'Professional Black Girl' Launches Season 2 in New Orleans


Dr. Yaba Blay/Calm Dog Productions

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 shouldbe, 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.”

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.”

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March 30th is the date where we’ll host a premier event with a special cut of the entire season of @professionalblackgirl. Come see what we’ve been up to for the past year…a year y’all. ((Link in bio for tix)) In addition to getting a sneak peek into the episodes, I’ll be moderating a special panel featuring @fiyawata @apshantology @taranajaneen (season 1) and Kaila Story (season 1). There are not enough words to describe what a great job @calmdogproductions & @sheshoots_ has done in capturing months and months of us being us. I can’t thank our incredible cast enough for sharing with us! ——> @caseyferrandnola @thinktank20 @thequeentahj @apshantology @ggirlgina @beautifulnaima @sunnipatterson @datgirlcheekyblakk @cheflindagreen @therealjazz__ @supa_cent

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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.

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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