Behind every Black woman, there's a group of Black women screaming "ayyyyyeee" and real ones know that "ayyyyyeee" is a love letter in itself. When God created the woman, He knew that we would create boundless magic and that we would empower other women to do the same. Isn't that so powerful? To think, that by you simply being your fierce, feminine self, that you are igniting the fire in another woman. Women are creators in every sense of the word and thank all of the gods for choosing our chromosomes to have this blessing.
Being that we are in the middle of Women's History Month, we wanted to be extra intentional about how we honor the women in our lives who create memories for us. Life is so delicate and gives fleeting moments that we must learn to treasure. So, we asked a few women to write a thank-you note to the woman who has affected their lives the most and this is what they had to say.
From: Elizabeth Antoinette
Courtesy of Elizabeth Antoinette
To: Mama Shadonna
One of my favorite parts about our relationship is you telling me stories about my childhood, and the one that sticks out the most is that of a conversation with my first-grade teacher. Funny, because a lot of people that know me now wouldn't imagine that little Liz was as shy as a turtle back then, but my intellect made me shine in a different way, and apparently everyone wasn't fond of that.
Somehow this teacher didn't know what kind of parent she was dealing with and had the nerve to tell you, "She thinks she can be whatever she wants to be." And you responded to her, "And she can."
There's more to the story that I'll save for the sake of brevity, but I am so thankful for you always standing up for me and my siblings then and even now, through your example of strength and steadfast prayers. You taught us the importance of family, education, and faith, and pressed on us that it didn't matter what we lacked, we could achieve anything we set out to accomplish. You more than proved that yourself when you decided to go back to college and obtain your degree.
So, I'll always think of you to thank for your influence on me as the woman who's affected my life the most.
From: Chassidy Jade
Courtesy of Chassidy Jade
To: Terri Meredith
I met you at a time when I was really confused about my career. Little do you know, you set me up for life. I came to your poetry events faithfully at my cousin's spot being filled with inspiration from so many creative and strong women. You were the first person to let me touch the mic without the "politics''. Once we were formally introduced, Zombii mentioned I was a filmmaker listing my resume that I was quite shy about. You looked me dead in the eyes and said, "People do a lot of things if she doesn't showcase it herself who cares..." Ha! I crawled into my 22-year-old shell and ate that because you were absolutely right! Work was slow and my writing took a back seat.
You were on me every single week asking me wtf I was doing with film. I went home every night and finished writing my first short film, Brown Ballerina, and named the main character after you. You proudly hosted my first film screening and the film went off to be selected to the Toronto Shorts Film Festival, being viewed all over the world. I also dedicated my art shows to you, which only highlights various female artists of color. You were brutally honest in a loving way.
You re-sparked my voice. You continue to motivate me and so many others. YOU DESERVE YOUR FLOWERS. I am forever grateful for your love.
From: Dianne Myles
Courtesy of Dianne Myles
To: Tiara Lucas (My Daughter)
My baby! Thank you for being fearless and unapologetic with your voice. You have forced me to choose what type of mom I want to be. You hold me accountable to my word, and you make me evaluate myself daily. I now understand that as a mom, you teach me as much as I teach you. You are smart, bold, courageous, passionate, and beautiful. You put family first in all you do, and I admire that about you.
Thank you for choosing me 16 years ago, today, and always!
I love you,
From: Anita Aloys
Courtesy of Anita Aloys
To: My Older Sister, Liberty
I know I always tell you this, but I love you very much! I don't know if you are aware of the role you played in making me the woman I am today or how important your presence is to my life but I want you to know that it is significant. When mom passed, you took me under your wing and nurtured me so lovingly that even though I felt the hurt of losing a mother, I never felt like I grew into my adult years without a mother. I've always wondered how you did it, how you could be so selfless even from thousands of miles away, also while dealing with losing a mother too! I don't know if I say thank you enough, but I am really grateful.
I am so glad to have you in my life because you are a reminder that soulmates exist. You are the best friend I prayed for, the confidant that I never knew I needed and an inspiration in every way.
I am so proud of the woman you have grown into, how happy you are, flourishing in your career choices and about to get married and start your own family! I hope you know how much I love you and that no matter how far apart we are, I'll always have your back and be in your corner.
I hope I see you again soon because nine years apart has not been easy.
Your loving sister,
From: Majesty Acheampong
Courtesy of Majesty Acheampong
To: My Mother, Pastor Brenda Timberlake
My mother was the first woman who showed me that it was OK to be bold and unapologetically fierce. Her confidence shaped my life and how I carry myself as a woman today. She never tried to hide or dim her light, Brenda was the light, OK! Her style always made a bold statement, and on any day you could catch her in sequins or a bold hue, even if it was just for an errand or trip to the grocery store. Her makeup was always flawless, and her curls always perfectly coiled.
The best part about my mom is that her interior matched the fly of her exterior. Her warmth and kindness always made an impact on others, and she showed kindness to everyone she met. My mother influenced me to show up as my authentic self at all times boldly and to make a big statement and impact on this world. My mom has been a pastor for over 30 years, so she inspires the lives of others from her pulpit. Although I am not a pastor like her, she has influenced me to use my influence as a content creator for the greater good, so I treat my platform like a pulpit of sorts to empower and uplift other women.
I celebrate my mom today and every day for inspiring me to show up bold and fierce in every way both in person and on social media!
From: Taylor Baldwin
Courtesy of Taylor Baldwin
To: My Mom
Thank you for literally everything because all this magic wouldn't be possible without you. You gave me life but have gone the extra mile to pouring into me the confidence to be the woman I am today. You made and continue to make sacrifices for your children that I cannot begin to repay you for. Thank you for giving me the room to be myself and create my own path, even when you didn't understand. I am beyond grateful to have you as my mother, bodyguard, therapist, and everything above. I know you worried about me growing up because I was so shy and such a loner but just know that I have found myself in my art.
I hope you know I am truly happy with the way my life has unfolded. A lot of my success and life choices are because of you! Thank you for giving me the room to grow and glow in my dreams.
From: Dominique Webb
Courtesy of Dominique Webb
To: My Granny, Doris Webb
Sometimes I think I can still smell you. I can smell the rubbing alcohol you used to douse your knees with, and the sweet peppermints you'd pop into your mouth right before telling me to hand you the remote. I miss those subtle moments. Where we just sat together while you rambled on about the neighbors, or whatever mundane thing you wanted to fuss about that day.
I miss you complaining about how my nails were too long or my hair was too long. I miss your teachings. You taught me not only how to be a woman but how to be a strong woman. You taught me the power of being a praying woman.
You taught me the power of being a praying Black woman. You taught me my magic. You taught me how to use my powers for good.
You taught me how to act with poise, speak with grace, but to speak even if my voice shakes. I can never repay you for the things you've taught me. But as you always used to say, "You do good and you pass it on." Thank you for teaching me to do good and pass it on. Thank you for teaching me how to be a strong Black woman.
What a blessing it is to have known you in this lifetime.
I miss you and I love you Granny. Always.
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Featured image courtesy of Dominique Webb
Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Teyana Taylor Says Husband Iman Shumpert Pursued Her For 3 Years Before She Was Open To Dating Him
Teyana Taylor is the culture's BFF. She has built a platform from simply knowing and being herself, a rarity in the entertainment industry, and we eat it up. We met her in 2007 when she appeared on the fourth season of My Super Sweet Sixteen, the popular MTV reality series which focused on the lavish birthday parties of affluent teenagers. She was signed to Pharrell at the time, which eventually ended after she asked to be released to be an independent artist.
Since, she has made moves across the entertainment industry, whether showing the world that we all need to go to the gym in Kanye's "Fade" video or winning Season 7's The Masked Singer.
She even welcomed a new love, husband Iman Shumpert, but even that came in the most Teyana Taylor fashion.
On a recent visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote her new movie,A Thousand and One, she discussed how the two met, ultimately revealing that sis was not into a quick hookup. After Kimmel showed her a photo from a celebrity basketball game, she said, "That was the very picture and the very moment that my husband fell in love with me. He [was] like, 'who is that girl, her defense is on point,'--you know he was a defensive player. And he fell in love with the kid."
Kimmel asked her if the falling was mutual, to which she responded, "You know what's crazy? It took me like three years to even like, finally give in. So even though he was feeling me this day, he didn't get me that day. I was actually in a relationship at the time and it was Luda Day weekend and he walked up to me and was like, 'You should eff with me, you need me in your life.' And he just kept trying and trying and trying."
And listen ladies, I know we've all seen Iman so I know you guys are wondering why she may have been on one that day, but we also know that doesn't mean there is never a possibility. Eventually, he wore her down after the two went through their own breakups.
"Later down the line, I was dealing with a breakup, he was dealing with a breakup...we just kind of became friends, BUT--see there's always a 'but,' guys -- I had a styling company and I wanted to shoot him, and he was like my first client and he gave me my first chance or whatever, and there was this one time where he had to take off his shirt...GIRL."
And as they say, the rest is sis-make-him-court-you history.
The pair began dating in 2013, and Shumpert popped the question in 2015 during their baby shower at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, Ohio. They officially tied the knot in 2016 and have since welcomed two daughters, Junie (whose real name is Iman Shumpert Jr.) and Rue Rose.
They landed their own reality TV series in 2018 Teyana & Iman, which they then followed up with their E! show, We Got Love Teyana & Iman, in 2021. Taylor told VH1 in 2018, "When a female catches butterflies, you know it's real. Because up to that moment, I didn't like him on that level. When you catch butterflies, it's almost like do you run away from it and get scared and miss out on love? Or do you just follow your gut?"
Well, it's clear what her answer is. But what about you: do you believe in love's timing?
Watch the full clip below:
Teyana Taylor on Teaching Beyoncé the Chicken Noodle Soup Dance & Falling in Love with Iman Shumpert
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Featured image by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Roger Dubuis