#BlackGirlsCode


There’s a gap in the tech industry, let’s talk about it. We need more POC engineering technology for POC. Even further, we need more black girls engineering technology for black girls.

The STEM field is popping right now and there’s a new wave of black women learning how to code. For a weirdo-loner girl that’s been messing around with HTML since she was 12 years old, I am so joyful and excited to see this happening. Coding is not only a logic-training skill but a powerful tool that is used in pretty much every field. It drives so many of the products we use and the content we interact with on a daily basis.

When I graduated high school and was exploring my post-secondary options, my mom was pushing me to get into computer science. As much as I loved programming and web design, I just couldn’t see myself doing that as a career. It was a hobby, and I had my heart set on fashion communication.

Looking back though, she was right. The tech industry has rapidly grown in the past few years and it has become obvious to me now that coding can translate into any interest. There’s a special relationship between fashion and technology that I was completely unaware of. Admittedly, I wish I had discovered it sooner.

At this point in time I can’t dwell too heavily on that path. I’m happy with the education I chose and the opportunities its connected me with. What I can do, though, is further explore the relationship between fashion and technology using my practice and training.

I’m excited to tie in my passion for tech, fashion, and black culture all into one mega labour of love. The beginning of this is “NATURALISTE”.

“NATURALISTE” began as a mobile app for all things natural hair. The transition journey to going natural can be overwhelming and it is often difficult to pull so much information from a variety of different platforms (YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Web, etc.). I wanted to create a space that would combine content from all of these platforms in one spot, facilitating the search for inspiration and information.

Though as I started developing this app, I found myself wanting to incorporate even more things for black women. What about music? What about celebrities? What about social matters? We should have access to it all.

“NATURALISTE” has now evolved into a hub for creative content. I want black girls all over the world creating content… Writing, illustrating, photographing, designing content for other black girls. That’s the basis of this app: for black girls, by black girls. We know each other best, we keep each other safe, and there is so much magic to go around.

The video above is an early prototype of what this app could contain… What it could look and feel like… But this is the beginning of a very special project. I plan to flesh this out over the next year to really create something solid enough for commercial release.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear for you. I want to collaborate with my artistic black queens so we can figure out how to produce what needs to be delivered. What are the needs in our community? What are the gaps? If you’re a photographer, illustrator, dancer, singer, rapper, fashion designer, hairstylist, MUA, poet, writer, videographer, creative, creative, CREATIVE, let’s talk!

I’m not creating this for me, I’m creating this for us. Let’s join forces and slay the mobile game y’all. Comment, hit me up through my contact page, or email me at jacqlyn.sagna@gmail.com so we can make it happen.

All ideas are greatly appreciated and welcomed.

Love+Light.

AFROFEST 2016 – Toronto, ON

Afrofest 2016

Attendees at the 2016 Afrofest celebration, July 9th at Woodbine Beach Park, Toronto, ON, © 2016 Jacqlyn Sagna.

We made it, ya’ll. We made it through the week. We made it through the BLMTO Pride backlash. We made it through the first 48 of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (barely). And we made it to Afrofest.

They tried to silence us this year by removing our “privilege” to a 2-day cultural festival and we fought back. We tweeted, called, emailed, ranted. We voiced our concern to anyone who would or wouldn’t listen. Afrofest is home. For the past 28 years, Toronto’s African and Caribbean community have used these two days of the summer to celebrate our heritage and our future. You will not silence us. I give many thanks to Music Africa for tirelessly working, fighting to provide this cultural hub for our families every year.

After what felt like a week of trauma, sadness, helplessness, and rage for black folk, I can barely express how comforting it was to be present at Afrofest this year. To walk through Woodbine Beach Park and encounter so many familiar faces of family and friends, black bodies that smiled and welcomed you back home. There was nothing but love and laughter. We were safe. We we free to be unapologetically us. And if I hadn’t realized before, I know now that Afrofest is both a healing space and a catalyst for the African diaspora.

So to those of you who joined us in healing, welcome home.

As I walked through the park with someone special on my arm, I couldn’t help but embrace the warmth and energy of this space. The sight of melanin surrounding us was both comforting and beautiful, it was almost utopic.

Below are some portraits I snapped throughout the day. If you recognize any of these darling faces, please tag them. Love+Light.

 

7:52 PM, Alysha (@demoiselleennoir) — Haiti

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7:57 PM, Kolade (@_itsko) — Nigeria

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8:55 PM, Cynthia — Nigeria

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9:01 PM, Grace — DR Congo

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9:05 PM, Prince + Young — Nigeria

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9:11 PM, Jacqlyn (@madsophisticate) — Senegal

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9:23 PM, Eugénie (@itsaj_17) — Ghana

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9:32 PM, Ishmil (@ishmilwaterman) — Trinidad and Tobago

Demi (@demi_valentine) — Ghana / Trinidad and Tobago

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#BlackLivesMatter

Madsophisticated "M" Hand Logo

07/05/16, 2:10 PM EST

I’ve been scrolling down my news feed for a few minutes now and I am simply in tears.

There is so much hate, anger, and disregard circulating against Black Lives Matter Toronto and the folks that protested at Sunday’s Pride event. All of these hurtful words coming from people I’ve acquainted, worked with, gone to school with. People that identify as progressive, inclusive individuals. People that “don’t see colour because we are all one race”.

Well see my colour. See me. My blackness isn’t a joke. My blackness isn’t something for you to ignore. It is the root of who I am and where I’ve been. It is this very skin that carries the stories and strides of my ancestors, my family, my immigrant parents.

We chant “black lives matter” to your face because you don’t see colour. Because you don’t realize that I have lived different than you have, than she has, than he has. Because you don’t realize that different people have different struggles, we are not all fighting for the same freedom.

See my colour. Because although all humans hurt, we do not hurt the same. And I am telling you that something is hurting me and you tell me to be quiet.

You have not lived as I’ve lived. Ask me if I’m OK. Ask me if I need help. Ask me to explain. But do not tell me that the pain in my heart is not real. Do not tell me that the obstacles I climb are not existent. Do not tell me the oppression I overcome is exaggerated.

When I tell you “black lives matter” respond “yes, friend. Your life matters” instead of telling me that yours does too. I know that your life matters, but you’ve never had to remind anyone.

See my colour. Because when we spoke up at Pride and told you that even on this day of celebration we were still in pain, you booed us and told us to get out of the way. When we sat down and occupied a space that was meant to be safe for everyone, you told us that the space was not ours.

I am so heartbroken at this moment, reading posts from some of you stating that this act was divisive and exclusive. What is divisive and exclusive is the ongoing lack of space and resources for black folks in the LGBTQ+ community. What is the most divisive and exclusive, however, was the lack of SUPPORT and SOLIDARITY towards black LGBTQ+ folks in a moment when they were crying out for your help.

Many of you understand that Pride is a day where people rise above their struggles with gay, queer, trans issues. But do not forget that humans are intersectional, they might also struggle with issues of race, class, and religion. One person might only identify as trans. Another person might identify as trans, black, AND muslim. Please begin to consider how folks can be a double or even triple+ minority outside of the only one that you relate to personally or have knowledge of.

To my brothers and sisters, this too was your day of celebration. But even on this day you had to stand in front of the world and showcase your vulnerability. On the day you wanted smile, sing, and dance, you had to speak about your pain. You had to share your trauma and the memories of your friends, relatives, and lovers who have been killed. Killed not just for being LGBTQ+, but for being LGBTQ+ and black.

There is an array of issues within the LGBTQ+ community that need just as much support as the primary struggle. And I am so thankful that you not only told the stories of black lives, but stood in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Indigenous and South Asian communities.

BLMTO is more than a black movement. It is a POC movement. It is an LGBTQ+ movement.

Black folks have been at the forefront of many LGBTQ+ resistances and have stood for a multitude of movements supporting Indigenous, Latinx, South Asian, and Arab POC. We continue to include your struggles in our prayers and demands alongside our own hardships.

Black folks have been at the forefront of Pride, originally leading the first Pride day as a political riot alongside Brown/Latinx folks who have also faced discrimination and police brutality. We reclaimed this space years later, sadly, for the same reason.

Black folks are here with the rest of you, beside you when you deal with your struggles, please be here with us also. There is so much power in recognizing our differences and helping each other achieve equity in our respected communities.

Thank you, genuinely, to my brothers and sisters from BLMTO leading the front lines every single day. Sacrificing time from your careers, school, families, and loved ones to fight for all of us. Many of you are my friends, classmates, peers, and I am so happy to be surrounded with your passion and dedication.

Thank you for never giving up. I cannot imagine the amount of trauma, frustration, sadness, depression, anxiety, and fear you all overcome every single morning you wake up to continue leading this movement. But I share your pain and I love you all.

To those of you bothered by this please, see my colour. See our colour. Do not call us angry when we tell you that we are hurting. Hold our hands and share our pain. Mourn with us. Give us space. Keep us safe.

Keep us alive.

SignatureBlack