My name is Angel Carter and I’m from Saint Louis, MO. I am a financial analyst by day, a diva by night, and a full time Christian activist.
Why is community involvement important to you?
Community involvement is work that I just fell into. I never intended to have this level of immersion within social justice culture. I’ve noticed that I have a passion for equality and justice; it’s just naturally within me. Community involvement has also helped me to find my place in this world. Even as a child, I remember expressing my views on certain school rules that I believed were unfair.
In middle school, I confronted my principal about the dress code and how it impacted the black girls versus the white girls. I told the principal that I noticed that the black girls were getting sent home for shorts and skirts that were longer than what the white girls wore. I even brought up how our bodies were being discriminated against since we were a little “thicker.” My concern was dismissed of course, and because I was so young, I didn't follow up with it. Even then, my intention wasn't to be an activist on behalf of black girls within the school. I just wanted to call out a harmful pattern that needed to be fixed. It’s something that naturally comes out of me and now I love doing the work. Essentially, community involvement is me and has been me for a long time.
What ignites you to protest?
Protest, in its most basic meaning, is simply to object to something. There’s a lot of hate and death-promoting ideologies in the world. As a believer, my heart is in disagreement with a lot of it. One could say I’m always in a protest mode. I object to hatred, I object to fear, I object to murder, I object to greed and selfishness, I object to mistreating people, I object to any and all things that is not a reflection of my heart’s thirst for life and love.
How many Ferguson protests did you attend? How would you describe the environment at the protests?
At this point, I have no idea regarding, “how many”, the days run together. Some days I try to reflect on certain events, and end up remembering them for the wrong day. LOL. I’m not the only one that has this experience of feeling as if “it’s all running together”. Not to mention, the question sort of implies that one is “coming and going”, arriving to a protest, then leaving to return to the next action and/or event. That’s simply not the case. If I’m not attending protest, I’m watching them via live stream. If I’m not watching a live stream, I'm watching the tweets of my comrades. If I’m not “twatching," [following tweets] I’m reading articles. And if I’m not doing that, I’m writing about the protest. My heart hasn’t stopped protesting since August 9th, and it never will until we see the changes that will impact and improve the lives of black people in this nation.
In regards to the environment at the protests, contrary to media portrayal of this community, the protests are ALWAYS filled with love. Even in the midst of the more violent evenings, there was still love felt. It was expressed through rage, but that was love. Love for the life of Mike Brown. Love for all of our black and brown babies, really. Our protests are a call for accountability- which propels growth.
The protests for me aren't just about declaring that black lives matter. They are an intervention for the people who are taking the lives of their fellow man. My favorite part of being apart of this protest community is that there are unlimited opportunities to grow. We are frequently teaching each other, showing empathy for one another, helping each other, advising each other and encouraging each other- and it’s beautiful. I love it so much. As a woman, sometimes dealing with sexism is an issue; but there are some men that want to learn and grow, so they listen when black women share our gender unique experiences. There's a support system that didn’t exist prior to August 9th.
Who or what in your life inspires you to be a leader?
To be honest, I never really aspired to be a leader. Much like, I never aspired to be a community activist. It’s something that just happened. In fact, I’ve always noticed that the word “leader” is thrown at me simply when I express my views on something. It’s a word thrown at me when I’m simply being myself and exposing my heart. If anything, I could say that it is my faith that influences this because it keeps my heart grounded so that everything that flows from it (my words, my actions, my feelings, etc.) comes off as “leadership”.
What advice would you give to young girls wanting to step up into leadership roles, but are afraid to?
The advice I would give to young girls is, that they know and accept who they are first. We live in a time where imitation of others is more valued than authentic identity. Trying to step into a role of leadership that doesn’t match your natural passions and gifts will cause difficulty. I believe the acceptance of identity is important because it will propel the confidence that it takes to be a leader. I’ve spent my life focusing on what’s in my heart, and doing the work that brings me fulfillment. Again, it wasn’t something I was seeking; it’s something that happened when I was simply myself.
I also think it’s important to value all roles. Some women will grow to be politicians, others will be nurses, others will be teacher, others will be social workers, others will be stay-at-home moms, and others will be CEOs. And guess what? ALL of them would qualify as a leader. Everybody has a role, and all of them will lead us to progress. Don’t place higher value on one role just because it pays more money or offers more visibility. They’re all valuable.
Why do you think black women should consider themselves as queens?
Well, I’m not one to tell a woman what she should and should not call herself. Black women are developing businesses, obtaining degrees, and simply SLAYING despite everything designed to keep them from doing so. To maintain such character and to continue to hold authority of your identity is royal. In the words of Maya Angelou, “still WE rise”.