What role has the support of other women played in your success?
Women have always played a big role in my success. Most of my career has involved work that has been geared toward women, whether in social work or in business. Because women have trusted and believed in me, I have received the gifts of encouragement, direction, education, creative inspiration, collaboration, childcare, healing, compliments, cooperation, dinners, sponsorship, outfits, prayers, truth, empowerment, help, respite, love, partnership, mother wit, hugs, belly laughs, and more. These are a few of the many offerings that have propelled me forward in every aspect of my life. Because they were… I am.
What was the bravest thing you have ever done that got you where you are today?
When I was 14 years old, I asked my mother to stop straightening my hair. And she did. It just occurred to me that it took a lot of courage…on both parts. We knew I would have to stand against naysayers, name-callers, and, “girl, what is wrong with that head!” as I proudly sported afro puffs, Bantu knots, and cornrows. And I did. I have walked in the world, all of my adult life, choosing to let my hair “be” the way it was naturally given. I did not alter it to get a job, a man or self-approval. Loving my natural hair, was a pathway to self-love for me. It’s not the way for everyone, of course. But I know for sure it was that bold decision that gave me Black girl magic and led to my discovering that all the ways that I am are enough. One youthful, audacious pronouncement, bolstered by my mother’s wisdom, was a road to self-acceptance that empowered me to walk convincingly and confidently, head held high, where angels sometimes fear to tread.
What does receiving the Onyx Woman Leadership award mean to you?
Receiving the Onyx Woman Leadership Award is a deeply humbling and affirming acknowledgment that I am making a difference as I travel along the way. I am even more profoundly inspired to continue on my journey as a WELLWoman: Woman Empowered to Live Legacy. My gratitude abounds.
Join LaVerne Baker and other women of excellence on Thursday, May 7, 2020, from 6-9:00 p.m. at the Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland. See our cover page for the link to purchase tickets.