Tag Archives: BlackGirlMagic

07Feb/19
Santia Beck

Olympian Hopeful, Santia Deck, Says Self-Love is Self Care

It was Florence Griffith Joyner (U.S. track and field Olympian) who said, “When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening anymore.” These are the same words that echo in the mind of athlete, author, and fitness influencer, Santia Deck, as she leaves her opponents, both male and female, in the dust. She jukes them with Barry Sanders-like finesse during flag football and rugby games. As she runs past her opponents on the field and gives it her all during workouts, her vision is set on her biggest goal: the Olympics. Taji Mag was able to chat with Santia to discuss health, self-love, and her journey to Japan 2020.

Self-Love is How You Treat Yourself

Santia Deck

Santia Deck is a motivational speaker, author, trainer, and social media fitness influencer. She also appeared on shows like Steve Austin Broken Skull Ranch TV show.

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): How important is fitness to self-love?

Santia Deck (SA): I would put the two in the same category because how you treat yourself correlates to how you value yourself. If you are someone that doesn’t care about working out, eating healthy, and making sure that you are putting the proper nutrition in your body, it shows that there are some deep rooted issues within yourself. I personally think taking time for health and nutrition, is taking time out for self-care.

DDF: You are in great shape, what made you choose to be a vegan and what changes did you experience once you made the change?

SD:  Well, I was vegan about nine months ago and I just recently decided to go back. My life changed physically, emotionally, and mentally. My skin cleared up, my energy level skyrocketed (I felt like I was a kid again with unlimited energy), I slept better, I had a healthy bladder and intestines, and I felt like I was in tip-top shape. I was competing on a higher level than some of the pro athletes I was training with.

I would eat avocados and mangoes for breakfast before training, then after the workout, I would still feel pretty good but the NFL athletes would be on the ground dying. I realized then that what you put in your body does matter. People think that you have to have all this meat and carbs to gain muscle mass but there are a lot of vegan athletes who are doing well in their respective sports.

Santia Deck

Santia in action on the field.

DDF: What are men’s reactions when they see you on the field and/or guard you?

SA: I usually get questions like “Who are you?” “What are you?” “What kind of girl are you?” and “Why are you like this?” Of course, you have those people that are mad and/or those guys that claim they weren’t giving 100%. I get a lot of different reactions.

It’s funny, people think just because I am a girl that I am not supposed to be super athletic and compete on the same level as a man. Of course, I am not saying that I can go on the football field and be one of the guys, but I do think that my footwork and moves are pretty good for any athlete.

Santia Deck

The first African American woman to win a gold medal Alice Coachman.

“I always believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to do.” – Alice Coachman

DDF: Who taught you about sports and how did they encourage you?

SA: Definitely, my older brother because I grew up with boys. I have three brothers and one sister, one of my brothers is actually my twin. So when I was younger I was always competing with my twin and my older brother would make us compete in various activities. He created that competitive spirit and the reason I am able to do the things I can do now athletically. I was doing footwork drills and running routes when I was five years old. I was never the girl that played with dolls, I was always outside doing something athletic. I was a tomboy doing everything my brothers were doing.

Mind, Body, and Soul 

DDF: What made you practice celibacy?

SA: I was in an abusive relationship and had stayed in the relationship longer than I needed to. I think it’s because I had sex with this person, which created an attachment, and I am very spiritual, so I believe in soul ties. I felt like I had a major soul tie with this person that was created through sexual intimacy.

Then there was a point when I thought that I wasn’t going to be here anymore because of the abuse and I remember praying to God that if He were to get me out of this situation, then I would make a promise to be celibate. Never have sex with someone that doesn’t deserve me. After God got me through that situation, that is when I decided to commit to being celibate.

There are a lot of spiritual demons when you have sex with people and I felt that was something going on with me. Honestly, I just want to have a blessed marriage, I want my children to grow up in a two-parent home, and just do what I feel is the right way.

DDF: Are there some difficulties being celibate?  

Santia Deck

Santia Deck aka Track Baby. FYI: Santia wears mismatched socks in honor of Flo Jo.

SA: It’s been tough while I’ve been dating. I have only had one person that respected me enough not to explore dating with me because of my decision, but a lot of men have tried to act like they can hold out and eventually try their hand anyway.

It is tough trying to find someone when you decide to be celibate but I have avoided so much drama and people I didn’t need to date because they are scratched off my list once I tell them about my decision.

DDF: Have your followers given you a lot of praise for being such an inspiration?

SA: I get a lot of messages about how I have influenced people to workout, chase their dreams.

DF: How do you feel about all the support that you get from your followers?

SA: I am grateful and thankful to have a platform to give people daily motivation. To be an inspiration to the kids that they can do whatever they want to do. Reminding them that there is no limit except the limit you put on yourself. I’m just grateful to God.

Big Goals and Small Worries 

DDF: How do you react to some of the negative people and comments?

SA: I have thick skin and people are going to feel the way they feel and have negative things to say. To me, it’s just ignorance and I don’t care because I love myself the way that I am. I look the way I look because that is the way I am supposed to be… a professional athlete. It’s like the thing that Serena Williams goes through, you can talk about her but she’s a millionaire.

Santia Deck

Tennis player Serena Williams.

“Think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles and being made fun of or called unattractive.” – Serena Williams

DDF: What is your biggest goal right now?

SA: My biggest goal right now is the Olympics because it’s right around the corner. Of course, I want to have success in all aspects of my life but the biggest goal is definitely the Olympics, Japan 2020.

Santia Deck

Victoria Folay Team USA rugby athlete.

DDF: What are your next steps to get there?

SA: It’s a process to make it to the Olympics. I just need to be seen by a USA coach and that is accomplished by going to camps, games, etc. I’ve been doing those things now and just waiting to get a tryout but I will keep grinding until I do.

As many of us watch Santia make countless plays on the field via social media, we may see her alongside current players for the women’s USA rugby team like Victoria Folay. Better yet, we see her being like her biggest Olympic inspiration, Flo Jo, and standing with a gold medal around her neck, mismatched socks and all. Follow Santia on Instagram.

Santia Deck

Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo Jo), U.S. track and field Olympian.

All photos of Santia are taken by Enka Lawson and Jeffery Mustache.

09Dec/18

NATURAL BORN LEADERS

Black women have often been seen as a liability rather than an asset in many careers. This can be especially true for Black women with natural hair. As the year comes to a close, Taji Mag reflects on two strong Black women leaders with natural hair.
Shauntrice Martin and Wyllene Turner come from different backgrounds, but they are both Black women focused on improving the lives of young people. They are both leaders within an organization called the Bay Area Urban Debate League (affectionately known as “BAUDL”). There are dozens of urban debate leagues across the country and BAUDL has the most diverse staff along with such accolades as National Champions, League of the Year, and Champions of Diversity. They are truly making moves. I was able to interview these brilliant young women recently to learn more about what it means to be a leader and part of #teamnatural.
DapperDrFeel: Tell me a little about your organization.
Shauntrice Martin: The Bay Area Urban Debate League is an after-school program focused on marginalized youth in Title I schools. The goal is to engage students in policy debate to improve academic performance and college acceptance.
DDF: What are your titles?
SM: I am the executive director
Wyllene Turner: I got involved in Baudl in my 10th grade of high school. Then when I graduate in 2011 I came back to work and a regional coordinator until I worked my way up to Program Coordinator.
DDF: Ok, let’s get right into it. What does it mean to be a Black woman in a leadership role?
WT: It means that I have the opportunity to show represent, especially in a sport that is primarily a white male sport like debate.
SM: More than half of my time is spent on fundraising and development. Most of our donors are affluent white males and a lot of the “experts” in the field don’t look like me or the students we work with. I’ve dealt with microaggressions (being asked how I learned to speak so well, assumptions that I never met my father, etc.). When confronted with these issues, I’ve had to make decisions about whether to react in the moment and what the consequences might be. While this is not unique to a person of any race in a leadership role, my actions are seen as a representation of ALL Black women. As a Black woman, I have the added responsibility of representing the entire race as if we have monthly meetings of the Black Monolith.

 

Three students holding trophies after a win. Hesten, Ne’Jahra, and Jessica.
DDF: So how does being a Black woman with natural hair impact your work?
WT: I’ve been natural for about 7 years now! And I decided to go natural to find my self again, as I see it black women are so held back by their hair because it is seen as a symbol to show a multitude of things. Growing my locs where a way to take my crown back and make my own image!
SM: It gives me confidence. I know I will usually stand out in a crowd. At the same time, I went natural in college because I had people around me who celebrated me without trying to change me. We all deserve that feeling. In that way, it has a positive impact on my work. Conversely, I have been told to “tame” my hair in previous positions. I have been hyped up by white colleagues and supervisors when my hair was pressed straight as a signal that my naps were not welcomed in the workplace.
DDF: Speak more on that Shauntrice–are you saying that it is a bad thing to have natural hair in a corporate environment?
SM: I’ve had hundreds of white colleagues over the years and many of them don’t know how to react to my hair. I’ve had strangers reach out to touch my hair. I’ve had donors comment on my skin tone. Several years ago, before I had my son, I was asked in an interview whether I planned to wear afro puffs to the office. There is nothing but love growing out of my scalp so if someone attributes negative characteristics to my hair, it means they have a problem, not me.

 

Executive Director of BAUDL Shauntrice Martin
DDF: Ok, right on. In what other ways does being a Black woman in a leadership role present challenges?
WT: The challenges I face are people in different spaces act as if I don’t know what I am doing…which is funny because they’ll usually do that at an event I’m hosting.
SM: Yes. Hiring Wyllene was one of my best decisions as an executive director. She was hired based on merit, and as she said, she worked her way up to a full-time position. Because of the way she looks (dark-skinned woman with natural hair) people underestimate her. I have seen people disrespect her in situations and they end up looking like fools when she comes through. She cares about her job and if people could stop projecting their bias onto Black women, they would see that.
DDF: I noticed your organization is quite large for an after-school program. How many students do you serve?
SM: This school year we are on track to work with almost 1,000 youth in the Bay.
DDF: That is impressive. How do you maintain a program like this?
SM: Having people like Wyllene is absolutely essential. Our staff is one of the most diverse groups in the country. Most of the people who work at BAUDL graduated from the program. Our budget is just around half a million dollars and thankfully we have a dope volunteer base. I also do this really innovative thing when hiring people–I trust Black women.
DDF: Well there you have it. Now how can people get involved and support the work you do?
SM: The two biggest things we need right now are volunteers and donors. We have an end-of-the-year campaign called the #MakingMoves campaign. This is a Black-run organization and we hope to keep it that way. If you want to donate $5, $50, $50,000 use our link: www.tinyurl.com/wedebate. You can also share our story and encourage others to support.

Wyllene Turner

22Apr/16
Samuel L Jackson

That Time Samuel L Jackson Gave Me #BlackGirlMagic

In 1997 I was a skinny tomboy with a ghetto name at a predominantly white school in the midwest. I lived with my father – let’s call him Tom – and his white wife whose daily message to me was that my hair was unkempt. I was going through a somewhat punk\alternative phase because that’s what the other kids were going through, and I wanted to fit in. I wore those super wide leg pants with holes in them and a pocket chain. Revolutionary adult me would have been embarrassed by such fashion choices, but 90s awkward preteen me was just trying to make up for the fact that I was dark skinned. It was a lonely and depressing time.

And then there was Samuel L Jackson.

Wait… the dude who yells in all his movies? The slave from Django? The ‘motherf—er’ man? Yes! The very same. I saw the film Eve’s Bayou, written by a Black woman named Kasi Lemmons (Caveman’s Valentine, 2001; Talk to Me, 2007). Set in the deep south, featuring an all-star Black cast (Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Meagan Goode, Diahann Carroll, and, of course, Samuel L Jackson), the story was not centered specifically around the issue of race. Rather, it followed the experiences of Eve, a budding clairvoyant who could communicate with spirits. Eve was Black, and close to my age, so unlike my response to Shirley Temple, whose movies were pushed on me by my step-mother, I found myself moved by Eve’s character. The mother, father, aunt, and older sister all had darker skin like me. Eve was light skinned from a dark skinned mother. That had an impact on me because it meant that I was just as beautiful as a light skinned girl. Eve saw her mother as gorgeous and so did I. Every shade of Black was represented in the movie which made me feel like less of a pariah. Eve was curious and insightful. She cared deeply about her family and her heart was heavy with compassion. Those were qualities I felt trapped by as a child because I was oftrn described as ‘too sensitive’ or weird. I was captivated by both the literal and metaphorical presence of magic in the film.

A Black female director had little to no chance of having her film financed ny a major company in 1997. Knowing this, Samuel L. Jackson not only starred in the film, delivering what I still consider to be his best performance to this day, but he also produced it. In fact, this was the first film he produced. Younger me had no idea at the time, but a producer is basically the person who pays for the magic to happen. So, in many ways, Samuel L. Jackson is partly responsible for the ways in which Eve’s Bayou changed the trajectory of my self-image. I went from wanting to perm my hair to embracing my natural kinks (both Eve and her aunt had thick hair like mine). I felt more confident about my non-traditional spirituality. This was the first time I saw Afrocentric, non-Christian beliefs valued. Seeing Eve and her aunt as these women connected so closely to God and so comfortable in that connection was empowering. I learned the importance of patience and research when making decisions, after seeing Eve reflect on her own decisions towards the end of the film.

When I celebrate the Black artists in theater who influenced me – and cringe at fair-skinned, Zoe Saldana being cast as Blackface Nina Simone — I think back to the time Samuel L. Jackson and Kasi Lemmons brought me Black girl magic in Eve’s Bayou. So, instead of complaining that the beautiful and talented Uzo Aduba should have been cast to play one of the greatest musical activists of our time, I realized that we can, and should, make our own films. Samuel L. Jackson did it. Nate Parker did it. Love him or hate him, even the big homie Tyler Perry did it. We have everything we need to create our own magic. More than that, though, we have a responsibility as creative intellectuals to embrace and celebrate our natural shade. Some caramel colored girl will see Zoe Saldana in Blackface and think less of herself. I think about 1997 me being confused and turned off by Blackface Nina. Hopefully no Black children will see the film and will instead write, direct, and star in their own art that features them falling in love with their melanin, no matter the shade.