Hilliairie Cowan, 18, Huntsville, AL

Hilliairie Cowan, 18, Huntsville, AL

“If you were to define humanity, or could answer what makes us so special, what would that be?”

“I think what makes humanity so special is that humans, even though we can be in such a dark place, we can sometimes be really happy. I know in America–we can be very blessed–and complain about the stupidest things, and you know, in other countries, they can have less, but be the happiest people on earth. Or happiest people in general. I think this is one of the greatest qualities humans can have.

"What is one thing that you think makes People of Color stand out?”

“I think that, with people of color, the fact that all people of color have gone through some form of a disadvantage, whether it was early on in human history, or later own with the Civil Rights Movement, I feel like the fact that our cultures are still so strong and that they are still so intact, I think that is amazing. We’ve been stripped, taken from our homes, and I mean, other countries have come in… It’s amazing and we will never go away.”

“What is something that you would like to see in humanity?”

“This is a weird question, well, not a weird question, but I think I have a weird answer. Because I feel like that answer should be ‘I wish everyone would come together and that we would have no problems’ but I like the fact that there are differences in people. In fact, I LOVE the fact that there are differences in people. I can go to another place and experiences a COMPLETELY different culture. I like the idea that it’s different. I wish that emotions would mellow out. I don’t like how strongly I feel towards white people in general as much as I do, and I wish I felt comfortable around other groups of people. I mean it’s so hostile. I mean look at the Middle East, like that is ridiculous. I wish there was a complete understanding.

"Do you think your creativity defines you?”

“I don’t think that your creativity has to define you. I allow my creativity to define me. Because I’m Black, I delicately decide to create black art. I want to be able to walk into a museum and not just see White faces. Or a just a Black slave with a nigga nose. I want to see the Black female because I am a Black female. I mean I grew up thinking that I am the best, because I am the best. My mother told me I am the best so I am the best. And society looks at Black women as if they’re not. So I design my art in a way where Black women are the best. To counterbalance. I allow my creativity to define me in that way. I want people to say "Oh, that’s a beautiful Black family, or Black woman.”

“Is there anything else that you want to say?”

“I just want to say to Black people, you are the best. Believe that you are the best. Don’t give a f**k about what anyone says. Just believe that you are the best. That doesn’t mean disrespect whites people or whoever you come in contact with. If you believe you are the best you, will produce the best. I believe and I will teach my children that we are the best. We don’t have time to be soft. It’s been years of foolishness. If you believe that you’re the best, you will produce the best. That’s a fact.”