In my life I have been inspired time and time again by individuals who manifested a dream into something real. I was taught from an early age that no one, except yourself, could make your dreams come true. No one was going to show up at your house and hand you everything on a silver platter. But by combining hard work, some gumption, a little sweat, belief, and laughter you could accomplish anything.
Community has always played a big role in my life. I have received an abundance of support and love over the years from the different networks I have found myself included in. Through my personal journey I have been so blessed to meet other motivated and strong individuals of color.
As a mixed girl, and one who is white appearing, my sense of self has floundered for most of my life. I was often bullied at school for being “adopted” by my dark skinned mom, who had me as a teenager. Honestly for most of my life, I let others define who I was, because I had no concrete way to describe my ethnicity. I never knew my biological father, though I knew he was Native American and some kind of European.
My only real family is my maternal side. With most of my formative years spent with my mom’s parents, Pop-pop Identifying as African American and my Nana identifying as Puerto Rican. I grew up in a house and in neighborhoods full of different skin tones, hair textures, and languages. But it all left me hazy and with no idea of how I was supposed to define myself. Society told me that my skin tone was a privilege- that I was reaping the benefits of it each time I stepped out of my home. But the same thing that gave me privileges to the outside world, made me feel very isolated. Well into college I felt like a trivia question every time I met someone new, often being introduced by friends with a “Guess what race Faith is, you’ll never guess but try anyways!”
But despite being able to pass for different races, depending on what color my hair is this week, or how I dress, or what language I use. I found people to be initially restrictive with me, until I proved I was “enough” to be considered a part of their community. Which ended up making me second guess my own damn self over and over again.
Today I realize, Identity is understanding who I am in the world, and it’s split up into two parts, one is how others understand me, and the other part is how I understand myself. But no matter what someone else sees of me, I am a person of color. My experiences and culture have defined that for me, not someone’s perception of my skin tone
While the classifications of these things have played a big part in my life, so has the support and inclusion from various social groups. Over the years I have met so many talented entrepreneurs, actors, musicians, and creative people of color. Some of these I have admired from afar, others are close friends.
With that I’d like to introduce 5 people-of-color run businesses that have inspired me and are just some of my favorite! The business owners are all socially, politically, and environmentally conscious individuals. They are inclusive, strong, and share a common goal of solidarity and equality. These are the type of companies and brands I love to represent and I hope you all support them as well!