‘The Feels’ Centers the Joys of Black Womanhood in West Virginia
Like many Black people growing up in the mountain state, Keiya Smith relied heavily on visuals, sounds and discussions from Black popular culture to find and maintain a connection to her Black identity.
The solace Smith found in Black music, movies, shows and dialogues inspired her to create a digital archive titled ‘The Feels’. Smith serves as the Creative Director for the archive and said her goal is to capture and share moments of joy, healing and insight for Black women in the state.
“Being such a small part of the population, it is important that black women in WV have our light, love and joy highlighted,” Smith said, “We are not just our oppression and our disparities. It is so important that we take back our narrative. We are multifaceted. We may have our struggles, but that’s not who we are.”
Smith launched The Feels on March 20, 2022, the first day of spring, to symbolize growth and new beginnings. Visitors can expect to find everything from movie, music and interview clips to pictures showcasing everyday life as a black woman in West Virginia. Beckley resident JaKea Thompson scrolled through the page and said she was delighted by what she saw.
“Clarksburg?” Thompson exclaimed as she came to a post about the upcoming 2022 West Virginia Black Heritage Festival, “There’s going to be a Black heritage festival in Clarksburg? I really had no idea any of this was going on.”
Thompson said she enjoyed the fact that the page holds “a little bit of everything”.
“I feel like this page feeds every part of you,” Thompson said,” A little something for your soul. The black women. All things Black. I love that.”
On June 16, visitors can engage with The Feels first ‘Look Book’, which is a moment of storytelling with Native West Virginian and Publisher of BlackByGod.org Crystal Good, as she gets nostalgic about the local designers, thrifted threads & opulent looks through a life of lessons, laughter and wonder.
While Smith would like to keep the page focused on positive experiences in the life of Black women, she said she would ultimately like to expand into more vulnerable discussions around mental health and pressures from work, relationships and finances.
“This digital space that’s been created should give you ‘the feels’,” Smith said, “Joy, nostalgia, humor, inspiration. Ultimately, we want this to be a digital space in West Virginia where Black women can feel connected.”
Smith said that anyone interested in supporting the page can do so by simply engaging with the page and sharing the content with others. Smith also encourages Black women to submit their own content to be featured on the page.
“I always want black women to feel like this is a space to be celebrated alongside other black women,” Smith said, “We are the best at telling our own stories. Telling our own stories is the only way we can expand the narrative and viewpoint of being a black woman, not just for ourselves but for younger black girls.”
Follow The Feels on Instagram at @TheFeels_WV and submit content through TheFeelsWV@gmail.com.
West Virginian: @cgoodwoman
Directed by @love_keiyawv ✌ ✨
Keiya Smith, Founder/Creator or The Feels