BCB: How did you feel about the opening ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture?
Elva Nitereka (left): I’m emotional about everything right now. It was really beautiful and it was a lot to take in. I feel very special and blessed to be here. It was like a 100-year process so to be in D.C. at this time, and I’m not even from D.C., to be here on this present day during the opening ceremony is like a blessing.-
BCB: Is there anything you’ve ever had to overcome in terms of beauty and identity as a black woman?
Tiara Lamberth (right): Acknowledging that there are so many different types of ways to be beautiful. It’s not just one type of look. My brows don’t have to be fleeky and my hair doesn’t have to be done for me to still be cute. Dealing with that idea of fitting into that.
When I went natural it spiraled into this whole different idea of thinking about beauty and my identity and how I’m affected by things in society. I know that’s a cliché answer, but it really is an enlightening moment when you strip that away and you do research and it leads you to other little things and before you know it you’re in a whole world of information about being black and the thinking behind how we got here and how we’re overcoming things now. It’s pretty cool.
BCB: How do you feel about what you saw during the opening ceremony of the museum?
Tiara Lamberth: I’m still taking it in, but I love it. I told her it’s been like the blackest year ever and this opening makes it more and more obvious of how proud we are as a people and how we’re not ashamed to say it anymore—‘yeah, we’re black, this is our history, and our story deserves to be told. Ya’ll don’t have to appreciate us, we’re going to appreciate ourselves. It still feels like a big family reunion but you don’t know anybody, but the essence is familiar.