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Daily Blog, Latest | by — May 25, 2020

Finding Who You Are?

By: Tammy Elleyby

Did you or are you struggling to find your sexuality? Or maybe your gender, or rather your identity? Trust me, there are people all over the world that struggle just like you. Sometimes finding who you are can be difficult both as a teen and an adult.  However,  they’re people who may disagree with your personal journey of truly finding yourself because it’s against their beliefs or mindset. This can often trigger or affect the state of your mental health and self-esteem.

Discovering who you are as a teen can oftentimes have more of an impact on you  opposed to a 37- year old because of the added pressures of navigating teen life.

Now, I know you might be asking if finding your sexuality or identity can really affect you mentally? The answer is yes! It can lead you to feeling depressed like no one is there to understand you, making it harder to fit in with a group of people or trusting people to talk about how you feel. Even, simply just fitting in with society.

Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community can trigger you in a mental and emotional way.  It can make you feel less happy or depressed. Even for no reason without notice, and causing harmful actions that teens and/or adults make.

Studies show and talk about how people who join the LGTBQ+ community are more likely to do risk-taking behavior especially teenagers. Teens who either experienced trauma like verbal harassment, physical harassment, and physical assault due to  coming out or being seen as part of the LGBTQ community. Examples like this are reasons so many teens or children grow up and become adults who still suffer and still struggle with opening up to people whether they need help or not. Many can be so traumatized as a kid that they also grow up and make life-threatening choices like self-harm, alcohol/substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior. This leads to so many people taking their lives over something that may or may not be prevented had if they had some help to be able to cope the right way.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Even if it’s a struggle to open up to others you can find people to confide in and trust. Whether that may be family members, friends, or even a doctor/therapist. Some articles state that, Being supported and safe to explore and express your sexuality can be good for your mental health. It can reduce distress, anxiety, and depression.” If a child isn’t able to be him/her/their self and have an adult to help them express who they are it can lead to shutting down, not speaking about how they truly feel, and staying closed off even through adulthood.

When adults or people with their own religious beliefs come off as being be close-minded (not all)  the focus can get lost from being supportive and loving to instead being defensive without being open to understanding the LGBTQ+ community.

As I have talked about many of the struggles of people who are apart of the LGBTQ+ community go through; there is one last topic and that topic is fitting in with society, family and friends. Also overcoming it to just love yourself for who you are and not for who you aren’t.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Family rejection can be one of the hardest trials to overcome. Teens depend on their family to support them, but getting negative outcomes is what makes it hard for kids to then learn to accept themselves. Imagine having complete trust in a family member or maybe a group of friends, you decide to tell them a secret you never told anyone and once you do they turn their backs on you. They begin calling you names and making fun of you.

Because of that negative outcome, the whole after effect starts damaging to your sense of self-worth and overall mental health. Making you feel like you aren’t worth anything and seen a disappointment. The whole experience makes you begin questioning your worth.

Finding who you are whether you are apart of the LGBTQ+ community or not; can affect you mentally and also may affect how you think about yourself. It can make it hard to find that trusted someone and can change the way you feel about people who’ve judged you.  Most importantly,  it can cause lifelong effects. By not getting the support young ,  these feelings  can follow you into adulthood.

In conclusion, if you see someone struggling don’t just put out negative energy, offer a hand and be kind you never know the effect you might have on them.

~ Tammy Elleyby, teen writer

The Struggle! 3 Money Wasters

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Finance | by — May 20, 2020

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College brings on many new responsibilities and being fiscally responsible is one of the hardest. It seems like money leaves your wallet faster than it goes in and your bank account is starting to collect spider webs. Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways you’re wasting your money in college. Check out some of these things to cut back on so you can stack those coins!

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Junk Food Foodie?– Although it is nice to treat yourself to fast food every once in a while, the campus is full of eating spots that are included in your meal plan. This is so much better than having to spend money on take out every time you’re hungry. The other benefit is that campus usually offers healthier options so it’s a win-win.

Rent’em + Return’em- Buying textbooks is a hard financial hit in the beginning of the semester. In order to cut costs, rent your books from websites like Amazon and Chegg. You should also ask your professor to see if you’ll even need the book before you buy it.

Ride Along– Having a car on campus is obviously convenient, but the money you spend on upkeep isn’t worth it. You’ll have to pay for gas weekly and some colleges even make you pay for a parking pass every year. Ditch the car and opt for a bike or walk like most students do. Large campuses even provide transportation to your classes.

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~Tia Banks

Meet Kprecia Ambers!

Beautiful culture, bright illustrations + bold girls are all of the flavors that Kprecia Ambers mixes into her fresh designs!

Minneapolis-based Designer + Illustrator, Kprecia Ambers, is the founder of Kp Inspires which uses illustration as a tool to empower celebrate black girls!

“It’s important to see yourself in the world.” Realizing a lack of diversity within the Graphic Design field inspired Kprecia to open her own door of possibilities. Drawing from her positive spirit and desire to see people of color represented, she began creating illustrations painted in her mind and turning them into surface designs. She has since expanded into freelance work and is excited for the unlimited possibilities her career can bring.

“In following my dreams my hope is to inspire others like me to build their own door to walk through.”

Let’s get to know Kprecia a little better…

From your stunning illustrations to your beautiful accessories your pieces are instantly eye-catching! What first triggered your love of art + graphic design?

That’s a good question. I have always loved drawing, but as I got older I grew away from it. When I got to college I originally pursued a degree in web design and was introduced to Graphic Design along the way. I loved the idea of creating something eye catching that the consumer could relate to. This lead into my interests in Surface Design, which in my definition is the art of creating for a surface haha. I wanted my work to be seen, but meaningful. When I graduated I took my passions and desires to see black woman represented and started making illustrations from photos. My goal has always been to push positivity into the world. I do this by celebrating and empowering black women, highlighting individuals I find inspiring, sharing quotes in conjunction with my art, using images that display confidence, and topping it off with bright colors. I love bright colors, it’s captivating, exciting, and pure joy.

Being an entrepreneur + running your own business is an amazing accomplishment, how has your life shifted since starting Kp Inspires? 

My life has shifted tremendously. The upsides is being able to choose who to work with, having total control of my schedule, getting paid from my passions, and supporting others through my services and home decor products. The challenge is learning to wear multiple hats. Making art is fun and all, but running a business requires you to understand business haha. That is something that is not always communicated. Learning pricing (still), contracts, legal work, financing, etc is all things that require patience. Thankfully, I am surrounded by entrepreneurs so the support is awesome. But listening and getting guidance is still very different compared to actually doing the work. It’s something you have to do in order to understand.

Your artwork embodies black girl magic with such an authentic flavor! Why is it important that your art represents the beauty of our culture?

It’s not out there enough! I see women on Instagram and Facebook who are  killing it from creating art, and products, to opening restaurants. They do an amazing job at representing black culture and understand why it’s soooo important for it to be out there. The problem is, society has yet to fully understand the importance of representation. We have to fight to be seen. My goal is to become a black artist who is creating and producing work that celebrates black culture on a major scale. I feel Illustration is my voice in bringing light to social injustices, combating negative stereotypes, and giving hope to black youth. Purposefully I display black woman as confident queens because we need to see ourselves in a positive light. It helps our dreams feel more attainable.

What’s your favorite or most meaningful piece you’ve ever created? 

I love all my work, because each piece has meaning. I will say I am excited about personal projects I am working on. When I present myself to the world, I don’t just want to be an illustrator making pretty pieces. I want to be a business making art that contributes to something bigger. My hope is to work alongside major black owned brands incorporating my illustrations and to create a successful home decor brand celebrating black girls. I want my line of pillow characters to be printed on everything under the sun and to reach little black girls around the world.

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

Listen to myself. Sometimes it’s time for a binge-worthy break. I am only human and I can only do so much. There is a guilt that tries to feed my brain into believing I am not working hard enough, but I have to shut it down. When I need inspiration I watch documentaries, interviews, listen to music, and read. Anything where I see someone fighting for their dreams. Sometimes focusing on other things aside from illustrating is a nice way to stay productive when not feeling motivated. This could include giving attention to other aspects of the business, educating myself on spiritual well being, hair care, and other things I feel is important. When I do feel defeated I give myself permission to be frustrated. I cry when needed, release, and move on. No matter how I cope or regroup I am always reminded that my talents are bigger than me. I have purpose and it’s my duty to use my gifts for good. That is my biggest motivator.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

Empowerment to me means contributing to building and pushing out positive energy. I can’t give anyone the power to overcome whatever they are facing but I can encourage them to.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?

Be authentic to yourself (this is what makes you special) and start, but take things one step at a time. Don’t get too overwhelmed thinking ahead of yourself. Break down your goals and create schedules. One thing I am learning is you can’t just put “brand” in your schedule like it’s simple. There are a bunch of small steps in between before the bigger picture is actually accomplished. For example, If you are creating a logo spend time beforehand thinking about your business; What is your purpose, what makes it special, etc. That way your logo and brand can better reflect your company. When you do accomplish a goal rather it’s big or small check it off your list as a mini celebration. It feels amazing! Remember, you will always be growing so don’t get caught up in perfection. It all takes time, but starting is what will allow you to improve. Also I encourage investing time into learning business. No matter what you are doing/pursuing you will need to understand taxes, filing your business, financing, and other legal matters.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

Celeb Crush: Rihanna is my female crush she is amazing and her style is lit. I also admire T.I. Given his age I have never dreamed of being with him lol, but I love his accent and how he carries himself.

Music Artist: Jhene Aiko, J.cole, Chance, Kevin gates, and a lot more. I love conscious rappers but there is always room to be ratchet or turn into a hustler haha.

Movie: I am not sure if I have a favorite movie, but I love animations and mystery films period!

Keep following Kprecia + her beautiful work + journey here:

Instagram

Website

Blew It…Bounce Back.

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Relationships, Latest | by — April 28, 2020

The relationship between you and your parents is a dynamic one. Although you’re transitioning into a thriving young adult, you still have to be mindful of their rules because they did (and still are) doing a great job raising you. Every once in a while you might get off track and cause some tension, which is normal in any relationship. Whether you forgot to do the chores or got into a huge disagreement, it’s important to find a solution and get back to a better place with them and here’s how:

Apologize

This is the first thing that should be said after you’ve done something wrong. When you give a profuse apology, it shows that you are being responsible for your actions and that makes your parents feel good. Follow the apology with expressing how much you appreciate them and all they’ve done for you.

Pick Up The Slack

In addition to not having to be reminded to do your own chores, you should help out and other things that need to get done in the house, Even if it’s not necessarily on your to-do list. It would make your parent’s lives a whole lot easier and remind them that you know how to step up when needed.

Consistency

Doing these things just to get your way isn’t the right motive. You should aim to have consistently reliable behavior all the time. It will deem you more trustworthy in their eyes and could lead to more privileges.

~Tia Banks, Content Editor

#Freshman5 x Charity!

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Feature, Latest | by — April 14, 2020

Take note of Charity’s #Freshman5 Must-Knows for your freshman year in college!
 
Name: Charity McCants 
College: Auburn University at Montgomery
 
 
Friendship/Relationship| Friendships are so important when starting college! Making them early on with your roommates and classmates will make the school year so much easier. Relationships aren’t always essential but are a good thing to have as long as you can still focus on academics and the things that are most important to you. 
 
Classes/Studying| GO TO CLASS! I made the mistake of starting to skip classes and it hurt me in the long run. If you know you are not a morning person make your classes later in the day so that you won’t lose motivation. Make a schedule to study by yourself and others that have the same classes as you. If you simply study every subject for 20-30 minutes a day it will help so much so that you won’t have to cram right before a test.
 
Budgeting Money| Learn to save money! If you can get a part-time job that will help with small expenses. Try to create a budget for food because that’s the quickest way to over spend. Buy groceries and cook sometimes if you can. It will help you save and it’s also fun + healthy. 
 
Time Management| Learn to have a schedule. Use your phone alarm to help you remember when you have class + when you need to study including other priorities in your schedule.
 
Self-care| Remember, that no matter what you come first! Make sure you’re eating, taking time for yourself and allowing yourself to make mistakes. College is a time to have fun, don’t forget that!
 
Follow more of Charity’s collegiate journey…

Speak Up. Speak Out!

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — April 6, 2020

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Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

Speak Up, Speak Out: Discrimination Against Muslim Girls

By Ajwa Timber

Forty-two percent of Muslim parents say their kids have been bullied due to their religion, whether through insults or physical assaults, at least once in the past year. There are more than 1.1 million students in NYC schools. An increasing number of those students are Muslims. Others may say that Muslim women and men are not equal and are dominant over Muslim women.  Muslim women students in NYC high schools go through discrimination more than Muslim men because they are easily identified in class, in athletic programs, and people buy in to stereotype against Muslim women.

Muslim students who wear hijabs have been harassed and assaulted in school. A Muslim woman who attends Portland State University was badly abused in the past.

According to KGW Staff “A woman tried to choke a Saudi Arabian exchange student with her hijab and then ripped the head covering of the woman’s head and neck at a Portland MAX station, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said. Jasmine Renee Campbell, 23, then exposed herself and rubbed the hijab against her genitals, court records said”.

Another Muslim teenager had her hijab pulled off and was pelted with eggs’ in Dublin. “The woman and her cousin are also said to have been thrown to the ground and kicked in the alleged attack in Dundrum village, south Dublin, on Sunday afternoon”(Sky News Agust 2019). Muslim women have been prohibited from wearing hijabs. They have been harassed, fired from jobs and denied access to public places.

Noor Alexandria Abukaram via USAToday

Muslim women are not even allowed to wear hijabs while participating in sports without documentation. A Muslim teen athlete, Noor Alexandria Abukaram, was disqualified in Ohio race for wearing Hijab. She wasn’t allowed to run in her hijab without special permission. The officials said cross-country runners were allowed to compete in “religious headwear” only after they received a waiver allowing them to bend the association’s uniform regulations. It was shared she had never seen a rule that barred students from wearing hijab and had not previously run into a problem. (Liam Stack October 2019).

In my personal experience I’ve run track before but I never had to have a teacher sign a waiver for me to participate.

Some people in today’s society buy into stereotypes against Muslim women. For example, some say Islam oppresses women and forces them into a subservient role, but in reality, The Quran explicitly states that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah and forbids female infanticide, instructs Muslims to educate daughters as well as sons, insists that women have the right to refuse a prospective husband, gives women the right to divorce in certain cases. They say Muslim women are quiet and soft. They think all Muslims are from the middle east. Mulsim can be from anywhere and have different backgrounds. I’m sick and tired of some people in today’s society “pegging Muslim women as “submissive” and it’s ridiculous (Heba Kanso Feb 2019).

In conculison, Muslim women students in NYC high schools go through discrimination more than Muslim men because they are easily identified in class, in athletic programs, and people buy in to stereotype against Muslim women. I wonder if Muslim men are treated the same as Muslim women?

~ Ajwa Timber, Teen Writer

Meet Naseyah Williams!

Bringing  her authentic self to the stage allowed Naseyah Williams to walk away with the title of Miss Black USA Talented Teen 2019! Her passion  for expressing herself through the arts and serving others through her talents, is a true representation of a queen.

As a North-Carolina native, Naseyah is a dedicated and active member of Hillside Drama Department. Her major roles have included various high profile Broadway plays + musicals such as The Color Purple, Willy Wonka, The BodyGuard and Matilda. In addition, the young powerhouse serves as a youth leader for various community outreach organizations + has her own platform called “Soaring Through The Arts”  to inspire + to spark a creative movement with youth.

In December of 2018, Naseyah  competed for and won the title of Miss Black North Carolina Talented Teen 2019 under the Miss Black USA Organization. She then went on to compete at Nationals for the Title of Miss Black USA Talented Teen 2019 in August of 2019 + brought home the crown!

She desires for the world to realize that talents are not just attributes, but they are truly our life’s gift.

Let’s get to know Naseyah a little better…

You hold the crown for Miss Black USA Talented Teen! Why was it important for you to participate in the pageant and what impact do you want to make during this time? 

The most important thing as I claimed the title of Miss Black USA Talented Teen, was not that I would get the chance to be represented, but the chance to represent the countless other girls who had never gotten the chance or did not think they have the ability to do such things. I have found that there is a lack in our community. A lack of self esteem and self identity. Because of this, I make it my mission to be the best friend to every girl who feels alone. To be the role model to every girl that feels lost in a world of people who look down on her.

Theatre is your love + the stage is your home! You’ve been featured in The Bodyguard, Willy Wonka, and countless other musicals + plays, how does theatre bring your personality + purpose alive? 

Theatre is my HOME! I remember my first audition, I was invited by a friend and I thought all I would have to do was sing.

I remember I sang and I thought that was all! However, that was followed by as well as this intense improv which I never thought I could do until that moment. With that being said, theatre has caused me to branch out and no longer just hide behind my voice.

I love singing but the ability to add another dynamic to it when combined with the dancing and acting, just made my voice that much more powerful. I have learned so much about myself, my capabilities, through my performances. It has brought me out of my shell and enables me to just be me. I have a very “exciting” personality as most would say, and I have theatre to thank for that!

Art is such a beautiful space of creativity + non-judgment. Your platform “Soaring Through the Arts” brings the attention + importance to the power of arts! How have the arts impacted your life + made it easier to find your voice? 

Thanks to my legendary director, Mr. Wendell Tabb, I have had the opportunity to be on stage and embody these roles. I remember when we were reading the script for The Color Purple, my director told us all that we have to find ourselves somewhere in these characters, in the story, in  order to bring it to life. Ever since then, I have found myself somewhere in every story we have performed.

Many people think a good actor is just someone who can cry on the spot. That is not all there is. You have to be able to connect the story to yourself, which brings a vulnerability. I love the fact that the stage is one of the only places where I feel I can bring this side of me out, free of any judgement.

“Soaring Through The Arts” is my initiative to help all of those who have a desire for the arts, but don’t feel like they have what it takes. It is the opportunity to discover the you that you never thought you knew!

Oftentimes black girls are labeled with numerous stereotypes, what’s a way we can continue to break barriers and create an authentic representation of ourselves? 

Being a black woman in America, is one of the hardest roles to fill. Though faced with discrimination, stereotypes and obstacles, we continue to push forward and break barriers. We can continue to do this by letting our intelligence do the talking. Let our art do the talking. Let our voices be heard because we are the embodiment of what it means to be strong, beautiful, intelligent and talented. We have to push past the stereotypes and continue to pave the way for the generations to come! How do we do this? By letting our #BlackGirlMagic do the talking!

Being young, juggling responsibilities while reaching your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated? 

 When feeling defeated, I regroup and motivate myself by finding strength in God. For he has made me in his image so I can never be defeated. I have to admit, it is difficult to navigate through teen life especially when you are different; set apart. It is the moments when you embrace that you are not always going to be strong when you gain the most strength. So continue to go after every dream that you’ve ever dreamed because no one can stop you but you.

What’s one mantra or positive quote you live by? 

I live by the motivating words of former Astronaut, Mae Jemison, “Never be limited by the limited imagination of others.”

Time for faves! Artist? Food? Movie? Celeb crush? 

Favorite Artist– My favorite artist whom I will always love is Whitney Houston. I have drawn so much inspiration from her as well as Tori Kelly, who is not as known, but has had a huge influence on my songwriting.

Favorite Food– Fun Fact; I used to be a vegetarian for quite a long time but I stopped very recently and went back to my meat eating ways. All food is my favorite but if I had to choose, I would go with HOT WINGS! I love hot wings and they are part of the reason I converted back to the meat world haha!

Celebrity Crush– Lil Nas X!

Follow more of Naseyah here…

Instagram

Length? Overrated.

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Being natural has its ups and downs. The upside is that you no longer have chemicals in your hair and can wear your natural curls. On the flipside, you might have to relearn how to take care of your hair, which could also affect the length of your tresses. But don’t be fooled, your hair is healthier than ever. You just have to learn to work with what you have! As long as you are good to your hair, your hair will be good to you. Here are three reasons not to get caught up!

|It’s Brand New|

If you recently became a naturalista, your hair is still getting used to not having any chemicals in it. Therefore, the texture your hair is now, may not be the texture it is forever. Give it some time and you’ll most likely see your hair change over time.

|Shrinkage|

Shrinkage is real!! You have length, but the buoyancy in your curls is forcing you to remain humble. Although shrinkage makes it look like your hair is shorter than it is, it is also a sign of health. The mere fact that your coils spring back is a sign of healthy hair.

|Health|

No matter what your hair looks like, health is always what’s most important. Bouncy curls are way better than stretched, lifeless ones. Once you’ve found a hair regimen that your hair loves, then you can work on other factors.

Tia Banks, Content Editor

Beauty Diary x Naomi!

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Health/Beauty, Latest | by — March 9, 2020

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Scroll through the beauty diary of mua + YouTuber, Naomi Ajala:

What’s your name + city you live in?
I’m Naomi Ajala. I live in Minnesota, US.
 
Beauty is all about being comfortable in your own skin + having fun! What are 2 beauty trends you’re loving this year?
My favorite beauty trends I’m loving would be brown liner + a shimmering gloss and embracing blonde braids on dark skin.
 
If you had only 15 seconds to grab 3 beauty products, what would they be?
In 15 seconds I would grab three makeup products! It would be definitely a gloss, brown liner and mascara.
 
 
Beauty inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate beauty icon + why?
 
My beauty icon is definitely James Charles he’s 21 and he’s like accomplished a lot. He was the first male ambassador for cover girl when he was 17. I have never seen someone as open and confident as he is and he literally expresses himself through his art work which is makeup. 

Getting ready for class can be fun but stressful if you’re in a time crunch, what’s one beauty must-have that lives in your bag?

Usually, when I’m in a rush for school and I’m so tired and even late to apply anything on my face but I still want to look good and comfortable, a gloss and liner lives in my bag definitely. 

What’s your number 1 beauty rule?

My number one beauty rule is to be confident in yourself. The way you walk, dress, talk and act should be fiery. Most importantly, not letting people tell you how you should look.

Find more of Naomi’s looks here:

Instagram

YouTube

Stereotypes? Toss’em!

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — March 9, 2020

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Society has a funny way of shaping our views of what type of person we should be –especially black girls. We are often put in a box and showcased as having minimal types of personalities and interests when that is quite opposite of the truth. Black girls are fascinated with things across the spectrum. There is space for you to be an extrovert who enjoys the spotlight as well as an introvert who loves comics and anime. Either way, you are black enough and always will be. Ignore the stereotypes and embrace your true self.

Find Your Crew | There is power in numbers. If you find that embracing your true self is hard to do alone, find a group of people that are interested in what you like. Hanging out with them consistently will make you feel more comfortable in your skin. Black girls do a little bit of everything.

Expose Us | Depending on where you live, finding a crew can be difficult. In that case, you should look into creating one. Gather a group of girls and show them what you’re into. For example, if you like to draw, enlighten them on how relaxing it can be for all levels of creativity. Seeing you, a black girl, doing something different will open their horizons to new hobbies and interests.

Seek Inspiration | Social media is a helpful tool. Follow accounts of other black girls who you share interests with. That way when you are seeking inspiration, you can easily find it on your timeline. Look up specific hashtags and put yourself out there too so you can inspire others.

~Tia Banks, Content Editor