We spoke with Blair Imani, the author and activist living at the intersection of black, queer, and Muslim identity, to hear more about her bold journey and her latest endeavors. Imani has written two books—Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History and Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream. She is a dynamic public speaker and uses her social media presence as an education platform on a variety of topics she’s passionate about, including LGBTQ rights and racial justice. Here, she tells us what being bold means to her and how Birdies make her feel bright, bold, and confident.
1. What is your definition of bold and how do you incorporate this into your day-to-day?
Being bold means understanding that the right thing is not always the popular thing. It means being a woman of righteousness and integrity even when it’s easier and more convenient to shrink away from the moment. We are bold every single day simply by living our lives against the patriarchal forces that try to keep us down.
2. What’s a bold move you’ve made in your life?
In 2018, I decided to quit the traditional 9-to-5 path and start investing in my talents and abilities in more meaningful ways. In January of that year, I left a good job for the uncertainty that comes with being your own boss. I was terrified of what it would mean to go freelance and not always know when your next check is coming or where it's coming from. I had the privilege of a family that could support me if this new move didn’t go as planned, and I think about all the people who feel stuck because they cannot afford to be bold in this way. I’m glad I made that decision, and I continue to reinvest the success I’ve achieved into people who might not have that same opportunity.
3. Who or what inspires you to be bold?
My mother. She has a motto, “Not no, but next.” This means that when one door closes, you should already be halfway down the hallway looking for the next open door. That attitude of being solution-oriented encourages boldness, resilience, and ingenuity at every opportunity.
4. What advice would you give future generations of women to live boldly and with purpose?
Follow your purpose even if it scares you. My cousin, Taye Hansberry, said to me once, “Don’t dull your shine for anyone.” I think about that nearly every day. Sometimes we have the fear that we are doing too much or being too vocal. While it’s important to consider humility, it’s equally important to fight imposter syndrome when it rears its ugly head.
5. How do Birdies make you feel bright, bold, and confident?
After being home for so many months, I’ve decided to swear off heels for the foreseeable future. When you think about the fact that office dress codes have forced women to wear pantyhose and heels, the idea of a comfortable, chic, and stylish flat takes on new meaning. We don’t have to sacrifice comfort for appeal. Now, I’m fighting the patriarchy while standing on high-density memory foam. Some might dismiss that as trivial, but it’s still a revolutionary idea that women can be comfortable and taken seriously.
Blair is part of our Bold Women series, featuring and celebrating women who embody what it means to be bold inside and out. In this series, they share their stories of success and how Birdies help them soar.