Making Space for New Voices – Guest Post with Nailah Blades Wylie

Mar 21, 2018

I’ve long been wanting to use my platform to highlight the work of women of color. One way to bring down the scourge of racism is to make space for other voices. To not take up all the air in the room. To listen.

Welcome to the inaugural post with Nailah Blades Wylie!

What book changed your perspective the most? 

I read The Four Agreements in my early twenties when I was going through a period of self-doubt and confusion. It was such an eye-opening experience for me because it was the first time that I truly realized that I could take a stronger hold on my thoughts and how I reacted to experiences in my life. The agreement: ‘Don’t take anything personally’ was life changing for me and is something that I have reminded myself of continuously as I moved through life.

What’s your morning ritual? 

I’m going to start off by saying that I have a 3 year old daughter (and another baby on the way) so mornings can be a little bit…hectic! Right now my daughter wakes up around 6:30 and crawls into our bed where we have a little snuggle time before it’s time to start getting ready for the day. Once she’s dressed and fed and dropped off at preschool, I make sure I have a cup of tea and go over the 3 most important things I’d like to accomplish. Then I put on some music and sit down at my desk to get to work.

I spent a lot of time beating myself up over my lack of morning rituals, but then realized that just because I’m not able to meditate for an hour or write morning pages as often as I’d like doesn’t mean that it’s a) not a ritual and b) not something I should be proud of.

What belief or fear gets in your way the most?  

The fear that I won’t get all of the big ideas swirling in my head out into the world on time. I’m constantly afraid that I won’t live up to my potential or that I’ll run out of time, which can leave me feeling stuck. When I get in that zone, I take a deep breathe, literally shake it off and remember that there’s enough — time, resources, energy, etc. — for me to get whatever it is that I want to get done.

What belief supports you to be brave and true to yourself?

The belief that we are all put on this earth for a reason and that we all have the responsibility to take up space and be ourselves, unapologetically.

You recently launched Color Outside to support women of color to spend time in nature. What made you start this initiative? What’s your biggest vision for it?

I started Color Outside on the heels of a big move from Southern California to Salt Lake City, UT. I had also just recently had my daughter and had been feeling disconnected from who I was as a person. Getting outside and exploring my new home helped me to feel inspired again and reconnected me with that brave person I knew I was deep down inside. I realized that other women of color might be looking for the same type of transformation so I created a local community here in Salt Lake City and after a year began taking the steps to expand the idea beyond just my local community.

Creating a community for other women of color to get outside and have adventures with one another has been exhilarating for me. I believe there is so much power in taking up space in a place that has traditionally not been for us. And I really believe in the restorative and healing powers of getting outside and moving your body and feeling strong and whole again.

My biggest vision is that Color Outside becomes the go-to resource for women of color who want to live more colorful, joy-filled and adventurous lives and who’d like to experience that through outdoor adventures. I hope to create a vibrant community of women who are living full lives and doing things they never thought possible. And I want our community to be a model for young girls of color to see that they can take up as much space as they want, doing whatever it is that brings them joy.

As a white woman who wants to work with more women of color, I often feel uncomfortable and confused about how market to these women.  It can feel like I’m asking women of color to help me be more diverse which feels very wrong. Does that come up in your work with companies and if so, how do you help them navigate this?

My marketing agency focused on helping brands connect with communities of color in real, inclusive ways and this came up often. I think at its core, marketing is about conversations and communities. Brands and businesses should be starting conversations and building communities with the whole human in mind and so will need to take into account their entire lived experience instead of just relying of demographics, stereotypes, or what they think a certain group of people need. If that is something that the brand doesn’t feel equipped to do on their own (most aren’t), they should hire and talk to enough people who have lived through different experiences than their own that they are able to get a more representative sense of a more diverse community.

What opportunities do white women have to support women of color’s work that you don’t see being leveraged or perhaps even acknowledged?  

White women have the opportunity to support women of color’s work in a real way. Listening (really listening!) to women of color, purchasing from women of color, sharing our work and also taking a step back so women of color can lead and shine. I think that sometimes white women get caught up in the performative nature of allyship instead of just putting their heads down and quietly doing the work that will actually move things forward. In short, don’t talk about it, be about it!

Nailah Blades Wylie is a coach and consultant who helps women live more colorful, adventurous lives. She started Color Outside as a safe place for women of color to come together and explore the outdoors. The Color Outside community is made up of women of color challenging themselves to new adventures, all while changing the face of the outdoor industry. Together, through local meet-ups, in person retreats, and online communities, we push our bodies to new heights, reconnect with who we are at our core, and strengthen our ties as a community. We don’t let anyone question our right to take up space. You can find Nailah online on Facebook or Instagram.

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