June 1, 2019 Interviews
with the project and operations lead of black girl magik
Let’s start at the root. Where is your family from, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?
My family is from Sierra Leone, West Africa. My parents immigrated to the States in their late 20s. I grew up in Silver Spring, MD which is right on line of Washington D.C. I have lived all over but currently live in Austin, Texas where I am pursuing my PhD.
How did your upbringing shape your experience of your power and your identity as a woman of African descent?
I grew up in a very strong Sierra Leone household. My parents spoke to me in 100% Krio and we had typical food together. My cousins, aunts and uncles were always close. They all lived in a 10 to 15 minute radius, so I grew up very aware of where I came from which I know is a privilege.
Between BGM meetups, online content and creative productions, we are endlessly creating love notes, safe spaces and hubs of transformation for Black women. How does it feel to be uniting, empowering and supporting the healing of Black women - and in turn the African Diaspora?
This feels like like the work I want to do to ensure women who look like me know their worth and value. Through all of these different platforms, we remind women they belong and I am so thrilled to be saying this message in different ways because it is NEEDED.
For someone who isn’t familiar with Black Girl Magik, what words would you use to describe the magical sisterhood that is BGM?
Community, vulnerability, diverse, warm and honest.
Self-care is a huge pillar in our practice. It’s the reason why we implement a self-care break at the end of each year where we step back from creating and cultivating to restore and reflect. What is one piece of self-care advice you want others to keep in mind?
Only you can define self-care for yourself. Do not give into the idea that massages or trips are the only representation of self care. Self- care should be a routine you create based on your needs, budget and lifestyle. It should not be an occasional thing but an ongoing dialogue with yourself rooted in love and selfishness.
Black Girl Magik’s mission is to heal the collective consciousness and generational trauma across the African diaspora. Why does this mission personally resonate for you?
Black people, queer people, women, trans people, and poor people have bared the brunt of all of society’s hardships without always having the resources to recover. I think the work we are doing fills in the gaps, allows room to feel - to be vulnerable and provides resources for healing. Additionally, much of this trauma has become taboo to discuss or react to which reproduces more trauma. BGM allows for something new. The option to reproduce joy and healing.
As collective members, we come to the table with many incredible gifts and talents that we share in our roles, but are also exploring outside of BGM. Can you tell me a little bit about the work, art or interests you are cultivating?
Man, I am interested in creating equitable spaces and curating brave spaces. Prior to graduate school, I taught for seven years so teaching is a passion, as well as making schools safer and inclusive for all. I enjoy using my platform, body, voice and resources to support others. Whether it is modeling, writing and or community organizing, I am here for anything that allows me to use my privilege to amplify others. I am trying to bridge the gap between the academy (the institution) and the art world in order to make changes in communities that need it.
The reason why we center ancestors in our work is because we understand that pathways, dreams, sacrifices and love was created so that we can exist today. As Maya Angelou declared, “I come as one, but stand as 10,000.” What ancestor(s) do you carry with you?
I carry them all - the ones I know and do not know. I am most connected to my maternal grandmother, Catherine. She was the strongest and most beautiful woman. She cared for my sisters and I. She had the softest face with high cheekbones. She was so strict but always gave us money for the ice cream truck. My grandmother made me realize that Black women hold up families. Her house was the glue to my family - the first community I knew.
What is the next seed you would like to plant for BGM?
I would love to see creative retreats where we get together and create. A space to recharge, connect and disconnect.