Mini Interviews w/ Local Change Agent Kina Reed, founder of Hey Sis, a monthly sister circle of African American women in Baton Rouge
Urban Renewal: How would you describe who Kina Reed is as an individual, a professional and a community advocate?
Kina Reed: I would describe myself as someone who relentlessly tries to be consistent. I believe that people and spaces need to be enriched by me. I believe that to be true for everyone though. Spaces need to be better because we’ve accessed them. If at least half of the 7 billion folks on this planet could believe this to be true we would be living more equitably. This belief colors everything I do. I am a believe that the political is personal and vice-versa. So I do my very best to make sure my personal and professional life is in alignment. What I do in the community is the manifestation of that commitment.
UR: For those who are unfamiliar with what ‘Hey Sis’ is, can you talk about what it is exactly and how it came to formation?
KR: Our Beloved Alice Walker said, “I advocate that every woman be a part of a circle, and a circle that meets at least once a month, or if you can’t do that, once every two months or every four months.” HeySis is a response to that. Actually, Urban Congress has played a significant role in the creation of HeySis. My research is primarily focused on Race and Gender Identity Constructions. So I’ve done a bit of work thinking about Black womanhood and the institutional structures that de/construct it. I’ve long since come to the conclusion that institutional pressures have worked to dismantle trust and intimacy within our relationships. I have a lifelong commitment to undo this work. Upon moving to Baton Rouge I realized I often found myself around other Black women but really felt disconnected in some ways. I noticed the disconnect but hadn’t realized what mechanism could challenge it. At an Urban Congress workgroup meeting, A.V Mitchell was discussing and promoting Barbershop Talks and it was at that moment I realized Black Women needed this too. HeySis is a social and networking experience for US and by US. We are black women committed to gathering at least once a month around a topic that has significance to us.
UR: What is your role in ‘Hey Sis’ or is there defined roles for the members who make up the organizing collective?
KR: I am proud to be considered the founder of Hey Sis. My advisory board and planners consist of Ellen McKnight with the Maxine Firm, Letrece Griffin with 100 Black Women Baton Rouge and Branding by Letrece and lastly partnering with Courtney Scott with the Byan Group and BeBatonRouge.
UR: What contribution(s) would you like ‘Hey Sis’ to make in enhancing the landscape for Black women in Baton Rouge?
KR: I thinking on a national level we’ve got our Lucy Mcbaths and Stacy Abrams. Here in town we’ve got our Sharon Broomes but we need more communal and political leverage as women of color. According to Higher Heights, Black women move billions of dollars every year; annual spending is estimated at $565 billion. And so I am wondering what could happen in our country if some of this economic power shifted towards community and political engagement? As Black women often find ourselves in the position of caregiver. We care about children, seniors, and communities and we’re born leaders, advocates, and mobilizers. I am not sure that we as black women see our care-giving as powerful outside our homes. While we’ve made significant progress in society there is much to be done to ensure our continued productivity. Now more than ever we need to intensively labor to work, travail, play, think, and explore life together.
UR: Complete the following statement: I work to transform my community by…
KR: being authentic and encouraging authenticity around me.
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