We're celebrating Black History Month this year with words from your peers! Black History Month means something different for everyone, but this time around, we’re finding out what it means from our fellow artists and creators:
Abiola Agoro (she/her/hers) is a 20-year-old activist, student, and business owner from Fort Worth, Texas.
“I currently attend Boston University but I also own a mobile boutique, online store, and design clothes. In addition to my fashion background, I have a strong political background and work as a political consultant for campaigns.”
How has being a black business owner, especially one that started out at such a young age, affected your life?
I started my business when I was nine. It was called “Fabiabiola and Mommy” and eventually evolved to F&M Boutique when I got a physical store at 15. I think being a business owner since a young age has always given me a sense of confidence and taught me early on that I was capable of a lot. It also gave me the tools to operate in any business environment and the legitimacy I needed to back up my words.
In this day and age, with all the stigma that comes with being a black woman in America, what keeps you confident?
What keeps me confident are a few different things. One, knowing what is and isn’t in my control. I can control my image to a certain extent, but there’s a point when it’s out of your hands. I can try and help people to a certain point but you can only do so much. Two, constantly reminding myself most things are not personal. Even when something is done to you it likely isn’t about just you. Three, I will always, in any situation, come out on top because I have been forced to adapt in numerous harsh environments but they have taught me how to survive anything. I love the lessons of my scars.
Do you think that here in America today, people of color, specifically Blacks, are facing a larger amount of injustice when it comes to politics? If so, is it getting any better or worse?
The racism and injustice against people of color and black and Latinx people especially isn't getting worse, it’s getting more convoluted. Policies and politicians that used to be straight up racist have now hidden the racism between the lines of policies more and more. It also has become more convoluted since there is more representation for black and Latinx people but that representation either one, doesn’t care about their communities and makes policies against them or two, they deeply care but get blackballed and can’t get anything done for their communities. People generally feel it’s not “cool” to be racist but they still hold racist views that they don’t recognize as racist. There are people who believe Mexicans are lazy for example but don’t consider themselves racist because they think they know one Mexican who they view as lazy. They don’t view that as being an unfair and gross generalization since it’s their bigger picture.
What do you think is the best way to address the #blacklivesmatter movement?
Black lives matter is best addressed when the actions and policies for black people are created by black people, and not just one or two but by many from different backgrounds or different states with varying experiences. It still needs white advocates pushing those policies through in order for it to be seen as important but it must come from a black perspective. That’s the best way to create policy.
How do you feel about the diverse group of women we finally have been appointed in Congress?
Some of the newly elected women are truly representative of our population and are amazing (the two Native American representatives, the multiple black women, etc) but the numbers are still shy. I’m waiting to see what some of the other women will do since many of them don’t have national reputations yet. It’s hard to say if they’ll be allies or end up turning into the same type of politicians we have now.
What do you hope to see happens in the next US election?
I hope brown and black women get the representation they need and desperately deserve.
What advice do you have for future black entrepreneurs out there?
Sometimes you need to create your own space, sometimes you need to infiltrate and expand another space. You have to determine the difference and figure out where you’re needed.