Launched just before International Women’s Day- a day when women around the globe are celebrated for their achievements, Black Island Girl is the latest media creation of Dominican-Canadian Jael Joseph- a media personality, influencer, content creator and journalism student. Created as a capstone project for her journalism degree from Ryerson University with the aim of exploring issues that affect black Caribbean woman of African descent, BIG is a space where these women can share stories and varied yet related experiences in a no-judgment zone of love and empowerment.
Joseph says the platform was born from the “need for a space for black island girls to share and to really tell their life stories and to really showcase their own individualities.”
For her, the availability of the domain name and the meagre use of the term and concept further confirmed to her the need for the space.
“The mere fact that no one had picked up Black Island Girl, even as a domain name- it just said to me that either we have an issue with self-acknowledgement or we don’t think it’s necessary and I wanted to explore that a little more.
“The first feature story on the website “How Natural Hair Empowers Black Island Women” delves into the psychosocial and financial effects on professional women of colour who intentionally choose to sport their natural hair. The piece focused on women from Dominica, Barbados, the UK and Canada.
Tamara Lowe was one of these women. The Dominican native recalls the pressure she felt to straighten her hair before travelling to Miami Florida to interview for a top position in a male-dominated industry. She decided to forge her own path and went with her hair in a twist-out and recalls the relief she felt after being offered the position- Country Manager for Tropical Shipping in Dominica. Still sporting her natural tresses, she was recently voted to a Vice-President position on the Board of Women in Maritime Caribbean. Stories like Lowe’s are common in the Caribbean, a surprising revelation to some women who visit the Region, considering the large population of Black women and the strong connection to culture and tradition. Dr. Donna-Maria Maynard, a professor at the University of the West Indies in Barbados recalls a prior visit to the island for a family wedding; she had worn her hair natural for most of her life in the UK. Her relatives insisted on a perm.
In the piece she states, “They literally took me and I got my hair relaxed. We put curls and stuff, and I went to the wedding… I did not feel like myself.”
Lowe says when she was first pressured to perm her hair, that time by a former boss, she felt “weak,” however, she began to appreciate her hair by educating herself. “I started training my eyes, I searched online for women in the corporate world, people that had their hair natural.”
Jodie Dublin-Dangleben, an engineer by profession, also went the self-education route and after much experimenting and with support from her customers now owns and operates Jaydees Naturals a successful hair and body care line of products specifically targeting women with natural hair. Canada -based Serina Green, a second-generation Dominican, shared her story of how she too transformed her hair frustrations into a successful enterprise – this time, through hair braiding.
These stories along with added well-researched data, highlighted an issue that is all too common among Black women in the Caribbean and of Caribbean heritage and opens up room for discourse and hopefully forward-moving change.
This is the first of many stories that will be featured on BlackIslandGirl.com as well as an accompanying weekly podcast.
“We will be showcasing the brave, the bold, the intellects, the innovators and touching on topics such as culture, sexuality, feminism, education, religion, gender and classicism influences- all of that,” says Joseph, who finds that Caribbean women tend to be somewhat hesitant to step into the light of their own accomplishments.
“We are very passive about self-acknowledgement or self promotion, “she expounds.
She hopes to lead by example as she unabashedly shares her life experiences through her various platforms including her “Cacoa Tea with Jael Joseph” video cast. Joseph is the first Black student at Ryerson to be awarded the Fulhaber Communications award-presented to a female student with demonstrated focus and aspirations to become a senior leader in communications; and hopes to impact the Canadian and global media space through her journalistic work.
BLACK ISLAND GIRL ONLINE
Website | https://blackislandgirl.com
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