Colourful Woman Wednesday: Charmaine Joseph

This week’s Colourful Woman feature showcases Charmaine Joseph.  Charmaine is an Atlanta-based Marketing & Sales Coordinator for corporate apparel agency, The Gingerich Group.  She is also the co-owner of a socially conscious t-shirt line: Global Warming. Charmaine partnered with Social Media maven, Lauren Shirreffs, and together they created t-shirts that touch on different issues from stereotyping, bullying, racism, body image, etc.

Our concept was to create “walking billboards,” these shirts are text based with pointed messages that are meant to educate, enlighten or provoke dialogue at a glance.

Recently, Global Warming started an initiative called “Global Change.” For this project they team up with different schools and have classes create designs on varied topics and then choose a winning design and have proceeds from the t-shirt sales go towards their charity of choice.

It’s very refreshing to go into classrooms and hear students talk about their visions for their designs and hear the passion that comes from their own life experiences, whether it be racism, bullying, body image etc.

The Global Change initiative’s winning design for Anti-Bullying. On sale at from November 1st.
designer: Martin Kondrat / The Academy of Design.

What makes you a “colourful woman”?
I have to take this very literally when you say “colourful woman”!  I actually think it may just be appropriate to insert a photo from my wedding here, the photo really says it all.  I may just be the most colourful person I know (laughs).  I actually gave my bridesmaids little Kate Spade coin purses that said “Live Colourfully”…it’s definitely my life theme.

Who or what are some of your colourful inspirations?
I’m not sure if it is part of my Caribbean roots, but of course it’s a possibility having family from Barbados and growing up seeing the vibrant costumes for carnival, and that rich aspect of our heritage.  Then there are the tropical flowers, the sea etc. Being nurtured in such a vivacious environment has a great impact.

What message would you like to share with our readers today?
Be the best version of you. Don’t get caught up in someone else’s definition of success, beauty, love, or happiness. As Lauryn Hill once said, “God made us all different, on purpose.” I think our differences make us beautiful so just learn to love your shortcomings, your imperfections, your struggle, because they all add to the masterpiece. A painter mixes colours before they touch the canvas, nothing and nobody is perfect.

A cultural exchange gone wrong

On an extremely hot and humid Friday night outside a bar near La Esplanada in Alicante, Spain the N-word appeared in a conversation. It was at the end of the night, after a few drinks, a few bar changes, with two British tourists on their first vacation on the Mediterranean Coast. Bob (not his real name) was very happy to speak English, given that his Spanish was non-existent. Maybe that ease of finally speaking his native language, gave him a sense of comfort to really express himself.

He first started by referring to himself as a “Guido”, apparently  he thought of himself as the British version of “The Situation” from the Jersey Shore. And wasn’t bothered at all that the term is offensive to Italian-Americans, and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here thinking he hasn’t read much history about Italians in the United States.

As the night progressed, he shared his love for music, women, traveling, “his pride in being a really good dancer for a white guy” and his obsession with American culture, and I guess his “coolness” by saying:

I’ve been to Miami many times, where some of my best friends are black and they called me their N-word….And they tell me I can call them that, because to them I’m their N-word.

When he said it, I was surprised and would have felt offended and repulsed by his ignorance if he had called me that. And that got me thinking, are words ever just words? My best friends are Latina women, and I don’t see anybody jumping for joy to be called a ”wetback”  or a “spick”. I don’t remember my white friends ever wanting to be referred to as “red-necks” nor “white trash”.

Where does cultural awareness begin and cultural insensitivity end? Can we really be clueless about other cultures in a world where access to information is instant?


I’m a woman. I’m Black. I’m strong. If that doesn’t make people nervous enough, I’m Quiet.

Strong black women sometimes have to speak louder to ensure we are heard, won’t stand aside and be taken advantage of, and will tell you about your parts when we are being disrespected. We know what we know, like what we like and don’t plan on changing any of that just for the sake of conformity. Key in my locs and tattoos and any day now I just may start a revolution.

 But what if I can get the same results by taking the other approach?

 I walk into a room commanding respect with my silence. Oh there’s that Angry Black Woman who doesn’t speak to anyone. I wonder what’s on her mind.

 I don’t laugh at your stale and potentially stereotypical joke rendering you the joke. Black women can be such snobs, they need to lighten up.

 And when I do laugh out loud because the joke is just that sweet and quite frankly life is just too short to not enjoy a good joke? Why can’t those Black Women ever know their place and keep it down?

Having always been a pensive individual, I am the silent observer who makes note of others’ words and actions in order to figure out ways to improve on those very points. If you don’t learn from your own mistakes, then by all means I will. So in my silent observation, I’ve already figured out a better solution. I will put my own turn on things to execute the steps then show the results and watch your eyes grow with revelation. Hey the snob is pretty smart, after all.

Snob, you say? Yes, a common misinterpretation of the Quiet. In all actuality, sometimes I have nothing to say simply because I have nothing to say. And I’m okay with that. Silence is golden. Silence is even revered. There’s a time and a place for everything and just because you are at the place doesn’t mean it is the time. Plus, what’s the point if no one is going to listen to me? Then I’ve gone and wasted both of our time. And I don’t know about you, but my time is precious.


So what people may interpret as Angry or Snobbish, I am really trying to translate as Focused. Or sometimes, it’s just plain old Boredom. It’s why I don’t laugh at your stale jokes, or engage in any irrelevant small talk. It’s especially why I stay true to who I am; I don’t want you getting the wrong idea – you may stick around and bore me some more. And that would mean I failed at being a snob, now wouldn’t it?                                                                                                         

If you choose to generalize instead of pick my brain to see who I really am, then I will remain misunderstood and continue to learn from your mistakes.

And that’s okay with me.