MEET THE FELLOWS 2020-2021
In 2017, I started compiling a list of local Black entrepreneurs. After creating an open-call on my social media pages asking my followers to tag local Black-owned businesses, I quickly realized that there were far more than I thought. In response, I created a blog post on Small Business Saturday to help support local Black-owned businesses. Currently, there is no place for our community to reference and support the dynamic and growing number of Black-owned small businesses in the area. My blog post currently lists over 60 Black-owned local businesses in Charlottesville. This blog post has been featured in local and national news publications and has been viewed over 1,000 times. Among the businesses listed are local creators, beauty vendors, photographers, air conditioning repair, electricians and catering. These businesses are at varying stages in their business and entrepreneurial journey. Some are more established than others, but by them being listed and easily searchable, this may provide an opportunity for these businesses to increase their brand awareness and generate more revenue. My goal is to turn this directory into a website and mobile app that allows users to easily search for the products or services they need to support a local Black-owned business. My goal is to give everyone a place online where they can be supported and grow.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Steven Johnson
I am looking to expand the 100 BWCMA's Sister-nomic$, financial literacy program to include sessions for elementary, middle school & high school girls. The Sister-Nomic$ program is designed to empower women & girls through financial literacy to increase the understanding of how money works in the world; how money is earned, managed, invested and donated in order to help others in the community. Our program stresses the importance of a great educational foundation that leads to stable employment and economic growth as contributors to our local community. The overall goal for Sister-Nomic$ is for participants to develop a better understanding of financial literacy. Participants will be equipped with a fundamental understanding of how to apply decision making skills, problem solving skills and management skills in their everyday lives to improve their standard of living. Ultimately, we want participants to realize how an education and making better life choices can impact their journey in life.
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Dot Kelley and Dr. Julia Taylor
Disparities and inequities in mental health care are persistent and unremitting, yet greatly neglected in the discourse around health, human rights, and equality. African American women, in particular, are at the highest risk for experiencing depression and other mental health conditions, yet are least likely to seek traditional mental health service. Recent research (particularly African American Mental Health Report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/African-Americans and Beauty Salons: A Promising Health Promotion Setting for Reaching and Promoting Health Among African American Women, a 2016 report by Laura A. Linnan, ScD, CHES Yvonne Owens Ferguson, PhD, MPH of Pennsylvania State University) notes that inequities are rooted in reluctance, implicit bias, discrimination, multiple interlinked levels of inequality, inability to access traditional health services, inequalities in accessing culturally competent providers, provider bias, misdiagnosis, and distrust and other social determinants. Structural factors such as poverty, inequality, homelessness, and discrimination accelerate a cycle of worsening mental health outcomes, making the trajectory for recovery for African American women very different based on race-based disparities. This promising research led to a pilot project funded by Kaiser Permanente in five South Los Angeles salons (https://community.kp.org/stories/story/improving-depression-through-mind...). My initial proposal was to use my fellowship to design a plan to replicate this pilot project in Charlottesville. Implementation of this project (Queens, Cuts & Conversations) aims to address mental health care inequity by giving African America women safe spaces and access to culturally competent services. This pragmatic, community initiative was supposed to take mental health directly into the African American community by mobilizing beauty salons on all levels of the social-economic framework and establishing mental health supports groups in the salon. This project has been adapted from its originial state to better reflect current aims and the the repsonse to the current pandemic. My project is now focused on the Sankofa Center. Sankofa will be a community based mental health village, aimed to provide African Americans in the Charlottesville Metropolitan area with culturally affirming, liberating safe space to access to mental health services including peer support, therapy, meditation, yoga, and culturally affirming peer support and therapeutic groups. The Sankofa symbol — is based on a mythical bird with its feet firmly planted forward with its head turned backwards. To the Akan people of Ghana, Sankofa represents, it is wisdom in learning from the past which ensures a strong future. The Akans believe that there must be movement and new learning as time passes. As this forward march proceeds, the knowledge of the past must never be forgotten. Sankofa represents reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress was such a powerful statement. The name Sankofa keeps our history linked to our wellness. It bears witness for all who will be involved that in order for us to have a healthy environment and strive, we must keep our history at the forefront of all services. Sankofa will strive to combat internalized cultural stigma around mental health as well as address the mental health disparities that continue to affect the black community. Sankofa will be located in the heart of the African American community in Charlottesville and operate under the framework of healing justice. While the Sankofa Center may not reach full fruition during my fellowship, I have and will continue to take significant steps towards seeing it manifest.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ivora (Ivy) Hinton
My main goal is to continue my docuseries that outlines the black history here in Charlottesville. I want to show the black community how great we were and let the world know we do exist because the narrative put out after #SummerOfHate was that we didn't exist. We do. I also want to continue the work of providing a space or series of events for us as a way to document new history being made and giving us some of the things we need so we can have spaces and places to embrace our culture like everyone else.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Claudrena Harold