Who says today’s kids have no sense of social responsibility? Thirteen-year-old Mikaela Smith recognized that her life had purpose early on. When she was 11, she started a sock drive in her hometown of Atlanta so that homeless children could stay warm in the winter and was able to give away over 600 pairs of socks. Shortly after, she created browngirlmagic.com to continue highlighting kids doing positive things in their communities. Now Mikaela has put together her own Brown Girl Magic Conference to help other girls of color dream big. We talked to her about her latest venture, which will take place May 7 in Douglasville, GA, and why Brown Girl Magic is so important to see.
Madame Noire (MN): Why did you start the Brown Girl Magic movement?
Mikaela Smith (MS): I started the movement because I really wanted girls to come together in a positive way and feel good about themselves and to know that they are not alone. I wanted to create a sisterhood and let them know that there are girls like me who are cheering for her friends instead of being mean or shady. I’ve had my share of being bullied and picked on by girls and we must put an end to that. Girls have enough issues dealing with how they look on a daily basis, so we definitely don’t need to be negative toward each other. Too much of that is going on so I wanted to make a change by bringing brown girls together for a good cause and to hear positive words that would heal them.
MN: What advice do you have for girls who lack self-confidence?
MS: It’s really important that girls find people who will tell them how beautiful and great they are. A support system is important. If they don’t have a parent who will tell them positive things, then they should find a teacher or counselor to talk to. I would say to believe in yourself and don’t let anyone make you feel like you are not worthy. They should ask their parents to help them find classes that will build them up and empower them so that they can know their worth.
MN: Why is it important for girls to come to this event?
MS: This is going to be such a great event with so many wonderful, powerful speakers in one place! It is important for girls to come to this event because we need to see girls who look like us making a difference and following their dreams and telling their stories. Girls will also get to see positive women of color who are not entertainers or musicians; TV shows always make it seem like Black entertainers or athletes are the only ones making a difference. There will be young girls like me who have started their own businesses talking about how they beat challenges. One girl, Gabrielle Goodwin, started GaBBYBows and her barrettes have made her a national star. She is a great example of a girl who has lots of magic. We have author Denene Millner who will talk to girls about our event theme “Activating Your Inner Magic,” that special something that all girls have inside of them. That kind of love, encouragement and inspiration on one day at this event is pretty much going to be epic.
MN: How does it feel to put on something so large?
MS: It’s scary. My mom does a lot and we talk just every day about it.. and it is tough to do this. But it is important and my mom feels like it is important for me and girls like me to see positive examples of women and girls who are not fighting each other and who are coming together like sisters. It may be scary now, but it’s also so rewarding because I’m doing something that will change lives.
MN: How do you balance school, being a kid, and shooting for your dreams?
MS: And school activities like track too! It makes me tired! But at the same time, I love a challenge and I love staying busy. On the weekend I just hang out and be a kid. I ride my bike outside and play with my friends and hang with my family. That’s important. You have to just be a kid. During the week, I do what I must, and that’s making sure I do my homework and keep my grades up. My mom helps me keep it all together too.
MN: Is there anything else you want to add about your event?
MS: I just really want people to help spread the word about this event and I want girls and moms to come out because this is also a mother-daughter dinner. We’re going to have a vision board party too, good food, tons of great speakers and even kid vendors! Brown girls come out an unite on this magical day.