by Khalilah Jones
Black women are taking up space unapologetically. Sis is embracing her body, leading the charge, giving gratitude to our sister circles and doing it in her prettiest, posh, powerful and poppin’ ensembles.
No longer feeling obligated to traditional ways of life with a husband and 2.5 kiddos, more and more Black women are forging ahead in spite of insurmountable threats to their very livelihood (because that’s always a thing). Living outside of stereotypes, our favorite angry Black woman trope, and seemingly limitless limitations, Black women are taking the bull by the horns and taming it with just the right sprinkle of Black girl magic, in all aspects of modern life.
I have had the honor and privilege of curating a charismatic and decidedly “Black in all its glory”, group of Charlottesvillians for my recent work for the Soul of Cville fashion show and subsequently worked on this riveting photoshoot. Fashion is but an attempt to realize art in living forms AND social intercourse. The Soul of Cville was so much more than a festival. The Rise of the Phoenix was so much more than a fashion show, hardly just a chic collection of clothes. The women who get it, get it!
It is all about advocacy, community service, business and camaraderie. Today, let’s explore Black women’s ongoing contributions and embrace the multifaceted roles they are playing here in Charlottesville.
I asked the following questions:
- Where have you found your people?
- Where have you felt seen, heard and valued?
- What’s tea?
- In 5 words or less, what message would you share to Black Women and girls struggling with taking up space?
Courtney, Owner of De La Roll
I have been in Charlottesville since 2006 and have been involved in things and organizations here and there. I have found my people where I was least expecting. I started becoming more physically active back in 2018 and in 2019 challenged myself to begin running with Prolyfyck Run Creww. After the first one I was addicted to the creww. These are my people. Prolyfyck Run Creww is what ”community” should look like. It consists of Charlottesville’s most caring, most giving, most vulnerable, most active, most kind, most funny, and most motivated people. They have become my family! Since running with Prolyfyck Run Creww I have run a plethora of races, but my most accomplished race was the Richmond 1/2 marathon in November of 2021. In this space I am free to be who I am and explore who I am and pushes me toward my goals. I am one of 4 organizers of the Sister Creww So Gifted Womxns Run Creww which is a black centered womxn led segment of Prolyfyck.
Tea: nobody does what you do, better than you do it!
Juanika, MS, LMHP-E
Being a Charlottesville native, I have had the fortune of making lifelong friendships throughout my life. I have a relationship that started in preschool, and to this day when we see each other there are zero barriers/challenges in communication. Other relationships have formed through mutual interest such as church, gyms, workout groups, run groups and work/networking. Finding like minded people within the same ethnic makeup has been and continues to be an obstacle as there aren’t many places in Charlottesville that cater to AA/BIPOC population.
I have felt the most seen and heard within my run crew (Prolyfyck Run Creww) and within my clinician networking group (Central Virginia Clinicians of Color). Within those spaces I can be my complete authentic self, free of any judgement and completely understood. It’s also within those spaces where I see people that look like me. Within these spaces I can share daily struggles and challenges, receive support and guidance if needed or just feel heard, seen and felt. There is a level of safety and peace that comes with finding your space.
NEVER dim your light, QUEEN
Khalilah, Chic & Classy Image Consulting, Image Consultant, Marketing & PR Coordinator
Listen, Charlottesville IS my people. I came here as an Air Force spouse originally from Phoenix, Arizona. As you can imagine, that title comes with a level of anxiety and constant navigation of the unknown. I had moved to 4 different states (west coast, to the Midwest to the east coast) in the span of 8 years. Admittedly, I’ve never met a stranger. But y’all, I have literally met the most community oriented and determined people right here in Charlottesville. I’ve connected with my fit fam thru Parks and Rec, the YMCA, a mud run with Prolyfyck Run Creww, the Women’s 4 Miler, skating with De La Roll, tapping into challenges with Sabrina or Xtreme Hip Hop Step with Avis, dance with Shaniece B and even took a class with Alore, my advocacy and community service sisters as a chartering member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women of the Charlottesville Metropolitan area (subsequently the Black Women of Central Virginia), Families Helping Families and my chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated, Eta Phi Omega, my mentorship mavens thru my early relationships with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Project Discovery and the work with 101 Jams and as a board member of the IX Art Park for the Soul of Cville the last 2 years. Vinegar Hill magazine has provided a platform for me to marry my passion for fashion with my heart for service every quarter. I literally could go on and on. I guess what I am saying is there’s always a space for you…if you show up as your genuine and authentic self, people will embrace and accept you. If they don’t? Those aren’t your people.
”Bloom where you are planted!”
Reyshawn, Supply Chain Planner
I’m originally from DC but I’ve been living here for 15 years. I’ve found my people throughout the Charlottesville area. From different gym locations, such as MMAI (now closed), jobs that I’ve held and by networking, these are the places that I’ve found individuals that I could connect with on different levels and with different backgrounds. Honestly I’ve come across some amazing people throughout Charlottesville and I’ve also come across some that weren’t. However, I met some of those amazing people through others, which allowed me to develop friendships. Also, I am a part of the Sister Circle… I’ve met great people from there. Being in the Rise of the Phoenix fashion show, Khalilah and the other ladies are amazing and made me feel welcome even when I felt like running away or afraid to put myself out there because of what I was going through and my recent failed relationship.
The Soul Cville Fashion Show is where I’ve felt seen, heard and valued. For me that was more than just a Fashion Show. It gave me the opportunity to come from behind the shadow of someone else’s platform and make a statement for myself; without saying words, I was heard!
To hear the Cville community cheer me on when I stepped onto that stage I felt seen, heard and valued. Walking on that runway was my way of reclaiming ME. I felt like a Phoenix rising from the shadow that no one knew I was in.
”Step-Up beautiful! You already standout!”
Sabrina, Beyond Fitness, Owner
My answer is two-fold, I have felt, seen and valued with my community of Beyond Fitness with Sabrina. A diverse community that was grassrooted from my own unhealthiness and desire for a healthier life. This community has allowed me to be one of the top leading BLACK women fitness instructors in the community. This community has trusted and came along with me on this lifestyle journey over the last 6 years. Until 1.5 years ago… it was a lonely journey at times being a black women who was heavily into fitness/weight training until my introduction to the Prolyfyck Run Creww who not only created space for Beyond Fitness but an actual space for brown and black men & women to heal and get fit. There is a space solely for brown and black women, that personally allows me to be black, bold and/or black and vulnerable – a space that allows for me to be me. There is a common interest, respect, inspiration that I find in this space that aid in my growth as a black woman leader in the community .
“You are enough PERIOD.”
I appreciate these ladies for taking the time to indulge me. In closing, what I am learning at this big age or 43, is we need to have the courage to recognize that our voice deserves to be heard by the multitude. It is also imperative that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to seek out the voices of other black women and learn what we can from one another. To you, Good Sis, yes, YOU…I hear you. I see you. I value you and I GET IT! Until next time, be well!