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.

12046626_10206944348782595_9098044993370623958_n

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.

unnamed1

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.

fullsizerender-2

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!

#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

 

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.”

FullSizeRender 3

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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 3.10.50 PM

Women of Color Wednesday: Laurie Hernandez

Lauren (Laurie) Hernandez is the first US-born Latina to make Team USA for the Olympics since Tracee Talavera in 1984. Hernandez is on her way to the Olympics in #Rio2016, and is excited to be representing Puerto Rico and Hispanics everywhere. 3a4b04_746e3599a6734aad8ce298c294d8d30d.jpgHer floor routine truly embraces her roots, which is an infusion of Latin-inspired music and dance moves.

The second generation Purtero Rican was born in New Brunswick, NJ, on June 9, 2000.

The very sassy, “young Shakira” started gymnastics at the young age of 5 years old. Currently, she is one of the youngest American athletes to compete at this year’s Olympics. Wowing the judges at the Olympics trial, Hernandez scored first place in Beam, and second in All-Around.

Laurie-Hernandez-Makes-Olympics-Gymnastics-Team-2016-Video

Her road to stardom was not easy. She had to take six months off in 2014 after a series of injuries, including a fractured wrist, torn patella ligament, and dislocated knee. However, she overcame her injuries and came back stronger than ever.

She will compete on the USA Gymnastics team alongside Simone Biles (19), Gabby Douglas (20), Ally Raisman (22), and Madison Kocian (19).

women_gymnastics_team

I cannot wait for #Rio2016. I will be rooting for you, Laurie Hernandez. Stay sassy, and I know you are going to KILL IT!