My name is Maja Antoine-Onikoyi, and I am the founder and Company Director of Maja’s Education Project CIC. The things that define me and embody my foundation for who I am, are respect, love, unity, and the energy that I allow into my space. I deal with a lot in my life and have found that it is not enough to define myself using the titles I am given by job roles and institutions. Though proud of them, what defines me is what I believe in and hold close to me, and that is love and my energy.
To me, “outspoken” means not being silent when your voice is necessary. And when you do use your voice, it is for the bettering of yourself, others or the universe around us. To be outspoken means to say what needs to be said, even when others don’t want it to be. I choose to be outspoken because in the words of Audre Lorde, “Your Silence Will Not Protect You”. If you see wrong but stay silent, you are not protected from being on the side of wrongness. If you know your voice could be beneficial to even one person and choose not to use it, your silence will not protect you from the karma that may come from that silence.
Being a black woman is hard, I would never lie and say it was a walk in the park. However, I would never change it for the world. I love the effect I have on people simply by walking into a room, I love the smile on little black girls’ faces when I tell them they’re beautiful, I love our culture and our languages and everything beautiful that comes with being a black woman.
I would tell young black women that there are struggles, yes, and it may feel lonely when it feels like the only person on your side is you. There is a strength in your weak days, and you need to learn to use it for yourself. Not for the people asking for your time and energy, but for yourself. You deserve the world, the sun, the stars and all of the love that the universe has to offer. On bad days, use the little strength you have to tell yourself exactly that.