Maya Carr Interview
As a professional in the digital space, I am using these outlets to speak truth to power...
How did you get started in the philanthropic space?
I got started in 2011. I was a first generation college student, born and raised in the projects of Camden, NJ and when I got an opportunity to leave the hood, which was to attend college, a predominantly white institution, I learned that the conditions of the ghetto were wretched. In the projects we were facing education inequality, environmental racism, community food deserts, and so much more. I was removed from this environment and no longer struggled to eat, struggled for shelter and that alone did not sit well with me. When I started to understand what that meant for my spirituality, I gathered a bunch of my friends and we would catch the bus back to our hometown and use our meal plan money to take sandwiches and chips to the homeless people in our community. Overtime as I grew as a woman and understood what true philanthropy looks like, I started to grow my nonprofit.
Can you talk more about the different programs and services provided by ATWGirl?
One of our premier programs is called Queen Things, which is a hygiene tour. Queen Things, journeys through all aspects of hygiene from vaginal hygiene to to hair hygiene and most importantly mental hygiene. We collaborate with women from the African diaspora who are professionals in these fields and together we talk to the girls and teach them different things about their bodies and their minds. Our team is made up of women who were born and raised in impoverished communities, so we all know what it is like to have a mother on drugs or who has to work three jobs to make ends meet. We are all aware of what these young women need so our programs are designed to meet direct needs. We also offer identity development workshops, digital campaigns and so much more.
Why is giving back important to you?
Giving back is important to me because I understand systematic oppression. No matter how much Black Girl Magic we see on social media, there are still young black girls in the ghettos of Camden, Compton, Chicago and beyond...that are marginalized. They wake up everyday much like I did, to gang violence, prostitution, empty refrigerators and the list goes on. America isn't kind to poor, ghetto, black/brown girls...so we have to do all that we can at ATWG to elevate their narratives and provide them with invaluable resources.
I also choose to work in these communities because I also work in entertainment and am aware of the agenda that portrays black women in a particular way. When you go to these communities where there is little to no resources in the education system, entertainment is what teaches them how to walk, talk and act. We need people to come in and show something different, to offer exposure and to help the schools, and parents who are struggling and suffering every day.
As a founder of a nonprofit and a Digital Content Strategist in the media industry, how do you provide positive images for your girls?
As a professional in the digital space, I am using these outlets to speak truth to power. When the ghetto girl narrative is portrayed in the media, our existence is either diminished to some form of materialism...our style or you'll see our trauma exploited...our quick to anger, loud, and aggressive personality. Rarely do you see a black/brown woman from the ghetto given a platform to express herself in healthy ways. Cardi B is a perfect example. People love the hood girl that lashes out quickly and makes headlines...yet we do not see conversations around the very communities that raised and influence the way way these women live and act. We love Cardi because we are Cardi. We understand first hand what ghetto life is and what it does to our personalities. It’s beautiful yet complex. And that’s what I want to showcase on our digital platforms. You will see more digital projects from ATWG and myself very soon.
Outside of this program, what else are you involved in?
Outside of my community activism, I am working on building my career in the creative digital media space. I actively working on a few original projects that I can't wait to share with the world. To be honest, my life's work in rooted in elevating and reclaiming the ghetto girl narrative. Other than that, I am in love and I have a big family so I am always visiting Camden to see and build with my family.
What is your organization's biggest need and how can people support?
Our biggest need is support from mental health and wellness educators and/or therapists. We like to create our own curriculum at ATWGirl because we deal with a very specific group of young girls. We have a lot of support from older women, which is excellent, but we do need that millennial voice of educators who can help developing the curriculum specifically.
Where do you see ATWG going next?
Currently, we do a lot of pop up workshops in schools but I see us having a successful summer camp.
Continue this sentence...I give too because
I give too because I care.