During Black History Month, Bumble wanted to not only pay tribute to these amazing women, but to also share their stories. I was so excited to partner with Bumble on this event, not only through planning it and bringing these amazing Dallas women of color together, but also to photograph and commemorate the event. Our aim was for these stories to inspire action to help empower and equip the Bumble community to bring about positive social change in their own lives and to recognize & celebrate the important work of the black women in Dallas and beyond.
I brought together twenty plus African American women at BREDA Studio, a watch company centered around being free to express point of view through design, for a night of community and commemoration. Maison Saint James created a delicious and beautiful array of food and beverage for the women to enjoy over conversation, including flower topped guava mimosas served in Bumble champagne glasses, veggie Caribbean patties, and African proteas and monstera leaves garnishing the table. Meanwhile, amidst laughter and connections being formed, a custom selection of “Black Girl Magic” music played and I engaged each attendee in my special portrait series “FRAMED”.
“FRAMED” is a photo series that aims to tell a story of the African American community, framed by the community themselves. The image of black women and men has consistently been framed by the media, the political system, the criminal justice system, and the majority at large. This series was a step into a different direction — of reframing our own identities; of holding up the frame for our sisters and brothers, shedding light onto the vibrance, strength, and beauty of who we are — our hair, our skin, our creativity, our ancestry, our heritage.
Each woman had her moment in the spotlight, adorned with a crown, while either framing herself, or having two other sisters holding up the frame for her. The women were asked a series of questions to frame themselves, that spoke to their strengths, their character, and their passions. A number of the women’s responses are detailed below alongside their “FRAMED” portrait from the event.
My favorite part of being a Black woman is the unity that exists between all of us whether we’re best friends or strangers. We can communicate with just a look and know EXACTLY what sis is thinking. I think that’s because we have so many shared experiences living in this world as Black women. Yet no matter how much we endure, we still find the strength to encourage each other and find joy in the darkest situations. That sense of community really keeps me going on those darker days. I read this quote, “Being a Black girl is like being a part of a super exclusive prestigious goddess organization” and I couldn’t agree more. Black women give me the energy to rise above the ugliness of this world and shine even brighter and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
There is something about walking into a room knowing that you are the only black woman, seeing the head turns, feeling the eyes on you and knowing that are absolutely killing it. I enjoy being a rarity in a crowd of the same, shocking people with my intelligence and poise; as a black woman, I get to switch up my style and reinvent myself without notice. There is power in being able to say "it's just a black girl magic thing" and knowing that your fellow females know exactly what you mean. You feel like you're in this special clique of women that understand what it means to go down this path called life and know the black woman struggle but also know that we can uplift each other in ways no one else can.
Man, there is so much to say! I literally love everything [about being a black women]. I love my hair, my skin color, my curves. I think my fav part is the beauty we really possess. I love how strong, how graceful and detailed we were made. Like seriously, being a black woman is the upmost privilege. I wouldn’t trade being black because I believe when God decided to make me a black woman he gave me a specific assignment. To carry out the legacy and culture and royalty that we possess. Personally, that’s why I believe we are the minority, because there could only be a few!🤦🏾♀️🤷🏾♀️ He knew that he could trust me with this assignment because it’s not easy. We are the least valued, most ridiculed, but then at the same time the most copied, over worked, and the most needed. We posses so much as a black woman. We inherit so much culture and destiny.
My favorite part of being a black woman is our ability to constantly live in the "AND." We're not just an ethnic or gender minority; we're both black AND a woman. We're Michelle Obama AND Cardi B. We're STRONG and WEAK at the same time. We don't have to compromise one part of ourselves to find our wholeness. We can constantly live in the AND, and tend to flourish when we do.
Three things make me proud to be a Black Woman -- my hair, my body, and my connection to the culture. Hair, because I can literally do SO much with it, to the point to where my coworkers barely recognize me lol. A silk press, sleek, low bun, two strands twist out, messy high bun, roller set, or even cornrows! I can play in versatility!
My body makes me so proud because I get to be thick without paying for it. My full lips, round butt, and thick thighs are a blessing and everyone in our culture celebrates it. Those features in other groups may be frowned upon or even a trend, but our culture makes me proud to have a little extra junk in the trunk!
Lastly, my connection to the culture. It is no secret that our culture IS the culture, and nothing moves without us. From fashion trends, hair styles, to dance moves, and food, being African American, we are the creators and catalysts for all things cool. I LOVE IT!
So I am unique in that I am 60% white, 40% black (thanks 23andme) so I am made up of historically 2 races that are at odds. I won't lie - it is very difficult to be in some conversations as I feel like I'm offending one race or the other. However, I love being able to give a different perspective in largely one race rooms. My favorite part of being a black woman is that I am proud to be different. I'm not sure why we would try and conform. We should celebrate the differences of our hair, our skin, our dialect, our intelligence. I love getting to walk in a room and be the only one. I feel it's a privilege to represent black women in a predominantly male industry. I get to shape a new perspective of what they may think black women to be. I see it as an opportunity truly.
I LOVE being a black woman. I feel so much pride in the woman I'm becoming and a lot of it stems from the black women that came before me. I love how black women are able to use experiences that are often meant to divide and tear us down, to instead unite and build each other up. We are resilient and vulnerable. I love our skin and how we come in so many different beautiful shades. I love our versatility. I love the generations of power, courage, strength, and ingenuity that flow through our veins.
To other black women, never underestimate the power God has given you. You have everything you need within. I think the world should know that too. Black women should be celebrated daily.
The one word that comes to mind is our strength. I think back about the women in my life who worked so hard to take care of others. They carried the loads of others to ensure the rest of us could chase our dreams. I remember moments my mother would work tirelessly so that my brother and I could enjoy life. We never felt like we lacked anything and she taught us that really anything is possible. We hear all the time about the stereotypes thrown on black women and despite that we keep pushing. I feel like every year black women are breaking the barriers that were set up against them. The strength of a black woman is a beautiful thing that can't be explained but it inspires me everyday to remember I was created to fail.
We all have a purpose that was created specifically for us. Not matter what the world tries to tell you, you are here for a reason. It's so easy to look around and become discouraged by what you see but don't forget that you were built for this. Nothing can stop for what God has called to happen. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD” (Proverbs 21:30)
Resilience. Unshakable resilience. I saw it in my mom, my sister, aunts, cousins and friends. Black women carry this power and strength that is indescribable. WE come in so many different shapes, shades, sizes with different backgrounds, cultures and history. It's so rich and I love it. I wouldn't trade being a black women for anything because of that. It really is magical. Extraordinary.
Black woman, you are exquisite, filled with love and beauty. I see your joy and your vulnerabilities and strive forward anyhow. Thank you for being unapologetically you. Remember, that God's precious will for you will be done. No one can change it. No one can alter it. Nothing that is for you will pass you by. I love you, sis.
jessica chinyelu anibowei
I’m not just a black woman. I’m a Nigerian, black woman. I love that about myself. There’s a richness and true royalty running through our veins as black women. We carry so much power and authority that other cultures have tried to strip away from us yet we still thrive and shine.
It’s important for us as black women to wake up to our magic. The magic I’m talking about is our power. For far too long, we’ve allowed our light to be dimmed and it shall be no more. We are the most influential women in the world. People are listening to us. They want to be like us. They want our hair, our lips, our butts, our skin color, our men, our ideas, our talents! We are the future. We are the now. We’ve always been “IT!” Now let’s use every bit of this power to really take over.
Oh man, to be a black woman to me just screams magic. There is so much magic in our community, lifestyle, influence, love, and just our day to day lives. To be a black woman means you hold the power to invoke change in and a unique way. Whether that means standing strong in which way your hair grows and not letting society alter that, speaking up in a room full of people where odds are always automatically stacked against you, being not only a force but a movement in which society always attempts to keep up with US, and then taking all of these things to create our own tables/platforms where they KNOW it’s accepted because why wait on someone to allow us to do those things? We are women. Black women. Queens. I mean, why else would God have our hair grow towards the sun, skies, and heaven so naturally? Okurrrrr (lol!)
I want everyone to know that we are light. A light that should only be surrounded by things that will not dim us. Anything that doesn’t serve/nurture your purpose does not deserve your presence. It’s an honor to be a woman with black skin because you are the very example of perseverance and breaking social norms. We are the foundation upon which many things in the world stand and we should be proud. Be proud of your sister sitting next to you, that stomps through the office everyday challenging those annoying microagressions at work, be proud of your sister who beat depression/anxiety because life dealt her an unfavorable hand at some point, be proud of your sister who embraces her beauty in a world that discriminates against it one minute and then praises it on urban outfitters the next, and be proud of your sister who shows up every day fighting the good fight of just being herself and igniting the fire in others along the way. Black women: I love you, I love you, I love you!
I love the fact that black women can overcome anything. We have been given little to do much and I pride myself in overcoming so many barriers to help other black women to move forward. My magic is being a problem solver that can voice the needs that we need.
Keep pushing, even when you are tired and the results are not clear, keep pushing. The consistency of your push will pay off.
Being a black woman is this feeling that I am a gem. Our roots have been built so strong from our ancestors and I hear those voices speak to me every day in what I do. I believe that being a black woman is a special experience that we need to cherish and value in today's society.
I want black women to know that it's okay to be smart + beautiful + kind. I want black women to know that they do not need to dim their light.
I want everyone to know that black women will continue to shine and make change. Black women are cut from a cloth that is unbreakable.
I represent strength and resilience just by being me! My ancestors overcame the impossible for me to have the opportunities that I have today. Therefore, I can overcome the impossible too! You are stronger than your circumstances!
The magic that we as black women possess truly is unmatched - from our shades of melanin that can light up the darkest room, to our full, bold features that were born to stand out. We are resilient no matter the ridicule or critique and continue to fight for what's right with the utmost class.
Your Message: My fellow Queens, don't ever deny the world your magic. When it feels as though no one may be watching or care, I guarantee you can rest assured that so many are. They yearn and crave what you have to share, so please don't ever hold back on us.
To the world, change does not happen without challenge. I challenge you to set aside your pride and get really uncomfortable to learn the depths of white privilege and the significant work needed to dismantle its system in order to bring real anti-racism change.
Being a black woman is like being in an exclusive club that everyone wants to join. The fact that I can walk into a room full of strangers, spot out another queen and know that on some level she gets me is a great feeling! I can't walk by another black woman and not say hey or smile, because it goes against the code.
There's nothing better than being a black woman because we are proud. We know that our ancestors fought to make us the free, intelligent and powerful women we are now, and we're going to make them proud.
I want every single black woman to know that they are enough, they are a queen, and they don't need to apologize for being exactly who they are!
Being a black woman to me is ethereal, it’s natural and amazingly powerful. Watching my mother and grandmothers growing up I aspired to be half the strong caring women that they were. To be a black woman is more powerful than even I can imagine.
I see myself and love being a black woman for so many reasons that it is hard just to name a few. I think the most loved and most hated feature of the black woman is her attitude. But I love how we can flip from sassy to sweet depending on how you handle us. We have so many phenomenal footsteps to follow in and while there's a lot of pain in the pasts of black women- there’s an equal amount of history to be proud of. While society uses "dark" colors to symbolize something terrible or the villains in most scenarios, our skin makes this stereotype null and void while showcasing that there is so much beauty in the different hues of black and brown. Our bodies and curves are indescribable and duplicated by so many that there is entirely nothing for us to find ourselves ashamed of. The lips that had me crying tears in elementary school are now my most complimented and sought out feature. Just because we don’t fit European standards doesn’t mean we’re flawed. But if I had to list only one thing I love about being a black woman I would narrow it down to our overall grace. We age with grace, we walk with grace, and we hold entire family lines together despite the circumstances, and we do it with GRACE.
Being a BLACK Woman is being at the forefront
of pushing progress forward, being courageous, and unapologetic! Loving ourselves unconditionally, every one of us has an undeniable strength, beauty, intellect, and power that is unmatched. I own all of this BLACK GIRL MAGIC...
Black women & girls, celebrate your beauty and resilience, be a catalyst for change in our communities & be fearless!
My experience as a Black Woman has been one of strength, resilience, confrontation, self-assurance, and love. This is the very essence of who we are. The complexity and fluidity that comes with being a Black Woman is my favorite part of living in this skin. My hair, my lips, my tone, my creativity — it all tells a story. Our story. Our rich, valuable, history is literally entangled in everything that we do. In everything you see when you look at us. It’s a very visible crown that I wear daily, and I wouldn’t change or exchange it for anything. #BlackWomenBuilt