Entrepreneurship has grown in popularity over the last several years. Whether it’s due to social media, where many entrepreneurs chronicle their day-to-day endeavors (myself included) or the urge to provide solutions to age-old issues, entrepreneurship has become a popular career choice and birthed a new era of innovators and creatives.
The world was introduced to New York City native Evelyn Lozada on VH1’s reality TV series, Basketball Wives. Known for her keep-it-real attitude, sharp tongue and headline-grabbing behavior, Lozada was seen as the “mean girl” of the cast. However, many saw a different side of the proud Boriqua on Season 5 of the series and Iyanla: Fix My Life, which showed her journey to healing after being assaulted by her ex-husband Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.
A lot has happened since then!
In recent weeks, the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police officers reopened a wound that many of us have been hoping to heal. Police have killed at least 136 Black people in 2016, according to the Guardian, and, with technological advances, we’re exposed to the video footage during and long after these injustices take place. So, how do you begin to heal? We tapped our contributor Jelisa Robinson of Black Girl, Latin World to discuss healing through music.
Bahia has soul (and, yes, lots of it!). Located in the northeastern part of Brazil, it’s known as the birthplace of capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts, and samba, an Afro-Brazilian musical genre and dance, and has a very clear connection to Africa via religious practices like the Yoruba-derived Candomblé, music, dance and food, to name a few.
The Afro-Latina experience is one that is so specific, yet differs from country to country. One thing that remains the same is an Afro-Latina author’s ability to share her story and offer a sense of relatability for readers. The authors below have shared our stories in various ways; stories that continue to unite us, and let us know we are not alone in our struggles.
Domestic abuse can come in all forms, but many associate the act primarily with physical abuse. While you may not see scars or bruising, emotional and verbal abuse is just as harmful.
Using the #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou hashtag, hundreds of women tweeted their stories of abuse. The tag, created by Afro-Latina artist and writer Zahira Kelly, went viral as stories of continuous emotional control and criticism flooded timelines.
Mother’s Day is a special occasion. While many celebrate the beauty of motherhood year round and on the daily, the observance allows for us to acknowledge and celebrate not only the women who brought us into this world, but those who have served as mother figures throughout our lives. For the women who now have the coveted title of “mom,” or “mama,” it’s a day to celebrate you, too!
Black-Latino relations in the U.S. are complicated. While our communities, which often parallel one another in culture, have similarities, man-made barriers, competition for jobs and socio-economic concerns have caused tension between both groups. Despite the tension, beauty has been birthed from the relationship.
Inspired by Black and Latino relations, recent UT graduate and author of the blog Black Girl, Latin World Jelisa Jay Robinson created The Stories of Us. Described as a scrapbook of experiences, histories and feelings, “the play uses a variety of performance styles to explore the histories behind Afro-Latinidad while addressing how past interactions between the two separate cultures have impacted their current relationship as a community.” Presented by Teatro Vivo, the website reads:
“In an effort to unite both groups, The Stories of Us details experiences of discrimination that many still currently face and uses those observations to open a rich dialogue about the importance of acceptance, solidarity, and love.”
Robinson’s upbringing inspired The Stories of Us. Growing up Black and being involved in the Latinx community, she wanted to hear the stories of Afro-Latinx histories and African Americans who connected with the Latinx community. “I wanted a space where looking like me and speaking Spanish was represented,” says Robinson. “A space where our connections to each other were recognized dissected and discussed. That’s where The Stories of Us emerged. Out of necessity. Out of love.”
The Stories of Us is directed by Florinda Bryant, a proud Black Mexicana. The femcee, poet, singer, dancer, actress, director and mother calls the stage “home” and is known to create work that lives between genres. Bryant and Teatro Vivo co-founder Rupert Reyes were drawn to The Stories of Us and felt, politically and socially, the piece needed to come to life now.
“I hope people think enough to engage in conversation,” says Bryant on The Stories of Us. “I hope people have a moment to think about a new feeling, or an idea, when it comes to racism and internalized racism.”
“This is our first production that looks at Afro-Latinidad. We have presented other plays that spoke about racism within our own community. This play has much more depth and insight into the Afro-Latino experience,” said Reyes on the website. “The conversation that explores the similarities between Blacks and Latinos needs to begin or continue. I don’t know what the forces are at play that divides us. I do know that we can be one of the forces that unite us. We hope that all of our plays create a movement for more unity on the community level, the local level.”
Teatro Vivo is dedicated to producing quality bilingual theater accessible to all theater audiences and artists. Stories of Us is playing Thursdays – Sundays, through May 8, 2016 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (600 River St, Austin, TX 78701). Click here to purchase your tickets ($12-$20)!
I flock to spaces focused on empowerment and women, specifically Black women. On a daily basis I consume –whether I flick on my TV, open up my laptop screen and scroll through my Twitter timeline – media that’s anti-women, anti-Black and anti-empowerment. I do everything in my power not to, but it happens.
So, I was excited to break from a typical hectic day to step into a welcoming space designed by leading organic hair products company CURLS. More than 150 women and girls of color connected at Mist-Harlem to enter into new mentorship relationships at the CURLS Girls Rule the World: Empowering Entrepreneurs Luncheon on April 1.
Over 100 girls were paired with celebrity expert mentors by industry and interests who shared life and careers lessons with them over a delicious lunch. Celebrity expert mentors include award-winning novelist Zane; Jasmine Sanders, co-host of The DL Hughley Show; Tyrha M. Lindsey-Warren, Managing Director of L.A.I. Communications; and CURLS founder and CEO Mahisha Dellinger, among others.
“My goal of giving young women access to resources and connections were truly realized. Having our girls meet face-to-face with women who have and are still succeeding will empower them to live the lives they have always desired,” said Dellinger. “This is only the beginning.”
The goal of the empowerment luncheon was to expose CURLS Girls to accomplished mentors in various industries so they could begin to learn how they, too, can make their dreams come true. Over the summer and fall of 2016, the celebrity expert mentors will also host seminars and workshops for the girls on various topics, from business writing to event production.
I had the opportunity to speak with actress Nicole Ari Parker; Brandi Harvey, executive director of the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation, and listen to women from numerous industries. Here’s my list of the top empowering lessons shared at the first-ever CURLS Girls Rule The World luncheon:
1. The power of exposure.
The luncheon provided the next generation of leaders with a major KEY: exposure. The opportunity to connect in-person with leading women in media, business, non-profit, government and technology.
“What they see on TV is just entertainment,” said Parker. “You can watch your favorite TV show, but why don’t you meet the woman who produces that show? Why don’t you meet the woman that runs that network, or casts that show, or writes that show? The access that the girls have here today is eye-opening.”
2. You can be great.
Harvey reflected on the many women who poured into her. “Even though I didn’t see myself, or someone who looked like me on television all the time, or in every magazine that I turned the pages on, that I could be great.”
3. Use your voice.
“Encourage the young women in your life to speak up,” shared Parker.
4. Be your authentic self, always.
What every woman who has been very successful has told me was to be myself. Be my authentic self. Unapologetic about who I was and who I am, and who I’m going to be,” said Harvey.
5. Always get up after you fall.
CURLS chief exec led us in an empowering chant, “…I’ll always get up after I fall.” In life, the falls are inevitable, but what you do after that is what’s most important. Dellinger reminded attendees to rise and dust yourself off, always.
I look forward to the next CURLS Girls Rule The World luncheon!
Have some advice to share? Share your most valuable advice in the comments section below.