Meals have been a powerful staple of community-building for centuries. For Latinos, each dish comes with the long and winding trail of our copious journeys and roots. For every ajo, salsa and papa rellena that tops your plate, there’s also a story of a culture colonized and/or a group of people forced to settle into foreign land. As a Latina, Destiny Arturet knows the value, power, and stories behind a good meal firsthand.
It’s why, after the 2017 inauguration, she joined forces with a friend to create Sister Circle Brunch, a community event that brings women and non-binary people of color together to promote conversation.
The Brooklyn, New York-based community feeds understanding and allyship to women and femmes of color.
The idea for Sister Circle Brunch came to Arturet and her co-organizer, Alisha Acquaye, right after the 2017 inauguration. The two women of color— Arturet is a biracial Puerto Rican and Acquaye is Ghanaian-American— had been attending an event called She Knows Now when they came across the first concepts for their idea. Seated among a group of women, Arturet and Acquaye could feel the stress and sense of loss within the room. The uncertainty of their safety and rights as members of Trump-led country hung stiffly in the air. That’s when a suggestion by a fellow attendee piqued Arturet and Acquaye’s interest.
Lauren Ash, the founder behind Black Girl in Om, had suggested holding sister circle Sunday brunches, gatherings where women of color could get together for physical and spiritual nourishment and help each other move forward. For Arturet, the suggestion brought about an instanr that she describes as a lightbulb moment.
“Regardless of the outcome of that presidential race, there was healing to be done,” she told FIERCE. “It became so apparent just through the debates and the conversations that were happening in 2015 and 2016 that a sleeping monster had awoken or was set free to destroy the social conscious of this nation.”
In March 2017, they hosted their first Sister Circle Brunch.
Soon enough, Arturet and Acquaye were hosting bimonthly events, where handfuls of women of color showed up.
Initially, the two friends reached into their own personal network, inviting acquaintances and co-workers to join them at Arturet’s place for a potluck brunch and conversation. But after a few events, Arturet and Acquaye began to realize that their brunches were just beginning to graze an extremely unfulfilled need. After all, it’s not every day that women of color can walk into a space and openly discuss our experiences of how race, ethnicity and gender-identity affect us on a daily basis, particularly without judgment or having to explain ourselves. “It was just nice to be with like-minded women for a couple of hours on a Sunday and breathe,” Arturet explains before quipping that “the mimosas didn’t hurt either.”
Since its first few get-togethers, Sister Circle Brunch has expanded beyond Arturet and Acquaye circle of friends and colleagues. A little over a year since their first event, the group events are a melding together of old friends, acquaintances and strangers. Through the get-togethers, Arturet says that she has even rekindled old friendships from her college days. “People have actually reached out to us through Instagram and have come to the brunches without knowing anyone. That’s always a really beautiful thing to see,” Arturet says enthusiastically.
On any given day, the conversations will jump from self-care to motherhood, freedom, purpose, even taboo topics like money. Some Sundays, the group circles around an activity or theme. Last year for July 4, the women focused on the concept of freedom and raised questions about different aspects of liberation and what it can mean for different women. Each and every woman in attendance brings her own home-cooked meal and, at the end, the group takes part in post-brunch photoshoots.
For Arturet, the event has been essential to helping her feel more connected to her Latinidad.
“I’ve grown up in a world filled with white women,” Arturet says before describing how she was raised in a small town in the middle of Pennsylvania, one she describes as “still living in a racist past,” which also made it hard for her to understand and find comfort in her Latina identity. “I also went to a predominantly white college but made deeper and stronger connections with people of color there than I ever had in my life. “When I was in college,” she exclaims. “That’s so long to live life without being close to people of color.”
Arturet says her connections in college taught her more about herself but also the importance of terminology, language, nuance and racism within different spaces of color, and Sister Circle Brunch is allowing her to further her understanding of how to be an ally to other women of color — something she sees as essential to the growth and healing of all communities of color.
“I think this space is so valuable for that — because we’re fighting for the same things, right,” Arturet says. “But we have to understand each other and acknowledge that not every woman of color experiences the world in the same way. So, I want this to be a space of learning and questioning and healing and growing.”