California Creatives: Gianna Dorsey Part 2

Apr 28, 2016 | Art

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Part 2 of our interview with Gianna Dorsey covers a personal photo series she created earlier this year called The Black HerStory Project. Inspired by the talk show The Real, Gianna launched this project as a response to a picture the show posted to their social media celebrating February as Black HerStory Month.

Each photo was taken during a different day in February and posted to Gianna’s Instagram account. In the following interview we discuss some of the challenges associated with creating the series and the response from friends, family, and internet strangers.

Although it’s no longer Black History Month, we celebrate Black people all year at Black Voice News. You can see the full project below and on her website.

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The stories that got the most interest and the most views are stories that really dug deep into how it feels to be a Black woman in America.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator el_width=”10″][vc_column_text]Black Voice News: How did you first learn about the Black HerStory movement?

Gianna Dorsey: I got inspired by the talk show The Real. They posted a photo of a Black woman and said this is Black HerStory month. Then I just decided to use this year’s Black History Month as Black HerStory Month too. That’s literally where it came from. I didn’t even know it was a movement. I’ve clicked on the hashtag obviously, and I’ve seen a lot of posts about it, but I haven’t actually seen anyone doing photo projects with it.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]BVN: What was your process for creating the images? What challenges did you face working with 29 different women?

Dorsey: The greatest thing about my project that is often overlooked is that everything was done with natural lighting because I wanted it to reflect the natural and organic feel of everything.

I didn’t go into it with any idea other than ‘I really want to do this.’ I didn’t have a thought out plan as to how I was going to do this everyday. I would say about six of the photos are photos that were taken a while ago. So, I would call these women and say ‘hey I’m doing a Black HerStory project. I would love to use one of the photos I took of you a while ago, but I want you to be part of this because I feel like you’re proud to be part of Black culture.’

A very important thing I did was make sure Black HerStory incorporated Black culture. So, you had to have been raised with at least one African-American parent. Black culture is very different than any other culture. We have inside jokes among our entire community that only we can understand ya’ know?

The rest of the photos, I would just call the few people I knew. There aren’t many Black women in Ventura (laughing). I would say ‘hey I only need 15 minutes of your time. I need you to pose for me. But first I need a quote.’ The quotes always came first because I wanted the photo to match the quote. So, whatever they gave me is how we set up the photo, as long as it involved something about being Black.

The stories that got the most interest and the most views are stories that really dug deep into how it feels to be a Black woman in America.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]BVN: So you have a relationship with all of the women you photographed?

Dorsey: Yes. Whether I’ve known them for a long or short period of time, I know all of them.

One of the most important posts was my own mother, who I posted on Valentine’s Day. She is one of the strongest & most beautiful black women I know.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]BVN: I was reading through all of their quotes. There are a wide range of topics addressed like motherhood, colorism, and being Black in the workplace. How did your family and friends react to the project?

Dorsey: It was amazing. The support I got from this was overwhelming. I got messages every day. I even got messages from people who wanted to be a part of the project.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]BVN: Has the positive feedback inspired new project ideas?

Dorsey: I’m looking into doing a few more projects by the end of the year as well. I’m going to do people of color projects. And something about adoption. I’ve got a lot of projects in mind. I want to do a bunch of stuff.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]

Black HerStory Project 2016

[/vc_column_text][vc_tta_pageable no_fill_content_area=”1″ active_section=”1″ tab_position=”top”][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461625563636-f7246e65-d620″][vc_single_image image=”41010″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 1″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]

“I want people to remember me as a dedicated ARTIST but more importantly as a gracious PERSON. I believe that in order to LEAVE a legacy you have to LIVE it everyday.”

–Angelica Herndon

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461633016988-e3318707-d959″][vc_single_image image=”41011″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 2″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”The wisdom of my ancestors flows from my lips like the island my forefathers bled on for my freedom

The golden riches of melanin that engulf my flesh go much deeper than ‘being black’
They radiate from the deepest part of my being not as my definition but as my pride.
Stand up and sing a song of freedom deep from within

Let your courage be heard in the graves of the brothers and sisters we’ve lost in battle
Let your love penetrate the ears of the rainbow that fight not just for black lives but all lives that matter

Thank them for their bravery in a world that embraces the hands of the weak willed and racist that will take podiums and openly spit lies on the faces of innocent bystanders using money to makes fables look like the truth

Tell your story and tell it proud. Live a life that the people that forged your very DNA would take pride in.

Speak your truth, it may be the only truth that allows freedom to ring.”

@katurahashby

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461633256832-9ebe8336-72ee”][vc_single_image image=”41012″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 3″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Being light skinned, I think people tend to point out my ‘lack of blackness’ as a good thing. As if I don’t want to identify with it and that bothers me. I can’t ever think of a time where I felt ashamed to be black. As a matter of fact, being black is one of my favorite things about being me.”

–Sabrina

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461633450002-391a2e9d-e8f5″][vc_single_image image=”41013″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 4″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”A lot of people ask me about my ethnicity. Every single person that asks me automatically claims that I’m Ethiopian. EVERY TIME! It’s so weird but I embraced it and am now on a search to expose some of my heritage, if possible, to really find out if there is any truth to these peoples’ observations.”

–Asia

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461634866911-b1d26e98-ce84″][vc_single_image image=”41014″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 5″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Growing up in predominately Caucasian schools, people seen me as just being black. On the flip, growing up around the African American community I was perceived as either mixed or Hispanic. However I am half black & half white. I embrace both sides of my ethnic background, but I was mainly raised close to my black heritage. I was taught what life would be like for me if I had been born a couple centuries back, with being a product of black and white love. It would have been pretty tough. I greatly respect my black ancestors. Love is not a color or a race. I guess my parents got that part. Good job Martin Luther King!” 🙂

–Adrienne

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461635036380-46b2022e-d3d9″][vc_single_image image=”41015″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 6″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”In my everyday life as a black medical student, I feel like I constantly have to prove myself more to show that I was NOT just accepted into medical school because I’m black. I make sure my skills and knowledge are top notch, and to leave a lasting impression of poise, patience and excellent clinical skills on any doctor I work with. I want other black girls to not feel like they are inferior and can’t handle the work load, because with a clear VISION in mind, anything is achievable. Diversity is needed in medicine, and I’m happy to be one of the people who are changing the face of American medicine”

–Destiny

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461635193995-60f402d8-14ad”][vc_single_image image=”41018″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 7″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”With my business, being a woman of color is a gift and a curse. The curse being I have to overcome two hurdles–being an African-American and being a woman. The gift being anytime I win in business, I’m an inspiration to African-American women. Regardless of any hurdles or challenges I may face, I am motivated that my success can pave the way for other women of color.”

–Rhiannon

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461635367576-9a0a2d0c-4e05″][vc_single_image image=”40988″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 8″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”The legacy our ancestors have created is so rich, so powerful! I carry that with honor and pride. To the queens who stood before me, I thank you for your strength, your bravery, and grace. I know my spirit is a reflection of your love and guidance and I hope I make you just as proud of me as I am of you!”

–Jacqueline

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461637788157-d0b84632-eba7″][vc_single_image image=”40989″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 9″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Being a woman of color is waking up to face a world that may misunderstand and fear you but having the grace of a queen and a strength of a warrior to endure it all.”

–Chelsea

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461637872278-c16348c2-4fbf”][vc_single_image image=”40990″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 10″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”My blackness is a reflection of my beauty, my womanhood and my strength. It is all-encompassing. I go into the world fully aware of my brilliance, fortitude and responsibility to both my ancestors and the future generations to come. I choose to navigate with confidence and grace. Excellence, all around.”

–Shar

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461637990612-349802f4-5395″][vc_single_image image=”40991″ img_size=”606×757″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 11″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”God is great, God is good; Let us thank Him for this melanin. By His hands I was created, for my skin tone I am elated.

Amen. ????????”

–Yanna

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461638119529-d33c6e9f-0662″][vc_single_image image=”40992″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 12″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”I am Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Welsh, Jamaican, African, Cherokee Indian, German and French. Because I am ‘mixed,’ first impressions are always the greatest! From scholarship interviews to greeting new friends, it’s interesting to watch people try and figure me out…What to expect of me…What box to place me in…Being raised by a single-parent Jewish Jamaican Beauty, but looking very much like my German Father was a sort of adventure growing up, never a burden. Being called the girl with ‘the hair’ or being asked ‘what race are you?’ has always been a delight for me…I have no specific stereotypes to overcome and can reach people with Christ’s love in a way very few can…People cannot assume much about me…They have to get to know me. I like that 🙂 My heritage is unique and I embrace it wholeheartedly. It’s taught me that every nationality is beautiful, if you take the time to look.”

–Victoria

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461638212572-feaefc85-4ad3″][vc_single_image image=”40993″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 13″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”‘Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT

This verse means so much ???? ????????”

–Dionne

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461638346711-83e1f9bf-0a92″][vc_single_image image=”40994″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 14″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Society tends to count you out when you’re a double minority. It took me a while to realize that being black and a woman was two of the greatest strengths God blessed me with. I possess the will of my ancestors to live, learn, and love through very trying times. The most important thing I’ve learned that is that no one’s opinion of you matters as much as your own. You can accomplish whatever you set your mind to accomplish and once you’ve accomplished it, set a bigger goal. You are worth being happy, loved and successful. And it all starts inside you. Be unapologetically beautiful.”

–Makeba (my mommy)

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461638464344-ce4cb936-93bb”][vc_single_image image=”40995″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 15″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”My identity is not in the color of my skin or the way I talk or the way I dress but in my character and the way I walk. I am a bold, proud Black Woman loved by God and taught a strong mother and grandmother to be confident, but not rude and to hold my head up even when it wasn’t the norm in the 60s, especially in the south.

For the first thirteen years of my life, I lived in an all Black neighborhood, went to an all Black church and went to an all Black school. I had and still do not have a problem about my blackness. My entire surrounding was black except for the white farm I worked on. Then came integration and everything change. It was first voluntary and then mandatory. I was use to the separate water fountains, bathrooms, waiting rooms at the doctor office even being served last when you got there first. However, I was not prepared for the hostility I was about to face. My freshman year, four of my girlfriend and I rode the big yellow school bus across town to the predominated white school. There was a few black upper classmen, but we were the only ones in the freshman class. Some class I was all alone and the harassment somedays was unbearable. The looks, the name calling, the pure hate, and the fear made you want to go home and never come back but I did. Day after day!

It was during this year I learnt a lot about myself. It was where I learnt to trust in God and not to let fear rule my life. If you don’t believe in a supernatural power or believe in the impossible you probably hasn’t had a hardship in your life. My strength comes from God and the Black women in my family. My favorite scripture is Psalm 27:1, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ My mom was a single mom without an elementary school education but she always believe in the value of an education. I wanted to set an example for my sisters and brothers. I was the second to graduate for high school (my aunt was the first) and the first to go to college and grad school.”

–Florence

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461638785747-5960e604-bd4b”][vc_single_image image=”40996″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 16″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”In 1965, I was born in Fresno, CA to an unwed white mother who was told her family would never accept a negro baby. Four days later I was driven to Bakersfield to be adopted by a black family – Kelsey and Ceola Hendrix, and my siblings, Joyce, Bobby, Jackie, Doris, Jeannie, Jimi, Ramon and Ruben, loved me – even when I was unloveable.

I believe one of the reasons I live my life with a guarded heart toward people is even though I was conceived out of love, the early heart break of ‘you’re not wanted’ for no other reason than you’re half-black, is a burden I carry.

Fifty years later and sometimes I have to remind myself that I am enough.

A few years ago, I reunited with my birth mothers family. I was told she had died years ago, and they knew nothing about me. They said they always felt she had a broken heart, but never knew why. They showed love toward me I never expected. My birth siblings, Eric and Jaime, grew up in a loving white family home.

I still haven’t located by birth father.

But, my Heavenly Father has proven that he is enough.

‘For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.

Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret…’ Psalms 139:13-15”

–Terri

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461639066262-a4fac03e-0281″][vc_single_image image=”40997″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 17″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Being a black girl in a predominantly white community, growing up I saw my skin color as an obstacle I had to overcome. Instead of celebrating the fact that I was different, I felt that I needed to try and find ways to ‘blend in’ and obscure my differences so that people would look beyond my skin color and see ‘the real me’. Now that I’m older, I’ve come to realize that my skin color isn’t a burden. It’s not a cross I have to bear. I didn’t draw the metaphorical ‘short straw’ in life by being born black. On the contrary, my skin color is exactly what God intended when He created me. It’s a part of what makes me perfectly, wonderfully made. It is a part of the ‘real me’ and I love it.”

–Sunday

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461639156884-c77d850b-a22e”][vc_single_image image=”40998″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 18″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Growing up bi-racial has had its challenges. I think everyone knows what it’s like to have people expect you to be a certain way. In high school I was called a sand nigger. A friend once told me that because I was light skin, I haven’t been through anything. In college, I had a professor ask everyone in the room to look at me and figure out what I was. ‘Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban??’ As uncomfortable as it was, I liked that no one could figure it out. I don’t think anyone likes being put in a box.

We live in a society that tells us what we are or aren’t while selling us some solution to the ‘problem’. Unfortunately too many buy into the hype. We question who we are, what we’re capable of and whether we have something great to offer. I grew up being taught that we were all made in God’s image and that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. I could say the words but I don’t think I ever really believed it.

Recently I’ve found the truth in God’s word. He has the ultimate say so. My identity isn’t found in anyone else’s opinion including my own. You see on my best day I still don’t think of myself the way that God thinks of me. Believing what God says about me affects the way I see myself, others and life in general. I can’t help but to try and do better for myself because living…real living is so far beyond what we’re actually doing. But I still mess up. Believe me when I say I am flawed and imperfect…so if anyone sees a glimmer in me, it’s Christ. It has nothing to do with me. I find peace in God’s perspective.”

–Lisa

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461639301569-17429760-59f9″][vc_single_image image=”40999″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 19″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”I was adopted, and didn’t grow up with many friends of the same race. Finding my identity was a huge struggle for me growing up, and a part of me always felt like I never knew where I came from. But over the years I’ve learned that regardless of how I look, I know where I come from, and I know who I am. Those are things that come from within and don’t reflect the way people believe you should act based on the color of your skin. The hardest part of being an adolescent was discovering that I exist outside of stereotypes, and anyone that ever tried to put me into a box only helped me get out of one.”

–Bethany

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640032701-58c98e58-8a2c”][vc_single_image image=”41000″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 20″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”My Dear Sisters,

Just be.

Growing up I often felt like I had to suppress parts of my personality in order to fit in. For someone who existed in my space, I was too much of a free spirit. I was too much of a dreamer, and I laughed too much. I don’t think I would’ve been taken seriously at all if I hadn’t been so book-smart.

As time moved forward, I learned, sometimes painfully, that this ideal (Black) woman that was being shoved upon me by men and women alike was not my ideal (Black) woman.

When we deny ourselves of laughter, silliness, intelligence, wit, unprecedented courage, the ability to feel hurt and pain, temporary moments of helplessness, the possibility of making mistakes, and (most importantly) the ability to FORGIVE OURSELVES for the mistakes we have made, are making, and will make, we lose the ability to see and accept those traits in others. In refusing our own complexity in its entirety, we deny others of their right to be complex. And such is the root of all evils.

My sisters, I implore you to be as you were designed (by God) to be.

With love,

Jamelah”[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640085788-dd0c4666-3392″][vc_single_image image=”41001″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 21″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”I think the first time I ever became aware of my race was in the 7th grade. I was talking with a classmate that told me he was Filipino, and when he asked me what I was, in terms of my ethnicity, he couldn’t even fathom that I was half black. Soon, I became a laughing stock of my class, and by the end of the week, everyone was calling me the ‘wannabe black girl.’ Fast forward almost 8 years later, I realize now more than ever I cannot blame my classmates, but blame the history of this country and what society has taught us–ingrained in impressionable minds. Since that moment, I was no longer just a kid, I think that was the moment I truly became black. I was never the same. I live in envy of my sisters because I don’t look like them–brown, supple skin, full hips, and hair that can defy heights. As I navigate my life, I’m learning to love myself, and not try so hard to prove to people what I am, rather accept that I’m black, but I’m more than my skin. Instead I’m using my appearance as a weapon, I look white, but I understand the experiences of black people, and I know that people will be more receptive to me, rather than someone darker than me. I know I’m white passing, I benefit from privilege, I will be the first to tell you that. I will never know the struggle that my father, my cousins, or what any darker black person has and will face as an American. All I know is that I won’t let people tell me what I am. I’m black, I’m bold, I’m beautiful, and I’m here to stay.”

–Elon

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640200004-7dcdaaf3-7c49″][vc_single_image image=”41002″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 22″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Growing up biracial definitely had its difficult moments, like being teased for having ‘good hair’ because my hair wasn’t as curly as my friends, or feeling like I never really fit in because I was different then the rest of the kids. Growing up I dealt with it by using humor to make friends. Then I realized that being different wasn’t something to make fun of but to celebrate. I know that one day I will have to teach my girls how to deal with being a different color than most of their friends. It can be difficult for kids once they begin to notice how they are different from those around them but I hope that we will be able to teach them to love the way God made them and to have a genuine appreciation for diversity. Now I love being biracial! And I’m glad I have passed that on to my children! Diversity is truly one of God’s greatest blessings!”

–Tiffany

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640271035-8679281d-21e8″][vc_single_image image=”41003″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 23″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”I was born & raised in Alabama (Roll Tide!!!), & lived in Florida for 8yrs. My whole family is from Alabama, so my parents & grandparents experienced A LOT of segregation & racism while they were growing up. Yet & still, my parents raised my siblings & I not to see skin color as a box & that there were no barriers to how high we could climb if we wanted it bad enough. I attended predominantly Caucasian schools, but not once did I ever experience racism because of the color of my skin. I experienced exactly the opposite. I didn’t realize it at the time because I was so young, but I was basically treated like an ‘Uncle Tom’ because I was intelligent & loved to learn, so my teachers poured into my life. I was almost expelled from school once & suspended multiple times for fighting, but the administrations gave me special privileges so I never fell behind with my school work. One of my favorite memories is from my 6th grade ‘graduation’ ceremony. I was the ‘valedictorian’ of my class & I remember at the end of the ceremony that all of my teachers from k-6th grade surrounded my family to let them know how proud of me they were, how much they loved me & would miss me. They then started bantering about who poured into my life the most. It was the sweetest thing. And now looking back on that memory as an adult, that was such an AMAZING moment for a little brown-skinned girl & her family in Alabama. I say all of that to say, we have the opportunity every day to create the atmosphere around us. How I’ve gone 31yrs of my life, growing up in the South, without experiencing racism, is completely beyond me. I do know that God has always had His hand on my life & my relationship with Him is the MAIN reason why I am who I am. I identify as African American with a little Native American (really…my great-grandmother was Creek), but my identity has always been found in Christ.”

–Nicolette

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640496254-a21b1545-78ec”][vc_single_image image=”41004″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 24″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Sophomore year, I remember every time I would go into my 6th period class and I would catch the eyes of two boys who seemed to hate me at the time. They would begin to laugh and whisper about my disgusting yellow skin and I’d dart to the bathroom to hide for the rest of the class. I would call my mom saying that I didn’t feel good begging for her to come home. Words manifested into a real illness and as I became sicker and sicker I sank into this deep hole of sadness. My mom, who knows me better then anyone, was trying to tell me that I might be depressed but mental illness is something I’ve never taken lightly so I didn’t believe that I was. I was in such denial. The weekend was slipping through my fingers and as Monday approached my anxiety kept getting worse and worse. I remember walking into my moms room and sitting on the floor. Soon enough it all came out at once. I understood that I really was depressed and needed help. I remember telling my mom that when I walk through the doors of Liberty High School I felt like nothing. No one sees me. I was invisible. I remember my moms face like it just happened. She felt so much pain but was so strong for me. She reassured me that I was more then the words people labeled me as and sometimes I let words get to me but as I get older older I know that I have to chose to be happy and love who I am because no one is gonna love you better then you can. Putting out love forever and always.”

–Tay

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640565106-f8d6a688-addf”][vc_single_image image=”41005″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 25″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”I’m the product of a biracial relationship, my mummy (white) and my father (black). While I have never experienced racism growing up in Trinidad and Tobago. When I was 12 my grandpa (my grandfather on my mother’s side) told me a few stories about my great grandparents and the hard times they had just for being in love, but the story of how they became married always stuck with me.

My great grandmother was a black woman from the island of Grenada, her husband although born in Grenada was white. The night before they were to be married, my great grandfather’s parents arranged for him to be arrested on his way back from his bachelor party – as a result he could not get to the church the next day. This did not deter them, they knew it was the working of his parents, so they lived together and produced three children (my grandfather being one of them) at which time my great grandfather’s parents gave in and they were able to get married.

Although Trinidad and Tobago is a multi-racial/multi-religious society, within recent times racism has begun to rear its ugly face – sadly, it is politically motivated. Thankfully we do not have the blatant acts of racism that occur in the US – the average Trinbagonian enjoys the freedom of being able to celebrate every aspect of our multiracial/multi-reglious culture in peace. #lovehasnocolor #lovehumanity”

–Monique

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640658171-51f79bd9-3fdb”][vc_single_image image=”41006″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 26″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”For me, growing up black and darker skinned was a challenge. Now, I never really experienced any racism from other races growing up, but I did experience discrimination from my own community. I remember being as young as six years old and being teased by other black kids for being darker skinned. I was ridiculed and called names and that really created an insecurity for me growing up. But on the flipside of that, I would also hear growing up, people say ‘oh wow she’s cute for a dark skinned girl.’ This is a statement that I don’t agree with but this is how some of our (black) people are conditioned to think. I learned early on that darker skin wasn’t deemed as beautiful as lighter skin. I didn’t feel like I fit within my own people. I was either too dark or seen as more attractive than the typical dark skinned person. This was something that I struggled with for many years and honestly is something that I slightly struggle with even now as an adult. But I’ve learned (and I am learning) to embrace my dark skin and to know that every shade of black is beautiful and that my skin doesn’t define me, my character, or my beauty. I am more than just my skin.”

–Lauren

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640786778-732f13d9-6b95″][vc_single_image image=”41007″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 27″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”I’m half black and half white, and my hair is super curly. Growing up, I had mostly white friends and I knew my hair was different. Throughout most of my childhood, I didn’t get real haircuts. My mom just trimmed my hair because she didn’t trust anyone to cut it and not jack it up. One of the things I appreciate about my mom is that she never made me feel bad about my hair. My mom is white and she did her best to learn how to do my hair and find good hair products until I could do it myself. My first real haircut was done by none other than Pedro. He started cutting my hair when I was about twelve years old and insecure about my hair not being long and straight like the people around me. I remember him always being excited to cut my hair and to show me new ways of styling it. I love my hair now, and I wouldn’t ever trade it. This is just one part of my journey in becoming fully confident in who God made me to be. Love and celebrate what’s unique about you instead of covering it up or changing it!”

–Lauren

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640873748-3bf7064b-71d6″][vc_single_image image=”41008″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 28″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”Someone once told me that…People throw rocks at things that shine✨. I’ve never looked the same as those around me, I’ve never known the simplicity of just being one race, I’ve never had a day where people haven’t looked at me up and down and judged me without knowing who I am, but I’m never going to let people in our time now, ever tell me that I’m not good enough as I am. This is me, it’s all I’ve got, I am the new race.”

–Jazz

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1461640944043-f296b63d-7c8f”][vc_single_image image=”41009″ img_size=”500×750″ alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” title=”Day 28″][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]

Photo: @philipplitvin

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]”First of all, let me just say that I didn’t know 20+ black women existed in Ventura, CA ???? But seriously, this month has made me so proud to be who I am. With every frame I took of each woman, I found my confidence grow. I found that IT IS OKAY. It is okay to love yourself with no boundaries, to hope with no limits & to BE KIND – no matter what. None of us knows everyone’s full story. Every woman brought something different that added value to not only my life, but to the numerous viewers who messaged, called, emailed, & reposted their appreciation for this project. I pray in someway that by sharing your stories, there was a little more healing from your pasts & a little more love for yourselves. I love me more BECAUSE of your stories, your smiles, and your ‘everything will be okay’ attitudes.

Growing up, confidence was not something that I had as a fat, black girl in America. I ALWAYS hated myself and boy, did the world also. I found self-love not only thru the lens of a camera, but by the love of Christ and women like YOU – you who aren’t ashamed and have learned to deal, cry, stand up, smile, & fight back your stereotypes with humility & G R A C E.

Ugh, okay I’m crying now. Thank you all & God love. Website for #BlackHERStory coming soon ????”

–Gianna

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_pageable][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Previous Article: California Creatives: Gianna Dorsey Part 1[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]Black HerStory photos © Gianna Dorsey
Feature photo: @philipplitvin[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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