I think that we can all agree that 2020 was a rough year for all of us. We lost loved ones, we lost jobs, and we lost the ability to connect with each other in a way that I hope we never take for granted ever again. I think we can all also agree that even though it is difficult, ultimately we understand the reasoning behind keeping our distance from each other. But what about children who are not quite old enough to understand yet who are old enough to feel the effects of this pandemic? It's not easy explaining to a six-year-old why they have to wear a mask, why they can't go to school, why they can't see family, or why they can't play with their friends. But parents everywhere have had to do just that.
Young kids also don't understand the other pandemic that we have been fighting long before we even heard of COVID-19 and that is racial injustice. Every day I hear of parents having to explain racism to their young black and brown kids and honestly it breaks my heart.
So, while children everywhere still have to deal with COVID-19 a little longer and kids are still watching adults fight the good fight against racism, it's equally important that our black and brown kids still feel and experience joy. As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and teachers, it is our job to encourage that joy any chance we get. One of my favorite ways to experience joy as a young child was by reading. It was and still is a beautiful escape. Not to mention reading encourages the one thing that our black and brown children need, and that is more joy. Below are seven children's books that encourage black joy.
London, an eleven-year-old girl, attended a protest with her mom and younger sister and decided to write a book about her experience. Yes, you read that right eleven-year-old London is the author of this amazing book. In this book, London takes readers inside her first protest as she and her family march for equal rights.
This book was created by Linsey Davis so that children everywhere will know just how special they are. Stay This Way Forever is a book that inspires young children to celebrate their own special and unique qualities.
In this magical book, readers get to follow a young girl on an adventure all over the world. In The Trip of Your Dreams, a young girl dreams of the perfect trip and travels all over the world using her imagination.
In this book, Ava's Hairy Godmother takes her on a magical adventure. Together, the two explore history and Ava is taught the beauty behind her hair.
Beautiful Brown Skin Child is a book that expresses love and admiration for brown skin children. The book is filled with powerful and beautiful messages and affirmations that every black child needs to hear.
Sulwefollows the story of a young black girl who wishes that her dark skin was lighter. This story sends a message of self-love and self-acceptance.
This book is the ultimate book of black girl magic. Little Leaders is a collection of short bios of black women that have broken boundaries and accomplished the unthinkable. Young black girls that read this book will find heroes that look just like them.
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This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
From TikTok Breakthrough To Sold-Out Success: Stormi Steele Spills Tea On Dominating The Digital Market
In a world where going viral holds a lot of weight in the content creation space, many creators and brands strive for the coveted title, but not everyone can have that impact. Stormi Steele did what many brands struggle to do: create a product that resonates with its target audience, has ingenious packaging, and sells out. After founding Canvas Beauty in 2018, the entrepreneur expanded her brand, which was known for selling hair care products, and introduced a body butter that has had TikTok in a chokehold. The Body Glaze was Canvas Beauty’s first product on TikTok Shop, and now it's the number one selling product on the platform after going viral.
“It's surreal, honestly, and I'm really thankful for this moment,” Stormi tells xoNecole. “As far as it finally going viral, I wouldn't say that I thought it would, but I believed that it would. Like even when I was making videos, I kept telling everybody, I'm gonna go viral on TikTok. I'm gonna go viral on TikTok. Even when I came up with the idea and the packaging for the Body Glaze, I did it from a mindset of I wanted it to be viral like I want it to catch on. Like the way it feels, the way it works, the way it looks, it’s aesthetic. So, I went in with the intention and the belief that that was for me.”
And there’s more where that came from. The Love and Marriage: Huntsville reality star is expanding Canvas Beauty by including cosmetics and possibly products for the home. While she will still use TikTok, Stormi is also looking to create long-form content on YouTube. Stormi says Canvas Beauty is a lifestyle brand and will continue to listen to its customers to fulfill their needs. “I feel like just by listening to the consumer and becoming and building this lifestyle brand like we're just gonna slowly enter, you know, home spaces. Cosmetics,” she reveals. “Me and my colleague, we were talking about skincare just last night, so there's a lot of things that we have in the works because I really want to bring products to the market that is for a person's entire canvas, like anything that is canvas related.”
After seeing astronomical success with Body Glaze on TikTok, Stormi is paying it forward by sharing her four tips on how to market products on the popular platform.
BODY GLAZE SOLD OUT IN 8 minutes 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯
Stormi’s first tip is storytelling because, according to her, people enjoy watching your journey. “TikTok is like one of the most friendliest platform as it comes to just people and authenticity,” she says. “So I will tell an entrepreneur, especially if their hands on with their brand, like show people the heart behind it, storytell.”
Build a Community Versus Selling
While selling products is the name of the game for any product-based business, the Canvas Beauty CEO shares the best way to do it. “Behind the scenes are always great and focus on like building a community and not more so just selling a product. So for us, like, I was selling the product, but I wasn’t saying like, ‘oh, go buy this’ or ‘buy this,’” she explains.
“I'm more so taking people on a journey with the growth of our brand and I think people resonate with that more so than, you know, just saying sell, sell, sell, and TikTok platform is very conducive to very like low-fi and just organic, real content.”
Authenticity is Key
Stormi implores that sharing your journey is optimal in growing your brand on TikTok, and one of the ways to do that is by being authentic. “I would tell people, you don't have to overthink it. You don't have to think ‘oh, I don't have this type of aesthetic’ or ‘I don't have this type of setup’ because it's (TikTok) very friendly to the growing and scaling entrepreneur,” Stormi says.
“So like realistic type of content, not the type of content that's like, you know, like overly glamorized people just love to see people in their journey. So I would tell any entrepreneur, especially if you're hands on, you’re the face of your brand, just show your journey, tell your story. And this is the one platform that highlights that and celebrates that.”
Don’t Count Yourself Out
Last but not least, the hairstylist turned beauty entrepreneur encourages others not to get discouraged. “Don't ever think that even if you're a small business, what you're doing is not big enough because it's big enough to someone, and on the TikTok platform, it’s like so perfect for the Gen-Z audience,” she explains. “They love to see that type of stuff.”
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