Sandrine JOSEPH (SJ) : Black Women In Europe has became a web reference on European black social networks for years now : you have been rewarded for you incredible work several times. The energy you deliver is dedicated to other black women promotion. Can you tell us more about you? Who is Adrianne George?
Adrianne GEORGE (AG) : I am American expat living in Europe. I do my best to be my best while living in Sweden away from family and old, close friends. I have university degrees in English, Public Communications and Business Administration. I study Swedish which is very time consuming but I find time to live in the moment as often as possible. But I confess that I spend too much time on my computer!
SJ : Black Women In Europe – BWIE is a place of networking, of knowledge sharing … When and why did you create this network?
AG : When I moved to Sweden after living fours years in Belgium I was moved to start the Black Women in Europe Blog. That was late 2006. The social network was a natural extension of the blog because I was being contacted by women with questions and who were reaching out as well. We need a safe space to network and share and make friends.
SJ : Could you tell us more on Black Women in Europe Power list : why is it so important to highlight black women role models?
AG : I had wonderful roles models in my family who were educated, well traveled, hard working, loving and affectionate, funny and generous. The kind of women who hold their heads high and whose feet always touched the ground. I thought everybody had that. But there is this monster called main stream media that likes to censor out images of women like that: proud and honorable and strong and beautiful and smart and funny and I found it was no different in Europe. Creating the power list was a way to show the we are doing powerful things across this continent whether people are hearing about it everyday or not. And that the black women who are celebrated in main stream media are not the exception.
SJ : Why is this list is limited to African diaspora living in Europe?
AG : My passion is learning about ordinary and extraordinary black women living in Europe. I am one of the ordinary ones who gets inspiration from the extraordinary ones. So this list doesn’t seem limited to me. On the contrary it is limitless in that black women of all ages, walks of life, native and adopted tongues, and across the continent were featured. I hope to have nominations for twice as many women for the list next year!
SJ : Aren’t you afraid to close black people’s success into an informational ghetto?
AG : I am not sure I understand what you mean. But if you are asking if by focusing on black people, and women in particular, if that diminishes the quality of the content or focus of information – or in other words, makes the information less desirable (like no one wants to live in a ghetto), I would have to say no. My world is very diverse. I have a Swedish fiance, friends across Europe, people I hold near and dear in the US: and they are all different except for the fact that they give me what I need. I feel celebrating black women’s success is also giving something that is needed. I can’t see any harm in reflecting back what is already there.
SJ : What is your next step regarding your organization?
AG : I would like to formalize a non-profit that would enable me to share information across Europe even easier, more efficiently and with the purpose of ensuring that black women have access to information they need. It sounds vague for the moment, but information is power. The hardest part is finding a Board of black women in Europe who are not already over committed to other worthwhile projects. Any new organization will require a lot of time and effort from all involved. So I continue to think about the best way to move my idea forward.
SJ : Do you have any advice for women / men who read this article? The youngest, the wisest?
AG : My advice would be to remain true to yourself in all that you do. Each of us has a voice inside that says, « this feels right » or « this doesn’t feel right ». Even if it means making someone mad, you have to be true to yourself first. And try not to worry so much abut what others think about you. I don’t know anyone who has done anything of value that didn’t have critics. Someone will always find something negative to say. So you be the one to say something positive about everyone who comes across your path. Negativity is a huge waste of energy and time when you could be doing something for yourself or some else who needs you.
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