Strong. Confident. Powerful. Radical. Unwavering.
These are all adjectives used to describe great Black women leaders. Depended upon to change the world, it is almost as if that is all that Black women are expected to be. Always leading the charge, innovating, ready to fight for the change we deserve. But, as if that isn’t even, they are also fighting for others, too. Because if we are not all liberated, nobody is.
Through our praise of Black women for always maintaining strength and fighting the good fight, the public often forgets how multifaceted Black woman truly can be. JUV partnered with the all-female led team behind the racial justice non-profit Freedom March NYC. By bringing together changemakers, artists, mobilizers, and business leaders, we wanted to highlight something that is often looked over: Black femme softness.
What is Freedom March NYC?
Co-founded by Chelsea Miller and Nialah Edari, Freedom March NYC began organizing and leading non-violent protests after the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. Upon attending other protests across the city, Chelsea and Nialah couldn’t help but notice a lack of organization among folks and thus, the need for their leadership was imminent.
Since then, Freedom March NYC has led multiple protests, worked in policy reform, organized voter registration and mobilization campaigns, and provided other organizers with training and supplies to continue to conduct successful non-violent protests across the country. These women have shown us once again the amazing actionable power that Gen Z is known for. But as these phenomenal women continue to do the work and teach others how to follow in their footsteps, we wanted to highlight another side of them for this campaign.
The roles Black Women play
At the intersection of Black History and Women’s History Month, there is no better way to celebrate Black women than to allow them to simply just be. There are so many moments where black women are expected to be everything for everyone whether it’s in the code-switching, the hard worker in corporate work space or fulfilling the “strong black woman” stereotype within their own community. This constant mask black women must wear is exhausting and when there is a moment to finally take it off there is an unfiltered beauty that we wanted to capture.
Dissecting the “Soft Girl Aesthetic”
To celebrate International Women’s Day, the featured women all gave commentary on their womanhood and how it relates to Black history overall. Speaking as a Black woman, I believe our ancestors wanted for us to break outside of the stereotype of alway being strong. They endured the worst for us in hopes that with time we could be more comfortable with taking up space for our full selves. They wanted us to realize that to be a leader is to be so radical that you disrupt everything. You redefine social norms. And you get to be as soft and gentle with yourself as you want to be while you do it.
Special thanks to all JUV team members involved in the production of this project: Ayomide Soleye, Korri Palmer, Maia Regman, Tori Romo, Maia Ervin and Gabe Garcia. We appreciate the work of our freelance network, including photographer Cleo Villegas, hair stylist Shaniqua Davis and makeup artists Nia White and Will Metivier.
JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.