Who dat? Oh, she’s just a Professional Black Girl, back home in New Orleans for Season 2!
Following a successful 2018 crowdfunding campaign that surpassed its $25,000 goal in two days, educator, activist, creator and curator of Professional Black Girl, Dr. Yaba Blay, returned to her hometown with her groundbreaking video series “created to celebrate every day, around-the-way #BlackGirlMagic, and to smash racist and ‘respectable’ expectations of who they are, who they should be, and how they ought to ‘behave,’” she says in a release.
“I think the draw to Professional Black Girl for many folks, not just Black women and girls, is that it’s real,” writes Blay. “Not just that it’s ‘unapologetic,’ which is becoming a buzzword these days, but that it doesn’t even bother to explain. Either you get it or you don’t. And if you don’t, it’s on you to catch up, not on us to teach you.”
Blay’s decision to solely focus on black girl culture in New Orleans this season is the result of her own upbringing as a first-generation Ghanaian American, born and raised in the city amid a merging of cultures she tells The Glow Up was deeply impactful to her own development as a “professional black girl.”
“New Orleans has a type of blackness—it almost feels Caribbean, it almost feels African,” she said, speaking from New Orleans as she prepared for this season’s premiere party on Saturday. “The ways in which culture is at the forefront of everything we do. I think for me, on perhaps just a spiritual level, a level I may not even understand, there’s a connectedness that’s almost perfect. So it’s the African culture almost living or manifesting in the United States. People here are proud to be black in ways that I haven’t seen elsewhere, in a way that they don’t even try to explain—it’s like, New Orleans vs. Everybody.”
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As in Season 1, Professional Black Girl’s second season features an array of exceptional black women. Kicking off on Thursday, April 4 with Tank and the Bangas frontwoman Tarriona “Tank” Ball, the season will show off the charm of the city while also exploring identity, entrepreneurship, sexuality, colorism, hair politics, and, of course, uniquely New Orleans cultural phenomena like Bounce culture, regional cuisine, second lines, and Mardi Gras through the eyes of a dozen dynamically different natives.
“New Orleans makes me feel special. I feel special to be from here, no matter how ugly it is and how slow as hell we are when we’re rebuilding,” Tank says during her segment. “I still know that we are rebuilding. It ain’t called the Big Easy for nothing. They take they freaking precious sweet time. But no matter where I go, I’m just always so proud to say, ‘I came all this way from New Orleans,’ and they go (screaming) ... I can’t wait to say that. I came a long way. I came from the bottom of the map just to be with you guys … It’s like a badge of honor when you go other places, and you tell them that that’s where you’re from. It really is.”
New episodes of Professional Black Girl will air each Thursday through the end of June on Blay’s YouTube channel and PBG’s Facebook page. Previews and behind-the-scenes clips will appear on the PBG Instagram page. Season 2’s schedule is as follows:
Episode 1, April 4: Tarriona “Tank” Ball
Episode 2, April 11: Casey Ferrand
Episode 3, April 18: Fresh Johnson
Episode 4, April 25: Gina Smith
Episode 5, May 2: Queen Tahj
Episode 6, May 9: Jazz Henry
Episode 7, May 16: Cheeky Blakk
Episode 8, May 23: Wuzzam Supa
Episode 9, May 30: Shantrelle Lewis
Episode 10, June 6: Chef Linda Green
Episode 11, June 13: Naima Omi Fèrbos
Episode 12, June 20: Sunni Patterson
While a tremendous undertaking, in and of itself, Professional Black Girl is only one of Blay’s many works in progress. The Dan T. Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science at North Carolina Central University will soon be embarking on the inaugural “Me Too” HBCU Tour with Tarana Burke and is a contributor to the recently released anthology How We Fight White Supremacy. But she still found time to kick off Season 2 of her growing digital series in style with the women who made it possible.
“I use, oftentimes, the hashtag or tagline, ‘Everywhere you go, there you are,’” Blay tells us. “For me, Professional Black Girl is about not just highlighting that we’re black women and we’re dope, but to say that we have a culture. This is black girl culture; these are the things that we do that no one sits us down to teach us. Things that we don’t necessarily know how to explain, but we know it when we see it.”