“Houston Style Magazine Recognizes History Maker Cheryl Waiters for Women’s History Month”
Dawn Paul | 3/21/2013, 8:23 p.m. | Updated on 3/21/2013, 8:23 p.m.
It’s easy to remember Black History Month or Hispanic Heritage Month, but did you remember that the month of March is Women’s History Month? Around this country there are celebrations honoring and highlighting the countless contributions of women to events in history and society. During this month Houston Style Magazine prides itself on celebrating women not only in Houston, but around this country as well.
Celebrating Women’s History Month, it could not be more fitting to speak with history maker Cheryl Waiters about her acclaimed memoir “Blood, Sweat and High Heels” featuring award winning novelist Darnella Ford. Waiters is the first African American female to gain historic and international recognition for working in a non-traditional work environment (construction) for females. Her memoir is a wake-up call that females still number less than 3% of this industry. She sheds light on the fact that when civil-rights were enacted those liberties did not always trickle down into the workplace. Despite unimaginable obstacles and adversity, she has been at the core of successfully constructing every major building project in Cleveland since the late 1980s.
I spoke with her for about an hour about her life, because when you have the rare opportunity to speak to someone like Cheryl Waiters, you better take advantage of every minute. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing many people, but interviewing Cheryl Waiters will be one of the most memorable ones.
After reading “Blood, Sweat and High Heels” and speaking to Waiters, I remember how important it is for us to want to be the “first.” Being the first comes with great responsibility and takes a rare brand of courage that very few possess. Being the first means that you have to take risks and many times stand alone, but in the end your selflessness will not only impact the present, but the future generation as well for the greater good. We need to not only admire people like Cheryl Waiters, but as women and human beings we need to follow her lead.
Cheryl Waiters spoke to Houston Style Magazine about “Blood, Sweat and High Heels.”
1.In your memoir, Blood, Sweat, and High Heels, you say, “Women are the co-heirs of the universe.” Do you think if more women had this mindset that we would not end up in certain situations that have a negative impact in our lives?
Absolutely. We need to understand our position physically and spiritually. If we understood that and had a firm foundation, it would strengthen us to participate more and fight more. This movement still needs to be carried on. We may not have to fight using the same methods, but we still have to fight. Sexism and racism are still going on.
2.You were the first African American female to gain historic and international recognition for your work in construction. There were those that came before you, but why do you think you were the first recognized?
Because Good Morning America came to interview women who were working in non-traditional work environments. That is how I became recognized.
3.You refer to your generation as The Last Mohicans, because you say that your generation was the last generation to be taught critical rules and guidelines that seem to have been forgotten today. Give me the best piece of advice you received that you still remember today that contributed to your success.
Never, ever give up. I just kept going back.
4.In your memoir you stress the importance of brains over beauty. You used your brains, not your beauty as a ticket out of an ordinary life and you succeeded. Do you think that way of thinking is an anomaly to women in today’s society with the portrayal of women in film, television, publications, etc.?
Yes, I do. I still feel that beauty is highly over rated. I stress to young girls and women that you cannot be successful without intelligence. The education system needs to do more to encourage young girls to study math and science. The younger they are when you teach them this, the more they can develop their gifts in these fields.
5.Even though there have been strides made for women in non-traditional work environments, in your experience, what obstacles do women still face in these environments today?
The men simply do not want women in their ranks. They feel these jobs are for men and women can’t handle them. I was told by a man, “You are making too much money for a woman.” He didn’t feel comfortable that I made more money than he did. When women have more money they have more freedom.
6.You say in many ways you were born into this life with your “dukes up.” You tore down walls and rocked the boat, but looking back on your life is there anything you would have done differently?
I can’t think of too many things I would or could have done differently. Being a black female trying to make a life for myself was difficult. I feel blessed for the opportunities. I didn’t have too many opportunities back then, but I used the ones available and maximized them to be successful.
7.When can we expect a movie to come out about your life?
I’m working on it. I’m currently looking for the right people to make this project.
8.Who would you want to portray you in the film about your life?
I would love Halle Berry to play me, not only because she is an incredible actress, but also because she is from Cleveland, Ohio.