Who’s Shining? “Curly Nikki” Walton is…

curly nikki portaitHave you heard of the online hair blogging sensation Nikki “Curly Nikki” Walton? Well, if you haven’t, you have been out of the loop on all things black hair for at least five years.

Nikki Walton is a best-selling author, blogger, psychotherapist, mommy, and hairlista who started her blog site CurlyNikki.com in October 2008 as a response to a lack of online presence for kinky/curly hair texture experts and advice. She coined the motto “If You’re Not Feeling Your Hair, You’re Not Feeling Yourself…” And, here at The Worth Campaign, we think this young lady is definitely representing all four of the Themes of Worth: Giving, Thriving, Growing, and Shining. [Read more…]

Press Release: Official Launch of Future 501c3 “The Worth Campaign”

facebook profile picLaunched online on March 31st, 2013, Jenn M. Jackson’s future 501c3, The Worth Campaign, sets out to empower young women of color by educating them about images and stereotypes which might cause them to question their worth. The project’s core function is to reinforce self-worth and build up young women where past experiences may have torn them down. Additionally, because the program is intended to serve high school and college-aged young women of color, The Worth Campaign will equip young women with the tools needed to traverse the tumultuous years between adolescence and adulthood.

As a young girl, Jackson found herself struggling with questions of self-worth. From her extraordinary height of over six feet tall at twelve years of age to her difficulties with her inner city surroundings, she often found herself struggling to fit in. And, in an effort to get comfortable, she would often distort or hide her true self in order to be more generally accepted by others. Not understanding what was driving her to this response, she continued the behavior through high school and college to cope with her inability to truly understand her own innate value.

She went on to attend the University of Southern California, receiving an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering. Her interests later moved toward politics as she received a Masters in Political Science and will be starting her PhD program in fall 2014. Now, in her late twenties, Jackson has been writing about black women’s politics on Beyond Black & White while running a blog with her husband called Water Cooler Convos.

And, even with her accomplishments to date, Jackson still struggled with self-worth well into adulthood. It wasn’t until reading Melissa Harris-Perry’s 2011 book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America, that Jackson was able to name and identify the issues she had faced for most of her life.

After joining the blogging community in 2012, Jackson began working with many women of color who each seemed to have a very different perspective of self. Reminded of her own struggles throughout high school and college, Jackson became overwhelmed with a desire to truly make a difference for women of color. In response to a deeper understanding of herself, Jackson set out to build a community for other women like her.

The Worth Campaign was her answer to the dearth of programs addressing the unique conditions faced by many young women of color during this vital period of their personal growth. She started the project after being inspired by Harris-Perry’s prose but it was her inner desire to reach out to others like her that served as the catalyst for The Worth Campaign.

In the coming months and years, Jackson will be building upon her current networks of strong women of color to bring her vision for The Worth Campaign to fruition. She envisions a robust program of mentorship opportunities, empowerment lessons, exercises in self-worth, college preparation and a host of partnerships with community-based organizations as the foundational basis for The Worth Campaign’s high school program. For college-aged women, she hopes to align the Campaign with existing campus groups and programs supporting young women of color to provide forums, guidance, and positive reinforcement initiatives for those seeking community on their college campuses.

Follow along as The Worth Campaign develops into a full-fledged nonprofit organization. There are great things in store for this vital and needed project.worthSignature

Worth 104: Know Your Worth…Then Live it

worthQuoteWhat does this quote mean to you? Do you believe it? After reading Worth 101, 102, and 103, do you actually believe that your worth is determined just by the mere you-ness in your veins?

This final installment of the introduction to The Worth Campaign is really about you understanding you. There are no lessons from me here. You are the pilot of your own Worth Campaign just as I am the pilot of mine. There is no single method to understanding your worth and living it. But, I have a few observations that I have made as I have navigated my own journey. [Read more…]

Worth 103: When Shaming Becomes Action

Welcome to Worth 103: When Shaming Becomes Action. This piece was originally written on Water Cooler Convos addressing some of the messages manifested in real-life and written about by Melissa Harris-Perry in Sister Citizen.

The purpose of this installment is to illustrate how the theme of shame in interwoven into the lives of women of color. Additionally, shame, in some cases, is used to punish women for socially-identified stereotypical behavior whether it is truly present or not.

Have you ever watched butter melt? It is actually quite interesting. There are several options when melting butter you know. One, you can simply leave it out on the counter and let it rest for a few minutes or hours depending on whether it was in the freezer or fridge. Two, you can melt it on the stovetop. Or, three, you can just pop it in the microwave and hit the “melt” button. I melted some butter this weekend while making my kids a batch of pancakes. And, as I watched the tall chunk of dairy goodness become swallowed up by the plastic measuring cup, I felt myself drift away a bit. [Read more…]

Worth 102: Understanding the Roots of Stereotypes

Worth 102 is the second installment in your introduction to The Worth Campaign. This lesson is intended to educate young women of color about the roots of three dominating stereotypes: the Jezebel, the Mammy, and the Sapphire.

The Jezebel

According to Harris-Perry, the Jezebel ideal originated when Southern slaveowners needed a reason to legitimize the forced nakedness, physical “commoditization,” and coerced sexual relations between them and their female slaves. In order to justify the rape and dehumanization of these women, they had to be depicted as wanton, over-sexed, whorish, and seductive. How were these poor slaveowners to deny these big breasted, chiseled bodied, and perpetually available Black women whose sole desire was to sleep with them? These women were cast as animalistic in nature. Sexual prowess was just a Black woman’s natural instinct toward physical gratification. Disgusting right? [Read more…]

Worth 101: In the Crooked Room

This introduction to stereotypes of black women is based on Melissa Harris-Perry’s book Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. It was originally posted in a sequence of articles on Beyond Black & White.

Though the prose is primarily political in nature, there were several core theories presented that resounded with me. So much so, I believe that much of the internal and external characteristics I possess today have been significantly augmented for the better.

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America, released in September 2011,  is a lovely and intelligent book about the images in the media that work to define Black women and their roles in American society. And Harris-Perry’s work has been accepted as both necessary and legitimate. [Read more…]