Aja James

I am the Co-owner of Flexy

Where were you born and raised?
Kansas City, Missouri.

What is your occupation?
I am the Co-owner of Flexy, a fitness service company bringing fitness and health services to 50+ apartment complexes & businesses.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Going on family vacations to the beach. Playing in the sand and the ocean with my parents and brothers. If I could travel back in time, that is where I would go!

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Celebrating the accomplishments of great Black people. I hope that we can move away from only teaching Black history during Black history month and we can start teaching a more complete version of it year round and use Black History Month to celebrate and honor that history!

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
Equity & injustice and the belief by many that these issues do not exist. It has been amazing to see people pushing for change and speaking up against injustice over the last year. But it is no secret that there are many people still that do not even accept that there is inequity & injustice that the black community faces. It is hard to fix a problem in a community where they believe the problem is not real.

When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I switched schools and went to a school with very few Black students and it was very obvious that I was different. It taught me a huge lesson on how it feels to want to blend in and how little some people were exposed to and taught about diversity.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My parents: My dad has always spoken up for change and never been afraid to say what he thinks. My mom has always done her part to learn and be and be an ally. I strive to be like both of them, speaking up for what I believe in while continuing to learn and evolve my own thinking. My future children: The changes we are pushing for now will make a huge impact on the next generations. Hopefully we can move in a direction away from hate and towards understanding and acceptance. They should be proud to be different and not have to deal with microaggressions or outward racism and discrimination.

How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I am the co-chair of the Black Dog Lovers' Club of Kansas City! The Black Dog Lovers' Club of Kansas City is a social club for African-American dog owners and dog lovers in the Kansas City area. The Club is sponsored by Bar K and has several goals: to provide a networking/socializing opportunity for African-American dog owners (and their dogs!); to promote and increase diversity among the Members and guests who visit Bar K; and to unite people and build a better community through our mutual love of dogs. I do my best to share my personal story and speak up in hopes that I can help open other's eyes to issues that the black community faces. The Black Dog Lovers Club has been a great opportunity to bring the black community together in a new area and spark the conversation about why we need a club like this one. One of my other favorite things to do is to point people in the direction of learning opportunities from black diversity & inclusion experts like Kiona Sinks (Elevate Consulting) & Dr. Auburn Ellis (Anti-Racism Crash Course).

Season of Hope Toy Drive