Blair Imani, 24
Civic Action & Campaign Lead at DoSomething.org
Identifying as Black, Muslim and Queer is far from easy in a society still built predominantly on stereotypes and status quo. But for Blair Imani, the Civic Action & Campaign Lead for DoSomething.org, being a triple minority - and the judgement she’s faced because of it - has fueled her crusade to implement social justice. The activist, who works for the largest tech company for youth engagement, has a simple mantra: “honor yourself.” Judging by her fierce, fearless dedication to the cause, change is on the way.
1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?
I have always imagined being a full time activist and today I work with the largest tech company for youth engagement and social change. My greatest achievement is likely yet to come as I am just starting out in this role but so far it is overcoming the belief that I could not do what I love and make a living doing so.
2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?
I’ve been told that I was too concerned about social justice to ever be successful. I have also been told to "grow up" or "join the real world" many many times. Now, people seek out my expertise about grassroots and social activism!
3. What was the hardest part of overcoming this negativity? Do you have an anecdote you can share?
I am constantly facing the stereotypes of what it means to be Black, a woman, a Muslim, and a queer person. After I came out very publicly on Fox News as a queer Muslim woman, I realized that people are going to find a reason to hate you no matter what.
"After I came out very publicly on Fox News as a queer Muslim woman, I realized that people are going to find a reason to hate you no matter what."
When Tucker Carlson implied that I could not be Black, Muslim, and a part of the LGBTQ community I made a split second decision to #SWAAYthenarrative and make a declaration of who I am.
4. As you #SWAAYthenarrative, do you feel empowered? What has been your emotional reaction?
I now understand that the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is develop a fierce and unapologetic love for yourself. This does not mean you should be consumed by your own ego but you should be gentle and respectful of yourself. You may as well fall in love with who you are!
5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?
I would say that it is key to realize where these biases come from. To keep from internalizing and believing them, arm yourself with knowledge of the historical context from which these stereotypes emerged. Once we know what we are up against, in my experience, it becomes easier to navigate through the nonsense and realize your full potential. Above all, give yourself credit for what you have survived, what you are creating, and who you have become. Honor yourself.
"Once we know what we are up against, in my experience, it becomes easier to navigate through the nonsense and realize your full potential. Above all, give yourself credit for what you have survived, what you are creating, and who you have become."
Going through adolescence and puberty can take its toll. As we try and navigate the changes that are happening and settle into adulthood, it's easy to be unaware of something that might be a reason for concern, or we may rely on old traditional methods of support that aren't conducive to positive long-term health.
As a society, we have accepted popular over-the-counter medicines that are used for an isolated headache or migraine to be the only line of defense to treat period pain. We have allowed old treatments and information to remain stagnant and thus have failed to evolve with the times. In order for change to be possible, we need to modify our approach and take advantage of and source new information, products, and research while pushing the conversation forward to normalize discussions around menstruation to better support the health of people who menstruate.
As a society, we have accepted popular over-the-counter medicines that are used for an isolated headache or migraine to be the only line of defense to treat period pain.
Between growing up with three sisters and a dad who is a double-board certified OB/GYN and infertility specialist, vaginal wellness has always taken center stage in my house. Through this, I had a lens into a world that overtime became more obviously outdated and slow to establish new tools to help combat the unpleasantries that are associated with menstruation. In my own family, I was able to see how different getting your period could be, how diverse symptoms were, and the importance of quality female wellness.
One of my sisters had the unfortunate experience of dealing with an ulcer related to excessive use of over-the-counter medication. This medicine was the only available option to help ease the pain throughout her cycle, which is a direct example of just how damaging the lack of quality menstrual-pain products can be and the toll it takes on our bodies.
It was hard not to wonder why period companies weren't as equally diverse as its customers. Or perhaps another question is, where is the effort to even have open discussions about what more could be done? As you could imagine, growing up with a doctor in the family lends itself to immediate access to health information, but this is a luxury that most people do not have. So where are the resources to help educate women and other people with vaginas on their bodies or symptoms they should look out for to help maintain positive reproductive health?
Through these observations, it became apparent just how much more could be done to support, aid, and educate women or other people with vagins on reproductive wellness. As someone who took to the trend of CBD to help with my own menstrual cycle symptoms, it had dawned on me that I was already nurturing a solution. I had been sharing my experience with CBD for menstrual relief with my sisters and girlfriends, so why not the rest of our community?
Enter, Maxine + Morgan, the CBD based wellness brand dedicated to using natural ingredients to alleviate menstrual cycle symptoms that I created with my dad Dr. Allen Morgan. When my family and I learned that people who menstruate sacrifice approximately 23 days a year on average worth of productivity because of period-related symptoms, we knew our products could improve that. We created capsules that are GMO free, gluten free, and vegan; all of which are made up using only six ingredients. Turmeric, ginger, cramp bark, valerian root, and fennel coupled with the healing qualities of CBD make up our unique formula that has been scientifically shown to reduce PMS symptoms and cramping. In addition to our CBD-based products, we also have a wellness line of options that are CBD free, which are also undergoing a clinical study to determine overall effectiveness.
In my own family, I was able to see how different getting your period could be, how diverse symptoms were, and the importance of quality vaginal wellness.
We decided early on that we would focus on providing high-quality supplements that fostered an uninterrupted lifestyle while simultaneously investing time and resources to new research and information. Having only been established for a few years now, we have coordinated the first ever clinical study to compare the effectiveness of CBD to popular over-the-counter medicine. We have also created an initiative with the non-profit organization, Period.org to donate funds to help support their amazing cause.
As a program that prioritizes access to information, hygiene products, and resources, we couldn't think of a better group to join forces with to leverage change within the industry. Especially now in the pandemic era, there has been an influx of women who are facing the harsh reality of period poverty. This refers to women who need feminine hygiene products but cannot afford them, which often leads to using toilet paper, rags, socks, or not using anything at all. This is completely unacceptable. Maxine+Morgan is vowing to bring awareness to period poverty and sourcing solutions that help all women feel comfortable, healthy, and strong. Through strategic partnerships, influencing open conversations, and raising money for non-profit organizations we can create a new dynamic and standard.
Maxine+Morgan is vowing to bring awareness to period poverty and sourcing solutions that help all menstruating people feel comfortable, healthy, and strong.
We have set high standards for the quality and effectiveness of our products, but also for who we are as a company. We are dedicated to being allies to the female community in order to foster change, create support, and reinvent how we talk about period health. More times than not, we only discuss our experience around our period when we're forced to cancel plans because our cramps are too painful to leave the house. We have no problem talking about our new skincare routine but shy away from talking about our flow, or what's going on down there. Within the next five years, we're setting our sights on not only being readily available in all major retail platforms that carry your other female wellness products, but creating a new dialogue filled with updated information and dismantling the stigma behind open discussion on menstruation and painful period symptoms.
We're with you, we feel you, we are you.