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For Mental Health Awareness week, BLACK ENTERPRISE is interviewing numerous individuals within the wellness community to talk about the racial disparities that affect the Black community in the hopes of creating a safe place to talk about mental health. 

Meditation apps have grown more popular as more Americans begin to prioritize their health and wellness needs. Despite their popularity, many of these apps are focused on a predominantly White audience and do not cater to the specific struggles that people of color face, specifically in this politically-charged climate.

After learning to cope with the recent onslaught racial injustice and police brutality, Katara McCarty sought out to create a meditation app for women of color.

McCarty is the founder of EXHALE, the first emotional well-being app designed specifically for Black women and women of color. The content is separated into five categories for daily mindful practice including affirmations, guided visualizations, breathing, and meditations. In light of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and recent protests, McCarty is providing the premium version of the app for free in September.

BE: How did you get the idea to create EXHALE?

McCarty: During the beginning of quarantine, I was proactive and began to amp up my self-care. I did more things to get still daily, find time to rest, commit to moving my body, and meditate more often.

As the news began surfacing about COVID-19 hitting Black and Brown communities disproportionately, my heart became heavy. Almost simultaneously, while that was occurring, the video of Ahmad Arbery went viral. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness, grief, and hopelessness for my community. The weight I felt was not unfamiliar, as I have felt this before with other tragedies due to systems of oppression my community has experienced. As we were reeling about this, we heard about Breonna Taylor’s murder, and the George Floyd murder was videotaped and going viral.

What we were seeing wasn’t new to me, but it felt incredibly insurmountable. I began to ask myself what I was going to do. How was I going to lean into my community and help? I got still, tuned in to myself, and listened for the answer. After several days, I got it! I would create an emotional well-being app for Black, Indigenous, Women of Color. Putting in the app the practices I’ve adopted in my everyday life that have kept me centered and grounded.

I created this app for BIWOC because most well-being apps are predominantly White-narrated, White-owned, and are overall White spaces. The uniqueness by which BIWOC has to weave through life, I believe, calls for a unique and specific curation that speaks to us and the weight that we carry because of racism, anti-blackness, misogynoir, and all systems of oppression.

Why was creating this kind of service for Black women important to you?

The uniqueness by which BIWOC weave through life, I believe, calls for a unique and specific curation that speaks to us and the weight that we carry because of racism, anti-blackness, misogynoir, and all systems of oppression. BIWOC are some of the most marginalized in our society. I was also raised by two Black women who took me in and adopted me after my biological mother abandoned me. Creating this app feels like a full-circle moment for me as I specifically give back to the community who stepped up, took me in, and raised me.

Your service is free for September. What prompted you to make that decision?

We launched our app on August 25th, two days after the shooting of Jacob Blake. When I heard Jacob’s family speak, specifically his sister, I could feel their pain and grief. I decided that I wanted to make EXHALE completely accessible to be a resource for us as we continue to navigate our collective grief, pain, fear, anxiety, and trauma.

Why is it important for Black people to incorporate mediation into their daily routine?

According to the American Institute of Stress, deep, abdominal breathing reduces stress and anxiety. For just 20 to 30 minutes each day, “deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.”

Our parasympathetic nervous system controls the predominant state our bodies should be during downtime, which should be 80% of the time. It’s the natural state we should be living in when not in danger. Our heart rate slows down, our breath is calm and relaxed, our digestive system is stimulated, and our hormones are balanced.

Yet BIPOC are often living in what the body perceives as danger due to racism and other forms of oppression. Our chest is tight. We’re tense. Our breath is short, we’re poised to fight, fly, or freeze, and it is making us sick. It is imperative that we tap into our breath, to reduce stress, to tune into our parasympathetic nervous system, and to heal.

When we experience stress and anxiety, we can use the power of our breath to come back to a state of calm. Tools that provide guided breathing techniques and mediations help individuals harness our breath to inhale calm and exhale stress and anxiety from body.

Taking the time for ourselves and focusing on our breath as BIPOC is both an act of reclaiming our power and an act of resistance. We may not be able to control what’s happening to us outside of our homes, the daily microaggressions and racism we’ll face, but we can control our breath. Our breath is in the moment, now, and we can use that breath to ensure we’re not holding the oppression we experience in our body. Deep breathing becomes an active tool to resist the toll that racism has on our bodies and minds.

Source: Blackenterprise

Miss South Africa was just crowned Miss Universe! Zozibini Tunzi, 26, stood out from 90 other women, and made history as the first Black South African to win the title.

According to her contest biography, Tunzi is an activist who has devoted herself to fighting gender based violence and changing the narrative around gender stereotypes. She is also an advocate for natural beauty.

In her last response Tunzi emphasized what it was like growing up and her hopes for the next generation.

 “I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful.” She continued, “I think it is time that that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”

Tunzi is now a part of the history making Black beauty queens as she joins Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America. It is the first time all pageants have crowned a Black woman in the same year.

The pageant was held at Tyler Perry’s studios in Atlanta, GA. 

Congratulations Zozibini!

25 year old Chaymeriyia Moncrief, launched Tesix Wireless, a telecommunications firm offering prepaid cell phone service eight months ago, and it is already valued at $7.3 million. 

The Alabama native said the idea was birthed out of frustration with cell phone companies and their hidden fees. “You go in and they say your phone bill is going to be $98, but you are getting a $150 or $200 bill. I think the final straw for me was a $235 bill, and that is when I said I want my own company,” Moncrief told WSFA.

Tesix wants to get rid of everything millennials hate about their wireless plans and give them more of what they want. The company boasts no contracts, unlimited data, unlimited talk and text and a free customizable 2nd phone number, so we can get rid of those Google voice numbers for business.

Before its launch in December 2018, Moncrief received a $4.4M offer to sell the company. Tesixwas already valued at over $1M and rising because of its customer waitlist and notable investments from several high profile people including Ladarius Gunter (former-Green Bay Packers Cornerback), Shaun Hamilton (Washington Redskins Linebacker), and Ayodeji Olatoye (Atlanta Falcon Cornerback). Moncrief turned the offer down. 

When asked why she turned declined the offer Moncrief said,  “If anyone is willing to offer this amount of money for a company that hadn’t launched, it was because they saw value, they saw the worth. What they didn’t realize, however, is that I too saw the value of my company.” By the time Tesix launched, its value had already surpassed the initial offer, coming in at $5.9M.

Since her target audience is millennials, Moncrief does a lot of her marketing via social media. She’s been busy partnering with influencers to increase the brands profile and spread the word. The company is currently valued at $7.3M and has seen an influx of subscribers since its 1st quarter. 

Moncrief’s goal is to build out her own infrastructure and be able to provide an in house network and make Tesix its own carrier. Currently, the company is opening two stores and recently released its very own smartphone. 

 

The highly anticipated BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Award show is back for another year with even more unapologetic Black girl magic!

The annual award show highlights the exemplary achievements of Black women and girls, past and present, across the globe. 

This year’s award show is hosted by Emmy nominated actress, Niecy Nash, and will tape in Newark, New Jersey at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). Honorees include THE Angela Bassett who will be receiving the much deserved Icon Award, Regina King (Star Power Award), Ciara (Rock Star Award), Academy Award nominated producer Debra Martin Chase (Shot Caller Award), two-time Grammy award winning artist H.E.R. (Young Gifted and Black Award) and activists and heroines, “The Mothers of The Movement,” Sybrina Fulton, Geneva Reed Veal, Gwen Carr, Lucy McBath, Maria Hamilton and Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley who will all be receiving the Community Change Agent Award.  

The BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Award show was founded by celebrity DJ and model, Beverly Bond. Bond created the show to celebrate women of color who are breaking barriers, trendsetting and trailblazing in their chosen industries.  Since 2006, the award show has been dedicated to empowering women and girls through media, leadership, education and pro-social programs. “I am thrilled to host this year’s BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards. We are celebrating Black women who serve the world with style, grace, class and sass,” said 2019 host Niecy Nash in a statement.

Past honorees include  #MeToo Movement founder Tarana Burke, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige, dance legend Judith Jamison, actress Issa Rae and Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  Founder and executive producer, Beverly Bond said that “BLACK GIRLS ROCK on BET is the mecca for Black girl brilliance. This show is the preeminent annual celebration of Black women and girls influence across sectors and this year’s cohort of celebrants are stellar examples of our illustrious contributions to the world.”

The award show will air on Sunday, September 8, 2019 at 8pm EST on BET. And of course, we’ll be watching!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

At just thirteen years old, Lexi Proctor launched her own hair care line, Curlanista, because she wanted girls to feel empowered to wear their natural curls proudly. Her brand most recently received the top honor in the Sally Beauty Cultivate Program where they won $25,000 in funding and support to help grow their business.

Lexi is a beautiful girl with natural curls. But she felt otherwise when she was bullied about her hair. She even tried straightening her curls up to the point of damaging it just so the bullies would stop.

Eventually, she learned how to embrace her natural hair and encouraged others to do the same thing. It’s what inspired her to create homemade blends from what she learned as a STEM student. Her brand, Curlanista, definitely promotes healthy, curly hair and self-love.

“I wanted to build this brand to help other girls going through what I went through. I want them to not only love who they are but know that what other people say doesn’t matter,” Lexi told Hello Beautiful.

Her ideas are what made her win the Sally Beauty Cultivate “For Women by Women” accelerator program. Curlanista will receive $25,000 in financial support, product distribution at SallyBeauty.com, select local store distribution in Maryland and Virginia, mentorship from the Sally Beauty management team and fellow female brand entrepreneurs, among others.

Moreover, Lexi looks up to successful Black women such as Beyonce and Oprah, but she said it’s her mother Monica Proctor, who is also the brand’s co-founder, that really pushed her to dream big.

“My mom is literally my biggest cheerleader. I thank her because she has given me so many opportunities to try out different interests and experience new things,” she said. “I have so much confidence because of her. When times get hard she pushes me to not give up and even offers to help me when she can.

As a young entrepreneur, Lexi is continuously learning. She is being hands-on with the business while at the same time prioritizing her studies. She said, “If I have a homework assignment or project due I make sure I get that done first because education is my priority. Then I work on my business each day even if its a 15 minute post I write to make sure I engage with my followers.”

Lexi encourages other young entrepreneurs to show hard work, consistency, and dedication to be taken seriously in the adult-dominated business world. She added, “You will be amazed at what you can do if you don’t give up.”

Based in Atlanta, Jennaye Fennell and her three children are all successful published authors. Combined, they have written 7 books in total, and most of their books are based on a series called Fennell Adventures that encourages young people to take an interest in traveling.

How it all started

During a family trip to Hawaii, Jennaye’s 9-year old son, Jace, told her that he wanted to write a book to inspire other children to enjoy reading and traveling just as much as he does. After returning home, he got started immediately and soon after released his first book entitled Journey through Hawaii with Jace. He later wrote a second book, Journey through Cuba with Jace.

This made a huge impression on Jace’s younger brother, 8-year old Merl; He quickly became inspired to become an author just like his big brother. Merl said, “Mom, I go on these trips too. Can you help me write a book like Jace?”  Soon after, Journey through Texas with Merl was added to the Fennell Adventure series. And since then, Merl has written another book entitled Journey through New Orleans with Merl.

But wait there’s more

The boys’ older sister, 15-year old Jiyah decided that she wanted to get in on the action as well. She had already been a professional face painter, and had taught both of her brothers and other children how to face paint.

So she decided to write a book based on that called Princess Jiyah’s Face Painting Fairytale, which teaches positive character traits. She too has written a second book about traveling that has been added to the series called Journey through Atlanta with Jiyah.

Inspiring mom

Their mom, Jennaye, was supportive and positive about her children’s new venture, but she was also very much inspired by them. It became a normal routine for people to inquire about where these children got their drive to become authors. This led to Jennaye writing her book, Hope and Happiness.

Most would think that the mother would inspire her children to write, but in this case, it was the complete opposite. Her book, therefore, is a guide for parents on how to raise and support young entrepreneurial children.

The family motto

All in all, the Fennell family aim to inspire and promote the motto of “Living life to the Fullest.” This means following your dreams and desires right now. Their series is very unique because the books are choose-your-own adventure books. This means that they can be read in over 28 different ways!

Source: BlackBusiness.org

Tennis superstar Serena Williams on Sunday, 23rd of September was honored for her charitable work at the 2018 Imagine Ball in West Hollywood.

Serena wore a form-fitting animal print mini dress as she arrived at the event which had Kelly Rowland and Nicole Scherzinger in attendance.

The event, honoring the 23-time Grand Slam champion, was hosted by Good Day LA‘s Rita Garcia.

See photos below:

Serena Williams

Kelly Rowland

Nicole Scherzinger

Photo Credit: Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

 

Credit: Bella Naija

Adeola Deborah Olubamiji was born oin Ibadan to the family of Mr. & Mrs. Isaac & Juliana Olubamiji. She attended Alafia Public Primary School and St. Gabriel’s Secondary Commercial School in Mokola, Ibadan, Nigeria. Despite her humble beginning as a child hawker, she surmounted all odds to become the senior prefect girl of her secondary school. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Physics (with Electronics) from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria in 2008 and a Masters of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland in 2011. In June 2017, Adeola received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada and made history as the first black person to have received this PhD from the university. Dr. Adeola is currently the Lead Metallurgist / Material Engineer at Burloak Technologies (The Advanced Additive Manufacturing Division of Samuel Sons & Co) in Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Adeola is a consultant and the founder of 3D-Tech Centrix, Ontario, Canada: A consulting firm specializing in development of 3D-printing technology and related manufacturing solutions for use in different industries. In July 2017, Dr. Adeola was chosen and celebrated as one the top 5 of 150 black women making Canada better for her contributions in Science and Technology by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She was also recently presented a prestigious award as the Woman of Outstanding Achievement in Education by the Nigerian-Canadian Community in a ceremony held in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Adeola’s passion for community building through volunteering is limitless and unquantifiable. Dr. Adeola is an “ardent” STEM advocate and she has continued to serve as a positive role model to the inner-city black youths in her Canadian community and around the world. From her savings, Dr. Adeola organizes regular STEM events and industrial tours for black youths in Ontario’s black communities to help youths discover what engineers do, and to expose them to STEM career opportunities available to them. Adeola whose story went viral two weeks ago shares her inspiring story with me in this mind-blowing interview.

 

Growing Up

I have 3 brothers and my only sister is late. I was born in Mokola Ibadan and attended Alafia Primary School and St Gabriel’s Secondary Commercial School in Mokola, Ibadan. We didn’t have much, so my siblings and myself learned to share and work together as a team quickly. My parents worked hard to ensure that we had food to eat, clothes to wear and made it a point of duty to get us to our schools on time. My mom is a workhorse and she woke up at 3 am daily to go to “Shasha Market” in Ibadan to conduct her pepper buying business.

Although my dad was unable to attain tertiary education, he is from a well-educated extended family. A few of my dad’s family members had PhDs, so my dad hung their photographs on the wall in our living room. At every opportunity my dad got, he regaled us with their success stories and explained how education took them abroad. Therefore, I ended up following the footpath of one of my uncles, Professor Abiodun Francis Oluwole who is a Professor of Nuclear Physics, to obtain a BSc in Physics with Electronics from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.

Hawking at age 10 made me more determined

Looking at my parent’s life, they both worked hard to care for us but we didn’t have any form of luxury. So, I learned quickly as a child that “to earn more, you must learn more.” In addition, the daily reminder was on the wall of our living room and it was clear that I needed to be “EDUCATED” to make valuable contribution to a knowledge-based society, to earn respect and to earn more money than my parents. As such, I promised myself to strive to know more critical facts, gather more information than the average person and be the best and nothing but the best.

 

 First black person to bag a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the university of Saskatchewan

Biomedical Engineering is a recently added branch of Engineering with capability to bring us closer to huge healthcare-related innovations and inventions. However, Nigerians and the black population in general are slowly just breaking into the field. In fact, it is almost impossible to find journal papers or conference proceedings authored by Africans (at least from the last names or first names) in the field of Biomedical Engineering. The shortage of blacks in this thriving field and shortage of women in engineering makes me feel “lonely” sometimes among my peers. Therefore, I will to continue to advocate for the introduction of the branches of Biomedical Engineering to Nigerian Universities, encourage and advocate for admission of more women into engineering disciplines, and to continue to encourage other engineers who are willing to transition to come and join me in this limitless, exciting and innovative field.

 

Choice to study biomedical engineering

Several health impairments and issues of failed diagnosis that could benefit from Biomedical Engineering technologies face Nigeria and Nigerians. With a BSc in Physics with Electronics, the Biomedical Engineering career path paved way for me to acquire the knowledge needed to help develop solutions to tackle the above-mentioned issues. Some of the areas that I am currently vast on are medical physics and clinical engineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, material development and 3D-printing, and e-health and telemedicine.

 

What and who inspires me

 

What Inspires me: As a Scientist, I am challenged and inspired by the possibilities and potentials of technology, and the fulfillment I get from solving difficult problems. As an engineer, I am inspired by industry 4.0 (e.g. 3D-printing) and its design and manufacturing capabilities. As a Nigerian, the complicated problems that I faced or my people in Nigeria face inspire me. On a daily basis, I go to work knowing that I am paying the price to acquire the knowledge and the skill-sets required to help bring back innovative manufacturing solutions to fix, improve, and tweak Nigeria’s mostly dead metal and plastic manufacturing industries.

Who inspires me: The humble background and huge historic contributions of Jesus Christ made Him my first inspiration. My middle name is Deborah and the realization of Deborah’s role as the First Female Judge in Israel, a Warrior, a Wife and a Mother made me choose her my second role model/inspiration. Furthermore, one of the men on the wall of our living room, Prof. Abiodun Francis Oluwole, inspired me to study Physics. At the moment, I have chosen Dr. Ndubuisi Ekekwe as one of my inspirations for his ability to combine successful academic credentials, technology and entrepreneurship. 

 

Greatest Reward

There are a few of them, after many years of research and development; the ultimate reward is receiving the PhD honour itself.  Seeing my narrative go viral to touch lives around the world provided me with the re-assurance that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, hard work and prayers are not old school and they in fact can make you a superstar. Then, securing a job as a lead engineer after my PhD and starting my career in a company that allows me utilize most of my acquired knowledge and skills made the whole process well worth it. Lastly, the smiles and tears of joy that rolled down my father’s face when he heard that I successfully defended my thesis was rewarding and very satisfying.

Recognition

In terms of recognition, I was recognized as 5thof 150 black women making Canada better during the celebration of Canada at 150 (link:http://cbc.ca.mevn.net/radio/upclose. I was also recognised by the Nigerian Canadian Association as a “Woman of Outstanding Achievement in Education” in celebration of Canada at 150 and the award was presented to me at a Gala attended by Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Bar. Ahmed Hussen, the Ooni of Ife HRM Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Mama Nike Davies-Okundaye of Nike Art Gallery and so on.

 

Challenges

My PhD was not plain sailing; there were setbacks, frustrating moments, doubts, failed relationship and several failed experiments. The isolation that comes with embedding myself in research and making it my boyfriend, family and best friend was a challenge. There were moments when I slept at the University for several days in order to collect data and only went home to shower. But the most challenging aspect of the PhD by far was the job search that comes at the end of the PhD by far was the job search that comes at the end of the PhD. 


Perception of Hawking

Child street-hawking is often driven by poverty, deplorable living conditions, illiteracy and unemployment. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is an offence to involve children in child-labour practices such as child hawking. However, this is the only mean of survival for some families and its eradication will be very tough.

 

Has there ever been a time that you feel like giving up?

The thinking of giving up is inevitable for every PhD student. Half way through my PhD, I felt like I could do something else with my life. I felt like the PhD was standing in the way of me starting my life, buying a house, finding love and getting married. I felt like it was a shear waste of time and energy and that an MSc was already more than enough.

Unfortunately, I lost my sister to cervical cancer during that time and that gave me the motivation to carry on. I thought I would do it for my sister and my dad who already started calling me doctor and never stopped encouraging me.

Contributing to Nation building back home

In recent times, the society and social media has continued to showcase role models who make education look ‘old school’, who make science look too hard, abstract and for the exceptional ones. Africa as a continent needs to start projecting scientists are role models and investing in productive education and technology aside entertainment, fashion, and cosmetics. As a STEM advocate, I’m willing to help develop hands-on programs to help motivate these students to learn and love Sciences and get exposure to Technology in a fun way. Since kids learn by doing, these programs will provide an avenue for them to connect the theoretical science taught in schools with practical science that results from these theories.

In order to conquer the extreme dependency of Nigeria and Nigerians on China and the West for metal and plastic goods, Nigeria must invest in digitized manufacturing now. The combination of “3D-printing technology” and some other manufacturing techniques will allow achievement of faster product development and consequently enable manufacturing of polymeric and metallic products at reasonable costs. This will also foster raising of young entrepreneurs and enable creation of more jobs for our engineering graduates who are forced to work in the banking sector, wait for years to secure a position in the energy sector, or move abroad to seek greener pastures.

As a scientist who has a large network of professionals, has explored both plastics and metal 3D-printing and tried several conventional manufacturing techniques, my team is capable and able to help with the set-up of a “Manufacturing Hub for Africa” in Nigeria if given a chance. 3D-printing technology is rapidly growing across multiple industries and applications: medical applications (e.g. surgical implants, prosthesis, dental, and tissue-engineered tissues and organs), aerospace applications (OEMs for airplanes and fighter jets), automotive applications (OEMs for car engines), energy industries (customized valves, heat exchangers), tooling for plastics processing, and manufacturing of customized consumer plastic products and decorations.


I am a Woman of Rubies

 My life and my journey so far have made me conclude that I am an unrepeatable miracle of God. 

Final word for women who have or about to lose hope because of certain setbacks.

Dear woman, with the advent of technology, the world is at your fingertip. Do not wait to be served information on a platter of gold as your power lies in how much information you acquire. Dear woman, who are you and why are you here? My go to quote is “if you don’t stand for something, you will stand for everything or anything, and when you stand for everything or anything, you stand for nothing”. My dear women, let’s altogether renew our minds, be our own saviours, our own rescue and love ourselves enough. Finally, I beseech you to dare to be limitless, dare to start that business, dare to launch that company, dare to channel that cause, dare to be different, dare to study science and dare to be innovative

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