Introducing Ms. Zariah Montgomery. A 20 year old, gorgeous, dazzling, and brilliant young woman from the city of Flint. Attending Eastern Michigan University, majoring in Nursing, Zariah will be a junior in the fall. Here is our interview..
– What was it like growing up in the city of Flint for you, and what does being from Flint mean to you?
Zariah: “I had a great childhood. The fact that I lived in a “poor and dangerous city” rarely even crossed my mind. Despite the circumstances our city faces (then & now), my family has always made sure that I never have to want for anything. Growing up I lived in the inner city for 9 years, then in Flint Township for 9 years, which allowed me to see the city from different aspects. Being from Flint is special to me. It may not be the best city to be from but I still take pride in it. Flint taught me that I never have to settle or become a product of my environment.”
-What are your thoughts about everything happening within our city as of now ?
Zariah: “I have plenty of thoughts, but to keep things brief.. It’s a shame that it had to get to this point for Flint to be noticed, but it just goes to show how minorities are pushed to the back burner. We live in a country that boasts about freedom and equality, when some of their people are chained to poverty and are barely given any means to rise up. Genocide? Sounds about white.”
-As a young Black woman in America, what are some adversities you find yourself facing, or what are some of the things that your find yourself overcoming ?
Zariah: “One adversity that comes to mind immediately is the crazy, untamed, very aggressive, over-sexualized black woman stereotype. I struggled with trying to prove to white people that I was not that (during interviews, with professors, etc). I’ve reached a point now where I am not pressed to conform. Never was I ashamed of my blackness! Now, I just have a better and more unapologetic grasp of it. As the saying goes,”what’s understood doesn’t have to be explained.”
–What does it mean for you to be a Black woman?
Zariah: “I consider it a badge of honor and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Black girl magic is a real thing! We’re so versatile and unique. I love everything about being a black woman because there’s no comparison to how great we are. We’re resilient and amazing in every way imaginable. Being a woman alone gives us the opportunity to birth even more beautiful black people into the world. On the other hand, being a black woman also means we have to uplift each other and make sure we all know how great it is to be us.”
–Who are some women that you look up to , that helped in shaping you into the young woman you are today?
Zariah: “I definitely look up to my mom. I have seen her go through so much & never miss a beat providing for her children. I appreciate her more than ever now. As a kid, I saw her lecturing as nagging but as an adult, I realize the value of all her words and actions. I often hear her voice in my head when trying to make a decision on something or I rely on things she has taught me to get me through. I understand what a blessing she truly is & I always to make sure she knows how I feel about her. Her support and her love are second to none. Literally and figuratively: without her, there would be no me!”
–What’s your idea of success?
Zariah: “My idea of success is anything that makes me happy. Simply reaching small goals I have in place, like saving a certain amount in the bank or not putting heat on my hair for a couple of months, makes me feel successful.”
–What’s your idea of purpose?
Zariah: “I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and because of that, I feel that everyone has a purpose or else we wouldn’t be here. Finding out your specific purpose means you have to know yourself. Once you figure out “who you are”, you can begin to assess “why you are”.
–How does it feel for you knowing that you are creating your own success story, breaking stigmas and or stereotypes ?
Zariah: “It makes me proud, but also anxious. My success is not only for me, but for those who I love and even people I don’t know for that matter. People are rooting for me to be great and I don’t want to let them down. As far as stigmas/stereotypes, it does feel good to not be another statistic but at the same time I won’t allow that to make me think I’m better than anyone else.”
– How important is it as a young Black woman, or woman in general do you feel to have self -love and or confidence ?
Zariah: “I think it’s nearly vital! The worst thing ever is seeing a black girl who isn’t aware of who she is. I believe the promotion of self love, esteem, and confidence should start at a young age, by engulfing our black babies in love and showing them how to embrace their blackness. Unfortunately, we have to battle with a society that will or try to dismantle this self-love, but I believe as long as there are spaces to build that confidence back up, everything will be okay.”
-What is something that you love about your journey so far, would you change anything if you could?
Zariah : “Over the past two years, I really admire how much I’ve matured and the independence I have. I’ve always had faith in myself, but I think I’m doing a better job at adulting than I expected. I’m content with my life for the most part but if I had the chance to do things differently, I’d probably be getting my degree from an HBCU.”
-If you could give a word of advice or encouragement to a little girl, growing up in the city of Flint what would you tell her ?
Zariah: “I would tell her to educate herself. Learn in school. Learn how to share with others. Learn the value of money. Learn how to do math. Learn as much as she can now so that she’ll be ready when the time comes to learn more challenging things that will help her through life like what exactly it means to be a black woman, how to take care of her hair, who her ancestors are, or why Flint is the way it is.”Thank you to Ms. Zariah Montgomery for her raw and beautiful insight on life.
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass” ~ Maya Angelou