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Check Out Terrionna Brockman’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Terrionna Brockman.

Terrionna, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
While in college, I wanted to create a platform dedicated to Black creatives, but my time was limited—or so I felt. I was a full-time Graphic Design student and Spanish minor. I was also highly involved in student organizations and even played intramural flag football—also worked various part-time jobs on and off campus. Once I graduated, the initial idea to create this platform came back around and this time I couldn’t ignore it.

Considering the lack of representation in the art world, I knew that whatever I created would be a reflection of myself—a platform where Black creatives’ stories would be told. Black&Gifted was the first name that came to mind and it resonated—no doubts or going back and forth with different names. It’s perfect for who and what I wanted to represent. I don’t mean to backtrack, but as a Graphic Design student at a predominantly white institution—and as a Black creative in general—sometimes I felt like my ideas came off as “too Black” or I noticed how my non-Black counterparts wouldn’t know how to critique my work. I noticed how art exhibits and museums were not run by Black individuals, nor did the art reflect anything that I could relate to. Even when I went online looking for Black art communities, the ones I did come across lacked a sense of authenticity and community. I felt like the “communities” were more focused on popularity than elevating one another. These disconnects fueled my desire for authentic connections, which ultimately led me to creating my own platform.

Black&Gifted started as an online blog where I interviewed a variety of creatives and I reached out to close friends and even strangers in hopes of bringing on writers to share their perspectives on various topics. When I was living in Morrilton and Conway, Arkansas we hosted a few events like open mic nights, fundraisers, and an awards show—the Black&Gifted Awards (2018). I joined Teach for America and relocated to San Antonio, Texas where I taught 7th grade ELA for two years. I then made my way to Los Angeles, California where I’m currently pursuing my creative interests. Throughout my many transitions, Black&Gifted was always up and running digitally, but there were moments of stillness. Today, we continue to ensure that our mission manifests. There are definitely areas for growth, but I have so much to be proud of, having founded Black&Gifted in 2016. I’ve been able to utilize my creative talents in ways that I wouldn’t have imagined from graphic design, creative direction, journalism, marketing, communications—you name it!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There’s a saying that I love, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” So to answer your question, the path has not been smooth. When creating a platform of any kind—or choosing to do something you love—there will be moments of doubt and struggles along the way. Something that I learned early on is that people come and go. Always be grateful for those that came and went, though because at some point they gave value to your vision—be it an idea or helping to execute a plan. I’ve also learned to not take things personal. Throughout this journey I’ve had to rely on myself. Finding writers hasn’t been the easiest, but I’ve begun to give energy to the things that are working at this time. Right now I’m a one-woman show, but sometimes I do long for a strong team.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I consider myself a creative. There are many things that I do and I don’t want to be confined to one skill or area of interest. Aside from being the mastermind behind all that you see with Black&Gifted, I do freelance graphic design work. I also have a passion for music and express myself through writing. I enjoy connecting with artists and producers in the Afrobeats, R&B, and Hip-Hop spaces. I’m also learning more about the music industry as a whole, so that’s another area of interest.

This isn’t necessarily rooted in what I do, but I’m most proud of breaking cycles and going after what I want. I’m from a small town and state (Morrilton, Arkansas) where people tend to have that “small town mindset”. Many people back home haven’t ventured out of what’s familiar, especially taking a leap of faith and relocating to a new city, state, or country. It was always important to me that I experienced new things, met new people, traveled to different countries, etc. When I told people that I was moving to Los Angeles, I got a lot of “why do you want to do that?” and “you know it’s expensive!” I’m sure they meant well, but their initial response wasn’t “congratulations!” or “I support your decision.” It was automatically negative. But, I’m just proud that I never limited myself and that I always seek out more. I guess you can say that’s also what sets me apart.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
I won’t take all of the credit. People have come and gone but their contributions are never overlooked. Two individuals specifically are Quentin Gayfield and Paulina Hernandez. Quentin came on board in the early stages. He’s my right-hand-man. He’s there when I need him on the business end of things and he tackles all things public relations. I can come to him with an idea and he finds a way to assist in getting it executed, regardless of how big or small it is. He’s also an independent artist and creative. As for Paulina, we’re both San Antonio Teach For America Corps Members, so that’s initially how we connected. She reached out to me and expressed her interest in joining the Black&Gifted team as an ally—she’s our editor. She is also a full-time educator and a stellar writer/poet. They are both amazing individuals who I am grateful for—their time, talents, ideas, feedback, love, consistency, and support doesn’t go unappreciated.

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