By Cheryl Mattox Berry
During a retail therapy session, a woman with shoulder-length auburn hair and blue-green eyes approached me and asked whether I thought her straw hat was suitable for an indoor event.
As you know, I don’t tell a stranger how clothes look on her but pose a series of questions so that the shopper can make her own decision.
So, I asked what type of indoor event. An “activist” event, she replied with a smile. I would soon learn that the woman was speaking in code, feeling me out to see if I would be receptive to her spiel on women’s organizing efforts in South Florida.
I started to tell her that I was an early convert but decided to let her talk because she was so enthusiastic. I was also surprised that she (a white woman) stepped out of her comfort zone and struck up a conversation with me (a black woman.) The relationship between black women and white women has been a strained one during past waves of the women’s movement.
For the next 30 minutes, the woman, whose name was Karen, told me about newly formed women’s groups and what websites to look up for meeting times and dates. She even told me how to get information about black Democratic clubs.
She shared contact information about our U.S. representatives and senators. Karen was upset that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had been dodging constituents, but she was determined to get a meeting with him.
Karen, who is in her late 30s, described herself as a budding activist motivated by the shocking results of the 2016 presidential election. Because of her job and Donald J. Trump supporters who work there, she has to be careful about who she approaches with information about women’s activities.
As we parted, Karen encouraged me to attend some of the meetings because we can’t afford to let our country retreat on women’s rights. I told her to keep spreading the word. Then, she disappeared in the accessories department, and I went to look for new shoes.