We Have So Much Room to Grow

JOHNIQUE ISON

I went to school for criminal justice, and I was like, ‘I’m going to be a detective or in the FBI, CIA.’ I knew I was just going to shake up this world. While I was in school, I started taking Pan-African studies. I grew up with a Black mama; Daddy looks white — he’s mixed with a whole lot of stuff. Race was not a thing in my household, so when it came to me knowing who I was as a Black person, that did not exist. Not to say that I didn’t know I was Black — because I’m very aware, looking at myself every day — but as far as my Black identity and learning about that. Once I started taking Pan-African studies, I no longer wanted to be a detective or work for this government.

 

Always been a community girl. My godmama was a legislative assistant for (former Metro Councilwoman) Cheri Bryant Hamilton. My whole life I was doing voter registration, helping or walking neighborhoods. I now work for the Center for Neighborhoods. I’m helping people organize groups to get speed bumps, lights, build up an underused space where some neighbors are worried about a meal, shoes.

These last few months have honestly been my worst mental-health months. This trauma has brought about every trauma. And I can’t say that that’s the worst thing because now I’m taking new steps to heal. This Breonna Taylor thing has put a weight on all of us, especially Black women. I can’t tell you how many times I’m in spaces now where we end up in a deep conversation, bawling our eyes out, just because: Why can’t we just exist?

 

I’m personally going to continue to fight for our freedom. And party and drink and celebrate Black women, because we adeserve that. As much work as we put in, we deserve to go be free and twerk and be ourselves and be Black women. God. OK.

 

I was just looking at the picture (Charlee) took of me, and I was like, ‘Man, it looks like a ghetto story.’ Like, it’s just culture. Let us be us. Let us be free. Let us wear our big hoops and our gold— Listen, Black women in Louisville right now are showing they ass. We are making moves. I love it. I freakin’ looove it.”

This is one of 26 interviews with Black women that ran in our 2020 No. 6 print issue.
Photos by Charlee Black.

 

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