Sista Spotlight: Glittery shoes bond first grader to lifelong mentor

Bianca and Candy trace their relationship back to a tutoring and mentorship program in the 1990s.

(The spotlight is a monthly Sunday feature profiling Sisters, Sistas and everything in between)

Once, I signed up to be a mentor through a church program. Things started out well, but as time wore on, I became the worst mentor in the world. It was the result of several things — I had job woes and was in the process of moving to a new state, it was difficult to arrange plans with the young girl, it was hard to get her to open up,  — but I’ll save that for another post.

They both share a fondness for makeup and glittery. They both just so happened to wear similar glittered shoes on this trip to a museum.

I’m excited to write this month’s Sista Spotlight because it revolves around a mentorship that has lasted nearly 20 years. My buddy Bianca was a high school student when she met a seven-year-old girl who had signed up for Raising Hispanic Academic Achievement (RHAA), which a student-led program Bianca helped operate. Bianca took a liking to Candy and made sure the young girl had a math tutor at the Saturday sessions, took her on museum trips and over the years shared in their passion for make up and glittery shoes. But I’m not one to put words in anyone’s mouth. Here’s what they had to say.

Spotlight on: Bianca, 34 and Candy, 23, Sistas for 18 years

Location: Bronx, NY (Bianca) and Washington D.C. suburbs (Candy)

First impressions?

Candy: “When I first met (Bianca), she was such a friendly and warm-hearted person. I must admit my first day at the program, I stayed by her because I did not know anyone else there.”

Bianca: “I tutored Candy each Saturday that we were both at (RHAA). There were times when I couldn’t and she had another tutor (and was mad about that and told me!). The way RHAA worked was youth-led in that the youth leaders managed certain parts of running the school and when I gained some of those responsibilities I had limited time to tutor her fully. .. But I *always* got her a tutor who I knew personally to help her out and checked up on her too before the day was over.”

How did the relationship develop?

Bianca: “When she was in second or third grade is when we took our first trip to the Museum of Women in the Arts, a field trip that we had planned as part of our responsibilities to help the school run.

“Without any planning on our parts, we are wearing the same shoes! Candy’s shoes are in a different glittery color than mine, but they are the same nonetheless. We are seriously always already on the same vibration!”
Shared interests/activities?
Candy: “Common interest between Bianca and I would have to make-up. We are such fans for cute make-up especially from MAC. I think we enjoy talking and sight-seeing. We barely get to talk much but when we do we definitely can pick up from where we left off.”
Still mentor/mentee relationship? Or are you friends now?
Candy:  “At this moment in my life (Bianca)  will forever be my mentor. But it did involve into a closer friendship over the time.
“She is the best role model I could ever be blessed to have in my life. She has always guided me with the wise words to keep me going forward. She has always inspired me to be a strong Hispanic female who will be able to overcome anything.”
Bianca: “She’s my oldest friend and I’m so proud to have nurtured and maintained a relationship with her. I think I may still play a mentor role in her life but that our relationship has definitely evolved. She has two older sisters and is an aunt four times over, so there are some ways that she mentors me now. For example, I’ve learned from Candy and have been reminded of my endurance. Candy is very social and popular and as I’ve gotten older I’ve become a bit more introverted, so I learn from her, or am reminded by her, of tips and ways to be more social.
“I get pride from our friendship. Our friendship is one of my greatest accomplishments and I tell her that at least once a year! Having Candy in my life has shown me how to be a better friend, how to be present for my friends, what it means to have delayed gratification and the importance of chosen family. I know that if I ever needed anything Candy would offer it to me if she could.”
Current role of Sista(er)hood in your life?
Candy: “My relationship with other females is  okay I would say. I tend to make friends with older females than the ones closer to my age. I would not mind making more female friends of any age group. I actually enjoy seeing another female view on society, especially with the different topics that come up on the news.”
Bianca: “My closest friendships are with other women, especially women of Color like Candy (and you). When you move to a new town and “leave” some of your friends and have to build new friendships that’s hard! I’ve been doing it, but only through the examples of friendships I have back at home.
“I think I’ve embraced an idea of building a community where the women in my life know they can depend on me and one another if ‘ish gets real’ and we need care and support. Some of us are partnered, others are not, and as we age there are new/more issues that arise that none of us are really super prepared for so we are learning together, but it’s good to know we have that network.”
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Sista Spotlight (Part 2): Ebony has her say & provides pix from back in the day!

Ebony & Aneesah show off their toughness during their freshman year of college

The title of this post basically sums up my rapping skills. No applause, please. But after I wrote my previous Spotlight, where Aneesah talked about her BFF, Ebony, Ebony also wanted to chime in. She told me about their foray into rap music and sent some priceless photos that I had to share.

So, take it away, Ebony:

Spotlight on: Ebony, 36

Aneesah & Ebony have a night out on the town for senior prom

Location: Raleigh/Durham, NC

Becoming Sistas?

“We may have met in 6th grade but didn’t become close friends until the 7th. We became closer and more like best friends in the 9th grade when we began to write raps together and formed a group.

“The first impression I can recall of Aneesah is that she was a fun, funny and free spirited person.”

Shared activities?

“When we hang out, we usually play catch up. lol! We talk for hours on end, go shopping, watch TV, eat and/or listen to music.

“Since we’ve known each other for so long, I can’t really recall us not doing the same things I mentioned (previously). The only difference is that these things mainly happen now with our children included. ”

Brag on your buddy. What makes Aneesah a good friend?

“She makes me laugh until my stomach and cheeks hurt! =) No, but seriously, Aneesah is more like a sister to me. She is thoughtful, supportive, caring and fun. She’s super passionate about her beliefs, and doesn’t look down on anyone who doesn’t agree or see eye-to-eye with her. Even when we disagree, she still finds a way to break the ice and move on to the next item of business. This is usually done with a laugh or a smile… or one of her quirky gestures. 😉 Either way, it is an art that Nee has mastered.”

Current role of Sista(er)hood in your life?

“I am very satisfied with my relationships with women at this stage of my life. I feel that each person has a place in my life for a reason, and vise-versa. There is a comforting balance in my life that has been supported by the bonds I’ve formed with the women in my circle. I cherish them dearly and value their relationships greatly.”

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Sista Spotlight: All grown up, childhood friends embrace their similarities & differences

Aneesah (left) and Ebony

(The Spotlight is a monthly Sunday feature profiling SistersSistas and everything in between)

Spotlight on: Aneesah, 35, and Ebony. Sistas since middle school.

Location: Raleigh, NC

Aneesah and I have known each other all our lives (we’re related!). I’ve always admired her outgoing personality, and was curious to see how she manages to make it work with so many people — men, women, boys, girls, heck, even animals. In truth, I’ve never seen Aneesah get mad or dislike ANYBODY, and that goes back to the days we were playing in the sandbox. I told her about the blog, and she was eager to talk about her closest friend, Ebony, whom she met in sixth or seventh grade. I’ll let Aneesah take it from here:

“When I first met Ebony, I remember being instantly comfortable.  It wasnt until much later that I”d learn that she too was a newcomer to the school district and was not as acquainted with everyone as some of the other girls.  I think the key to any successful relationship is accepting each other’s differences (agreeing to disagree on some things).

“Ebony and I share the same values, the same love of family and the same loyalties about friendship.  We don’t see eye to eye on every issue and that is ok with us.  At this point in our friendship we embrace the fact that we are so alike, yet so different.  Ebony is by far the loyalest friend I have.  The term “ride or die” is Ebony ALL DAY.  She is always there whenever, for whatever, and is a great listener.  Because she knows me well she is skilled enough in letting me sort out alot of my own problems just be listening with very little need to offer too much advice and I love that.

“Overall, I am very satisfied with the relationships I have with the women in my life.  I think to myself very often whether having such a healthy relationship with my mother (and witnessing her healthy relationship with her mother) has everything to do with that. I believe that how you see yourself is often how you will see others.  I believe that positive energy draws positive energy.

“With that said, I have been blessed with the ability of accentuating positives in situations in my life and being a magnet with those who are positive and share a similar outlook on life and often, child rearing.  I must say that having children makes me much more conscious of the company I keep more than ever.  I feel that having a filter on the energies you allow in your circle is a key to that happiness.”

(If you and a close friend would like to be featured in the Sista Spotlight, please email me at  shay.words{at}

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This is great!


1. Women live longer.

2. Women are more likely to survive melanoma.

3. Women have excellent communication skills.

4. Nancy Drew was chick.

5. Women enjoy a wide variety of wardrobe choices.

6. Women are more likely to remember where they put their keys.

7. Women don’t have to sweat through a three piece suit during a hot July wedding.

8. Multiple orgasms.

9. The feeling of a maxi skirt on the legs on a breezy summer day is the best.

10. Women don’t have to wait as long to reach their sexual peak.

11. Women are better leaders.

12. Women tend to enjoy a wide variety of hair styles and dyeing options.

13. Women wrote the most successful book franchises of our time.

14. Balding is seldom a major concern.

15. Sex toys for women sometimes beats the real thing.

16. Women own their feelings.

17. Women are more…

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Family (100 words)

My family is falling apart.

We’ve become family after spending three years of early mornings together. We get to our stationary bikes at 6:15 a.m., they turn on the music and we sweat. We sneak in celebrity gossip, brag about favorite sports teams and call out class slackers.

We are: Daughters. Mothers. Fathers. Brothers. Teachers. Writers. Accountants. Preachers. Executives. We are family.

But we’ve been put on notice. The gym is under new ownership, and that could mean a closure. Classes are getting smaller;  supplies are scarce. I can find a new gym easily. But what about my family?

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Lit Sistas: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

I’m a big reader, so it’s only natural that one of my favorite blogs is Underground New York Public Library. I get a great deal of book selections from there, as well as a bit of people watching. (This guy has been my favorite, and the thoughtful posing here made me smile)

For the purposes of this blog, I’d been looking at some of my reading choices in a different way. Not only am I deciding whether I like or dislike the book, I’m going to try to think about the role that Sista(er)hood has played in it.

Most recently, I read ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” It was one of those books that everyone told me to read, but I never got around to it. And when I did, I couldn’t put it down. The short version is that it is the story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman who died from cervical cancer decades ago but doctors continued to use her cells for scientific advancement. Journalist Rebecca Skloot aims to write a book about how Henrietta’s descendants fared, and what they think about their mother being used by science.

There’s a lot more to the book, but the Sista(er)hood part comes from Rebecca and Deborah, Henrietta’s only surviving daughter. The writer becomes a part of the book as she documents how she tried to persuade Deborah into access to the family, and then had to show her the different ways her mother’s cells were used. Deborah went back and forth to trusting and being suspicious of the writer, and they became close in their efforts to find justice for Henrietta.

In the end, Deborah and Rebecca didn’t become the kind of Sistas who got together for manicures and gossip. They became the kind of Sistas who knew they had nothing in common, they got on each other’s nerves quite a bit, but they didn’t let that stop them from righting past wrongs. There are women who have been friends for a lifetime that can’t reach the level of Sista(er)hood that Rebecca and Deborah reached in a few years.

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Sometimes, you have to say goodbye

MWF Seeking BFF

I get asked this question a lot. Women find themselves in friendships where suddenly they’re doing all the work, and they want to know if, and when, it’s time to give up.

My answer is always the same: It’s different for everyone. I don’t feel comfortable telling one friend to give up on another, and while I have an “I’ll initiate plans 3 times and then I’m done doing all the work” rule for brand new friends, there’s no such easy formula for old pals. Someone who’s been in your life a long time has earned more consideration, and sometimes it’s easier to keep making the phone call or sending the invite than it is to say goodbye.

I have (who hasn’t?) found myself in this pickle before, and it’s really a “you know when it’s time” situation.  Generally, I don’t mind being the one to reach out. I try…

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