We've entered an era of the woke Black girl, where black girls everywhere are encouraged by the women who came before them and the societal cool factor of consciousness to take action to change their circumstances.
This Black History month, it's exciting that we not only get to pay homage to those who came before us, but to also acknowledge the work of younger generations.
Here are 5 young Black girls who've hit role model status before they even reached their teen years:
1. Maya Penn, founder of Maya's Ideas
Maya Penn is a Renaissance girl. At age 3, she assembled her first computer. At age 6, she began to create an animated series, and at age 8, she founded her own sustainable fashion company. The girl barely hit puberty and she has already achieved accolades that many of us would only dream of: Maya is a published author, artist, animator, coder, one of Oprah's Supersoul 100 change makers, recipient of the Coretta Scott King A.N.G.E.L. award… and she's met Barack Obama.
Maya is a role model for Black girls young and old. At 17, Maya continues to make impressive moves and advocates for women's rights and environmental sustainability through all of her pursuits. Her latest book is perfectly titled, “You Got This! Unleash your Awesomeness, Find your Path, and Change Your World," AKA the Black Girl Magic Manual.
2. Marley Dias, creator of #1000blackgirlbooks
Marley Dias is our kind of girl. After noticing a lack of diversity in her fifth grade reading assignments (stating that she was tired of reading about "white boys and their dogs"), she decided to do something about it. She started an initiative called "#1000blackgirlbooks" where she organized a book drive to send 1000 books featuring back protagonists to Jamaica. What's even more inspiring about her story is that she didn't do this alone. Marley was inspired by her Ph.D bearing social activist mother, and supported by her best friends who together form the social action team, "BAM." Marley's story shows us the power of a team, and that representation matters in all forms!
3. Ify Ufele, founder of Chubiiline
Think back to a time when someone said something nasty to you about your appearance. Did you accept it as truth, lash out, or cry yourself to sleep that night? Regardless of your response, we could all learn a little something from 10-year-old Ify Ufele. After being bullied at school about her weight, Ify did what many of us would never think to do:
She began to sew.
She began to sew clothes for her dolls, and after mastering that, she moved on to creating designs for girls of all body types. Eventually her story got out and little Ify's designs made it to NYFW. Not only is she making a statement by accepting and celebrating her body type, but she is also incorporating aspects of her African culture into her designs. As she's said, she turned negative attention into positive attention.
We're sensing a Healthy Roots collaboration in the future!
4. Kheris Rogers, Flexin in My Complexion
Like Ify, Kheris Rogers was bullied in elementary school. Instead of experiencing torment due to her size, Kheris was called ugly because of her deep dark brown skin. For a while, she believed her tormentors, and would come home every day in tears.
Encouraged by the support of her family and people on social media, Kheris shirked the naysayers and regained her confidence. Today she touts the phrase "Flexin in my complexion" and encourages girls everywhere to step into their truth because, as she says, "Everybody is pretty in their own way."
5. Mikaila Ulmer, founder of Bee Sweet Lemonade
Mikaila is a 13-year old self proclaimed "Bee Ambassador" who at 11, raised $60,000 from the famed "Sharks" of Shark Tank to fund her business venture. She then went on to secure a multi-million dollar contract with Whole Foods.
Using a recipe inherited by her great grandmother Helen, Mikaila has created a delicious honey lemonade that serves as a social venture. After getting stung by bees twice at age 4, Mikaila grew fascinated by the endangered species and began to craft ways to save the bees. From day one, she's donated a portion of her earnings to foundations that help rescue the bees.
Here is yet another young girl who has shown us that you can make a difference at just about any age.
These young black leaders give us so much hope for our future, and we're excited to see what they do next.
Share this post with your daughter, sister, cousin, etc. to let her know that she has the power to take action at any age… after all that's what Black Girl Magic is all about.
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