We have three graduates and counting of StitchCharities EYOB empowerment workshops! These workshops designed to empower young women are growing in numbers and excitement. We are so proud of these unique and motivated young women going on this journey with us.
One woman, Marshida Harris, is coming on this journey with us as well. Last month Marshida facilitated out “I Have A Voice” workshop inspiring us all with her story and her powerful words.
Marshida grew up, right here in St. Louis, in Ferguson County. We met Marshida at a meeting with Kingdom House where she is a Teen Advisor. Her passion for social change can not only be seen through her amazing work at Kingdom House, but also through her time as the head of the Mizzou chapter of the NCAA and her strong involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement. Inter-mixing her skills and passion for fine art, Marshida is also the founder of an arts not-for-profit, Unashamed Artistry.
Q: What made you decide to be a part of this project?
A: I decided to be a part of this project because I believe in the mission. It is so important for every young woman to learn what it means to “Embrace Your Own Beauty”. As a black women growing up in the early 90’s it was difficult to see myself as beauty because of all of the imagery of lighter completed women on television. I remember I would wear contacts or wish I was another woman because I was not happy with myself. I hid my identify under hairstyles or a complex until I cut off all of my hair and looked in the mirror to truly see my reflect and face all of what I thought I was to embrace who I truly am. I decided to be a part of this project because it is a part of my story.
Q: What message do you want girls to take away from the EYOB workshops?
A: I want girls to take away that they are a “Masterpiece”. Every part of them from the way they smile, laugh, walk, speak, face challenges and so much more is a part of their making. A piece to this incredible puzzle that everyone wants to figure out. Everyone wants to know how you do the things you do and they can never touch your beauty. You are a Masterpiece. You are perfect in all that you do because no one else can do it like you do.
Q: Here at StitchCharities, we’re all about empowering women. We start by teaching our girls how to embrace their own beauty. What advice do you have as they journey through this process?
A: The advice I have to give is to enjoy the process and do not be so hard on yourself. What I mean by this is everything is working together for your good. Every fall, scrape, frustration, trial and tribulation is for the making of you. It may not look amazing but at the end you’ll see why it had to happen. Your beauty is yours because no one else could do what you did and still come out beautiful. You define your own beauty and your own standards. Society will say what it likes but just know you are Fearfully & Wonderfully Made! Smile and go on the journey.
Q: We understand no one is 100% confident all the time, how do you handle self-doubt and uncertainty?
A: I’ve learned to cry when I feel like crying, screaming when I feel like screaming and taking time to myself when I need to find a secret place. I’m human. I’ve have dealt with fear, discouragement and doubt. I ask you to go through your process but do not stay in the low place. Find something you like to do and surround yourself with people who love you and want you to win. Feel every emotion without being emotional and to allow your wings to fly when you did something amazing. Self-doubt and uncertainty come but the more you allow yourself to fly you will learn you truly do have wings.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for young girls to have self-love?
A: I grew up in a single-parent household. My father and mother were never married and I saw my father on occasional weekends and holidays. This became very difficult for me as a women. I can honestly say it put a major damper on my trust and faith in men because the man I thought to protect me was not always accessible. Sometimes we look to our parents to see ourselves. We look to them to see our reflections and when you do not have both for me it was similar to always seeing half of myself or a void. Self-Love did not come for me until I forgave for the brokenness in my heart to be able to love fully. Love cannot exist where frustration and hate exist. Love is pure and one of the most beautiful things we can discover in life. Self-Love begins when we heal from old hurts and find ourselves persevering through the things that once held us captive. This is so important for young girls because some have a similar story to mine with single parenting or simply just want to find happiness in life. It is a journey and always know it is possible.
Q: What motivated you to choose the career path you are currently on?
A: I thought I was going to be a Civil Rights Attorney. I interned at many law firms and had incredible mentors into this field until my entire life changed. It was when I let go of what I thought was for me and allowed what I needed to come to me. What motivates me now is not what the world tells me success is but rather being a World Changer. Everyone searches in life for their “Why or Purpose”. What is learned is your “Why” should help change the world and if it is not them it must have too much of “You” in it. I have chosen to live a life geared towards changing the world instead of self-gain. What is a man to gain the world and lose his soul? I chose to give all I am for the betterment of who has gone before me and who is coming behind me.
Q: If you could only use one word to describe what you want to represent in your chosen career field, what would that word be?
Q: What were the biggest hurdles that you faced as a female in the workforce?
A: One of the biggest hurdles that I faced as a female in the workforce is using my voice. There have been times when I’ve went silent for the sake of being “The only woman” or “The Angry Black Woman” stereotype or other reason and I have learned this, my silence has never helped anyone. My silence has perpetuated a cycle of women who feel silenced due to stereotypes and stigmas on women and specifically women of color. The day I realized that is the day I never shut up for lack of a better term. Before I speak I ask myself 1. Is this statement coming from a place of love? 2. Will this statement challenge the standard and cause a shift 3. SAY IT! Also know it is ok to be “That Girl” in the conference rooms. Smile and keep gracing on.
Q: Many say the glass ceiling is tough to break through for a woman in the workforce. Do you agree? If so, why do you think this is the case?
A: The glass ceiling is a level of discomfort. More so for others rather than yourself. I believe that as long as you are delivering from a place of love and progression then go for it. The glass ceiling is very real though, just know you are a Trailblazer everywhere you go so go for it and give it all you have!
Q: Who is your role model?
A: My role model would have to have been my late mentor Ms. Frankie Muse Freeman. She was a great women of faith and a force to be reckoned with. I of course love Michelle Obama and others. Though, there is something that aligns to the woman I am in women such as Ms. Freeman, Anna Julia Cooper, and many others who had to stand in the face of adversity and know who they are and who they belong to. There will come trying to but just know the work you do is not in vain and remain loving throughout it all.
Q: How have they inspired your journey?
A: These women have inspired me in many ways. The biggest way is they were what they stood for. They were literally walking the walk and talking the talk. I honor these women.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: I love Italian and Indian foods. I live a primarily vegetarian diet and I love to cook.
Q: Who is your favorite music artist? Why?
A: This varies at times for me. Only because I’m an artist so I follow creative artists. I love artists such as India Arie, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Jazmine Sullivan, Anita Baker, Sean C Johnson and more. I am currently listening to a lot of Jonathan McReynolds current album Make Room and Lecrae Gawvvi and other members of Reach Records.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Oh wow. I just recently received my passport in December 2017 and I would love to go to Rio, Spain, Jerusalem and India.
Q: Paint us a picture, what was high school like for you?
A: High school was full of sports and involvement. I played Basketball, Soccer and Softball. I also was Vice President of my senior class and President of our high school chapter of Future Business Leaders of America. So I was extremely busy.
Q: What do you wish you knew back then?
A: I wish I knew how to enjoy back then. A lot of high school was stressful due to home life and over committing in certain areas. I wish I would have enjoyed more of my high school experience instead of taking everything so seriously. (Of course take grades serious)
Q: Any advice for teen girls interested in starting their own business/entering the career field you are currently in?
A: The best advice I could ever give is write every idea you have down in a journal you keep. This is so important because you can always come back to it and launch and adjust your plans. Share your vision with those you can trust and those that can help you. Take your time and know that everything will happen when it’s supposed to. Go For It! Follow your dreams and trust that they will come true.
Thanks, Marshida, for sharing your thoughts with us today!
To find out how to be a part of theStitch EYOB Empowerment Workshops contact: StitchCharities.org
The workshops are held at the Microsoft Store located in the St. Louis Galleria Mall.
If you’d like to find out more about theStitch click here: theStitch.com