It’s 2008 and I want to introduce you to the young, susceptible and impressionable Chaneé (enter my old @wallflow3rr_ social media handle). I applied to VCU as a print journalism major still fresh on the heels of a Devil Wears Prada high. My goal upon entering college was to become an editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine, preferably Teen Vogue. My goals were high and I was determined to become the next Andy turned Miranda Priestly.
That was until… I met my then “big sister.” Attending a PWI meant that the black community stayed sort of close knit, so I trusted my big sister as she had more experience in this setting than I did. One day she sat me down to talk about my goals and asked what I wanted out of life. I proudly stated "I would love to work for a beauty and fashion magazine." That remark was met with an abrupt “You’re black. You have to be reasonable. A black woman will never become an EIC for that type of magazine. Think realistically. You don’t see that many black people in high places.” We were just on the heels of electing our FIRST BLACK president, but I was just a mere freshman and I caved to her insight. Why did I fold so easily? Was it really a goal of mine if I brushed it off in the blink of an eye?
From that moment forward I reduced my dreams to something deemed more attainable. I no longer had a post-college plan. Step one was to finish my journalism program and I would figure it out from there.
Well, life happens. In 2012, a week after graduating cum laude, my sister had a baby. I moved back home to help out instead of my original plan of fleeing to New York (honestly, the lack of greenery and abundance of trash turned me off too). While I felt appreciated by my sister for being her second hand during the beginning stages of motherhood, I struggled with where I stood career wise. I was a recent graduate with no experience outside of my internship. I ended up working retail but continued applying for job after job that aligned with my degree. Eventually, in true the-universe-is-so-ironic fashion, a happy hour put on by an actual sisterhood formed in college lead me to my current job.
Fast forward to 2019, I am now a Line Producer at National Geographic. I reminisce on that conversation with my "big sister" at the time and realize in retrospect just how wrong she got it. I wish I could revisit that conversation with her and tell her all the reasons why my goal was practical.
While my current job isn’t as glamorous as I’d originally hoped my career path would be, I AM a young, black, millennial woman working for an internationally known organization with a critical position. I serve as the point of contact for million-dollar television productions. For far too long, I had become comfortable with my choice of giving up on my dream job never to question it again. I assumed that it was unobtainable and out of my reach. Then I was introduced to Elaine Welteroth’s memoir, More Than Enough. Upon reading this book I learned that this beautiful, black, natural hair wearing millennial had achieved MY goal! Elaine had become editor-in-chief of TEEN VOGUE. Crazy right?! But not as farfetched as I thought.
When I initially saw the promotion surrounding this book, I had no clue who Elaine was. I’d seen pictures of her on social media, so I was familiar with her face. But why was the advertisement for her memoir all over my timeline? I knew that I needed to read this book and figure out who she was. The title alone captured my attention. More Than Enough. Who doesn’t need to hear that? As I mentioned above, I wasn’t familiar with Elaine so I was unaware of what I was getting myself into when I trekked to Kramer’s Bookstore to grab a copy. I wandered around the bookstore reading the first chapter. It was captivating. It was raw. It reeled me in. This book is what I needed in a big sister in 2008 instead of what was presented to me.