Women of Color Wednesday: Sydney Bowden

I met Sydney when we had Digital Video Production: Nonfiction together last Fall. Her spunk, poise, and confidence was very evident. She definitely stood out, and I instantly knewunnamed (2).jpg that I needed to get acquainted with her because she’s definitely going to be somebody and do amazing things (more than she already has!).

Sydney Bowden was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Or as Bowden says, “Motown…Home where the Pimps and Players are born.”

I laughed at that one. That’s one of Bowden’s many attributes. Smart, beautiful, and witty!

Bowden received her Bachelor of Arts in Film, Video, Media Studies with a minor in Fashion Merchandising and Design from Western Michigan University, class of 2016.

When she’s not jamming out to her favorite motivational songs “Grown Woman” by Beyoncé and “When Jesus Says Yes” by Michelle, she is working within Corporate America for a multi-billion-dollar property restoration company. Outside of that, she is the Founder and President of The Social B., L.L.C., a social entertainment production company.

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Bowden’s life mission is “to reinvent digital media by doing away with the negative connotations and stereotypes held within media. In doing so, I have developed the mission of my company to showcase the talents and hard work of young entrepreneurs, artists, and awesome everyday individuals while empowering them to become leaders within the communities they serve.”unnamed

I resonate with this message so much. From the inspiring words of Ava DuVernay, “if your dreams only include yourself, they’re not big enough.” I love how Bowden wants to showcase the talents and hard work of others and encourage them to be leaders in their communities. We need more people with life missions that include showcasing the best in others and their stories.

Bowden’s motivational words to other women of color are, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Failure is beautiful to endure and once you accept it and use it as motivation towards a successful future, you will begin to reap the benefits. Just remember to feed your faith, and your fears will starve to death.”

13103364_10208420681289985_5996945771446542839_nBowden’s greatest accomplishments thus far are graduating in four years at the age of 21 as the sole proprietor of her own business. “This is only the beginning towards a very bright, rewarding, and successful future,” she says.

Absolutely! I believe in the Law of Attraction. When you speak positivity into your life, you will have positive results and life experiences. So far, Bowden has been a living testimony of that!

Bowden encourages others to continue to visit The Social B. and please, please, please share our wonderful stories with your family and friends!

Be honest. Be humble. Be you. Everyone should aspire to live within those words, just as you do, Sydney. Keep shining! Continue to chase your dreams and encourage other women of color to be unstoppable.

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Women of Color Wednesday: Domonique Freeman

Domonique Tiera Freeman…there’s so much I could say about this girl. I met Domo in high school, and I’ve always noticed this glamour and confidence about her that I strived to attain for myself. She is the ultimate go-getter. Plus, she’s a highly educated health advocate, which I think is strikingly impressive.fullsizerender

Freeman was born in Franklin, Tennessee and raised in Saginaw, Michigan. She currently holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science from Saginaw Valley State University, and is currently working on her Master’s in Public Health at Georgia State University. Freeman is a health advocate, a contracted health educator, and administrative assistant to the Director of Nursing at East Lake Arbor Nursing Home.

When asked what her life mission is, Freeman stated that it was to, “help individuals realize and live up to their full life potential. This includes improving their well-being and livelihood, helping them to see the importance of seeking and working to be in harmony with themselves, nature and others around them. I frequently talk about nutrition because it impacts all of this.”

Loving the positive vibes from this message. I think that it’s important for black women and all women of color in general to help bring out the potential in others, and help each other live fulfilling lives.

She continued, “I want people to know that in taking these fake, chemical and hormone-filled foods keep your vibrations down and alter your wellbeing. On a more professional note, I plan to help low income populations have access to healthier, safer foods and equal health care by changing and writing policies at the local, state and federal level.”

Not only does Freeman promote healthier lifestyle choices, but she also motivates others to use those choices as a guide for better self-care. She encourages other women of color to, “Love yourself. Get to know yourself, who you truly are. You are more than just a being in a body but you are a spirit with a soul that is here for a purpose. Ingest high nutrient img_0749foods that feed your soul and block anything that doesn’t come from the earth, that only helps to alter your state of wellbeing. You lose nothing valuable in letting go of what does not serve you. Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t always easy and it’s even harder to get started after generations of wrong teachings but it starts by incorporating good habits into your life, adding high nutrient foods to your diet, and drinking lots of water!”

This is so, so important. We live in an age where food and cooking has become a chore and something that’s supposed to quick, fast, and cheap. We no longer care about where our food comes from, or what we put into our bodies. We’d rather get the $5 fill-up at KFC instead of preparing natural, hearty foods that are good for your body and overall wellbeing. You really are what you eat…which is why America is so obese. But that’s a whole other conversation. Fundamentally, I think these types of conversations need to be had more often, especially in black neighborhoods. It’s time that we start taking care of our bodies, and Freeman embodies that statement to the fullest. Take notes.

Additionally, Freeman encourages women of color to, “Teach your children the importance of a happy lifestyle. If you truly love your babies, you will work to break the attachments to toxic foods and beings. Learn to unlearn the wrong that has been passed from generation to generation, acknowledge ways that we cause our own sickness, and make changes in order to heal not only yourself but the generations of black beings to come.”

Freeman’s biggest accomplishments are being a CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholar, which gave her the chance to intern with minority children in the Detroit area, teaching them healthy habits that they will be able to pass on to their peers. Freeman has also taught workshops to adults and children in the Saginaw area on different health topics such as the dangers of sugar and the obesity epidemic in the United States.

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How amazing is that?! It’s ALL about the youth. Freeman passing on her message to children at such a young age is how you begin to change the current situation. Teach them young so that they can be the change for the next generation. Bravo.

Freeman says that she started out as an insecure, quiet, shy, awkward black girl. However, she explained that, “Through this journey to living a healthy life, I have learned who I am, what I have to offer the world, and gained a sense of security within myself and love and value for myself that I want all black women to have regardless of whatever they’ve been through in the past, whatever flaws they may have.”

I can relate to this. I still think I’m shy and quiet, and I am definitely awkward (lol); however, I, too, have learned who I am, what I want in life, and I am a 100% unapologetically carefree black woman and proud of it. Finding your true sense of self is when you can fully be confident throughout your life journey.

The soon to be Yogi and Holistic Wellness Practitioner is also a transitioning vegan, and helps people who are interested in transitioning to make that switch.img_1021

Freeman has a website coming soon that will consist of weekly health-related blogs, recipes, videos, and more. It will also be a way to book her for workshops, one-on-one training, and grocery store tours. So be on the lookout for DomoniqueTiera.com. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @Domoookunn, and check her out on Facebook.

You’re an intelligent black queen, Domo! You encourage me to make healthier lifestyle choices, and you inspire me to be a part of this growing movement of self-care and self-love! Your unique talents, positive energy, and deep understanding of current issues that matter most to you will get you so far! Continue to do great things, pursue your dreams, and excel in your passions. Lastly, thank you for being an inspiration to me and other women of color!

Who runs the world

Feminist- /ˈfemənəst/- a person who supports feminism

Feminism- /feməˌnizəm/- the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men

There’s often negative talk about feminists and feminism as if it was the worst thing since World War II. “Stuck up women who feel entitled”…have been some of the nicer words to describe the category of people.

“Because I am a female, I am expected to aspire to marriage, I am expected to make my choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Marriage can be… a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?”

Why should we settle? We should we be content? Are we not allowed to want more than what we’re given? Why should a stay at home mom be all that we aspire? Is it so out of pocket for a woman to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or even want to run for president?

“We say to girls, you should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten The Man.”

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In 2016 women are still being paid less than that of a man… for the same job position. Not factoring in education or experience as it relates to the job, but simply for the plain fact that the candidate is a woman. If the job place wasn’t bad, what about social life? Women are expected to act like princesses, dress in frills, and speak with eloquence at all times all the while men can roll around in mud, compete in testosterone contests, and be absolutely obnoxious for the sake of just being a “man”. Men can be as careless, nonchalant, and promiscuous as they want, getting fist bumps and ego boosts while doing so. Women on the other hand have to be constantly aware at all times. Aware of their surroundings, aware of their clothing as they don’t reveal too much but just enough to still appeal and attract the male counterpart, friendly and bubbly so they won’t be looked at as a prude, sociable but not too much so that they won’t be called  loose… it’s just too much. Who made these rules? Why is this the staple?

“We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends, but our daughters’ boyfriends? God forbid. But of course when the time is right we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husband.”

Why are women nearly disowned and shunned because they may have all male friends or even have a list of male partners they’ve been involved with? Why is it the norm for a man to rack up their numbers close to the hundreds? And it’s not about competition, it’s about equality and acceptance. Rather than trying to keep up with the man, why can’t we be equally accepted like the man is… in all realms and aspects.

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“A key that can open many locks is a master key but a lock that can be opened by many keys is useless”

There are so many elements, so many underlying factors, which brings us to the age old question…

Why does society accept men in a way they wouldn’t accept women… why can men do things freely, that women would be scorned upon… why can men do things women can’t do… why is there a double standard?

Sexually, socially, career-wise, family-orientation-wise, women are seemingly “stuck” peering up unto the glass ceiling.

How do we make a way for women? What can we do to make a difference? How do you feel about this topic? Are you a feminist? Do you support feminism?

 

#NOMAKEUP

Soulful, raspy, sensual, humble, curvaceous, stylish, humanitarian, mogul, actress, pianist, director, singer, and mother, are just some of the words used to describe the one and only, Alicia Keys.

She stole our hearts at the peak of the 2000’s with Fallin’ and kept leading us on with songs like Diary, You Don’t Know My Name, No One, and Girl on Fire. She’s taken a break, started a family, begun directing plays, began fighting for human rights, and somehow in between it all she still managed to make music. It seems that she has a new sound and a new outlook on life based on one of her newest singles, “In Common”. It’s a fresh take on a new love. The song talks about the joys, surprise and worry that someone could possibly love her and accept her for who she is.

One of her newest mantras is the no makeup movement. In the world of today, with no shortage of hip, butt, and lip injections, breast augmentations, skin bleaching, weaves, and makeup it’s no surprise that our girls are beginning to look like full blown women at such a young age. Makeup and the other assets is something women indulge in for various reasons, whether it be simple self-expression or possibly concealing a flaw they may not like, but as a young child turning on the television or even going to the store, seeing everyone dolled up, with extreme curves…I can only imagine going through puberty during this epidemic. Now more than ever, seeing these things could lead the youth to develop low self-esteem, absence of confidence among other things with no one to look up to. Thanks to Alicia Keys and many other women in the industry, we can finally find some inspiration for our girls instead of weeding out all the celebrities.

Alicia Keys published a piece in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter and made several statements that really made me stop and think.

“Does it start somewhere in second grade after picture day when you wear your frizzy hair out ’cause your mama says it’s beautiful but all your “friends” laugh at you?”

Deny as we may, we’ve all had this feeling. Our outfit wasn’t the best, our shoes weren’t the newest, we might’ve been “late bloomers”, we may have had to wear braces, might’ve had acne, our voice may have been a bit funny sounding, our hair wasn’t the longest or straightest, and our skin wasn’t the smoothest or lightest-as society has taught us, or it might’ve just been a bad day and we forgot to care about how we look for others sake.

“You grab the brush and gel and pull your beautiful big hair back into the tightest ponytail you possibly can to contain your unique hair in a bun — hiding a piece of who you are in order to fit into a picture of what others seem to see as perfection.”

I can remember in elementary school seeing movies like Clueless or Bring it On, and even seeing celebrities like Aaliyah and Beyoncé and looking up to them, in a sense kind of wanting to be them, because they’re so beautiful and must live an awesome life. I can remember in high school, if you didn’t have the new Jordan’s, a pair of True Religions, a designer purse, the most “laid” sew in…. well, you know the rest. At such a young age it’s instilled in us, somehow, that we need to look like this, have this, do this, talk like this, walk like this, etc.

“Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of. And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women. The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you’re plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked.”

I wish I could’ve included the entire article because it was so raw and real. The stigma that Alicia Keys along with many everyday women experience is real! There are many who like putting on a “face” simply because they like it and there are also those who really struggle with their inner happiness and acceptance. They’re not curvy enough so they have to get injections, their butts are a little flatter than some so why not pump it up, lips aren’t as full as her’s: Botox! The list goes on and on. One problem I’ve identified is that we can find 1,000 flaws, but can’t seem to recognize 10 beauties. Alicia Keys wrote a song, “When a Girl Can’t Be Herself”. The lyrics are inspiring: In the morning from the minute that I wake up , What if I don’t want to put on all that makeup, Who says I must conceal what I’m made of , Maybe all this Maybelline is covering my self-esteem. After receiving so much flack at the recent VMA’s, Alicia Keys tweeted, “Y’all, choosing to be makeup free doesn’t mean I’m anti-makeup. Do you!”.  It seems as though people were confused. Alicia simply means that she no longer wants makeup to be her go-to when it comes to being beautiful. She doesn’t want to feel obligated to plaster it on before she leaves the house. She also doesn’t want to put anyone down if they do choose to indulge in it.

The key is self-worth, confidence, and acceptance. Be unashamed, proud, and unapologetic. If you like it wear it, if you want it get it, but if you’re not happy with yourself then you’ll never be able to accept you for you. TLC may have been the best to say it:

You can buy your hair if it won’t grow

You can fix your nose if he says so

You can buy all the make up

That M.A.C. can make

But if you can’t look inside you

Find out who am I too

Be in the position to make me feel

So damn unpretty

I’ll make you feel unpretty too

Let’s follow in Alicia Keys’ footsteps and set an example for others, including our youth.  Here’s a link to the full article. http://www.lennyletter.com/style/a410/alicia-keys-time-to-uncover/

 

#BlackGirlMagic

#WomenofColorWednesday

 

Going For The Gold

AND THEIR OFF…..

Its mid-August and the summer 2016 Olympics are off to a wonderful start. The USA is in the lead! We currently have 16 gold medals and it’s just the start for the rest to come. With all of the events still going on, there are presently 11 gold medals from swimming, 1 from shooting, 1 in judo, 2 in gymnastics, 1 in cycling, and our USA basketball team, comprised of star players like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Kyrie Irving, have a #1 position in the events, to say the least.

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We all know of Donald Trump’s infamous slogan, “Let’s make America great again”, well… If there was ever a time to be a proud American, right now is it.

So, word on the street is that it’s a good day to be a Simone.

If you’ve been under a rock, cramped up in your apartment for the past week, or simply have had no communication with the world, chances are you don’t know what’s going on with the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Chances are also slim that you’re unaware of just who “the Simones” are.

For those that don’t know, “the Simones” are made up of two young women, both named Simone, representing the USA in the Olympics. Simone Biles is a 19 year old young woman from Spring, Texas.

Starting gymnastics at just six yeapic.jpgrs old, but according to usagym.org, Simone now holds multiple titles such as, the 2016 Olympic individual all-around champion, three-time world all-around champion, three-time world floor champion, two-time world balance beam champion, four-time United States national all-around champion, and a member of the gold medal-winning American teams at the 2014, the 2015World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

What a resume! The Olympics are far from over, but Simone is already being called the world’s best gymnast. She even has a signature move named after her that no one has ever completed before. Simone has even received flak from other competitors claiming that they’ve been discriminated against because they aren’t black. Despite trials and tribulations, she’s overcome it all. Simone is just getting started and shows no signs of slowing down!

Simone Manuel, makes up the other half of the dynamic duo. Simone is a 20 year images.jpgold swimmer from Houston, Texas. Simone swam locally within her home town through clubs and organizations. Simone has competed in trials, relays, and other championships, earning multiple silver and bronze medals.

In 2015, Simone became one of the first three African-Americans to place in the top three spots in any women’s division I NCAA Swimming championship. In 2015, Simone had a personal best in the 50 meter freestyle of 24.47.  Simone recently received the gold medal for her swimming event, that’s a first for an African-American woman, with a time of 52.70 in the 100 meter freestyle!

Society has a habit, when concerning sports, to think of men and men only. Some people have even made silly statements saying that there’s no room for women in the athletic world, but women are quickly ending that hysteria. In 2012, Gabriel Douglas, gymnast, made us all proud as she took home the gold. She was welcomed on the covers of magazines, talk shows, marveled by celebrities, even the topic of discussion in songs. This time around, team USA as a whole can be proud of this second reign that “the Simones” bring and African-Americans can look up to these young women who have eliminated the stigma, gone above and beyond, and conquered!

If it weren’t enough to be an African-American, being a woman can be even harder. Double minorities often get the odd end of the stick and too frequently do we settle for what we’re given. Aside from stereotype, stigma, trials and tribulations we all have the ability to ignore the negativity and go for the gold! Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Naomi Campbell, Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Tracy Ellis Ross, Taraji P. Henson, Toni Morrison, Dominique Dawes, and Gabriel Douglas among many more, are all role models that we can epitomize.

Simone Biles and Simone Manuel can join that list proudly and show off their #Blackgirlmagic! Some of the qualities these athletes have down pat is persistence and humility along with  resiliency, diligence, focus, and  strength. These athletes aren’t simply drafted to compete in the olympics. The olympics is a competition that happens every four years. Athletes train year round, compete in trials, hire the best of coaches, eliminate their social life, and the list goes on. Some may simply see it as a sport but for these competitors it is their dream, all coming true before their eyes.

Instead of Keeping up with the Kardashians, or keeping up with the Jones’s…Keep up with Team USA and the many paved paths these awesome athletes are making! Going for the gold doesn’t necessarily mean to  become the doppleganger to Usain Bolt and win a world title for sprinting, but insted, to simply follow your dreams to the fullest and allow nothing to get in the way of it.

All of this #blackgirlmagic has me proud! Have you been keeping up with #TeamUSA? How do you plan to go for the gold?

 

Women of Color Wednesday: Brittany Wright

When I hear the name Brittany Wright, three words instantly come to mind: driven, goal-oriented, motivated, confident, fearless, and bold.ae8923_1505148ae0aa4a0c9d8db23ac62a27c9

Okay, that was way more than three words, but three words just aren’t enough to describe all the Black Girl Magic this girl possesses.

Wright, a native of “the dirty mitten” was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan. Upon graduating from the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy in 2011, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Columbia College Chicago in the Spring of 2015. She is currently one semester away from completing her Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication with a prospected graduation date of December 16, 2016. She won’t stop there. A Ph.D. in African American Studies is on deck!

Not only is Wright an educated Black woman, but she is also multitalented. “I am so many things, and the majority of which I am not paid for monetarily,” she said. Professionally, Wright is a Media Associate at an international public relations agency where she currently services the clients Walmart and Tylenol. Additionally, Wright is a storyteller, aspiring freelance writer, aspiring blogger, and public speaker.

What’s even more impressive is Wright’s ability to be there for others. “I am a shoulder to cry on, someone who gives strategic advice, a voice for the voiceless and above all, my sister’s keeper.”

When asked what her life mission is, Wright said that it is simply to help others “whether that be to help people actualize their full potential, help people take their brands to the next level, or at work where I help our clients strategically reach their target. Another extension of this could be, by publicly living my truth in hopes that another brown girl, from my hometown perhaps, can see that there is more for her, that she, too, can achieve and reach her level of greatness. Or with my latest project, Bbad Bits: The Podcast Series, where I help elevate Black voices and conjure up possible solutions for Black issues. See the essence of it is still the same, it’s all about helping people. I’ve just found many ways to extend/work on that mission.”

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Yes, yes, YES! Selfless, noble, self-effacing. What every human being should be. I’m here for it.

Wright encourages other women of color to not be selfish with their talents. “There is another brown girl somewhere looking at you as the charter of territory in which they only dreamed of uncovering. Find a way to share your story and your talents, your battles and what eventually allowed for you to prevail.”

Exactly. All of us should be able to see ourselves. Visual identity and representation matters. People need to see themselves in all walks of life, not just their stereotypes. Wright is getting into a space that we hardly see: Black women succeeding in corporate America. It’s women like Brittany Wright that people need to be looking up to. Because of them, we can. I see you, Brittany. Because of you, I can!

She continued, “So often in the Black community there are those who find comfort and eliteness in being exclusive or having some knowledge that is exclusive. Now forgive me for being pro-Black, but they walk through life as if their ancestors passed down a book on how to utilize white privilege to its greatest potential. How to run businesses, how to get the most out of college and so on and so forth. There are a few of us who are passing down this information for free to those who are willing to listen, but there needs to be more of us doing that. We can’t reach a level of success and close the door behind us, but instead look back and reach out.”

Truth! That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Ava DuVernay: “If your dreams don’t include others, they’re not big enough. Include others in your dreams.” Why dream alone when you can dream with your community, with people who have similar aspirations, even with the world? Including others not only makes your dreams stronger, but it also makes them limitless.

11064273_10152709038286851_5864064407383275242_nWright also encourages other women of color to “just do!” She is a strong advocate of a small world that has so much power and meaning. “A lot of Black women and people in general count themselves out before even allowing the ‘approver’ to count them out. So what if you fail, so what if people aren’t rocking with it, so what! You will have to hit so many nos until you get to the yeses that will really turn the game around for you. Be proactive, make a plan and be meticulous by not wavering from that plan. Don’t let someone or something stop you from meeting your end goal. There are a many of people who don’t want to see you make it, but instead of taking that energy and turning it into how to prove them wrong, work on proving yourself right, because in that instance you’re all that matters!”

Preach it, sista. Count on your fingers how many times you’ve been told no, denied, try again next time, you almost had it, you’re not good enough… What number did you come up with? Now look where you are and how those nos has shaped you today. Being told no makes you better, makes you stronger. If everything came easy, you wouldn’t appreciate the process. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, the paths you’ve walked and the steps you’ve taken to reach your objective. Personally, I’d rather be strengthened by a struggle than unchanged by an easy breeze.

When asked what her greatest accomplishment is, she explained – like myself and many other people I know – that she struggled with this question quite a bit. “I even had to reach out to some of my girlfriends like, I’m stuck right now. Part of that is because I’m never content with what I have/am doing now, so I’m constantly looking towards what’s next, leaving no time to focus on the ‘successes’ and ‘accomplishments.’”

Raise your hand up high if you’re the type of person that’s never satisfied, always hungry for more, and always aiming to achieve greater! I know I’m never satisfied; I’m always aiming to do more and be more instead of appreciating what I have accomplished and been successful at. That mindset just comes from the fact that when you know that you were cut from a different cloth, you feel like you have to live up to those expectations of being unique and being the best.

She continued, “After some thought (help) though, I would have to say moving to Chicago, for multiple reasons. Before actually moving, everyone was petrified, but me, because only I could see the vision I had for myself. Prior to moving I had a laundry list of things that I wanted to accomplish here in Chicago and to my surprise, three years later I’ve blown past that list and have done things that my 19-year-old self would not have believed.FullSizeRender Also, prior to coming to Chicago is when I gave birth to bbadpr, which has served as a platform for me to inspire and create change. Bbadpr has opened me up to give workshops, speaking engagements, blogs, podcasts, freelance writing, career consulting, and more. I think for me, the biggest accomplishment was being unafraid and fearlessly conquering what I knew was meant for me.”

I can relate to this in so many ways. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you even if no one else agrees. You have to take control of your life, execute your plan, and seek to make the visions you have for yourself a reality even if no one else can see or believe them.

Through the good days, and the bad, Wright encourages herself to, “Dream into the unknown. Pray. Spend a lot of time alone, and in your thoughts. Understand who you are, what your purpose is and where you want to go. Help people, let people help you, and always remember to help yourself.”

If you’re feeling inspired and want to continue following her journey, check out Brittany Wright’s website, blog, and podcast!

Thank you, Brittany, for all that you do and all that you are. You embody everything that a Black woman should be. I’ve been looking up to you for years now. Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration for Black women like me that want to make a change and motivate others to chase their dreams. Your brilliance, wisdom, and vision for yourself is going to take you so far. I can’t wait to see all of the astounding goals that you will continue to accomplish, and never stop being the voice and the representation that women of color need.

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NO GMOs

Mark your calendar, folks! The very talented Alfield Reeves and Keyon Lovett will be having their first art exhibition collaboration at the Black Arts and Cultural Center as a part of Art Hop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The project is entitled, “NO GMOs.”IMG_4707

“We live in a society that is losing its authenticity, so much that we have to add to ourselves instead of being who we are at the core and who God created us to be. NO GMOs is aimed to highlight that authenticity in its rarest form.”

Reeves, with his gift of photography, will be highlighting his #MelaninatedNaturals series, which focuses on encapsulating chocolate ladies of all shades and their natural hair.FullSizeRender

“My project is entitled #MelaninatedNaturals. It entails individual and group portraits of black women highlighting all their eclectic shades of skin, natural hair styles, and an array fashion senses,” Reeves explained.

Keyon, with his gift of illustration, will be highlighting his #BlackCinema Series, which takes viewers down memory lane by revisiting movies that would be considered staples in the African American community, adding a twist that you — the viewer — will have to point out.

“I just thought it would be cool to recreate some of the iconic scenes from the films. Then I started to make connections to us as black people,” Lovett said.

Authenticity is the core of the two projects. NO GMOs means nothing artificial. The artwork that Reeves and Lovett created identifies the realness of black essence and black culture.

When asked what his favorite part of the project was, Alfield said, “I’ve always been someone that loves the process and seeing the transformation of things. So in saying that, my favorite part is the process of getting the ladies together for each photo session, their interactions with each-other, the positive vibes, and of course going through the portraits sorting and editing, and seeing the transformation while being amazed at the final result.”

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Reeves continued, “I wouldn’t say I have a least favorite part, but probably the most difficult part will be selecting the ones that will be in the exhibit while trying not people please, but instead choosing the ones that are the most excellent and fully portray my idea.”

Similar to Reeves, Lovett explained that his favorite part is always creating, and that his least favorite part “will probably be selecting which pieces make the cut.”

Though the creative process is the most fascinating and exciting part about this collaboration, it can get a bit difficult at times. Reeves mentioned that there was an influxFullSizeRender 4.jpg of ladies interested when he put the project idea out there, so having to plan each group session and making time to select and edit the pictures was a bit tedious.

Similarly, Lovett added, “The process has been exciting. Al and I have had the ability to live with each other and with that we’ve been able to understand how we think creatively. His organization meets my spontaneity.”

For additional information about the event such as dates, times, and social media followings, check out the Eventbrite link!

Oh, and it’s FREE! So if you love art and want to support this amazing collaborative project, be sure to check out the exhibit September 9th!

 

Women of Color Wednesday: BreAna Allen

I met BreAna Allen my freshmen year of high school at the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy. Ever since I can remember, she’s always had this professional aura about herself. I thought she was a teacher when I first saw her, but she was actually a junior in high school!

Born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan, Saginaw Valley State University senior BreAna Allen is the ultimate role model and a true inspiration. Majoring in Business Management, she is the CEO and founder of Beaute Inc., a growing corporation that specializes in retail, health and beauty, food eateries, and special events. She is also the author of the book, Let Me Show You, and is a business life coach.

Talk about a jack of all trades!

Allen aims to encourage both women and men to exceed all goals, at all ages, with high faith and clarity. Her life mission: “To further God’s kingdom with the witty ideas and inventions I’ve been endowed with.”

She is everything that Black Girl Magic embodies. Allen strives to teach individuals how to reach their highest moments of achievement in life. Allen says, “When God created your skin tone, your purpose, your value, He knew you would be unstoppable. Embrace the quality He has placed on your life and dominate! You were made to win in every single area of your life, no matter how you look. Winning has no favoritism, only willing mindsets.”

Allen’s ultimate accomplishment is when she hosted her first fashion show at SVSU, which had 750 attendees! “I was a brand new transfer student with a LOT of success on my mind. 750 attendees came and watched my ladies strut their stuff on the runway. To date, it was the largest fashion show in Michigan,” Allen says.

That’s absolutely incredible.

Becoming the shining star that Allen is today was not an easy journey. For a long time, she was insecure about her physical appearance and struggled with bulimia nervosa. However, her self-esteem issues is what motivated her to create her first T-Shirt line in December of 2008 called Beaute Marc to inspire women to discover their beauty and worth.

Looking at BreAna Allen, I would have never guessed that she struggled with self-acceptance. However, her diligence and her faith allowed her to overcome these obstacles. There really is “beaute” in the struggle, and Allen is a living testimony of that statement.

What I love most about Allen is her spirituality and her faith in God, and how she runs her business on faith. She stands firm with 1 Peter 4:10. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faith stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

She does exactly that, and more. With her confidence and her drive, I doubtlessly believe that Allen will be a millionaire by the age of 25!

BreAna, I have been following your accomplishments and watching you grow for years now, and I just want you to know that you inspire me more than I could ever describe! Thank you for showing me and everybody around you that with confidence, faith, and ambition, you can reach the highest of heights.

To add, Bre’s Hair Extensions, LLC will be opening its first location in Fashion Square Mall in Saginaw, Michigan – located at 4787 Fashion Square Mall, Saginaw, MI 48604 – on August 20, 2016! Be sure to like the Bre’s Hair Extensions Facebook page, and check out BreAna Allen’s website!

Keep climbing and keep shining, BreAna! You’re amazing, and inspire me and those around you more than you know.

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#FilmMajorFriday: Why Ava DuVernay is My Greatest Inspiration

Ava DuVernay is everything that Black Girl Magic encompasses. Being a film major, she is my greatest inspiration and really motivates me to pursue a career in film and be on the frontier for bringing more diversity into Hollywood.

DuVernay is a director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor of independent film. She’s most famous for directing Selma (2014), a chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015.

Based in Los Angeles, she is the founder of ARRAY, a community-based distribution collective dedicated to the amplification of films by people of color and women filmmakers. She is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and is on the board of Film Independent and the Sundance Institute.

What I appreciate most about DuVernay is that she strives to make change for women and people of color in an industry that is dominated by white men. She advocates for the distribution of more films by women and minorities, which is both comforting and inspiring since I’m both a woman and a minority. Not only does ARRAY focus on women and Black filmmakers, but also Latino, Asian, Native American, and Middle Eastern filmmakers and directors.

To me, one of her most notable acts of duty is when she and Ryan Coogler (Director of Fruitvale Station, Creed, and the upcoming Black Panther movie that comes out in 2018!!!), and several others supported a free Oscar-night event in Flint, Michigan to raise money for the Flint Water Crisis while boycotting the Oscars for its lack of diversity in the Academy. The #JUSTICEFORFLINT benefit gave a voice to members of the community who were victims of the choices that people in power made, choices that failed to protect the citizens of Flint. The event raised a total of $100,000.

She has taught me that if my dreams are only for myself, then they’re not big enough, and to include others in my dreams. She has taught me to pay attention to my intention not just in filmmaking, but in all areas of my life. Be grateful, appreciate others, and put others first. Take action in my craft, and that the only thing that matters is my work.

Most importantly, it is imperative that we continue to create spaces like ARRAY that advocate for the distribution of more films by women and minorities. Why? Because all of us should be able to see ourselves. Visual identity and representation matters. It’s important that we allow others to see themselves in all walks of life, beyond the stereotypes that we are subjected to.

Thank you, DuVernay, for all that you do. You are changing lives and inspiring young filmmakers like me more than you are credited for. Keep on climbing, and keep on shining!