10 Takeaways from Donna Brazile at Women of Power - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

If you know anything about Donna Brazile, you know that she does not play any games! Earlier this month at the Women of Power Summit, she took the stage for a powerful one-one-one conversation with Caroline Clarke, chief brand officer of Women of Power, about her journey (as a veteran Democratic political strategist and former chair of the Democratic National Committee) that left women in awe. Her realness and sense of humor when it came to being a black woman with political power coupled with her story about her journey was admirable. Whether you were in the room, watching the Livestream, or retweeting the gems she was dropping on Twitter, here are 10 takeaways from Brazile’s moment center stage.

1. Be a real sister.— Everyone needs a sister and a tribe to lean on. During tough times, especially after the 2016 presidential election, Brazile learned that sisterhood has to be authentic. “I want to tell y’all that real sisterhood is not what I call, ‘words only.’ Susan Rice is a sister. She had my back and she warned me what to do and I took her advice,” she shared. Every woman should have someone whom can call on and be there for.

2. Make a habit out of scooting over. We all know that not everyone gets the opportunity to have a seat at the table. But if and when you do, Brazile urges you to make room. “Sistahs, when you get to the table, scoot over and make room for others!”

3. Show up for yourself.— After serving 40-plus years in the Democratic party and as the Democratic chair for two terms, Brazile learned a thing or two about showing up for herself. She chose to be at the Women of Power Summit for herself and for those attending. “I told them I will show up tomorrow…if I feel like it. I have spent over 49 years carrying that donkey up the hill. Today, I’m here to push you up the hill. It’s your turn! Let’s get to work, it’s your turn!” If you don’t show up for yourself, no one else will.

4. Be clear about what you will and won’t do.— Black women bear a lot of the political weight of the country. And if anyone knows that, it’s Donna Brazile. She has worked on seven presidential campaigns, 19 state and local campaigns, and has worked in 49 states. But, she is very clear about what she will not do. “My father was a janitor, my mother a maid. That means I can clean up anybody’s house but I’m not picking anybody’s shit.”

5. Read the book. Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House. In the words of Caroline Clarke, if you haven’t read it, just read it. If you want to learn more about Brazile’s political journey from the inside.

6. Tell your story.— Brazile had the distinct honor and privilege of knowing Dr. Maya Angelou and she is a firm believer that there is nothing more painful than an untold story inside of you. For that reason, she wants women to tell their stories no matter the feedback. “Hillary told her story and people were mad at her; Joe Biden has told his story, nobody was mad at him; and Barack Obama is going to tell his story. But, when a black woman tells her story everyone says, ‘why are you telling it now?’ Well, the best time to tell a story is when it’s fresh, when you can learn the lessons, when you have to heal wounds.” Remember, no one can tell your story better than you can.

7. Stay politically aware and involved. “We (black women) have enormous political power and we’re not using it just for our own advantage…So, please pay attention to local elections, pay attention to statewide elections. Every election is important and every vote matters.” Primary elections are Nov. 4, 2018. And, although that might seem like a long time from now, given the political climate and with everything going on in the world Brazile stresses how important it is to be politically involved.

8. Going home can help you focus on what’s important. After experiencing tremendous loss and dedicating so much of her life to work and politics, a key lesson that Brazile learned was that going home helped her focus on what is most important at the end of the day. And, for her, that is family. “I started going to New Orleans… I went home and I realized that I had to keep going to them. I couldn’t give up.” When’s the last time you’ve been home?

9. Rest before your comeback and your come up.— During her intimate conversation with Clarke, Brazile revealed that she took time to rest after three major devastating life events. The first one was 10 years after Hurricane Katrina in which she and her family lost everything; the second was after one of her students and colleague Seth Rich was murdered; and the third was after President Donald Trump was elected. After all three life-changing moments, she learned that rest was necessary in order to charge up. That included going off of the grid. Self-care is extremely important and that often means you need to rest.

10. Be bold.— If there is one thing we are certain that every woman gleaned from Brazile’s time on stage, it was to be bold. Boldness was the narrative thread throughout her story. Even in moments of fear and pain, she remained bold. That is what we think she meant when she implored women to “pull up their vaginas” from the center stage. Be unapologetically bold.

Watch Donna Brazile’s incredible talk at the Women of Power Summit:

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Lydia Blanco

Lydia T. Blanco is a proud Afro-Latinx digital-first multimedia journalist with a strong passion for truthful storytelling, photography and content strategy. Blanco is a 2016 graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and proud alumna of Bennett College for Women. At Columbia, her coursework included media management, tactical technology reporting, mobile video storytelling, digital content strategy, photojournalism and feature writing. She covered the ethnic beat of the Senegalese community in Harlem concentrating on business and religion. Her thesis is a 5,000-word A.P Style report exploring faith, justice and activism through a Harlem church. She received one of two honors awards in the Ethics of Journalism class with Dean Steve Coll. Blanco has experience in telling stories about social justice, health and wellness and technology with an emphasis in social impact. Her three years of experience in non-profit media have helped to shape her voracious storytelling as well as her digital and social media marketing skills.


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