Women’s History Month 2020 And Being Our Best Black Selves
A MESSAGE TO MY SISTERS …
I am in the business of being Black and I love it! I have spent practically every day of the past 16 years educating Black people about the power of taking ownership of their identities. Undoing the negative impact of 400 years is a daunting, yet imperative task. Too many of us move through life with no connection to the power of our Blackness. After years of helping people unlock their genetic connection to their African past, I am absolutely convinced that we can and must control our narratives in order to thrive. In my work at AfricanAncestry.com, I’ve observed three core themes that limit us as Black women:
- We look at ourselves through the lens of others, particularly as women.
- Mainstream influences – magazines, music, movies and TV – teach us how we should look, what we should eat, how we are to carry ourselves, and so on.
- For 400 years, everyone around us has imprinted who we should be. And none of those influences place value on who we really are, the daughters of Africa.
As a Black woman, business owner and cultural identity expert, I know that a vital part in overcoming these barriers lies within our DNA. I offer these actionable tips to help us rise together by better understanding who we are:
Be Intentional About You. Continually explore who you are…your true self, not who you’ve been taught to be or who you think you should be. When we make this a priority, we can truly mine ourselves for our innate gifts. For some, this might take a good bit of ‘being still,’ overcoming fears and self-reflection. There is no right way to root yourself, but you must do it to free your passions and better understand your path. For me, along with going inside, finding my roots was essential. Becoming an industry pioneer, successfully growing my company and ultimately becoming a cultural voice for Black people all – in some way – can be traced to my learning that I share ancestry with the Fulani and Hausa people of Nigeria and the Kru people of Liberia.
Africa is Your Girl … Get to Know Her! Think about the pride we take in being from Brooklyn, DC or Chicago’s Southside, etc. Listen to the roars in stadiums and arenas for the teams that represent where we’re from. Now, when was the last time you shouted ‘Go Cameroon’ or self-identified in any way with Africa? Why not? … you’re just as much African as you are American. Make it your business to know her. A good place to start is your country and ethnic group of origin, but any and all of Africa is a part of us. Write down the negative things you’ve been taught to believe about the Motherland. Then counter that with a list of things you learn by getting to know her better. Promote her amongst your friends and peer groups. Share ‘Did You Knows’ via your social networks. Designate family time to study and learn about every country on the Continent. Do something big or small in your world of influence to enlighten yourself and others around you. When we remove negative perceptions of Africa … we remove negative perceptions of self.
Mom Holds the Key. Much like in American society today, African families were run by women – mothers and grandmothers. Our mothers hold the biological and environmental link to becoming the Black women we are meant to be. There are distinct traits, mores and behaviors that we get from our mother and that she got from her mother, and so on. As we focus on the futures of our Black daughters, we must also look back to the wisdoms of our AFRICAN mothers thousands of years ago. A mother’s love, courage, strength and spirit are all in the DNA.
Help A Sister Out. Be intentional about surrounding yourself with woke Black women (and men). Be down with folks that are down with enhancing the African American experience. My entire AfricanAncestry.com team is Black and mostly women. Even my mother (and father), has a role in the company. And I intentionally align the company with a significant number of Black-women-owned partners, vendors and the like. I do the same in my personal life. You don’t have to own a business to incorporate positive, empowering Black influences into your personal and professional networks. Your innate connection to Africa is a wonderful gift. Use it to the max to create the life/world that you want.
ABOUT DR. GINA PAIGE
As the leading Black female authority on genetics ancestry tracing for people of color, business owner and cultural identity expert, Dr. Paige shares wisdoms on culture, empowerment and community through the lens of Black identity. Dr. Paige uses her platform to educate, uplift and inspire groups of all sizes including women’s groups, top corporations, community groups, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, family events and faith-based organizations, among others. She’s been tapped for keynotes, presentations, workshops, panels, talks, etc., leading lively sessions on topics from genetics ancestry tracing and heritage travel to Black identity and cultural and historical nuances that provoke new thought on who we are in today’s America. The New York Times Travel Show, Wall Street Journal Health Forum, Chula Vista TEDx, Stanford University, Netflix, LinkedIn and The Walt Disney Company are among Paige’s most recent engagements. Visit GinaPaige.com to book Dr. Paige.
ABOUT AFRICAN ANCESTRY
Founded in 2003, African Ancestry Inc. (AfricanAncestry.com) pioneered African lineage matching in the United States utilizing its proprietary DNA-database to more accurately assess present-day countries of origin for people of African descent. African Ancestry’s products include the MatriClan™ and PatriClan™ ancestry tests and customized memorabilia and informative resources. African Ancestry is Black-owned and headquartered in Washington, DC. For general media inquiries, contact Nichole Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.