As part of “Wine, Writing, Women and Wisdom” this month, I have decided to feature a different blogger each Friday. I’m finishing up the features with Raven Best, creator of The Free Your Mind Project (F.Y.M. Project). Raven started the blog last year in an effort to inspire and connect different women of color. Raven and I go way back; I was her teaching assistant during her freshmen orientation course many, many moons ago. I’m proud to know this woman and can’t wait to see how she will inevitably set the world on fire. Read more about Raven and the F.Y.M Project.
How did you come up with the name for F.Y.M. Project?
I came up with the name after sitting in my Sociology of Gender classes my spring semester, junior year. We just had discussed the homework, we had to read a piece from this book called “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf. And essentially, it said that all the standards that women are held to in our society aren’t real. With all the diversity and different cultures present across the world, how is every single woman supposed to fit the same standard? The white, European beauty standard that is so omnipresent in our society was created to distract women’s minds and redirect their funds. And after I read that, I could literally feel a weight lifted off my shoulders; there are no rules, there was no one way to be. I didn’t have to look or act a certain way to be beautiful or valuable. I am inherently so. And immediately the song Free Your Mind by En Vogue came to mind and voila, the name for my blog.
What is your current vision for the site?
My biggest focus is to maintain consistency and keep coming up with new themes for future months, which is much harder than it looks. I have it formatted like an online magazine where every month is a different theme featuring different brown girls succeeding at something they love. My main goal is to show my followers and other brown girls that there is no one way to be black and a woman. We all have different looks, passions, talents and strengths and I want to celebrate these differences rather than let it cause division.
How would you describe your primary audience for F.Y.M. Project?
Because the blog is still relatively small, my primary audience are supportive friends and family who support my dream. And through word of mouth and social networks, friends of friends and other bloggers have heard about the blog as well. Luckily I have never gotten any rude or discouraging comments, all the feedback I’ve received has been constructive and very encouraging so I’d say my audience is supportive and uplifting people whose aspirations are similar to mine.
How does F.Y.M. Project play into post grad plans?
Ideally, I could find a job where I could write or a non-profit with similar goals to volunteer or work with. I have realized that my bachelors isn’t enough though, so I’m planning to go back to school to get my Master’s in Public Policy or Youth Development. My long-term goal is to turn my blog into a non-profit that mentors high school girls, to pair them with a woman who is working in a field that they want to enter in the future and guide them so they can find internships, know what to study in school, and network so they can reach their dream that much sooner. In high school and most of college I didn’t have that much direction in what I wanted to do. I feel that I would be in a better position now if I had spent less time worrying about fitting in and more time finding what I loved to do.
What distinguishes F.Y.M. Project from other blogs for women of color?
I think The Free Your Mind Project is one of the only blogs that consistently showcases other women in the format that it does. A lot of the other blogs I’ve seen generally come from one perspective and direction. I wanted my blog to showcase a lot of different perspectives and lifestyles so every month we touch on a different topic.
What are your goals for the site within the next year?
I definitely want to reach a larger audience! And I’m thinking of adding more components to my blog; a lot of people have told me I should put more of myself in the blog. I’m contemplating adding fitness, cooking, style and daily inspiration segments to the blog as well as having guest contributors once a month who can write about anything they want to.
Last song played on my iTunes: Like I Can- Sam Smith
Last person you talked to on the phone: My mama
Go-to quote for inspiration: You get what you put out into the universe.
Raven is the creator of The Free Your Mind Project and a recent grad of The University of Maryland (Go, Terps!). She started the blog in hopes of inspiring and connecting different women of color. Check out the blog at www.fymproject.com, follow it on Instagram at @fymproject and like it on Facebook at The Free Your Mind Project. Reach out to Raven at email@example.com. She is always looking for new ideas and features for the blog!