Amber Anderson: Black is Gold

It began with a photo shoot.

High school student and Chicago native Amber Anderson was sick of the constraints constantly put on women of color by society; inspired by the song “Black is Gold” by Wale, an ode to black beauty, Amber and two friends decided to host a photo shoot in a local park celebrating diversity in the black community. They encouraged African American women of “all different body shapes, hair textures, complexions, and more” to join in celebrating their natural selves.

The photo shoot was a success, so much so that many encouraged Amber to keep the movement going. She decided to focus her energies where identity is often developed: high school. “Being an African American girl in a Chicago public school, you encounter lots of issues within the classroom,” Amber explains, “Although there were some mentoring programs for boys of color, I realized there weren’t many curriculums tailored to and providing resources for black girls to be successful.” To remedy this, Amber founded Black is Gold, a nonprofit for African American high school girls emphasizing career readiness, community service, and sisterhood.

Amber Vertical 1.jpeg

Students should know from early age that they’re important, that someone’s there to support them, and that they have resources to be successful.

The non-profit aids girls at both the beginning and end of their high school career through two separate programs: the first, a workshop called “Girl Boss 101,” assists freshmen with resume-building skills, proper etiquette, financial literacy, and networking. The other, named “College Readiness,” is for seniors. It focuses on ensuring students are  financially, academically, and socially prepared for and successful in college. Black is Gold also encourages community outreach; in the past year, they have donated over 100 bags with school supplies to students in need.

This organization has been a great success, positively impacting not just African American girls but also the overall Chicago community. However, Amber soon noticed there was still a lack of resources for junior high girls of color. She decided to create another nonprofit, called ANA’s Mentoring, focusing on providing academic assistance and social and emotional learning specifically for junior high African American girls.

Amber explains reaching out to this middle school demographic is important because “students should know from early age that they’re important, that someone’s there to support them, and that they have resources to be successful. When they know this, they can continue these same good habits that they’re being taught now all through high school and beyond.”

Besides overseeing two non-profits, Amber also finds time to pursue her passion for writing through her blog “Sippin’ Tea with A",” where she discusses everything from mental health to relationships to sisterhood. This blog not only helps Amber improve her craft—as she hopes to become a journalist—but also gives her a platform to “discuss issues not often spoken about and make people aware."

“You inspired the future women for us,” Wale sings in “Black is Gold,” and we’re inclined to agree: Amber has made a huge impact on the lives of African American girls, preparing and inspiring them to succeed in high school and beyond.

Want to know more? Visit Black is Gold’s website and Amber’s personal website, check out Black is Gold on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and look up ANA’s Mentoring on Twitter and Instagram. Also follow Amber herself on Instagram and Twitter.

Gretta Kissell