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Black Parade-Straight Queenin

Celebrating queens who are winning in business and in life

Now here we come on our thrones, sittin' high

Follow my parade, oh, black parade. . .

(Excerpt from Black Parade, Beyonce’, 2020)

Interview with Des Monique

Black Parade

Build Your Own Destiny

Finding Personal Freedom Through Small Business Ownership

By Jaymie Sinaloa Maga, Age 17

Jaymie: Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about who you are

Des Washington: “I’m Des Washington, I’m the co-owner of Take 3, a burger joint in downtown Fresno, and the owner of D’s Craft Experiences, a bar catering and event services company. I’m very active in Downtown revitalization in Fresno, and sit on several boards and committees with the personal goal of promoting the city, retaining talent, and entertaining the community.”

Jaymie: What is your favorite about being a business owner?

Des: “My favorite part about being a business owner is the creative flexibility. I am an artist and owning businesses give me a platform to express my creativity whenever I want, and actually make money doing it.”

Jaymie: What sets Take 3 apart from other burger joints?

Des Washington: “Take 3 is a build-your-own burger restaurant and we have so many toppings to choose from. I think what sets us apart is the quality of the food. It’s real food. Fresh veggies, hand pressed, never frozen beef patties, local buns, and everything's made to order. Our signature burgers are really good too. For those who don’t want to get creative, we have put together a great menu of tasty burgers.”

Jaymie: Take 3 is a family owned and operated business. There is a popular phrase “do not do business with family”. How do you feel about this?

Des: “I definitely understand why people say don’t work with family. There is a level of professionalism when you’re working with business associates that goes out of the window with family. You’re more likely to have confrontations and issues that you wouldn’t have with someone you aren’t comfortable with. But on the flip side, there’s so much love and respect there, that you always work it out. Or at least we do”

Jaymie: How did you handle doubt and adversity when starting your own business (D’s Craft Experience)?

Des Washington: “I am very privileged to come from a family that always showed me that hard work pays off. I think when you have that as a foundation, you just jump, when it comes to opportunities. I don’t usually doubt myself on the front end lol. Once adversity comes (and it always does) I usually rely on my elders. I call my dad and mom, my grandfather, and mentor all the time and drain them of all their wisdom until I feel like I can keep going.”

Jaymie: how are you finding joy during these hard times?

Des: “Personally I struggle to figure out self care in isolation lol. Most of the joy I’ve gotten has been from being able to support those around me and in the community. The restaurant ran a campaign that we called #spreadingburgerjoy where we provided free meals to frontline workers, essential workers, and families in need. We collected donations from the community and served over 300 meals”.

Jaymie: Do you have any words of encouragement for young black girls who want to start businesses?

Des: Entrepreneurs are forward thinkers. Don’t allow limitations in your life, ever, about anything. If you have an idea, always go the distance with it. No idea is stupid, because you never know how what didn’t work out today, might come in handy down the road. Also don’t be afraid of a day job. Being broke is a business killer, and not all businesses will be able to sustain you and the lifestyle you want. I know several entrepreneurs who work part time here or there, or like me, do consulting on the side. It’s important to have multiple streams of income, especially when you’re just getting started.

Jaymie: What’s it like being a boss?

Des: It’s all about how you look at it really! When someone asks you in all caps you’re like “aaaaye, it’s great!” 😆 But it’s really a lot of responsibility and can be really stressful. You’re responsible for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of others, and that’s a big load to carry. “I love it though. I don’t think I would

choose any other life!”

Interview with Kizzy Lopez

Black Parade

Forward Movement for Foster Youth- “You Don’t Have to Live in Your Pain”

Dr. Kizzy Lopez

By Jammy Harris, Age 17

Dr. Kizzy Lopez is currently an assistant professor in social work at Fresno Pacific University, a position she has held for two years. She was formally at Fresno State for eleven years. Dr. Lopez started out working at Fresno State as an intern where she was working to advocate for the people who had experienced the foster system and homelessness going into college. She now also does evaluation work on social justice called Lopez and Gonzales Consulting.

Foster Youth Are Her Focus

Since Dr. Lopez became a faculty member, advocating for black foster youth has been her focus. She feels that it is necessary and important. She talks about hearing the stories and experiences of black foster youth and them sounding very generic. The stories of black foster youth are different from white foster youth. She is thrilled she's able to work with foster youth who want to make a difference as well. She created a series of Zoom calls that are closed spaces for black foster youth to discuss and explore what it is to be a black foster youth. She also does this to raise awareness.

Her Story

While she was interning at Fresno State, the Renaissance Scholars Program was given to her as a task. She took it seriously and she felt deeply connected and passionate about her project. Dr. Lopez took it further than what was expected of her and of the program. At that moment she felt called to support homeless and former-foster students staying in school and graduating. There was a higher chance of them graduating if they were consistent with the program. Kizzy took this as an intervention. She believed it was God-given as a sign and she continued to pour her heart into the work. The work was healing and resonated with her because she was a foster youth and had been homeless when she entered college. She wanted to create a support system for foster youth and homeless students.

In a TEDx speech, Dr. Lopez talked about the trauma of being black in foster care. She has some advice for black girls who’ve dealt with trauma. Dr. Lopez says to “be intentional” by seeking healing. She says it isn't a weakness. One of her favorite quotes says, "You did not choose the trauma but you can choose your healing." To continue, she shares that she’s been in therapy off and on for thirty years. She says, “we shouldn’t be afraid to seek the healing we need.” Lastly, she says, “You don't have to live in your pain.”

Her Why

Dr. Lopez says earning her Doctorate means a lot because there aren’t many African American women who have experienced the foster system and homelessness and earned a Doctorate degree. For Dr. Lopez, being a representation for her kids and the Black community is what counts. She goes on to say not everyone can get a Doctorate, but she hopes it encourages them to chase their dreams. She hopes young people live their impossible dreams.

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