It’s been two weeks since I attended the Redefining HERstory event at The New (Black)* School and memories of it still inspires me. Despite the endless hair envy I endured in the presence of so many natural Black women, I experienced admiration at similar heights. I was in a room full of women who were not only beautiful but were intelligent creatives—women who were offering the world entertainment that wasn’t prefaced on violence or stereotypes. This event was just one of many that Naturals4Change has held in conjunction with Truth in Reality. Their partnership serves to support their Redefining HERstory movement—a movement that aims to empower women to change the narrative and to create authentic, positive content in television, in film and on the internet.
In an interview with BET, Natasha Gaspard, Founder of Naturals4Change, states, “I wanted to know how we [could] harness…power into changing the very system that continues to marginalize Black people.” While Naturals4Change continues to change the conversation around Black beauty, wellness and lifestyle (another point Natasha made in that interview!), the rest of us are watching in awe. This organization has found a way to properly meld the need for change with the new beauty movement of our generation. Donning their God-given kinks and curls, Naturals4Change sets out to do more than make a fashion statement.
The panelists included a number of dynamic content creators. Imani Dawson, Editor in Chief of A Tribe Called Curl, Karen Hunter, radio talk show host and publisher, Africa Miranda, actress and producer and Crystal McCrary, producer and author were present while Sil Lai Abrams, Truth In Reality Founder and CEO, moderated. In addition to several pearls of wisdom, they were candid with their advice. Leverage your contacts. Take classes. Create your own. The inspiration and practicality of their words spoke to one’s dreams—whether visiting or familiar with the women present you could not have left without your ideas being validated and your imagination soaring.
The conversation in the room consisted of ways in which Black women can combat the negative images that exist (hint: stop consuming them) while also interrupting the current narrative and creating our own. The ultimate theme of the night was ownership: when you're in the room making the decisions, change ensues. Sil Lai Abrams reminded us that media is being constructed to create regressive tropes regarding certain populations while Africa Miranda shared that the main motivating force for her to become a content creator was seeing someone else narrate her life. With these realities coinciding to create caricatures of Black womanhood, Karen Hunter was candid in summing it all up. In her career-long observations she found that, "there's seldom anyone in the room that looks like you [and] that has authority." These women are creating authority and making space for themselves in the room and we're here for it!
* The New Black School is in association with The New School. Their mission is to create a space of community and professional development for Black members based on the “full range of Black transformative politics”. Find them on Facebook.
Ruth Jean-Marie is a recent graduate of New York University where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in human rights and international law. Dedicating her life to the alleviation of misery around the world, her greatest goal is to become a superhero. Her interests include fashion, equality for women and Black people--that real equality, not the surface level stuff, traveling around the world and writing. She's excited about life and intends on living it. She also has a mild obsession with shoes, shopping and sharing her opinion. You'll hear all about it. Follow Ruth on Twitter at @lesocialnomad and on Instagram at @lesocialnomad and @toharrietwithlove.