We, ceremony + BOSTON's spark impact awards
We, ceremony + Boston's SPARK Impact awards
When Iliana and Mu reconnected online after losing touch for several years, both women found themselves living in Boston again and sharing similar experiences as women of color. The pair felt like their communities were either misrepresented or not represented at all, both on- and offline. Soon, We, Ceremony was born. Iliana and Mu launched We, Ceremony as a platform to validate, uplift, and celebrate their stories and the unique identities of women of color.
The two founders have allowed We, Ceremony to grow organically into the creative platform it has become today, featuring monthly “Spotlights” on women of color who are leaders in their communities, and hosting and contributing as speakers to various events around Boston. The duo have recently released their first E-book, Liberación/Liberasyon/Libertação/解放: Unapologetic Women of Color.
Iliana and Mu are finalist contenders in Boston’s Annual SPARK Impact Awards -- Arts & Culture Category. The awards are given to civic-minded millennials who are making a difference in their communities.
How does We, Ceremony contribute to the well-being and positive growth of City of Boston?
Iliana: For me, it is often when I meet new people through WC, and hear their stories, that I feel reassured that Mu and I are truly making a difference in the lives of women of color in Boston. At our first women’s empowerment event at WeWork by South Station, a woman came to speak with Mu and me afterwards and described to us how she had so often been at the same location, but always attended events and meetings where she was the only person of color and the only woman. She shared with us how difficult it was for her to move to Boston -- especially into tech spaces, which are dominated by white men. She was in search of community and felt comforted through connecting with other women of color who shared similar experiences at our event.
During one of our on-the-spot interviews about one and a half years ago, Mu and I interviewed a woman by the name Danarilys. We were in the Back Bay area and as we were asking her a couple questions about her identity and family, she began to cry. She shared with us how she recently turned 25 years old and did not have a clue of where she was going next or what her purpose was in life. This interview really resonated with me because I think it is very common for us to feel like we need to have everything figured out, but in reality we’ll still have our doubts of who we are supposed to be, even as we grow old. It was a reminder that, despite sometimes feeling isolated or lonely, there are so many of us going through the same things. This is why We are here: to help people connect with each other.
Mu: Not only does WC celebrate the voices of women of color in Boston (and beyond), but we also support each other by providing different opportunities to showcase our talents and reclaim our identities through events and speaking engagements.
What does the future hold for We, Ceremony?
Mu: Hopefully we’ll be rolling in dough, haha jk. Although we did not start WC with a profit model in mind, we do want WC to be able to sustain itself financially. Currently, we are working with a business consultant to find ways to bring WC into corporate and nonprofit spaces to offer consulting and programming centered around diversity and inclusion.
Ultimately, we believe our lived experiences are valid and do not need data or facts to justify/explain who we are, but that the stories of our lived experiences should be treated with the same respect and weight as the kind of data that would move people to take action and create systemic change.
Iliana: More events! We love meeting people who are new to our work and who’ve been following us for awhile and are able to to put faces to We, Ceremony. It’s always something to celebrate when you get a group of people in the same room with shared ideologies and hopes for our communities. I think at our events are where the real community-building piece happens.
What does being nominated for the SPARK Impact Awards mean to you?
Mu: This means further recognition and a larger platform for us to continue supporting our communities by sharing their stories.
Iliana: It’s very humbling to be nominated for the SPARK Impact Award. Mu and I created We, Ceremony because we needed a space where we could be ourselves. We are both early in our careers and felt a pushback from white institutions telling us that the well-being of our communities came last, that we are not worthy to lead, and that we do not deserve ownership of our lives. We hope platforms such as We, Ceremony really inspire women of color to continue in the resistance and create spaces where one can truly celebrate the beauty and resiliency of our communities.
Voting for the SPARK Impact Awards ends on Friday, June 15, 5:00pm EST. If you’d like to hear more from Iliana & Mu and women of color in Boston and beyond, please help grow We, Ceremony by voting for us at this link!