Business 30 June 2018
We don't have a choice of how we are brought into this world. We can't choose what sex we'll be, what race, our size, our economic status or sexual orientation etc. Life is truly what you make of it and how you decide to deal with each situation is up to you.
When you're born an African American woman, and have aspirations to become an entrepreneur, you must prepare yourself for an uphill battle. It's a tedious aspiration, however, the rewards are great as you persevere by staying focused, determined, and fueled by passion.
There are so many factors that prevent you from receiving funding or finding investors when you start a business, especially being a WOC (woman of color). There was a lack of knowledge on my end – I had no idea about business plans, banking, business credit, or really anything business related. When you don't have the knowledge, you spend tons of money on items that you don't need, could have gotten for free or done yourself. People will take advantage of you and your money instead of giving you proper guidance. People do this when they see that you're a woman of color or even just seeing that your email address sounds ethnic– I've even changed my email to T. Anderson so that people will just open my messages.
With my first business, I was out in the open – my face was everywhere and the social media photos posted were of me with with celebrities and customers. I was the brand, but I couldn't get financial help from anywhere. I recall a time when I was being pitched to an alcohol brand to give alternative marketing for a new brand – they loved my products (desserts), but as soon as we meet in person, the deal got shut down. I didn't want to blame it on color, but a few months later, on their social media, they located a baker who created a dessert with their brand, but she was not a WOC.
With my second business, I decided to take a different approach. I didn't share photos of myself on any social media, I abbreviated my name in emails, and I even changed the tone of my voice when speaking on the phone to sound less ethnic. Perception is everything because, after that, I had no trouble finding support financially – it was as if people believed in me and what I was telling them, and didn't even ask as many questions as they had with my first business. I noticed that advice was given freely, people volunteered to educate me on the things I didn't know or understand, and support came from every direction. Both of my businesses are creative and very outside of the box, so it wasn't the type of business that people were drawn to. The fact that they didn't know what color or ethnicity I was seemed to open their ears to listen to me and actually want to see this business flourish.
The change begins with education in our communities for young women by making them aware of their options.
They deserve to be prepared for any road block that comes their way, have doors open for them, be progressive in business, and create a line for the next generation to follow so we don't have to depend on men to teach us how to operate a successful, profitable business with upward growth.
You would think in this day and age, sex and race wouldn't play such a major role in business, or maybe I was naive. I know having a good idea and concept is not enough and that you have to learn how to play the corporate game to get to the top.
As women, we should support each other and create a community to help us advance in every aspect of business. We need to instill in the next generation the importance of encouraging and empowering each other. This is specifically important for POC (people of color) to advance in society so we can change the world by becoming a major influence on both the business and political aspect. We can't help transform the world if we are not represented on the panels that make those decisions.
The choices I make today will affect the decisions my daughter can make in the future. I lay the groundwork for her to play in, so I am beyond determined to break stereotypes and change perception in order to be heard and validated as a true female entrepreneur of color.
Through all the challenges I faced as a woman of color, I can say I am proud of everything that I have gone through because now I am able to help the next generation. Currently, my second business is in the cannabis industry and has become the most lucrative. Now I am in a position to teach and mentor people of color in an industry that has a lack of representation of people of color. By being an industry leader as a head executive of the Cannabis Diversity Council, which is a global education business platform for POC who are interested in getting into the cannabis industry, we provide educational mentoring classes. My experience and growth has empowered me to embrace my color and femininity. Being a woman of color in 2018 is a gift and reward once you ignore the negativity and focus on the positive aspects manifesting all things in life, both personally and professionally.
I am what I think I am, are you?
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.