Black women · millennials · Self- Love

A series: Young women of Flint creating and shaping their own success stories

Introducing Ms. Teshia Bradford, a 21 year old graduate of Marygrove college in the city of Detroit. Teisha’s major in college was Fine Arts: Graphic design. A beautifully talented young Artist from the city of Flint: 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? 

Teshia:Growing up in flint for me wasn’t as hard as it sounds. I always thought I had a great childhood and didn’t feel as though I was struggling, until I saw what others had that I didn’t. Being from Flint to me means being a survivor of many adversities, being strong.”

-What are your thoughts about everything happening within our city as of now? 

Teshia: “My thoughts of what’s going on in Flint now is sometimes saddening, sometimes empowering. Through violence, the water crisis and lack of education, it feels depressing to know that people who have power really don’t care ENOUGH to make a difference. But then I look around at some of my peers from flint, they give me hope. It’s some great people here.”

-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 ? 

Teshia: “Some things I find myself overcoming is being a double minority. Black and a woman in America means you can find yourself at the bottom of every stepladder. I have to overcome the need to be 10x better at something than my white peers, especially white males. Other adversities that hurt me most are the stereotypes and disrespect that we face from our own race, specifically from black men. Although I personally have myself a wonderful black men, seeing how other black men treat us is saddening.”

-What does it mean for you to be a Black woman ? 

TeshiaTo be a black woman for me means being strong, overcoming any and everything not only for the sake of you, but for the sake of others as well.”It means holding myself to a very high standard so that I won’t be overlooked or looked at as “average”.It also means that I am royalty. I am very proud to be a black woman no matter what I face.

-Who are some woman that you look up to , that helped in shaping you into the young woman you are today? 

Teshia“Women that I look up to mainly are my sisters and my mom. My sisters are major go-getters and entrepreneurs. I’ve always wanted to be like them in different ways. Making our own money and having many talents is what has always stuck out. I also look up to my mom for making ways out of what seem like no way when I was younger. I never felt like I had without, knowing that she didn’t have much.”

-What’s your idea of success? 

Teshia: “My idea of success is being happy in whatever you are doing. Making a profit is a plus, but if you are happy overall then you have won. You are successful.”

-What’s your idea of purpose? 

Teshia“My idea of purpose is your destiny. Purpose is what you were put on this earth to fulfill, may that be one thing or several. Your purpose can be your passion, may not be. I guess to sum it up, to me, purpose is pretty much a certain path, occupation, goal, mission that you are to fulfill in life.”

 -How does it feel for you knowing that you are creating your own success story, breaking stigmas and or stereotypes ? 

TeshiaIt really feels good to know that I am doing that. It gets so tiring to hear (mostly our) people talk down on the black community. Every time I hear the complaints, I try to speak up on who I am and the wonderful black people that I personally know. I always figure that they must not know many black people who are different than the stigmas, and it’s saddening. So being able to let them know that we are out here makes me feel like I am doing something right.”

-I remember in high school you always being so nice and complimenting me, and how that uplifted me in many ways just with a simple “you look pretty today”. With that being said how important is it do you think for Black woman to uplift one another ?

TeshiaAwww! I feel so warmed that you were uplifted by that. I think it is veryyyy important because not only did I feel the need to uplift us, i felt good when I was uplifted by another black woman! People don’t realize how far a smile, a compliment or a nice gesture can go. Honestly every time a black women lifts me up I feel like a queen, and that’s how it should be. It’s important because we don’t get it enough from others. We are represented like all we do is hate each other, so when we receive love from each other it gives us the boost we need.”

-What does Art mean for you? How long have you been creating ? What are some things that you hope to accomplish with your art one day?

Teshia:Art to me is the best way that I can express myself. It’s how I get my feelings out. Hopefully I can accomplish making black women in particular, feel as beautiful as we are. I want black women to love themselves for what we were born with. I’ve heard so much self hate in my life, and it makes me terribly sad because I think everything we’ve been passed down with is a blessing, our bodies, hair, facial features and all. that’s why most of my art is about our hair in it’s natural state, and our bodies in nonsexual ways. It’s too much represented as the opposite. I have plans with my art to reach out to young black children so that the self love can start early on.”

Here listed are a few pictures of Teshia’s beautiful art: 

“Teshia’s art makes me feel a sense of  empowerment, Black girl magic, mixed with divine feminine energy.” 

-How important is it as a young Black woman, or woman in general do you feel to have self -love and or confidence ? 
Teshia:” To have self love is so important to me because without it (which I did experience once upon a time), you feel lost. You don’t truly know yourself if you dont love yourself. I just recently became completely confident in myself. I still battle with physical insecurities, but overall it’s not self hate. If I had self love when I was a pre-teen/kid, my hair wouldnt have been damaged. I would have known about the beautiful kinky curls that I have way before I discovered them. I would have realized my dark brown skin was smooth as silk and wouldnt have wished I was lighter. I’ve been told that my confidence or lack of it, can show.

If I wouldve had the confidence back then that I do now, I could have overall FELT as beautiful as I was.”

-What is something that you love about your journey so far, would you change anything if you could? 

Teshia: “What I love about my journey is that I’ve really come into a place where my self love is at an all time high. People cannot offend me. Even if they try, it won’t get under my skin. Through my journey I’ve been learning to not only embrace everything I was born with but to take care of it as well. I wouldn’t change anything but that it could’ve been sooner.”

-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 ?

Teshia: “Word of advice to a little girl in Flint from me would be to not look at bad things people say as word to you. The statistics, stigmas and stereotypes will never define you as long as you remember you are royalty. I would tell her to make the best of every situation, because that is one thing I’ve always tried to do. Don’t complain, just make the best of it and make a change.”

Thank you to Ms. Teshia Bradford for yet another interview filled with raw words of encouragement, dropping gems of the importance of self love and upliftment of one another.. thank you for being on the road of changing lives through your art. Greatly appreacited!  

“The Black artist is dangerous. Black art controls the “Negro’s” reality, negates negative influences, and creates positive images.” ~ Sonia Sanchez 

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