Angela Frazier in front of Hoffman Hall at Portland State University
Angela Frazier is a Portland native who recently began work at the Black Parent Initiative as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer.
The Skanner News sat down with Frazier to ask about her life, her inspirations and the importance of her work with the Black Parent Initiative.
Angela Frazier: I had heard about BPI from a friend and they were looking for an AmeriCorps VISTA and then I met with BPI first. I just love the mission and what they do and what they stand for in the community. So I was already drawn into BPI before I even knew much about AmeriCorps and ORCC.
The mission of BPI is to inspire and mobilize Black families and multi-ethnic families in order for their children to achieve success. There is at times, a lot of negativity that you see in the media with African Americans. To work for a non-profit that highlights the positive in the community is just huge for me.
TSN: Why is your work at BPI necessary?
AF: It is necessary because there is a lack of it. When I went to school, especially in Vancouver, there were maybe three black kids in my class. Things that we provide are culturally specific nights in schools where we have Nikki Brown Clown or Packy Academy, LLC and other culturally specific entertainers and culturally specific books.
That did not happen when I was in school, and I am not old (laughing). This was only a couple of years ago. So, it is nice to be with a non-profit that is bringing this to schools. It’s nice, I mean there's Cinco de Mayo, but there arenever Black/Bi-racial multiethnic cultural nights at school. Many don't see a problem with that, but I do. It is just important.
TSN: What are the reactions that you get from the community?
AF: It depends. Those who are offended just don't get it yet, but that's okay. BPI is here to help with things like this. The majority of the time we get really good feedback that this is so necessary for the black community to be able to come together.
There is always a need for media at those times because the negative things are always highlighted. You don't see the non-profits and the organizations, the schools and the principals and the people who are really doing great things being covered in the media. Even for you to take the time out to introduce me to your audience, you get it, you care, you want to introduce your readers to those who are investing in the community.
TSN: Do you feel like this was left out of your education?
AF: Oh yeah. I’ve just seen the movie “Selma,” and it talked about Annie Cooper and I didn't know who she was in the Black community. There are stories and there's history that I didn't get growing up in Vancouver or I am sure people in Portland didn't get. There are schools all over that didn't have that growing up. I am only 23 so this is not like 50 years ago or 100 years ago, it is recent, it is still happening.
TSN: Why did you major in Health and Communications in college?
AF: I was originally accepted into Xavier in New Orleans for pre-med, I wanted to become a doctor and then I thought about nursing. I got to a point where I realized that I was following a title and not a passion. I still had my science courses that I had already taken, so I kept my health sciences and I just minored in communications.
TSN: After college, was there a moment where you wondered "what am I going to do with my degree?"
AF: I always felt before I ended something, I always started something new or had something in mind. I don't think I have really had a moment where I thought "what am I going to do with this?" I have always felt there is always another opportunity.
I have always been someone who is big on learning, networking and meeting people. Any time I found interest in a field, I've always met with somebody in that field who I have been able to ask questions and learn how they got to where they are today. I have met several people who have gone to school for one degree and are in a completely different field. I never really felt afraid of what was next.
TSN: Who are your mentors?
AF: I would say Charles McGee is definitely the newest one. Vena Ford (Kaiser), Melanie Maurice (OHSU), Danielle DeJaegher (MercyCorps), Netia Miles (Oregon Medical Board), Dr. James Peck, Tom Hastings (PSU professor/nonviolent activist). I meet with Cobi Jackson (Wells Fargo) this month and I hope to have her as a mentor as well. These are all well respected people in the community who have really helped shape my path in some way. They all come from different fields but this is how I am able to expand my knowledge.
TSN: Where do you see yourself in the future?
AF: My next step is that I really want to get my Masters in Public Health. Some of things I want to look at are policies, equality and equity and things of that nature. I want to see how I can use my degree, like maybe go to Africa or be a community health educator and things of that sort. I don't know if it will always be in the non-profit world, but it will always be with my community.