The mission of the We’re Here Project is to empower and amplify the voices of young Black women in our community. In Southwest Missouri, there are still strides to be made with representation, diversity, and equity and the goal of this project is to raise the visibility of young Black women who wish to be a part of that conversation. Each woman selected for the project gets to share her story and perspective on beauty and strength as a Black woman in the Southwest Missouri area. This is Kaijuanda’s interview:
What is your definition of beauty?
Beauty is unapologetically being happy with who you are and what you represent.
Tell us about what you do.
I am a mother of five. I work in the travel industry. I’m an Empowerment Coach that encourages women and girls to embrace the journey of self-discovery by communication and empowerment events. I have a strong background in real estate marketing which I absolutely enjoy.
What brought you to Southwest Missouri?
Domestic Violence.. Faith as small as a mustard seed was all I had left. Honestly, I left an emotionally abusive relationship and had nowhere else to go. I lost everything. I moved to Joplin with my four children, one suitcase, and $20 From there, once I picked up the pieces I have been on a mission to inspire others around me in a way I never thought I could. The Joplin tornado caused us to move to Springfield, MO
How are you involved in the Southwest Missouri community?
I enjoy serving my community as a whole. I focus on empowering women and girls in any way I can. Bringing awareness of self and domestic violence are my main goals.
What is your experience being a Black woman in Southwest Missouri?
It’s been challenging. I’ve experienced racism on many levels which encouraged me to become active in my community. I remember applying for one job in specific that I was really excited about and once I arrived at the interview, the way everyone looked at me, made me feel as if I was unwanted in that space. The lack of diversity grew my desire to speak up and show up in a way that people wouldn’t expect me to. Pushing past the negative experiences, I’ve established many genuine relationships with community members that care about minorities and help to amplify our voices.
With the current climate of things, what are you doing to take care of yourself?
I have taken time to pause and self reflect. This time has allowed me to take inventory of self and focus on areas where I need me most. I am spending more time doing things and making adjustments that contribute to my personal growth and mental health.
What do you want to be known for?
I want to be known for being someone brings out the best in people. A person that helps others realize their purpose and someone that challenges people to become more than they ever thought was possible. I want to be known for being someone that stands up for those that can’t or don’t know how. I want to be known for living the way I encourage others to do so.
“We are only as great as we allow ourselves to be.”