At what point in your life did you consider yourself a feminist? Was it an event or a process?
I've always lived my life as a manifesto of feminism, which stemmed from me learning the principle of treating others as I would wish to be treated. It's a philosophy that has stuck with me for as long as I can remember. I know that there is no way I can live my best life if others are not at will to live their best life, which is why I've charged myself with making feminism my life's work. In this work, I am liberated and am able to process and be my best self.
Who most influenced your awareness of your feminism?
Spelman College's Women and Research and Resource Center's faculty and staff as a collective influenced my awareness of my feminism. The space itself taught me feminism through high-level impromptu mentorship and friendship. Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, the founding director of the first women's research center (at a historically Black college and the first one to offer a women's studies major) has taught me "say it, and do it anyway" because it's for the greater good. When she's in a room, I can feel her power. It's beautiful because people are aware of her knowingness and trust in her fully. My professor, Dr. M. Bahati Kuumba has always challenged me when it came to broadening my understanding of feminism. In her book, The Gender Lens: Gender and Social Movements, I learned how liberation struggles are viewed through women's eyes and how gender affects women's mobilization, strategies, and outcomes in social movement organizations. Her book, her course, and her embodiment of feminism has taught me not only to do the work of liberating others, but liberating myself as a black immigrant girl. For that, and for her, I continue to open myself up to new rays and waves of feminism in hopes of liberating others. Ms. Cynthia Moore, a mother figure who guards the energy of the center with her pillar of kindness, one I hope to mirror someday reminds us to go to class, take care of ourselves and always be sisterly. Holly A. Smith, the College's Archivist and sistah-aunt of the center keeps it real and reminds me to trust in God and the work that I am doing. Lastly, but certainty not least, peers I've grown to know and love through the center-- Houston, Erica (Lamberaon) Madyson, Verronika, Aleighia, Amoni, Ayanna (Spencer) and AriDy Dixon (formerly known as Briana) for always cheering me up and/or championing me.
The Center is a gem for women and men.
In what ways has your feminism informed your life choices?
I am more open, tender and compassionate towards myself. There was a time in which I wasn't this way with the choices I made in life, but after realizing that I can't work towards equality without taking care of myself--I mustered up the courage to say 'yes, I can talk about the invisibility of black immigrant girls.' It opened up a world of communities and friendships I otherwise wouldn't have known about. When you're a black undocumented person, you fear many things, which leads to a lot of sulking and ultimately, not taking care of yourself. I used to be afraid to seek guidance and support when it came to many things, but now I take ownership in powering through the things I thought I couldn't.
In what ways do you share your feminism with others?
I speak up, it is one of the purest forms of humanism/advocacy that doesn't cost any of us, anything. If there's a trans-person being heckled at, speak up. If there's a pregnant teen being bullied, speak up. If a young woman is being fat-shamed, speak up. Two years ago, I launched Her Communications Agency, a communications and public relations firm dedicated to promoting the issues and causes related to women and girls--basically speaking up for women and girls. Within two years, I've worked on countless speeches, campaigns and rallies as part of me speaking up or helping someone else speaking up. I truly believe in speaking up, it empowers others (even it's just one person) to do the same.
Describe your vision of a feminist world.
A feminist world is one that empowers everyone to be their best self. It opens and supports room for growth, encourages forgiveness, and fearlessness.
How I Define Feminism:
Equal money, power and respect <333
Danyelle R. Carter, a girl-power enthusiast and advocate is a senior at Spelman College majoring in Comparative Women's Studies. At Spelman she serves as the United Nations Foundation's Girl-Up Initiative campus leader and is a Toni Cade Bambara Scholar in the Women's Research and Resource Center. Prior to attending Spelman. Carter graduated summa cum laude from Miami Dade College with a joint Associate of Arts degree in Mass Communications and Journalism. In June 2016, she received her diploma from the Women's Campaign School at Yale University's Law School. In 2015, Carter was named the National HBCU Female Student of the Year by HBCU Digest and became the first woman to be ranked no.1 on HBCU Buzz's HBCU Top 30 under 30 list. A three-time recipient of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, Carter received two gold awards and a life time award from President Barack Obama for more than 5,000 hours of community service. In January 2016, she served as a legislative and press fellow in the office of U.S. Representative Marcia L. Fudge and then a Public Policy and Press/Communications fellow in the office of U.S. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, prior to being hired as her Press Assistant. In 2017, Carter will resume her attendance at Spelman to complete her last two courses in Feminist Theory and Japanese.