ST. PETERSBURG – Amid stimulating thought provoking conversation, spectacular hats and an elegant fashion show, the 2015 Diversi-Tea Women’s Social held last Sun., Oct. 4 at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum was a stunning success.
In partnership with Keep St. Pete Lit, a non-profit organization that promotes the area’s literary community, the second annual social was a sold-out event. Each Diversi-Tea is an opportunity for women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to come together to break down the barriers of separation and open up the lines of communication to expose long held myths and misconceptions of each other.
Many guests arrived with extravagant hats adorned with tulle, bows, feathers and seductive veils, while other guests who arrived without hats were invited to borrow one from a large assortment upon entering the event.
The kaleidoscope of hats ranged from a gold-flecked wide brim, to a sporty concoction of black and white polka dots to an array of jaunty straw hats. There was a beige and cream rolled edge fedora with a wide brim, and colors of burnt orange and burnished metallic blue. Several women sported exquisite small cocktail hats perched precariously atop coifed hairstyles.
The main focus of the Diversi-Tea was the opportunity to have an open, honest dialogue between women in a relaxed atmosphere. It was a chance for women to confront the issues that form racial division and stereotypes and an opportunity to bridge those differences.
“A room full of sisters, like jewels in a crown; vanilla, cinnamon and dark chocolate brown,” said Chair of the Woodson Museum, Terri Lipsey Scott. “We’re looking to bring women from every walk of life, every race, every creed, every culture together to talk about those things that make us different.”
The museum’s aim is to break down barriers and help others learn to appreciate one another.
Maureen McDole, president and co-founder of Keep St. Pete Lit, was on hand to seek some diversity in her organization. They offer free writing classes to the community currently at the Morean Arts Center. The goal was to have free writing classes that would appeal to all audiences based on passion and not the ability to pay.
“What we were noticing at the Morean Arts Center is that we were getting mostly a white audience and because the intention was set for us to have a diverse audience…now we are starting our first writing class here on Tuesday nights,” said McDole who is also partnering with another organization called Kitchen Table Literary Arts who aims to promote African-American women writers.
The next class will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 20. Every other week the class will be held at the Woodson Museum. McDole also informed the room about a new initiative that will match people up who normally would not mingle. For three consecutive months they will get to know each other. The assignment will be to write about their experience and present their findings at an event. More details are to come.
“We do tend to stay in our own color bracket,” said McDole who admits her friends are not as diverse as she would like.
The social got many positive reviews. Elsie Gilmore remarked that anything to bring different parts of the community together to collaborate is a good thing, while Ashley Kramer said she came to get involved. Mirela Setkic’s first visit to the museum was when she took the tour with the St. Petersburg Preservation Society and has since returned for the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk.
Courtney Walker stated that she always wanted to meet more people in the community and in the arts community. Audrey Loyd commented she feels that anytime there is an opportunity to expand in the community, it’s a good thing.
One guest spoke of the similarities between white and black women and that poverty and abuse knows no color. While the words of another woman resonated throughout the room: “What happens to one race happens to us all. This is not the we versus them mentality.”
Guests were treated to a spoken word presentation by Andresia “Real” Mosely who first held her audience captive by singing a haunting melody and then taking them along for an emotional rendering of her piece “ I Dream,” which examined the trials and tribulations she experienced by losing her job and financial security. A plight she knows women of all colors go through.
Fashion designer and model, Audrey Pat McGhee, once again brought her trademark elegance and glamour to the event by presenting a brief but impressive fashion show. The appreciative crowd oohed and aahed as models strutted out in outfits ranging from a fuchsia multi-layered feathered effect evening gown, to a black ensemble that featured a fringed jacket.