Nia - "#BlackPower"
Roots: Bushwick and Westbury (Long Island)
Pin Drop: Bushwick, Brooklyn
New Yorker Status: My entire life!
Uniqueness: Black American
What was your hometown like growing up? Was it predominantly white, black, a mix of both? My hometown situation was a little off because I pretty much grew up between two towns--which felt a bit like a double life. On Long Island, the neighborhood where I went to school it was predominately black and Hispanic. In Brooklyn where I was also brought up, it was full of Puerto Rican and Dominican folks.
Who in the black community (dead or alive) do you admire the most and why? It may be cliche but I don't care, I would say Oprah is the person I most admire. Looking back she was really the first person that really opened my mind to the world of media. I used to joke with my brother that I wanted to be the next Oprah and quite recently someone told me that too. Thinking about it now seeing her is what I feel planted the idea in my head that I could make it in the industry as a black woman.
Beyonce has somewhat deemed herself to be the un-appointed 21st century civil rights and feminist leader for black women - how do you feel about this? First a foremost I love me some Beyonce! I don't particularly care to judge folks on how they fight for civil rights or practice their feminism (unless extremely damaging.) but as people, we are always growing and improving to be our best selves and I feel like Beyonce has been on the journey to find what is true and right for her. I think her stance is important because we need the diversity of thought amongst the community to help these causes thrive and to challenge stereotypes.
Break down your ethnic background, My ethnic background is what my mother likes to describe as "Garden Variety Negro" which, I never really got what she meant by that when I was younger but as I've gotten older I see she was referring to the African American, the Black American--that community of black folks who are from generations and generations of slavery. Within the past few years, my mom has gotten genetically tested to see where our roots really come from but I think I'm still not mature enough to really appreciate it and truly soak in that information.
Have you ever personally experienced racism? Is so, when and by who? Wooof. Well, I could be here all day listing all the different instances from strangers and friends of racist moments but the one I'll focus on, in particular, is the micro-aggression regarding my hair. Lately, I've finally felt comfortable enough to experiment with different natural and protective hairstyles but people have REGULARLY felt it their duty to grab and touch my hair without my consent. It happens at work, on the train, on the street--and I will never understand why folks (almost exclusively white) think they have the right to encroach on my personal space--call it a disregard for my autonomy as a black woman or something but it really makes me feel like they believe they can do whatever they want because I don't matter and I am less than.
Photographs by: Frank Chiodo