About the Author

Charlotte Simpson, aka the Traveling Black Widow is a retired guidance counselor and special education teacher. After losing her husband of 31 years, she made solo-world-travel a central part of her retirement and has traveled all seven continents and 50 states. ​

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  1. I make a goal to dress professional at my elementary school. It’s important that students see a black woman in that light. I also feel that I must do it for the adults who do not have much real life interaction with women of color. Thank you for this post.

  2. I am raising two beautiful daughters and one handsome son. I am leaving a legacy of love and smiles to go around my culture. My children are seeds planted to grow into a garden of compassion and wisdom to share for generations, no matter what the world looks like or perceives about us, we overcame the world when Christ overcame the world. That’s Love.

  3. I definitely feel as though I need to represent the culture in a positive way, even when I don’t feel the best. Representing the culture can be draining, but I understand my responsibility. I am an educator as well. Often times, I am the only Black educator in the space, and I do my best to present a woman who is well-educated, open-minded, and confident.

  4. I love this! We absolutely MUST represent. I feel the same way, we are often times the only black woman that people will come across. Changing the narrative is of the utmost importance! Thank you for this.

  5. It’s imperative to represent the culture I’m proud to be a black woman I give a positive message to all children and I support my people in any way I can I’m a supporter of Mahogany for ever.

  6. Beautiful acknowledgment of the legacy that Black Women live and leave. Thank you for representing US well.
    Continue to be a blessing wherever you go💕

  7. So proud of you and our representation of us. I was baptized as a Catholic at birth as my father was catholic and my mother is Baptist, and it reminds me of a song we sing in the Baptist church – “A Charge To Keep I Have, A God to Glorify …”

  8. As a black female who respects the teachings, sacrifices, and care of what my parents and community instilled in me, I see it as a privilege to pass-on those same values in other African American women whom I mentor. Giving back in one of the greatest joys God had blessed me with. I’m not rich, but the blessings I’ve received in my 75 yrs have made me rich spiritually, emotionally and physically. I shall never forgetting where I came from, and how my family and the educators there in North Carolina gave up so much for me to become better. I dare not forget those coming behind me so they may have “that much more” of an opportunity to carry the torch from here to eternity. More than anything my faith in God and the abundant blessings he has for me and all who trusts Him makes all the difference. He will open up the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing you can’t receive; if you trust Him … just Him.

    To the many women of all ages whom I’ve been blessed to help mold there lives, I thank you for allowing me to pour into you, that we may flourish as sisters, mothers, daughters, aunties, and friends letting the world know we are different in a special kind of way and our contributions do matter; can’t you it?

  9. Hello. Like you my sister and I were taught that “awe” re-presented our “People” wherever we are. It is always our job to represent well.
    I’m in Louisiana and feel connected to you in Illinois. It’s an invisible and often unspoken connection.
    I enjoyed reading your Story. Thank You

  10. This is a beautiful article which clearly expresses my own sentiments! We are often stereotyped and unfairly characterized in a way that is very demeaning!. Thanks for providing enlightenment to those who are totally ignorant about our personalities. We are part of God’s great creation and are worthy of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

  11. Charlotte, I enjoyed reading your essay.
    Thank you for “repping” our culture.

    Kudos to you!

    Like you, I endeavor to be a positive force for our culture and represent humanity as a Christian, a woman, an African American woman, and as a great human being.
    I’m by no means perfect, but I sure would like to be a positive example for others to emulate.

    I’d like for my life to be a sermon others see rather than hear as reflected in the words of Edward Guest who said, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.”

    Thank you, Charlotte, for being a sermon others can see. May your life continue to preach!

  12. Outstanding! I was brought up to represent and represent well and take pride in my appearance and my actions. You never know who is watching you and you may be inspiration to someone whether young or old!

    • I love what you said. I represent myself because I found out no one else will. There is a challenge for us to make new friends and keep the old so I make myself #goal.

  13. Yes, and I too, because of my upbringing, professionalism, pride, & responsibility to those who fought this fight before me & the culture stand tall always & work to represent in the best way that I can, as often as I can…..for the culture

  14. Dearest, Charlotte:

    Bravo – well said! “When in Rome…” right?

    I read your article, then I read it again. Thank you! Your story made me think back over an experience I had when my husband and I traveled to Cancun MX last year. As we entered the country:

    1. A couple of black American women (sadly) were loud and rude going through customs. To my surprise, they showed off and showed out. …Honestly, my husband and I were so embarrassed by their behavior, and they were complete strangers to us. There were only a few black Americans traveling among us, and I could feel the blood rushing to my cheekbones. I was so embarrassed for my women of color. And then,

    2. As my husband and I were departing from Mexico to return to the United States, I had been “mistaken” for one of those previous women! Surely, we don’t all look alike, do we?

    The whole experience – both witnessing how the 2 women were acting, and then later being mistaken for one of them “just by way of ‘appearance'” gave me to think about how we, as black women carry ourselves on a day-to-day basis. Overall, I was embarrassed, hurt, and later offended to have been categorized first, by my race, then my gender and ultimately harassed by customs due to mis-identity.

    Still, it prompted me to deliberate over some of my own experiences in the U.S., I must take into account as my husband and I travel from place to place: “To the world” – like it or not, we ARE all in fact representatives of people of color. And not just when we are traveling abroad, but right here, amongst ourselves and the general population.

    My closest friend, who is German initially had the impression that Americans (women in particular) were rude, snooty and pompous. And I cannot deny how “we could do/carry ourselves better” even amongst ourselves.

    I try as best I can to “avoid” acidic temperaments. They tend to bring me down and ruin the experiences for everyone involved. So, I’m prayerful people will read your letter and by chance, begin to delve deeper within themselves for community’s sake. We all must live in this world together, right? How about we make it “pleasant” for all involved. Embracing The Nolan Principles would be a great place to start.

    Thank you again ~vb~

  15. Outstanding! We have to represent. If we don’t, who will. Someone is always watching, observing even when we aren’t aware.

  16. I always try to put my best image out in the universe. I’m a shy person and it is hard for me to show who I am so how I walk, how I dress, how I handle myself in most situations speaks for me and my gender.

  17. I make it a point to always dress professional in the office. I have never been a a fan of full on suits, but even on casual Friday or jean day, I never felt comfortable. I guess it’s the old school in me. I am now the oldest person in the office and I guess its my “uniform.

  18. Thank you for your post! This resonates so deeply w me…. It’s the philosophy my husband and I have as well when we travel. And, it carries though in my job as a kindergarten teacher. I am the only Black person (heck! The only person of color!) at my school in a predominantly white community. Sadly, I understand that I may be the only Black person my students ever interact with. I do all I can to show them what a beautiful, kind, educated, proud, loving Black woman looks like.

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