Hello, friends! Today I am SO thrilled to announce the second lovely individual who will be blessing us on the Black Is Beautiful mini blog series for this month! Meet REFILWE! This beautiful person and I go WAY back. I am going to brag a bit about my friend before I showcase her!
Our undergrad brought Refilwe and me together! We have been good friends for about 7 years now – my goodness! Refilwe and I have so many college memories and life experiences together, from staying up until 4 am during our late-night talks/hangouts to traveling to different parts of California on fun girls’ trips. Honestly, I don’t really know where to start but I don’t want to digress too much because if I get into it I can write a novel on all our memories together. Refilwe is a person that carries out everything that she does with SUCH passion and intention. First of all, she is a headwrap and earring QUEEN. Her sense of fashion is absolutely impeccable. Her spirit is such a beautiful, dedicated one that radiates as she moves on this earth. Refilwe loves people with all of her heart, and as you will learn a bit more, her love manifests in ways that bless and uplift the folks in and out of her communities.
Irene: What are your name and pronouns? Give us a quick synopsis of who YOU ARE!
Refilwe: My name is Refilwe (Ree-feel-way) Gqajela (she/her). I am a daughter, sister, comrade, friend, organizer… I am a Black queer woman, South African Oakland raised immigrant, Pan African Black nationalist, communist… I am an avid watcher of television and recently enjoying all that anime has to offer #OnePiece #DemonSlayer Also I like tea 🙂
Irene: Choose THREE words that come to mind when you define “Blackness”. Define each word in its relationship to Blackness. Why did you choose these three words?
Refilwe: You gonna have me pull up an essay from college lol
The first word that comes to mind is love. When I think of Blackness I think of Black love, how full it makes me feel, and the active forces that work to challenge and disrupt it. Black love is a radical work and personal value that guides all that I do.
The second word that comes to mind is struggle. One of our ancestors said ‘freedom is a constant struggle’ and they were very correct. To be Black is to be an aspiring free person in what has been made an unfree world. As a Black woman in particular who inherited the radical Black tradition of liberation struggle and the knowledge that my liberation would hesitate all others, I know I will be in constant struggle for and towards liberation.
The third word then that comes to mind is freedom; *insert Nina Simone’s ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free*. She captures in this record so much of my feelings regarding Blackness and freedom.
Irene: What is the MOST beautiful thing about being Black to you?
Refilwe: Whewwwwww! Well, being a part of a diaspora that touches all parts of this world and that actively works to understand and build relationships across shared realities and differences is pretty lit.
Irene: How do you uplift your Blackness on a regular basis?
Refilwe: Shea butter. Honoring my momma. And organizing for the liberation of all Afrikan people.
Irene: What is one of your favorite songs that fit/exemplifies that Black is Beautiful?
Refilwe: Most of Nina Simone’s catalogue, but let’s go with ‘Young Gifted and Black’
Irene: How can we support a fellow amazing Black person like yourself?
Refilwe: Support the Black folks in your life every day. Your coworker, neighbor, student, etc. Listen and make space for them, don’t lean on their labor or voice when you can speak up, and hold your respective communities accountable for their antiBlack practices. Be proBlack — don’t just give up at ’not being problematic’. Move beyond the DEI trainings.
Irene: Do you have any projects, businesses, creations, etc. that you are working on that you would like to speak briefly about and/or that we can support?
Refilwe: Nothing ready to be supported but hopefully I’ll have some personal project out soon. Still developing and learning from my creative voice.
Irene: Can folks connect with you to learn more about you/support you? If so, please drop your social media info down below!
Refilwe: IG: @re.fil.oe and Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/refilwegqajela/
Irene: Anything else you want us to know about you or anything you want to share with the readers? Feel free to drop it down below!
Refilwe: I am trying out Linktree- check out my public but under construction link now: https://linktr.ee/RefilweG
Thank you, Refilwe, for speaking to us today! Shea butter is amazing – I MUST agree! No wonder why you are always glistening! I am so honored to have had you be a guest on my blog today. Your soul radiates continuously, and I just felt it as I read your interview. Yall, I hope that you click on her Linktree and social media and connect to see all of the projects, work, and resources that she has to offer because she is a wealth of knowledge. I am so excited to hear and follow your creative voice as it continues to flourish.
I hope that yall enjoyed this blog interview as much as I did! Stay tuned for the NEXT beautiful Black person that I will be highlighting next SATURDAY for Part 3 of my Black Is Beautiful mini blog series!
Peace and love,