Stevona Elem-Rogers is a self-described womanist, educator, and writer. By day, she works in education, running a resident program for teachers. But her life’s passion is spreading the gospel of unapologetic Black womanhood through #BlackWomenAreForGrownUps. The digital platform began with a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase, inspired by the idea that while #BlackGirlMagic is great, Black women deserve to revel in the space of their womanhood.
“As a woman of color, the world wants you to grow up so fast, and then when we become women, people want to call us girls. What is that?” she says. “Yet we’re out here putting in women’s work, voting, and taking care of our communities before we even take care of ourselves.”
BWAFGU’s merchandising has helped Rogers fund various art projects, events, and her self-published booklet BWAFGU. Chapbook. The collection of her musings on Black womanhood includes poems, personal essays, and an intergenerational interview between a young woman and her grandmother. It’s now on the syllabus for Louisiana State University’s “Black Girl Magic Across Time” course and can be found at cultural museums like New York’s Schomburg Center.
“I think Black writers are getting more creative with how they publish because these days, a lot of the writing out there is just commentary,” she says. “But think about it: If someone like Audre Lorde were alive now, where would she be able to write? The powerful thing about really great writing is that it’s about the now, but it also helps you envision what the future can look like.”
Black Is The New Black is Refinery29’s celebration of 20 Black women who kicked down doors in their fields this past year. Black women who are reminding the world that we are not a trend or “a moment.” We’re here — and we’ve been here. Check out the full list.