I joined WoCA in October/November 2021. As a Black American woman who had always been involved in civic and social organizations, I had been looking for a group of like-minded, professional women from all over the world who were also looking to find friendship and support — the tools a person needs to feel at home in a new environment. My level of interest was so great that in 2021, shortly before finding WoCA, I had even contemplated starting an organization of my own but felt that I didn’t have the contacts or resources, including time, to start something myself.

So finding WoCA was like finding a tall glass of cool water after a week in the sun. At my first meeting, I sat in awe as the most fantastic group of brilliant, beautiful, educated, accomplished women from spectacularly diverse countries — India was in the house as was South Africa, Iran, China, Philippines, and many other nations — as well as First Nations Australians and the Aussie children of migrants filled my computer screen.

Then we all started to… well, speak.

And as the women in the group began to talk about their lives and careers in Australia, a similar (and all too painful) pattern began to emerge so strongly that it felt as though many of us were reciting the same story, playing the same music, or singing the same song.

The song of having your skills and/or education, no matter how extensive or exceptional, be constantly second guessed or dismissed outright; of being treated as either invisible or as a threat at work and other environments; of being constantly gaslit and held to double standards (or worse); of not even being given a chance to fail at something because you are never afforded the opportunity to participate in the first place. Woman after woman, no matter where they were from, how long they’d been in Australia, their field of work etc. told this same story and sang this same song over and over. And while it was heartbreaking to hear, it felt as though we all sensed the immense opportunity before us to support and nurture one another as well as provide opportunities where we could shine and thrive as we knew we were capable of.

WoCA SPEAK is an amazing platform for Women of Colour, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, to share our stories. To speak of the joys we’ve encountered here as well as the injustice. To inform readers of a side of this nation they may not see and are hopefully interested and open enough to hear. I am thrilled to support the Women of Colour telling their stories, whether this is the first time they’ve done so or part of a longer legacy. I have plenty of my own notes to sing, and it is with the greatest privilege and honour that I do so alongside so many inspiring women. Please join us.

In solidarity,

Dana Rawls
Commissioning Editor
SPEAK Issue 1 & 2