Their Eyes Were Watching #BlackWomenAreForGrownUps

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Stevona Rogers Launches a Campaign to Inspire Black Women to Share the Fullness of Black Womanhood

In Zora Neale Hurston’s groundbreaking Black women’s novel/manifesto, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Nanny tries to prepare Janie for a world that isn’t ready for her Black soon-to-be-woman self, and she does it by telling her story. Nanny laments to her granddaughter, “Ah wanted to preach a great sermon about colored women sittin’ on high, but they wasn’t no pulpit for me.” (She also says some things about Black women and mules, but you’ll have to go back to read that for yourself.) Social media hashtags are present day pulpits (churches notwithstanding). Stevona “Stevie” Rogers carries Mama Zora’s mantle through the sermon in which she declares #BlackWomenAreForGrownUps #BWAFGU. Her inspiration came from two sources: first, ruminating on the complete, complex life of Mama Maya Angelou, former sex worker, United States poet laureate, university professor, Mama Oprah’s mentor, and more. Stevie’s other stimulus was the rapper Eve’s marriage to a billionaire. This tatted up Philly jawn, former stripper, self-proclaimed “pitbull in a skirt”, who had been in a sex tape made public, stirred something in Stevie’s spirit. So she took to Instagram, posted a photo of Eve glowing as she strolled down the wedding aisle with her new husband, and declared what Nanny knew, what Janie learned, what any sister who walks in the fullness, intricacies, and contradictions of her Black self knows: we are grown, and we are for grownups. Period.

A womanist and “wild woman,” Stevie uses to celebrate the triumphs of our full Black woman selves and to elucidate the injustices we cope with everyday. In the center of ourselves and our communities, we are backbones, beacons, brave, and even mules, and Stevie sees and hails all our glory: Serena Williams celebrates her Wimbledon win with a Black Power fist. Diamond Reynolds keeps her four-year-old daughter calm as she films police assassinating her beloved Philando Castile. Strong. Resilient. Vulnerable. We are strong because we are brave, because we are vulnerable, because we teach, we tell, and we keep on pushing. So Stevie created an online movement where we can share more. Through her “Black Women are For Grown Ups” campaign, and the limited edition tee she’s built with it, Black women can boldly share their myriad of experiences using the hashtags #BlackWomenAreForGrownUps and #BWAFGU. Stevie explains it like this:

“Black women have continuously been at the forefront of justice movements in this country, and I do believe affirmations like ‘Black Girl Magic’, ‘Black Girls Rock’ and ‘Care Free Black Girl’ play a grave role in highlighting our confidence across age groups, but I wanted to create something that was exclusively for full-grown women. I recently saw a fierce Black woman protesting in the #BWAFGU tee and it brought me so much joy!”

Black women worldwide have shared their stories through #BWAFGU. Stevie has used her platform to raise their voices and turn into a launching point where women who share her hue can be inspired. Whether it’s penning poignant think pieces about how she came into her own sense of self or curating joyful, intentional experiences that celebrate Black womanhood, Stevie’s work is in service to the deliberate affirmation of Black women across the globe who are kicking ass and taking no prisoners.

#BWAFGU shows that we are awesome and excellent on our own, in and of our full selves. We matter, regardless. Married or not. Childfree or grandma. Whore and holy. When we affirm that Black women are for grown ups, it means we live as our complex, mighty, vulnerable selves, and we require the same of those with whom we interact. We will hold you accountable in our homes. On the job. In our relationships. In our places of worship. At the babies’ school. #BlackWomenAreForGrownUps is more than a declaration. It sets a bar. It foretells whom and what you are dealing with before you meet the sister in the shirt. It’s a litmus test. If you can’t handle the woman who wears it, you may not be as grown up as you thought you were. We are not a game. Get your weight up, and get right or get left.

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