Muenfua Lewis

Associate strategist and co-founder of By Design Magazine

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

What is your occupation?
Associate strategist and co-founder of By Design Magazine.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Overall, I can't say I have one particular favorite moment. For me, the best moments were always those everyday moments of joy. Getting a new pair of sneakers, letting my imagination run wild and creating something, or even earning something for the first time.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a time of celebration and reflection. It's a time where we look to the past while stepping into the future as Black people. I love the moments of discovery as we learn more about the rich history of Black people across the globe. Everyday to me is a celebration of Blackness, but February just makes it even more special to be Black. We could always have more celebration of us.

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
That's a tough question, in reality, there are multiple issues plaguing the Black community. However, it all stems down to white supremacy and its deep infiltration within this nation's DNA. Until we eradicate an ideology and practice that burdens this nation's institutions, Black people will continue to be in danger physically, mentally, and spiritually.

When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I learned at an early age around elementary school when a friend of mine at the time told me his mother did not want me playing with him because I was Black. Really, I did not know how to process how I felt at the time. The mere disappointment of not being able to play with a friend stung, but especially due to something I never considered as a child, race. This was my first lesson in learning that my skin color was a threat to others.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
One of my biggest inspirations to push for change comes from a moment I think all Black people encountered, the realization of responsibility to your community. I have a responsibility to play a positive role in the progression of Black people in whatever way my gifts can be fully utilized. I grew up communal, understanding that without community you cannot do anything. Black people need each other. I am here to play my part.

How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
The creation of By Design is one of my contributions as of now. I take great pride in challenging By Design and our community to see Black people as whole. We are not a monolith and we are ridiculously creative. This means telling Black stories, showcasing Black artists, giving Black artists opportunities to flex their work, and creating spaces for Black people to build community through creativity. Our stories matter, from the most extraordinary to the most mundane. These stories matter.

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