Business

Blackonomics: Somewhere Lorraine Hansberry is Smiling

Young, gifted and black, vivacious, a smile that can light up a stadium, determined, tenacious, intelligent, and she’s an entrepreneur, too! This young lady has achieved far beyond her 14 years, having already made an enduring impression on adults… Young, gifted and black, vivacious, a smile that can light up a stadium, determined, tenacious, intelligent, and she’s an entrepreneur, too! This young lady has achieved far beyond her 14 years, having already made an enduring impression on adults and other young people, and she continues in the tradition of Madam C.J. Walker, Mary McLeod Bethune, Maria Stewart and Ida B. Wells, just to name a few. She understands and readily acknowledges her debt to her ancestors and her elders, those who paved the way for her and those who taught and continue to teach her. She deeply loves and respects her great-grandfather and gives all due credit to her mother for home-schooling her and allowing her the leeway to explore the possibilities.

Who is this amazing young lady? It’s Miss Kenya Jordana James, Teenpreneur of the Year for Black Enterprise Magazine, the 14-year-old phenomenon seen on Oprah and across the country at various venues, speaking at conferences and conventions, and doing her entrepreneurial thing in her home base of Atlanta. Kenya will quickly tell you that she is from the Big Apple, New York City, and she has the spunk and grit to prove it. I have never seen a more determined and dedicated young person in all my years.

I asked Kenya to come to Cincinnati to speak to the students at our entrepreneurship high school. She graciously accepted our invitation, despite having to be in San Francisco the next day to speak at the annual meeting of the California Black Chamber of Commerce. Brother Aubry Stone and his excellent staff at the Chamber worked out the transportation arrangements and we were in business.

Not only did Kenya spend several hours with the students doing two presentations, answering their questions and taking photographs with them, she also spent an hour on a local radio talk show, “Sister Speak.” She was absolutely great in both instances. She took calls and inquiries from listeners and responded with the aplomb of a seasoned adult. What can I say? Kenya James is fantastic!

Let me not forget about Kenya’s inspiration, her mentor, teacher, guidance counselor, and mother, Karen Mason, also an entrepreneur. President of the Destiny Agency, a marketing and events planning firm in Atlanta, Karen is a fine example of what a caring and concerned mother does for and with her child. Of course, the two of them travel together, and hearing the interplay between them, as I drove them from Dayton, Ohio, to Cincinnati, was inspiring and refreshing. They really love and respect one another.

Kenya takes college courses at two Atlanta universities, reads constantly, discusses various authors and their writings, and even recommended several books for my 10-year-old daughter to read. She and her mother have read many of the same books, which gives them an even greater opportunity to engage in conversation.

Kenya founded, owns and publishes Black Girl Magazine, but got started in business by baking and selling cakes. She has since graduated not only to publishing, but also to owning a line of clothing called Modest Apparel, which she started because her mother would not allow her to wear certain things. She has a couple of other business ventures going as well, and on top of all of that, she plans to become a doctor. Talk about a full plate. We adults should never complain again about being too busy.

I leave you with two thoughts. First, we must support this young lady and her business endeavors. Subscribe to Black Girl Magazine (www.blackgirlmagazine.com or call 404-762-0282) and, for you business owners out there, purchase advertisements in the publication. There certainly is more than enough business owners who will read this article who should run their ads in Black Girl. It is a family-oriented publication, with a very positive message. Please subscribe and advertise—now!

Second, let’s not

September 8, 2003
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