The Iman Project Workshops Spark Uncomfortable Conversations

The Iman Project founder Bree Clarke // photo Kauwuane Burton
The Iman Project founder Bree Clarke // photo Kauwuane Burton

After the death of George Floyd, Bree Clarke broke down in tears while hosting one of her beloved “On the Table” Workshops with a Purpose. Out of countless events hosted, it was the first time she’d done that. “There was so much on my chest, my head and my heart,” she said. “I was in the anger stage of my grief. And I thought there was no way I could be around flowers.”

Bree’s workshops provide a space where every female is welcome, no matter her age, skin color, religion or walk of life. Her events have always been about helping break down racism by exposing women to others outside their usual circles, but being that racism is a trigger word for many, she admitted she masked that language with words like inclusion. However, recent events have led her to be more direct. While her workshops are a space safe for all, she emphasized that the only way to grow is to have these uncomfortable conversations.

“It’s really messed up that someone that couldn’t breathe has given me the opportunity to breathe,” she said. “For the first time, [workshop attendees] saw me rather than seeing me create flowers.

A floral workshop // courtesy The Iman Project
A floral workshop // courtesy The Iman Project

Bree’s DFW workshops sell out quickly, and she has two event venues under her belt, plus a large social media following. But even with the success of her company, The Iman Project, she said her family always reminds her, “You’re still black.”

“No matter what I do, no matter how much I create, no matter how beautiful I make things, I’m not a white woman. So I will never be as far as I should be because of the color of my skin.”

She recalled a time when a white woman said she was surprised to discover Bree wasn’t white, feigning shock because she believed such success was more likely for a person that was not of color.

That type of statement is yet another reality of the conversations Bree has had with her twin 8-year-old sons who are mixed race as her husband Carlos is from Panama. “I have real conversations with them and tell them there are a lot of people that are not nice and will not like you because of your skin,” she said.

Bree Clarke with her husband, Carlos, and their twin 8-year-old sons // courtesy The Iman Project
Bree Clarke with her husband, Carlos, and their twin 8-year-old sons // courtesy The Iman Project

Bree believes that teaching kids to be “color blind” just creates a problem down the road, recalling a mother in her community that said she teaches her sons not to see race and to be compassionate to all. Bree warned that we all have inherent bias. “It’s not just about teaching your children to be kind. If you don’t see color, you don’t see me,” she said.

However Bree feels hopeful that there seems to be a change in that kind of thinking. She believes this is a turning point and that this generation is different. They are defiant, vocal and “go hard for what they believe in — no matter what people say.”

“It’s white people calling other white people out,” she said. “Now I can call you out and not be seen as the ‘angry black woman.’”

The Iman Project >

 

Join Bree and TEDxPlano curator Shannah Hayley for an Uncomfortable Conversation on July 9. Register for the free online event here.

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