This month’s first Millennial On A Mission spotlight is about two, dynamic young ladies from Brooklyn, New York who have made it their business to talk about sex. And not just talk about it, but to educate and empower their communities about sexual health, reproductive justice and everything in between. From the death of a family member to AIDS in 2010 to learning about HIV by wandering aimlessly into a mobile testing unit for a free Metrocard, these young ladies quickly realized that even though they are three decades from the inception of HIV in public consciousness, there’s still a gap in HIV prevention and education.
During their time at Syracuse University, Kimberly and Brittany (who are now known as “KIMBRITIVE“) began their life-long commitment while working with Sex S.Y.M.B.A.L.S. (Sexually conscious, youthful, mature, Black and Latino students), a student organization dedicated to curtailing the spread of HIV and STDS, preventing sexual violence and promoting healthy sexual decisions. It was through this experience that they realized our passions and discovered their niche. After graduation, Kimbritive created their first workshop, “How to be a F.L.Y. Girl: First, Love Yourself!” which is designed to have honest conversations with young women in a brave space to explore and define what “real” and “respectable” love is with others and themselves. This dedication has in turn translated into Public Health, Social Work and Human Sexuality graduate studies, adolescent health education, feminist youth work and reproductive justice advocacy. Through these efforts and commitments, they are holding ourselves accountable and actively being agents of change in our community.
MOAM: What inspired you to pursue your choice of career? Who are some individuals you admire in and out of your field of work? What challenges have you faced in building your business/brand, and what have you learned from them?
KIMBRITIVE: Before we realized the importance of branding ourselves, we would attend and present at conferences and people would often ask, “What’s the name of your company?”, “How many years have you been working in the field?” or “What company do you work for?”. Of course we had our own individual 9-5 jobs but the workshops that we presented were rooted in our passions, not a paycheck. We often felt that in order for our voices and opinions to be validated, we had to have extensive accolades or degrees behind our name. In nature, that atmosphere was a bit intimidating and often made us feel that we weren’t the “experts” in the room. But then, it hit us. We were once the young women of color that our workshops are catered to (and still are those young women some days) and we are a unique type of “expert” because we have experiences on both ends of the spectrum. We had to believe that we had something important to contribute to the conversation and that were capable of having our voices heard and valued.
So, during our weekly Tuesday evening meetings at Starbucks in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, we would sit there (after coming from a long day of work and/or class) from 6 PM – closing (sometimes we got kicked out), to brainstorm ways to improve on our growing brand and name the work that we were doing. So, the name “Kimbritive” came after months of random epiphanies, caffeinated nights and STRESS. In the end, it was really reassuring to finally have a name that marked us and the work we do as an entity– a brand.
In this field, there aren’t many people that are our age or look like us who are actively doing the work. So going into it, we often felt that were climbing up a lonely, steep hill. When we found the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN), which is a diverse group of domestic and national women working on the sexual and reproductive health needs of women of color, we were elated. The existence of such a group helped validate the movement for us and reminded us that it is necessary for WOC to be present and apart of these crucial conversations regarding our sexuality and sexual and reproductive health. We are inspired by the members and leaders of that group who encourage us to take space as young women of color working in the sexuality field.
To Brittany and Kimberly, being Millennials On A Mission that to live and work with purpose. “It means that you are unapologetic, driven and focused on your dreams and goals despite the fast-paced and instantaneous nature of society,” Kimberly and Brittany said. “Being on a mission means that you understand that the road ahead of you might be less traveled but despite this, you are steadfastly going after what you believe in.”
Brittany and Kimberly believe that fear can be necessary for achieving your goals, but you must own fear and not allow it to own you. “Caterpillars are not always aware of the process that it takes to become butterflies. We’re sure they are a bit fearful about spending time in that cocoon, tightly wrapped and not able to see the outside world, nevertheless they remain committed to trusting the process and eventually emerge with their wings.”
To learn more about Brittany and Kimberly’s work, visit their website.