The Black Girl Project film is dedicated to the memory of Shannon Braithwaite. I met Shannon when she was in 10th grade, in fact, I hired her as an intern for a youth program I coordinated in Brooklyn and had hoped that she would be one of the young women I interviewed.
Shannon was bright, outgoing, feisty, a great dancer and fiercely loyal to her friends and family. She was well-liked by her peers and the adults she interacted with. What I loved most about Shannon was her critical thinking skills. You could always see that she was thinking and she'd pose questions to me out of the blue. She was really a model young woman.
This all ended on a late September evening in 2008, just after Shannon's 16th birthday, she was brutally murdered by her cousin Tiana Brown, just 15 years old herself.
I've sat in on part of the the trial, seen the knife that slit Shannon's throat and stabbed her over 30 times, puncturing her heart. It was because of Shannon's kindness that Tiana was staying with her and her mom in the first place. A troubled young woman, Tiana had few other options.
While the film is dedicated to Shannon, on the flipside, it's also dedicated to Tiana; all the young women and girls who have been hurt, damaged and have unexplored/unhealed anger, pain and rage.
The film, workshop, seminars, etc. are for all of our girls, dedicated to helping them become the self-actualized people they deserve to be.