Celebrating Herstory – Style Weekly

When Andrea Daughtry’s organization For the Fem in You cohosted the Afro-Vegan Social at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in August 2022, she expected 50 to 74 people to attend. Instead, roughly 300 showed up; they ran out of food within an hour.

Such is the popularity of events hosted by For the Fem in You, a nonprofit that aims to create safe spaces in the creative community for BIPOC and queer women. Having operated under various names for a decade, For the Fem in You officially launched in 2019, gaining 501c3 status the following year.

“We are committed to providing the resources that we can, putting on cultural events, festivals and pop-up markets that center BIPOC and queer women in small business and performing arts,” says Daughtry, the nonprofit’s founder and executive director.

This Sunday, For the Fem in You will host one of its biannual Black AF events at the ICA. In addition to its slang definition, Daughtry says that the “AF” can be interpreted as “And Free,” “And Fabulous” or “And Futuristic” in reference to this event.

Outside the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, located at 601 W. Broad St. Photo by Scott Elmquist

“It is a celebration of Black love, joy, happiness, freedom and a movement where we can honor our past, our present and our future Black women,” Daughtry explains. “Queer history, too, is wrapped into that. It’s live performances from really dope local artists.”

Featuring activities, live music, vendors and vegan soul food from local Black artists and Black-owned businesses, this Black AF’s theme is “A Celebration of Herstory.” Performances include those by Danville’s Kuumba West African Dance Co., Szaltana, Sunflower Mo, Aka$ha, Tiara & Andrew, and Shon Davis.

Hailing from Danville, Kuumba celebrates West African culture through dance, drum and song. “Expect to see live drumming, beautiful African outfits, natural hairstyles,” Daughtry says.

Szaltana is an African Indigenous woman who now lives in Richmond. She is a singer-songwriter, medicine woman, life coach and sound healer.

“She is going to give us an amazing performance based on her roots in native culture,” says Daughtry, who’s also an artist, stylist, fashion designer, and owns an organic skincare line called Buttah Babez.

Daughtry compares Aka$ha to female rappers from the ’90s and ’00s: “She’s a ball of that energy, just the good stuff.”

Tiara & Andrew are a local alternative folk-pop duo that Daughtry says are “very sultry”: “They’re a married couple who are just phenomenal.”

At 5 p.m., local singer Shon Davis will perform soul and R&B music with a three-piece live band. “She’s going to bring some really dope energy,” Daughtry says.

Andrea Daughtry launched the nonprofit For the Fem in You to “create safe spaces in the creative community for BIPOC and queer women.” Photo by Scott Elmquist

Daughtry met poet Melanie Monji, a.k.a. Sunflower Mo, through their vegan food brand Sunflower Gardenz. Daughtry says Monji has Jamaican and New York roots, and has been holding open mics recently at Southside vegetarian restaurant Golden Lion Community Cafe.

Local DJ and MC “Ease the Architect” Claiborne will also debut a film called “When Women Speak.” The 42-minute film celebrates Black and Indigenous women, including Fannie Lou Hamer, bell hooks, Nina Simone and Maya Angelou.

Participating vendors include Elegba Folklore Society, Studio Jupiter and Melia Alleure Essentials, among others. Proceeds from the event will go towards a new event space for For the Fem in You. Daughtry says they’re hoping to open the event space in June if fundraising goes well.

Daughtry says Black AF is a way to celebrate the impact that Black culture has had on America.

“Knowing that, that it’s been at the helm of music, art and our everyday lives, what we mimic, why wouldn’t you come and celebrate that?”

For the Fem in You’s “Black AF – A Celebration of Herstory” takes place from noon – 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, 601 W. Broad St., 23220. Suggested donation of $10. For more information, visit forthefeminyou.com.

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