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When you have learned how phenomenal you are, you have mastered the art of self-love. When you have learned how phenomenal other women are, you have mastered the art of sisterhood. Stepping outside your realms to recognize that women need a safe space to communicate, bring comfort, share ideas and network is a true sign that you understand what sisterhood is and that women need one. Facebook has become a worldwide phenomenon for all walks of life. To people finding love to building businesses and brands to sharing life experiences and building bonds, it has become a cornerstone for connections. One tool that has allowed people to connect are groups of interest, which allow people to join groups of people with common interests. For Jayda James, she created; “Phenomenal Black Woman,” to be an uplifting and empowering haven where women can come and encourage each other. She says; “Black women have to see themselves in a positive light and Phenomenal Black Woman, showcases us in that light.”

Born and raised in Maywood, Il, James has created a positive small world for black woman to be able to stand for each other. She says; “one of our hashtags is being; phenomenal is a choice, we want Black women to join us and be the change in the community. To stand for something more than we have in the past.” An educator in the public school system for over 20 years and now an author who is releasing a book for devotionals in Spring 2019; Overcoming Obstacles, Jayda is continuing to lead the way to help black women face the difficult roads ahead through encouragement.

Social Media is a 21st-century phenomenon, why was it important to use this platform to reach black women?

I wanted to see something on social media that was more positive for black women. I was watching something on tv that wasn’t so appealing and didn’t portray us in a positive manner, and I said to myself that I can start something through social media to help black women see how great we are and feel good about themselves. It started out as a Facebook page and within an hour of setting the page up, I had over 100 women like the page. I became so excited about the reception of the page, that I decided to turn the page into a group where the ladies can interact with each other, empower one another and communicate with each other. Once the group got started and people started joining the group, they started adding more people and it became a snowball effect into what we see today nearly 3 years later. A group of over 35,000 women worldwide, who really interact and support one another in the group. One of our mantras is to smile (Support, Motivate, Inspire, Love and Encourage) and since its inception in 2016, we have had events where we actually bring the women together and we honor each other. The goal is to take the group national and more worldwide, so the world can see us celebrating each other and honoring each other.

Why is it important for black women to be uplifting and encouraging each other in this day and age?

It’s important because we just don’t see enough of it. We see it from a celebrity standpoint, but I don’t know how much of that is reality in everyday life. I consider myself an everyday person, a middle age, middle-class woman who goes to work every day and lives a normal life. I think that for me to go on Facebook and encourage the next regular woman, whether I know her or not makes it more real for people and more tangible. When people see you doing it, they begin to follow and now you have created a whole atmosphere of encouragement. What it has done for me personally creating the group and living this Phenomenal Black Woman lifestyle, it has made me look at the next black woman differently. I don’t judge her, I don’t turn my nose up at her, I have done it in the past for different reasons, but now I’m looking at her differently, from the woman I may see in the store, gas station and everywhere else. When I look at her, I smile, and I speak to her. It’s created a whole different attitude for me. I take a stand for black women. The goal is for that to happen everywhere, for black women to be affected by the positivity of upliftment towards each other.

What are you hoping that this group does for black women?

I hope that it allows us to treat each other better and see each other in a better way. I hope it allows us to support each other more authentically. I hope it allows us to S.M.I.L.E. (Support, Motivate, Inspire, Love and Encourage) and another motto that I live by is that “We can all eat”, so I don’t foster jealousy or envy towards other black women, because whatever I know her to have is what she is supposed to have and I’m going to support her in having that. Just like whatever I have, I’m supposed to have, and I hope that she supports me in that as well. It tones the attitude down and creates a more positive interaction because I’m not looking at you for what you have, I’m looking at you for what we can gain together or what you have been blessed with.

Why do you think it is so hard for black women to support each other?

Because of the culture of our gender and our race, black people have been described as crabs in a barrel. We don’t always lift each other up and we find ways to be envious of each other. There is a lack of mentorship and guidance that allows people to want to take what you have instead of showing someone how to get it. Phenomenal Black Woman is the opposite, we support what you do and if we can help, we will lend a hand or give advice.

All images provided by Jayda James