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Black Women & The World

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#InspiredByHer: Annie Jean-Baptiste  is the Head Of Product Inclusion, Research and Activation at Google. She is passionate about making the web and Google’s products work for underrepresented communities while ensuring that Google is a place where everyone shines for their differences.

 

Annie Jean-Baptiste

Can you please tell us a bit about Yourself, Background, Role and what inspired You to be in tech landscape?

I am a 31 year old first generation Haitian-American. My brother inspired me to apply to Google after he interned there. It’s been my only full time job- I’ve been there for over 9
years!

Product inclusion is about bringing an inclusive lens to the product design process. We are building products for users all over the world, and so we want to ensure we have diverse
perspectives at the table throughout the process, especially at critical points.

You have a huge mandate and responsibilities at Google. Can you walk me through what a typical day looks like for you?

I meet with product teams and help consult on new and existing products and features. I help them understand what underrepresented users they need to bring into the fold at
critical moments in the product design process. I also work with senior leaders to make sure we have buy-in and accountability for product inclusion.

Another big part of my work is research- we are looking at what practices lead to positive and inclusive outcomes in product design, and will be launching a white paper on our findings this
year

Technology is a male-dominated field and Breaking into the tech industry can seem challenging for women of color, who usually don’t see people who look like them in the industry. What steps should be taken to attract more women to tech and rectify the imbalance?

We need perspectives of women of color and many other underrepresented groups to truly build global products. By understanding that diverse teams lead to increased innovation and better products for everyone, we will see more underrepresented people in tech. There are so many rich perspectives that come from women of color and so we are committed to inclusion in culture and product

What is your go-to work look?

I love supporting underrepresented designers. Google doesn’t necessarily have a dress code, so my look varies. I love leather and vegan leather, metallic colors, and fun heels,
but could also be wearing combat boots. Some of my favorite designers: Aminah Abdul Jilil, Andrea Iyamah, Cushnie. I make an effort to support underrepresented designers whenever I can!

What professional accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction?

Hearing from users that they feel seen. When a user talks about using a product and knowing they were thought of in the process, it validates the work and pushes me to work
harder!

What does it mean for you to have a commitment to diversity/Inclusion? How have you demonstrated that commitment?

It means treating it like any part of your strategy. Having metrics that matter, accountability frameworks, sponsorship and a clear theory of change or hypothesis around what needs to change or how you can change to see structural shifts that bring equitable outcomes.

What would be your message to women trying to get into technology? What do you wish you had known?

Find your voice and use it, but use it in a way that’s authentic to you. I’m an introvert, so for me, that can mean writing something down, or letting my team know id like an agenda
beforehand so I can collect my thoughts before a meeting. I’d also say to push yourself. My former manager, Karen always told me to lead with yes, and I think even if that was scary,
it’s helped me grow and be able to find my passion.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

#InspiredByHer: Ezinne Kwubiri, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at H&M North America

There is an amazing group of women inside and outside of Google that have my back, that advise me and lift me up. It means celebrating each other, being honest with each other,
providing opportunities to one another, and truly feeling like when your squad wins, you win. I win. I’m super blessed to have support like that and try to be intentional about reciprocating
and paying it forward!

Your team’s guide ‘building for everyone’ will be released in summer 2020. Tell us more about it?

It’s about best practices and our research. It also gives a behind the scenes look at the Googlers who have powered the work. There are also concrete examples across
industries, from medicine, to fashion, sports and more. If you have a product or a service, or you serve customers, thinking about inclusivity in your process is important so that you solve core user needs.

 

 

 

African Women hold an incredible legacy on their back, a vibrant history of queen, pharaohs, leaders and thinkers that, still today manifest their feminine energy into our current society through those who are bold enough to lift their voices in a patriarchal society, always diminishing their power and make them seek refuge in fear and forced empathy, accepting every form of violence from this system.

Today, we are not only highlighting those great figures that we all know and we all respect but it’s a short path that we’ll draw on the sand with a small piece of wood that will lead to understand many aspect and roles African women played or faced to be who they are today.

 

Hatshepsut – fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt

Hatshepsut: The pharaoh is a woman

Actually she wasn’t the first woman to reign on men, but she was the most iconic to do so. Hatshepsut came on the throne with knowledge on economy, international diplomacy and for 20 years she managed to enhance Egypt and build wealth over her kingdom. She was a visionary and participated in major technical advanced and discovery, by financing and leading the first expedition to the Land of Punt (Region of Somalia) who was believed to be an ancient kingdom, where the first Egyptians are coming from. As a matter of fact she paved the way for strong, magnificent buildings that many pharaohs claim as theirs, transplanted foreign trees into her royal yard that a generation benefited from.

 

 

African Women’s Legacy: From Hatshepsut to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Original Beauty

When we talk about beauty, African women have a strong resume. From Nefertiti that overshadowed every women in history for her beauty that was registered so many times through time to Makeda: Queen of Sheba that brang another sense to it with her internal beauty (wisdom, compassion, respect, boldness, fearlessness and self-esteem) a strong value in Africa.

The black of their skin was described as gold, their hair were crown, worn to express their creativity and versatility, and they knew many secrets of beauty that they passed down from mother to daughter. African woman are naturally beautiful and smart, praised for their strong curves holding themselves and others on their back. Beauty wasn’t something to seek for when they already knew they were, accepting every aspect of their bodies, African women were their own standard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, some accessories like fragrance, wigs, cowries, and make up were already used in the past in a sense of beauty enhancer. External beauty may seem false and give a wrong impression of someone’s true nature for instance many distinctive signs of beauty were established in different tribes like necklaces and jewelries by Zulu people, stripes on faces by the Maasai in Kenya, and face scarification by Yoruba people in Nigeria.

 

African Women’s Legacy: From Hatshepsut to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

Abla Pokou TO

FREEDOM, Glorified. 

Women held an important power in many chieftaincies and tribes in Africa. Matriarchy was a system that gave African women power positions in politics, social privilege and control. One of the most common tribe that is known for this societal organization is the Akan people. Their society is matrilineal, meaning that all inheritance matters are based on the mother. Female were leaders, they weren’t only this stereotypical etiquette on their reproductive capacity, they allowed greatness on their entire lineage.

Ablah Pokou was an Akan queen that sacrificed her baby to save her kingdom and allowed them to reach another land for safety. Her people were named Baoulé, word coming from (Baouli: The child has died) a homage to her lost child. On top of that she is venerated and represents courage, woman leadership, determination, spreading the message of this legend that survived every ages to inspire more women.

#InspiredByHer: Ezinne Kwubiri, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at H&M North America

Art was very important in African societies, it described our culture, stories, deities through paintings, sculptures and more. African women were making potteries, baskets, sewing, designing textiles etc.…

Although they were participating in creating art pieces, most of the time the artworks, masks and sculpted figures represented their bodies, their nudity and were even used for rituals, fertility purpose. Women were both creators and subject, and female beauty was portrayed and glorified by both men and women.

 

 

Between lust and a cursed heritage

This huge legacy was coveted and African women will never be the same. The colonial era brought violence, gender discrimination, women were losing their power in African societies becoming only objects. African women are now highly disrespected, the one that were painted as goddess are now playing not a second but third role. Marriage was important but now that’s the only title that they can pretend to in this new one hundred percent patriarchal society.The black of their skin was described as dirty, ugly and their hair were cut, burned, hidden to make them believe something they were not. Broken families, burned traditions, lost empathy, bashed blood, bleached skin, hair cut, tragedy.

Saartje Baartman was one of the many victims, this curvy african woman was sexualized, abused, raped, and lived a depressed life before dying sadly at a young age. This marked not the start but years of humiliation over african women that started losing their yesteryear strong aspect. However, they were still perceived as strong but in a negative way. For this reason, they are not allowed to cry, to be vulnerable, they have to compromise no matter what happen to their dignity and self-worth.

After centuries of oppression, trying to step back, the world was always an enemy to their fulfillment like a curse, casted by history that generations will face until they find a counter spell.

 

African Women’s Legacy: From Hatshepsut to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

We should all be Feminist!

Nowadays, we see another era of women claiming for equity and equality. They are tired of male supremacy and male privilege, the “a woman is supposed to stay at home” narrative is for the past, education for young African girls, redefine our culture and the aspect that doesn’t allow them to evolve, tell women to not accept everything formed against them in this world. LETS ALL BE FEMINIST.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, a Nigerian writer is now a feminist icon in Africa and beyond. She wants equality, she wants dignity and respect for every women in this world. After sending powerful messages in her TED talk, she exhorts women and men to join this fight for generations to uncast the curse. She is a great example of leadership, greatness, elegance and intelligence, that’s an African Women.

 

 

Now we have Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the first woman elected president in Africa in 2005, who maintained Liberia and imposed herself in this so called man dominated field, that’s an African Woman, which created controversy because of her gender.

She was certainly guided by Hatshepsut’s spirit her great ancestor aura who proved years ago, she was more than her gender, don’t limit myself when I can run this world too. Black women will always find a way to reach their final form, our first mothers coming from the so called motherland, breaking codes as they will set their reign to another era allowing a future generation of African women to first breathe in this world without holding one nostril.

 

 

 

 

Written by Yao Boni.

It would be hard to find a little girl who’s never wanted to be a Disney princess. Or any princess for that matter. Unfortunately, our media is not very inclusive and the majority of iconic princesses in children’s movies and books fit a very stiff mold that not all children can relate to. But as our society is becoming more progressive, so is the media and art. Hairstylist LaChanda Gatson decided to redefine the image of a traditional princess in a stunning photoshoot that showcases elegant, colorful and brave African American princesses

Regis and Kahran, the duo behind CreativeSoul Photography, produced a series of 14 photographs showcasing princesses with “[their] own dash of style, culture and swag”. Bored Panda reached out to the photographer duo and they provided a brief explanation behind the project. “The princess series was created by hairstylist LaChanda Gatson and child photographers CreativeSoul Photography,” they explained how this project was a collaboration between creative minds.

The goal is to inspire more girls around the world to start seeing themselves as regal princesses,” the photographers explained. We could definitely spot some similarities with the iconic Disney princesses so we decided to guess which ones they might represent!

See the stunning princesses for yourself

      #1 Princess Rapunzel

disney princesses reimagined as black princesses     

 #2 – PRINCESS JASMINE

   #3- PRINCESS TIANA

#4- PRINCESS CINDERELLA

#5- PRINCESS NALA

#6- PRINCESS MOANA

#7- PRINCESS POCAHONTAS

#8- PRINCESS ANNA

#9- PRINCESS ELSAWhat 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#Africancreativeseries: Meet Mobile Photographer, Derrick O Boateng From Ghana

#9-  PRINCESS SNOW WHITE

What 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#N011- PRINCESS AURORA
What 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#NO12- PRINCESS SHURIWhat 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#NO12- PRINCESS BELLEMore info: creativesoulphoto.com | Facebook | Instagram | Facebook | Instagram

What 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#NO14 – PRINCESS ARIEL
What 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

The photographers also revealed that people’s response has been great so far! “The social media response has been amazing with currently over 75,000 reshares on our Facebook post and several other pages,” they told Brored panda

 

Source:Bored Panda

 

 

Ezinne KWUBIRI is a black woman, diversity leader, innovator, and ally. She is an Alumni of Howard University’s School of Business where she majored in Accounting and Business strategy. She started her career in Diversity and Inclusion at Viacom Media; Kwubiri earned a newly created position as the Head of Diversity and Inclusion for H&M North America.

ezinne

1. Please tell us about your Nigerian roots.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, my roots are from Umuahia in Abia State (Nigeria) part of the Igbo tribe. My new Nigerian legacy will be from Imo State, where my husband is from.

 

2. Tell us about your profession and how you got into your line of work?

My career has transitioned over the years. I began my career as a consultant (auditing roles) at a (then) Big 4 accounting firm. I soon transitioned to the entertainment/ media industry in another auditing role. During my time there, I started my career in people management – specifically Change Management & Diversity & Inclusion. Now I lead D&I at one of the largest fashion retail companies in the world.

 

3. What is the most challenging part of your job ?

Every role has its challenges & successes. The size & global footprint of my current role creates various nuances on how you communicate, create, & resonate with various persons.

 

4. Tell us about your vision for H&M’s diversity and inclusion initiatives?

My vision as the Head of Inclusion & Diversity is to provide an intentional space that promotes, embraces and highlights the diversity of people & thought, where people feel they have equal opportunity to be seen and heard, where customers feel they can see themselves represented in our campaigns; attracting and retaining top diverse professionals.

 

5. What is the most common mistake in an organization’s thinking about diversity?

Companies should recognize that fostering a workplace of diversity requires intentional actions. It is not an overnight process. You have to be honest with where you are, what the people want, & how you will get there. It’s a true commitment that requires full buy-in from key decision-makers.

 

6. Your appointment means a lot to people of color, especially women of color. Any top tips for women trying to get into your line of work who wants to use her voice to change the narrative ?

Regardless of your title, line of work, or level of experience, you can use your voice to change the narrative. The way you show up in those spaces is how you begin that change. Always speak up, initiate, challenge, & provide solutions to areas that you see have gaps. It doesn’t always have to be a formal process.

#BlackArtistToWatch: Meet Nneka Jones From Trinidad and Tobago

7. As more women of color enter and thrive in the workforce, how will that impact the future of diversity and inclusion ?

Women of color, really all women, have been forces in the workforce for decades. Now their voices are louder & stronger. We are starting to be seen for what we’ve always been: leaders, resilient, empathic & visionaries. The future is keeping that integrity & strength and demanding equal pay & rights from our male counterparts.

ezinne

 

8. H&M recently announced its first-ever collaboration with a South African Designer. Should we expect more collaboration with African brands in the nearest future?

We hope to continue to provide collaborations that will resonate with our customers & align with the brand’s aesthetics. I am excited about the future potential collaborations.

9. Do you have a philosophy that you apply to your personal life and your career?
What are your career commandments?

Staying true to who I am and living in purpose & integrity. Own your true & use your voice.

 

10. What do you see as the greatest Leadership Strength?

The ability to motivate others & make everyone feel heard & important. If your team is not rallying behind you, it’ll be challenging for you to lead them.

 

11. For those who work in the diversity and inclusion space, are there any tips you would recommend?

Be kind to yourself. Change is not going to happen overnight – it might take months or even years for you to see any progress. Be true to yourself & the work. Be sure there is a budget & resources to support your efforts. You cannot, and should not do this alone.

 

12. To what extent do you believe there are significant differences in how one should work with diverse cultures within the US/US minorities and diverse cultures from other nations? Are different strategies appropriate, and if so, what are they?

Even within the same continent, your strategy for diversity & inclusion should not the same. Everyone works, hears, & listens differently. We have to understand the complexities of the audience, the current culture, what you are trying to achieve. There is no “one size fits all”.
Also, understanding as much as we are different, there are still similarities, things that unite us as humans. Find that connector & go from there.

 

13. How does it feel being an African representing in the West at a time like this where the world is becoming more and more aware of the African continent and its POWER?

Africa to the WORLD! I am proud to be Nigerian. There is so much beauty & talent on the continent and it’s exciting to see the world recognizing that. There are many Africans that are the “first black” in their fields, that are trailblazers & representing well. I remember growing up, being from somewhere else was not the “cool” thing. Now our styles, foods, names, music, etc. are influencing the nations.

We’ve been here & been great… I’ll tell the rest of the world…WELCOME !

It is really important that as an African inspired digital media company, we use our platforms to continuously tell the story of black folks in the motherland and in the diaspora.

Nneka Jones is from Trinidad and Tobago but now resides in Tampa, FL where she is a current student at the University of Tampa. Jones is now in her last year of college graduating in 2020 and ready to make a name for herself and her work.

We had a chat with Nduulwa, The host of Dear Diaspora- Dear Diaspora is a podcast celebrating the African diaspora- its change-makers, innovators and entrepreneurs working to make our world a better place to live in.

Its really important that as an African inspired digital media company, we use our platforms to continuously tell the story of black folks in the motherland and in the diaspora.

Stevee-Rayne Warren is Producer Manager, Community crew up program, NOVAC recruiter and Consultant. She pairs up capable PA’s with real Hollywood opportunities.

 

Tell us about you and your background.
– I was born and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended Southern University and A&M College where I majored in English and Liberal Arts. My mom was a cosmetologist and I would spend afternoons and weekends in her salon watching tv and movies to occupy myself and to not be in grown folks business. I recall always waiting for the credits and watching behind the scenes. I also would tag along to hair shows in the southeast region and that in itself was an entire production. I knew I wanted to have something to do with film and television I just did not know what my options were or even what the first steps were. It wasn’t until high school and after taking a video production elective that I started to see working in film as a reality. Our teacher Mr.Kyle really pushed us and exposed us to various aspects of productions. We made two feature length films that premiered at one of the AMC’s and actually gained some local and youtube buzz. I loved the collaborative process and being apart of something that brought joy to so many people.

Tell us about your profession and how you got into your line of work.
– While in college I worked at a restaurant and for the Bureau of Community Preparedness part-time, which I genuinely enjoyed but did not feel completely fulfilled. So, I applied for a security position at the local film studio in Baton Rouge. I didn’t get the position but the receptionist told me to look into an organization called NOVAC if I wanted to get some production experience. I did some research and saw that NOVAC had a tone of resources for individuals interested in film and tv. I signed up for the free cinematography workshop. Shortly after the workshop I reached out to the NOVAC Baton Rouge program manager Jillian Godshall to inquire about internship opportunities and a week later I was interviewed and hired. The opportunity was paid so I left my state job and took a leave from my restaurant job and worked the organization’s membership system. I was later promoted to membership coordinator.
Following my roles with membership, I started to help out with workforce development every chance I got and in 2017 I was assigned to manage our partnership program with HBO and a month later we garnered an additional partnership (PA pipelining program) with Warner Bros. The thing I love the most about working for the state was the community outreach and connecting the right people with the right situation and with these programs I get to do that but in a field that I am passionate about.

What professional accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction ?
– This year has been a big one for alum of the various programs I manage. We advocate that these opportunities will lead to sustainable careers in the industry but I did not expect to see such tangible impact so soon. There are a number of people in the union or on the union track, working director’s assistants, location managers, costumers, script supervisors, associate producers, staff writers that all came from these programs in the last 3 years. I’m proud of that, I’m proud of them.

What does it mean for you to have a commitment to Equality/Diversity ?
How have you demonstrated that commitment ?
– Having a true commitment to equality/diversity means actively recruiting storytellers and crew from different backgrounds through every stage. Not looking for black and brown faces at the very last minute for the bottom line. Another thing we tend to abandon is the environment that we place people in…Yes, it may be a chance of a lifetime to work on a big budget production but what does this “dream job” come at the expense of? Is it their comfort? Their peace of mind? If so, it’s not the right opportunity and it’s not worth it. When I started out I use to think the chance was enough. It is not. We also have to ensure that all involved are truly invested and supportive of facilitating more inclusive hiring processes.

Tell us how you work with brands to create or foster equity in the workplace ?
– Because I am a consultant through a non-profit and work under the social responsibility umbrella, I work with other non-profits and productions rather than brands. One thing I do love with working Warner Media (HBO, Warner. Bros, Turner) productions is the privilege to engage with a number of nonprofit groups and community based organizations around numerous social issues – many of which are addressed naturally in the content. For instance, the series BARRY is centered around a veteran, so I recruit exclusively from organizations that serve veterans for that show. That is one of my favorite things about this work, making authentic connections.

How would you advocate for equality and inclusion initiatives with individuals who don’t see its value ?
– I am really not in the business of changing people’s hearts. Because the people who are admitly against the type of pipelining programs I manage are usually those who have greatly benefited from the system that so often excludes the people that we serve. I am more focused on bridging the gap and setting the tone for the emerging creatives and industry leaders. One thing I do emphasize is that things are not the way they are by chance, it was intentionally set up to not be accessible to all, so our efforts for change have to be done with intention and care.

What experiences have you had with recruiting, hiring, training, and/or supervising a diverse workforce ?
Some of the recent productions I have recruited and placed PAs or interns for include; JOKER, QUEEN & SLIM, LUCIFER, DAVID MAKES MAN, JUST MERCY, YOU, QUEEN SUGAR, CHERISH THE DAY, IN THE HEIGHTS, CLAWS, ALL AMERICAN, LEGACIES, BLACK LIGHTNING, WATCHMEN, EUPHORIA, BALLERS, INSECURE, SILICON VALLEY, DEADWOOD, THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES, DIVORCE, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, WESTWORLD, THE LOVEBIRDS, PARADISE LOST, FILTHY RICH, and THE WALKING DEAD.

As more women of color enter and strive in the workplace, how will that affect the future of diversity and inclusion ?

Women hire more women, Black people, and people of color. Point, blank, period.

Any advice or tips for women trying to get into your line of work ?
– For women, specifically black women, a tip that I can offer about working in this industry, is that, it is possible to simultaneously be grateful and to stand up for yourself. I think a lot of us retract in these spaces because we are in fear of conforming to stereotypes or we are in fear of losing the opportunity. But it is so important to know who you are and advocate for yourself in this world because you better believe your counterparts are doing so.
Be sure that you are focused and attached to your personal purpose and walk and not a company, brand, or other individuals. I ask myself often, “what is the goal? why did I start this? Is what I am doing in fulfilment of my purpose?.” If so, I keep pushing. If not, I stop evaluate and readjust.

Whenever I am unsure or not feeling confident, I always think about a quote by Audre Lorde, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” I have this up in my house and office and these are truly words to live by.

What do you see as the greatest leadership strength ?

– I believe the greatest leadership strengths are empathy, emotional intelligence, and empowerment. The best leaders are those who are understanding and supportive.

 

 

 

 

#InspiredByHer is an interview series that focuses on black women, showcases their expériences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and Professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.

Do you know any black women doing phenomenal things ? Send an email to info@moyoafrika.com and we just might feature her.