BREAK THE CYCLE
Be Ready And Stay Ready
‘Be ready and stay ready’: Jasmine and Cassie discuss growing up in a diverse and supportive community and finding out later in life the rest of the world is much more complicated. Cassie describes the drive she feels to pursue an acting career and how explaining that drive to her skeptical (but loving) Haitian parents was difficult. Cassie cites her support system, her relationship with the Lord and the practice of ‘being ready and staying ready’ as the main factors that have allowed her to succeed. Cassie finishes by discussing how she will continue to hold space for not only herself, but for those who are unable to be loud enough to hold space for themselves.
KIRU speaks with Lydia, a successful lawyer specializing in IP law (intellectual property) by day and jewelry maker...also by day. Lydia discusses the importance of not just overcoming, but ‘owning’ her self-doubt so that she was able to fearlessly claim space in her field. This self-proclaimed ‘Gemini twin’ speaks about embracing the contradictory parts of herself; how being strong and fearless made her a successful lawyer but that her art has become a space which requires a different energy. Lydia, who boasts wearing bold pink glasses to the office, teaches us that acts of self-expression can be small but mighty.
Put Yourself First
‘‘You got to put yourself first to become your own brand’’- Amadu
Amadu talks to Fredous about how he was always teased as a kid and how he learned to disregard the negative comments people had to say about him. He talks about how he was always teased for talking a certain way. He shares his experience as to how he’s learned to put himself first and become his own brand.
Big Small Things
Jasmine and Gobi discuss ‘big, small changes’ they are able to make to break the cycle of underrepresentation. Gobi describes what it is like to be raised by parents who immigrated from Cameroon in the 80s. Gobi describes her education in various PWIs as a test of ‘endurance not intelligence.’ She was able to endure, in part due to her strong familial foundation, her close relationship with God and her determination. However Gobi discusses the instrumental role mentorship played in her development. Gobi cites mentorship as the most powerful ‘big small change’ you can make in the life of a young Black student. In addition to pursing a career in dentistry, Gobi has pursued a Masters in Education which she hopes to use in tandem to her medical career so that she can continue to break the cycle for generations to come. Her platform, The Black Mentor Network aims to pair Black professionals in a wide range of fields with Black students with a wide range of interests in the hopes that having access to representation in these underrepresented fields (like dentistry where around 5% of dentists are Black) will give the confidence to young Black students to believe the future is theirs to design.
I think what I've learned, and it's taken me a long time to learn it is you just gotta to do, you know, like you whoever you are. You have to figure that out first. That's important, like who are you? what are the things that are important to you? And how do you represent yourself? And then once you figure that out. Just do it like don't. And maybe it is part of why people are underrepresented is because in like across like whatever it is, you know, is because they don't see themselves in that place. I don't see myself as, you know, an office executive. I don't see myself as whatever, because there are like people for them to look. To, you know, like there are there aren't models for them to see. Right. But if you put yourself in that place, I'm like, I'm going to do this thing. I'm going to do this thing that other people will see you. And then they will be like, oh, here I can do it, too.
What Is For Me Is For Me
KIRU speaks with stylist Raven Roberts. Although it seems like Raven is a person who was made to work in the world of fashion, she claims that styling in particular is something she fell into. Raven talks about her last job before she was able to make styling and fashion her career. She cites treating your passion as a full-time job (on top of your paying full-time job) as the key to making that transition possible. Raven describes periods in her life when she was fortunate enough to be working three jobs in three cities in one week. While this period was exciting and inspiring, Raven acknowledges this type of energy is impossible to sustain. Having a healthy work-life balance is important to Raven, who claims her role models are people who are able to continue to be passionate but also to live a life in tandem with their work. Above all, Raven says the greatest realization she’s had in the last eight years is that she must prioritize her well-being and sense of peace because ‘no check is worth that’.