From the Co-Founder: Doris Sends Love to All the Supporters Who Have Helped Us in The MC's Journey

When I think about my time at The Melanin Collective, I think about two things: how scared I was to start something of my own and how lucky I’ve been to meet so many amazing women that light my path.

When my executive coach at the time, Jennifer McClanahan-Flint, said, “Maybe you just need to start your own organization instead of applying to all these places where you don't feel that you can be yourself,” I thought it was the craziest thing I'd ever heard. I thought to myself: I have a brain injury and barely survived I'm barely making it on my own and you think I have the time energy and money to do something else? Absolutely not.

But almost a year later, I was leaving the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals in full disarray, when I started to think about all the places I had worked, all the experiences that I had, good and bad, and something just converged. There was something inside me saying now is the time; this is the time when you can go and build something for yourself that doesn't exist for it and that you needed during this time and didn't have it. You are not by yourself and you can do it with the community that you’ve built over time.

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Luckily, one of those amazing women was Kaitlyn. We had met at ARHP and we had bonded over drinks, happy hours, and brunches talking about what it would look like to have something positive for women of color to come together and fight the daily oppressions that we face, instead of fighting amongst ourselves. In Kaitlyn, I found someone that understood me, that saw the world in a similar way, and who had that same fire to demand a just world for all. I don't know who said it first, but we decided to work together and build something as a team despite everything that we had gone through up to that point.

I remember working to answer worksheets from Kristina Lakeway so we could have language and branding for the organization. I remember creating a Facebook group where I could bug my friends and ask them to tell me what they thought about the logo or layout or mission statement.

I remember hoping they would tell me if I was being crazy by focusing on The MC while looking for a job or if this idea was even a real idea. But nobody did that. Everyone encouraged me to keep going. No matter what I needed, they had my back—whether it was reading, copyediting, or cheering me up when I had all this self-doubt about my disability or a toxic partnership that was failing. I always had someone to keep my head up and push me to continue the work I was doing.

For that, I am extremely grateful, and I know that The MC wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for the community of amazing women that support us. From UCLA to working in the Bay Area, CA, to my excruciating travel schedule up and down the East Coast for that last job that almost killed me, we were surrounded by love. While I feel that I have a specific relationship with each and every one of these women, I know that they have my back no matter what and that's where The MC comes from, that’s what The MC is to me. If we're going to succeed and overcome, we have to do it together. There's no room for the Oppression Olympics. If you're having a bad day or fighting for some funding or getting denied for yet another fellowship, we’re here for each other and that’s all I ever wanted.

As for Kaitlyn leaving The MC and moving onto an advisory role, to be honest, I was devastated. I wanted her to stay with me forever and keep holding my hand through all the things that need to happen every day that I struggle to get through. Kaitlyn has been my words when they slip my mind, the support I needed to push through the bull and keep going, and overall, she has been a remarkable friend. But she's done so much already, and I know her because I am her and she has hundreds of lessons to learn, places to go, and people to empower. If I know anything, it’s that whatever she builds next will be extraordinarily successful, anything that she dedicates her time to will be amazing, and I'll be there by her side to cheer her on and to support with whatever she needs, as she has done for me.

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I'm so ecstatic to go into our second year, to launch our national nonprofit survey, and to build a phenomenal Advisory Board so that The MC can bring you exciting workshops, more difficult conversations around healing, and better tools to help us all thrive.

If you want to support The MC and have ideas for workshops, opportunities to volunteer with us, want to bring The MC to your town, or if you're interested in hearing more about the Advisory Board, send us an email. We're here for it and we'll never be too proud to ask for help or to show up for the communities we’re a part of.

Thank you so much for everything you've done for us in this incredible year. I have never felt so seen, heard, or understood in my life, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Doris Quintanilla