Monday, July 6, 2009

The Evolution of a Brown Girl and Her Dream

Back in the 70s, when I was a child, I always loved to read magazines, especially Seventeen, Teen and Right On! I got a thrill out of reading the articles about boys and makeup in the teen mags, while Right On! was all about the Black celebrities of the day, namely the Jackson 5, the Sylvers and the Soul Train dancers. I had posters of all of my favorite stars taped to my walls and I would look at them every night until I drifted off to sleep. As I dreamt, I envisioned developing a magazine that would be the best of both worlds: one that would talk about the issues of adolescent girls who had brown skin.

 Much to my dismay, one day my father banned all magazines from the house, since he thought that they were full of trash. He still wanted me to read, but his idea of quality work involved classic novels like A Tale of Two Cities and Wuthering Heights. To make matters worse, I was required to write a book report about each book that I read and present it to my parents. Since I wanted to write for a magazine, the writing part wasn't so bad; I was just more interested in being like Cynthia Horner, Right On! Magazine's young editor-in-chief.

As I continued to mature, I kept reading and writing, to the point that English became my favorite subject. However, at that time, I still did not know anything about black journalists. I had graduated to reading Essence, Ebony and Jet, but never considered going to school for journalism. Instead, I chose to pursue the path of working in corporate America, by getting a degree in business.

The degrees (undergraduate and graduate) in business were a great idea, but they didn't help me to climb the corporate ladder or shatter any glass ceilings. I tried my hand at several different jobs in big businesses, but none of them seemed to be a good fit for me. Over time, I have come to realize that there are two reasons for the apparent disconnect between me and the corporate structure: 1) I am a creative being and most "regular" jobs don't allow much room for creativity and, 2) I am an entrepreneur at heart.

 The creative business owner in me has come up with all kinds of ideas for all kinds of businesses, and I have even launched a couple of ventures that I have had minor success in. At one point in my journey, I quit my job to pursue the development of a Christian women's website on a full-time basis. (A word of advice: Never quit a job without some money in the bank and a solid plan for how to grow your business. Even a "God idea" requires working capital!) When reality set in and I had to go back to a regular "job," I began to give up on the idea of developing a magazine for brown girls (or anybody else for that matter).

However, my dream came back to me about 1 1/2 years ago. There were a series of events that led to my "aha" moment, primarily when I began to take notice of the state of young African-American women and the fact that many of them appear to be lost. To make matters worse, a lot of the older sisters don't appear to be doing much better. It was at this point that the idea for the Brown Girl Collective was born.

The purpose of the Brown Girl Collective is to provide the beautiful sisters in the Chocolate Rainbow with the opportunity to get together and share both the joys and pains in our lives. It is meant to be a place of healing: spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially and financially. It is a place where we can encourage each other and spur one another on to greatness. It is a place to learn more about our past, become involved in our present, and prepare for our future. It is the place where my dream has finally come true....

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