The Homegirl Project chatted with Black is Gold founder Amber Anderson about the importance of supporting Black youth and fostering the next generation of leadership.
How did your activist journey begin?
During my sophomore year of high school I decided to take African American History. I never was really educated on Black culture until taking that class due to attending private schools that never offered those opportunities. This class was empowering, inspiring, and educated me on about my people and about who I was as a Black woman. It made me realize that I needed to love myself, the skin I am in, and the culture I am a part of. At the time I was exploring different interests I had, in which it was creative directing. I had reached out to my fellow co-founder Lailah Webster about shooting a photoshoot and filming a video that represented the diversity of women in the black community in a positive light.
How did your nonprofit, Black is Gold, get its start?
The name Black is Gold comes from a song by Wale; this is also the song that inspired the aforementioned video. After the video was released and received positive feedback from our peers, my two fellow co-founders ( Lailah Webster & Jillian Shogunle) and myself decided that this needed more media coverage. We reached out to Anta Njie, a current senior at Spelman College. Anta challenged our thinking and advised us to make Black is Gold something that was impactful to our community. This phone conversation was the birth of the Black is Gold Organization.
What does your job look like on a daily basis?
I don’t really consider being the Executive Director my job. A job feels like work, but this is my passion so it never feels like work to me. But an average productive day of my life is that I will wake up around 7am and head to Starbucks. I will assign my team a task for a course of two weeks. Or, if my creative juices are flowing, they will receive a 3am email of the next event I want to host for young women in the Chicago area. I will check my emails and hold phone conferences. Most importantly I'll sit down and apply to college/scholarships, because my education comes first before anything. The job of an executive director entails managing my team, contacting my executive board, planning events, creating new ways to expand/improve the brand. But most importantly, the job is meant to inspire lives of young women.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
My biggest accomplishment so far is being able to inspire and impact the lives of young women. That makes my heart whole and fluttering with joy. It's not really about numbers to me. Black is Gold could have an event with maybe five people in attendance, and I wouldn't care, because those five people will leave that event inspired and impacted in some way. I had to realize over time it's all about how you choose to lead, inspire, and impact the people in your community, your friends, your family, and eventually the world itself. If I inspire one young lady, then I have done my job.
What has been the hardest part of your journey?
The hardest part of my journey has been learning that this is a journey and a process. Growing up I’ve always thought that everything was going to be instant and happen within seconds. This journey has taught me that everything in life is a process, you must fail before you can succeed. This organization has helped me find myself, mature, and start my journey of growing into the woman I desire to be.
Do you wish you could change anything that has happened to you?
I don’t wish I could change anything. Everything that has happened to me happened for a reason. It's all helped me grow into the young woman I am today and will help the woman I aspire to become.
What do you want people to take away from what you’re doing?
I want people to be inspired. For young women to know that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. That you can get that college degree or start that business you’ve been dreaming of. It's all about letting young women know that they have the power, the power to do whatever their hearts desire. Most importantly I want people, specifically adults in the Black Community to understand the power of mentoring, that they should start reaching back. There are so many complaints about the youth yet SOME people sit at the top of the pyramid not reaching back to train the youth in the way they should go. Yes, certain things start in the home but it takes a village to raise a child.
Are you planning on adding anything new to your brand?
Yes, my team and I are so excited to be adding a new branch called ‘Social Sisters Chicago’. Social Sisters Chicago will be a safe space for the young women of Chicago to network and build a sisterhood with each other. We will be hosting movie nights and a cupcake social for young women interested in joining our organization. All event dates will be announced in October.