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Hidden Gems: Meet EShira Gooden of Raising the Black Voice

Today we’d like to introduce you to EShira Gooden. 

Hi EShira, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
What is my story?? Well I don’t know, I am still writing it. What I can give you is a story of my journey into my relationship with myself and how that impacts others. A long intense process of learning what it means to overcome obstacles that arise, while discovering who you are. I had to face who I thought I was over and over. As a kid I tried new things all the time, thinking that was who I was. These things I liked, the people I liked to have around, the places I liked to go. A lot of self-identifying and overanalyzing who I was. This was the mental journey I took myself through; based on the events that occurred I was able to observe myself a lot, observing what I had, what I didn’t have, what “they” had that I didn’t have. Whew, a whole lot of comparing. A lot of staring and standing around. Fast forwarding, this “process” of thinking led me to the questions of where I was, why I was there, where I wanted to go and what I needed to get there. The organizing and strategizing began. Next thing you know there’s this idea. In 2015, Raising the Black Voice was founded. I took a look around my community, and just as a kid I observed, and I figured out how I could get to where I wanted the community to go. I began organizing events I thought the community would like, then what I thought it needed, then what it asked for. Raising the Black Voice became a part of my lifestyle. A lifestyle I viewed beneficial to the marginalized community I serve. My story is an ongoing story embedded in the interpersonal relationship with the community.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As a marginalized person, the path is not easy. My obstacles lie within the systems we cannot see but that I know affect me as a human, a woman, a woman business owner, and person of empowerment. Majority of my challenges come from within myself and my decisions. This mentality is the type of empowerment I aim to share with others as a way to build accountability within ourselves.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Raising the Black Voice is an intersectional movement that creates events and programs that depict accurate experiences of the black community; while bridging the gap between the disaporans and our siblings on the African continent. Our Philosophy is let’s pour back into ourselves as a community, let’s replenish those wounds by extending our support to each other. We are not victimizing ourselves by looking for help outside ourselves.

Raising the Black Voice is a self empowering movement who believes no change is made unless you yourself makes that change! It’s a lifestyle really. Overall, we’re a movement that is silent but powerful. We want people to know that RTBV simply means to utilize the voice of power inside. That voice that tells you to have confidence, to live loud, to take risks and to be more. Raise the power inside while inspiring others to be themselves. Raise your Black Voice! We face challenges like other movements such as getting more people involved and organized. We don’t have the manpower to do all the things needed to consistently output more events and programs. For now, we are about 1-2 events per year with ongoing planning and international outreach. We need consistent funding to be able to bring more people onboard. As a business we are always looking for sponsorships and grant opportunities to further our mission and goals.

What matters most to you?
What matters to me is impacting people in a structured and informative way that will make a lasting impact. The way I choose to do that is to participate in organized work that RTBV does. For example, the Youth Leadership Camping retreat, we facilitate open discussions on financial literacy, career building, healthy eating, etc. This experience will equip them with skills they can use as a growing people. We also have a youth Talent Show that offers children in the community the opportunity to share their talents. Our objective is to have children in our community that freely express themselves confidently. Lastly, Raising the black voice sponsors the building of a small library in Africa, contributing to a school and volunteer campus. Our goal is to bridge the gap between those in Africa and African Americans and also to make education and literature books accessible. What matters is what we do today to build a better tomorrow. Overall, the experiences we create hope people can use in their everyday lives.

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