On June 10th 2020, the voices of black women reverberated across Instagram. Unlike other moments though this was different because it was coming from the annals of the instagram pages of white women. In a campaign called #sharethemicnow, followers of prominent white women on instagram such as Kourtney Kardashian, Brie Larson, Abby Wambach and Sarah Paulson suddenly had their feed flooded with black women and some lessons on the #blacklivesmatter movement. It was a powerful coming together moment of black women and white women to #sharethemicnow and amplify the voices of black women in spaces they are normally not heard.
One of the brains behind this campaign is Bozoma St John or better known by her social media handle @badassboz, and she is a personal heroine of mine who I have profiled before but here I am doing it again because she is just all that and more.
Bozoma Saint John or better known as @badassboz, is one of the most high powered black woman in Silicon valley and the epitome of #blackgirlmagic. I first learnt of her when she ascended to the role of Chief Brand Officer of Uber in 2016. At a time when the company was in crisis over reports of sexual harassment, mismanagement and an overall toxic culture, Uber hired a black woman to help clean house. She stepped into the role defiant and that is when I started following her obsessively. I am in awe of her as an African woman, a black woman and a marketing professional.
Born to Ghanaian parents, Bozoma’s family moved to Colorado when she was 12. Bozoma proceeded to chase her own dreams in pop culture despite the way African parents breathe down your neck to be a caricature of their dreams i.e. be a doctor. Post college, Bozoma took her first job as an assistant to Spike Lee and has never looked back since.
Her brilliance spread from Pepsi, to Apple to Uber. Bozoma was famously instrumental in inking the deal that brought Beyoncé to the Super Bowl with the brand in 2013. In 2016 she famously dazzled the audience at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference when she stepped on stage to introduce the redesigned Apple music and included a rendition of “Rapper’s Delight” in the keynote address. This then led to the famous Uber job and now Endeavor, the biggest talent and media agency in Hollywood where she is the Chief Marketing Officer. Enough about her resume, let me tell you why I want to be her when I grow up.
I have a personal practice that I call channelling my inner @badassboz every time I am about to walk yet into another meeting where no one looks like me. This is because her presence in the upper echelons of the while male dominated tech industry, is everything to aspiring black women executives like me. It is a place you do not see black women often and Bozoma not only thrives in that space but speaks boldly from it. She is a champion of inclusion and diversity and challenging the narrative of who gets to lead in her industry. Most importantly she understands that her presence is necessary because pop culture influences everyday society and she gets to infuse diversity into it with her work, the same way I feel about my bid for a seat at the most powerful tables in the healthcare industry is necessary.
Secondly, Bozoma Saint John steps onto all of these stages, while towering over everybody around her as an unapologetically 6 foot 4 black woman with big hair, in ankara African fabric and stilettos. In an industry famous for its hoodies and sweaters, she chooses to walk the halls of Silicon Valley in drop dead outfits that are a personal expression of her creativity and who she is everyday. My favorite piece on her was one done by Vogue where she expressed how her fashion sense is part of her brand. She talked about how she used to try to fit into corporate dress code in her first job at Pepsi, wearing khakis and but did not feel good and her ideas were therefore not as great
Directly quoting from the article Bozoma said,
“ I think it’s crazy when people say fashion is superficial, because I think it’s part of what makes me comfy in my own skin; it’s part of what makes me me. And I’m unapologetic for all the things that I am.”
Me and my buzzed blonde hair show up to work all the time channeling this type of energy!
Lastly Bozoma Saint John is the epitome of the strength that women hold, especially black women. Having experienced immense personal tragedy, including losing a child and her husband, she chooses to hold her head up high and live to create great memories. She also shows what it is like to be a working mum through her instagram feed where she constantly talks about her only daughter Lael and Bozoma lives to set an example for Lael about what she can achieve in the world. I love seeing the amazing stories of her adventures with her daughter that she adorably captions #mommyandmini and the realities of being a high powered female executive while being the best mum she can be. I am yet to cross the motherhood chapter in my life, but Bozoma gives me a screenshot of what that would be like, and I am appreciative of that!
Bozoma Saint John endlessly inspires me in so many ways and I live to chase my dreams and reach heights as unapologetically as she does every day! She is also the inspiration behind this brand having badass in its name, because I so want to be her when I grow up and she is my dream guest on the BsquaredC podcast. We are all blessed to live in the same timeline as Bozoma Saint John.
There is documentary series about her on the way but you can also here from Bozoma on her limited edition podcast, Back to Biz with Katie and Boz where she and award winning journalist Katie Couric are exploring how thought leaders, CEOs and innovators are responding to societal shifts that have been ushered in by the coronavirus.