Ray: How are African American stories unique?
Lisa: Within each African American story sits an individual fighting to love themselves in the package that God gave them, fighting to love themselves in a time and space where other people around them may not be loving them.
You can change your geographical location, the car you drive, or your choice of occupation, but God knows you can’t change the color of your skin.
I can’t change the fact that I am mocha brown. I can’t change the fact that I have full lips and round hips. I can’t change the fact that I have short curly hair.
I can’t change the fact that God gave me a full body to work with. He didn’t give me a size 2, 5, or even 6 frame. He gave me what he gave me, and I can’t change that.
So, African American stories differ because they show the challenge and the struggle of ourselves and our families fighting to love the African American body, the image, the culture, and all the history that came with the culture.
For me, that means knowing that my ancestors came from the space of slavery, and knowing that I did not see any positive images like me on television until 1984. That also means knowing that, in spite of these things, I have learned to love myself so much.
Ray: That positive image you saw in the mid 1980s — was that Oprah Winfrey?
Lisa: Yes, that was when Oprah got her show. I was a freshman in college, and there were four African American girls attending the school.
I knew at that time I wanted to speak to people and inspire them, but what I lacked was a physical manifestation of what I wanted to do and be. And yet I believed in my heart and soul that I had the right to inspire people. I didn’t see anyone that looked like me doing it until I saw Oprah.