Hiiiii, I go by Toni! I am of Nigerian descent, meaning my Nigerian parents blessed me with a name that reminds me of who I am everyday. My full first name is Oluwatoniloba (pronounced o-lu-wah-to-ni-loh-bah), and it means ‘God is worthy to be King’. This name reminds me everyday that I am the daughter of a King, and I refuse to accept anything less. So I define myself as the daughter of the Creator – highly blessed, highly favoured, of royalty. Jesus is my biggest motivator for everything I do. I do my best to live my life as He lived His – loving people no matter what. People come first, always. And I hope they see themselves as the Queens and Kings that they are; the sons and daughters of the greatest King ever – Jesus. Whoever’s reading this, YOU are royalty and you are so so loved. And I hope you really know that.

For me, to be outspoken is to be willing to speak out for what is right, both for yourself and for others, regardless of the consequences (good or bad). In a world where being black and being female and being young is always seen as second to the rest, one can imagine why young black females think twice before speaking out on issues that affect them and others outside them. But I choose to be outspoken because I believe that being black, being female and being young is who I am and what I was meant to walk in. Who I am is to be used to my advantage. I choose to be outspoken, not despite being a young black female but BECAUSE I am a young black female. Where people expect silence, they should hear our voices. So where people expect silence because I am a young black female, they’ll hear my voice exactly because I am a young black female.

There are SOOO many things I love (and have come to love) about being a black female. But I think one of the best things about us is that we are LOUD. Unapologetically LOUD. In our actions, we love loudly. In our fashion, we dress loudly. In our names, we carry such loudness. In our melanin, you can hear the loudness of our beauty and that of our ancestors. In our laugh, we laugh so loudly without fear. Joy is our best friend. We carry and empower each other with such loud platforms like Outtspoken – this platform is so so great! Even our struggles are loud, and yet our cries are so quiet. I don’t know how we go through such inequalities in this society with such little complaints. I don’t know how we alwaysss seem to find something to smile about and be grateful and joyful for. But this just further shows the loudness of our strength. And this loudness that we carry in every aspect of our lives shows that we were never meant to be quiet. We were always meant to speak up and speak out. We were always meant to be black outspoken females.

I hope you reading this right now, yes YOU, my black Nubian, melanin-drenched, chocolate delight, brown-skin, Queen, I hope you know that you were never ever meant to be silenced. Your voices were never meant to be buried underneath those who refuse to see your value. Whether you believe it or not, you are your ancestors wildest dreams. Be LOUD in all you do. Let them see you smashing barriers and lifting your sisters up. Let them hear the strength you carry and the shatters of the glass ceilings you’re breaking through. Let them hear you rise from the rubbles they continuously try to bury us in. Always know that you are loved. Always know that you are valued. Always know that you are great. Put your crown on sis, and say it LOUDDD – I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD! God bless you! Love you so much!