Friday, November 17, 2017
Empowering African American Teenage Girls
By Myra Blackburn, Sentinel Intern
Published June 19, 2008

Thatgirl Magazine invited influential African American women leaders in business and politics to speak with 40 inner city girls about their experiences and challenges in their careers. The event was held on Friday, June 13 at the California African American Museum from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During an essay contest, 12 girls were awarded a trip to the Boardroom to meet the vice-president of Investors of Relations of Walt Disney for writing essays about the speakers that influence them the most. Also, the first prize winner was awarded a laptop, cell phone, and daily planner, and the second prize winner received a cell phone and daily planner. These prizes were given to these girls to imitate some of the possessions that many businesswomen and leaders use in their careers.

The women who spoke at the career girl panel discussion were Congresswoman Maxine Waters; Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke; Shaun Robinson, co-host for Access Hollywood; Carol Raine Brown, vice-president Inglewood Unified School Board; Sharon Johnson, CEO Executive Crusine Concept Inc; Cheryl Broussard, author “Sister CEO;” Model, actress, and author Sara Pickett; Areva Martin, CEO Martin and Martin LLP; and Koya Webb, author and fitness expert.

According to publicist Sonya Grey, Thatgirl Magazine was established as a blueprint for African American women to identify with their own self-beauty and talents that other mainstream magazines fail to display.

“When I go to the drugstore and book stores, you don’t see a Cosmo African American or teenage girl. I wanted to empower them so they could see themselves in the position of a career,” Grey said.

Since many young girls are misguided by the over sexualized music industry and have been dictated by what our male domineering society believes women should portray, these women who obtain high profile careers have eliminated the stereotypes and images of African American women in society. Plus, they have paved the way for teenage girls to follow those same footsteps.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from and who you come from, the most important thing is to realize who you are,” Brown said. “You are a gift to this nation, your family, your brother, and siblings. You are a gift to this world and you are a gift from God.”

Brown closed her speech by quoting poet and author Marianne Williamson. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measures. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us."

Robinson shared her personal experience about her career and some of the obstacles she had to overcome. She encouraged the teenage girls to never give up on their dreams.

"Dreaming big and living beyond the glass ceiling that our society has placed on you," Robinson said. "That has told you that you could only achieve so much because you are a female or because you are African American or a certain economic status. This is the glass ceiling that tells us we [can't] achieve beyond our dreams."

Robinson said as African American women and females, we are constantly conditioned to believe that we can't achieve as much as our male counterparts.

"We have to start speaking out against those messages," Robinson said. "We have to start believing ourselves and believing that no matter where we come from or the positions we are starting from, we could achieve our goals."

Pickett also experienced some challenges and obstacles when she navigated her way through her career as a model, actress and author.

Pickett was invited by MTV to appear in a documentary about Video Honeys. After, the documentary aired numerous times, she received negative reactions from the public.

"I stop doing videos because I thought it wasn't serving what I felt my greater purpose was and who I wanted to become," Pickett said. "I kept modeling, I worked for Nike, Cosmo, Essence, Kaniche, [I appeared] in a McDonald's Commercial and movies, so I've been extremely blessed."

She said the most significant thing in life is her happiness, personal connection with God, nurturing her spirituality and not allowing the media and advertising to dictate her lifestyle.

"Giving to you and sharing my time with you is more important than booking this next job or being on the scene, or having my face in advertisement," Pickett said. "What's really lasting is the legacy that you guys leave and what's really lasting is what you give to others.

"Personally I would not want to be defined by my occupation, but by my character. My ability to be there for somebody else, my gratitude, and the slightest miracles that I have in my life, I found this is the way I've been able to maintain my since of self and stay true to myself."

Categories: Local

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