytelling. I’m a poet and I’ve been doing poetry and spoken word most of my life; however, just like poetry, films always tell a story. And I’ve been fascinated with films for a long-time and didn’t realize how much it has impacted my own storytelling. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new—to share my story in a new way.
I’m in a moment in my life where I’m really embracing my identity. Being both black and a woman was a conflicting pair growing up, but now I love depths of me that I hated as a teenager. I really want that represented in my art.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating this film?
Creating this film was really tough because it was all so new to me, and the biggest challenge was making sure every voice was represented. But the entire process of brainstorming with other creatives and having so much support by the women in my life made it so great. I had so much fun shooting and bonding with my friends, it didn’t necessarily feel like work.
Who are the black women who are inspiring you these days?
Some of the iconic black women in my life that I look up to are Maya Angelou and Rihanna. They’re different but still very much alike. I love them. Some of the black women around me that I’m surrounded by are Tiana Smith (a multidisciplinary artist), Britta Badour, who’s a spoken-word artist, and Faduma Mohammed, another phenomenal multidisciplinary artists who also advocates and fundraisers for autism!
What should we be paying more attention to?
People should start paying attention to themselves more. We are so busy looking at everyone else and pointing out who/what needs fixing with judgment, or we compare. But I think we need to start looking within, unbecoming and unlearning the things that hinder us from growth before we expect others to change.
We all need to take self-development and self-care a lot more seriously—not on a materialistic level but on a soulful level. That’s why stories are so important and powerful, because they are a testament of that self-development and that growth. Our stories inspire others to dig deeper in themselves and to stop running away from the internal battle.
What’s next for Our Women’s Voices?
More events, of course. OWV will be hosting bi-monthly events that represent and celebrate all kinds of women. I love bringing communities together and creating spaces that feel safe, open and full of love. Now that we’ve launched our new platform, Black Women With Wings, I think we are making sure that more black women are represented and feel understood. Our black experiences are valid and shouldn’t be ignored or overshadowed by white women and their privilege. So I think this platform is really cool, and I love that it’s also celebrating the black artists within the community too, which means more art shows and seasonal galleries in 2019! I’m really excited for it all.
Black Women With Wings takes place on Sunday, November 25, 2018 at May Cafe (876 Dundas St. W).