Afrodiziac: Issa Movement

At a teaching interview in South Bronx, Julienne Dorceus found herselfsitting across the table from the owner, a white businessman from Wall Street. He asked her, “How do you think you can inspire our students?” Dorceus responded,“Presencewas key." It is important for black youth to see people who look like them in different positions. The man repeatedly asked her the same question as if the she gave answer was not good enough. In that moment, Dorceus had an epiphany. “I have to make a way for myself."

With a Chemistry degree in one hand, and ambition in the other, JulienneDorceus was determined to make a difference. She created Afrodiziac to help black individuals celebrate themselves, to educate, and create spaces where opportunity can thrive.

Afrodiziacmeaning, “afro loving” is a movement created and founded by Julienne Dorceus who is better known as Le Juice.  Afrodiziac started as a music festival that Dorceus organized during her time at Purchase College last year. Purchase, being a primarily white institution, did not have many ways to celebrate different cultures. According to Dorceus, the only cultural appreciation event was Culture Shock. Many students felt this did not display the rich culture of black people. So, she created Afrodiziac to serve as cultural expression, and a platform, for students of color to showcase their talents. There was a concert that consisted of big headliners such as TDE Rapper, IsisahRashad, Jessie Boykins the Third, and Nitty Scott. Students could perform and connect with these artists. However, this was only the beginning.

After college, Dorceus says she went through a depression. “My life was in shambles.” Around this time, she said her hair was suffering as well. To have a creative outlet, she started making homemade candles and started a new hair routine that consisted of wrapping her hair and moisturizing it with an oil blend she created herself. The health of her hair improved, and she received many positive comments about her results. From there, her business started.

For many black business owners it can be hard to get consumers to buy. Dorceus says, “The number one reason is we don`t have faith in ourselves.” She attributes this to the brainwashing that has occurred over the course of history. She says, “We don`t have to be content with one Jay-Z or Beyoncé." She says we don`t have to just have a few success stories. “I want everybody to eat, not just myself."  Dorceus has shared this idea with the non for-profit side of Afroiziac called AfroHeartbeat. The organization works to give a voice to aspiring artists, help raise money for art programs after recent budget cuts, and educating black people on different black innovates who have shaped out world. She created a Color of Life Challenge that every month highlights black inventions.

In the future Dorceus hopes to continue to build more opportunities for black people through her movement. She says she would love to see it evolve into different parts of life from schools to even hospitals. She says she would even love to create a Black Amazon one day. Recently, AfroHeartbeat has partnered with the NAACP NY chapter to create a gun violence awareness event. The movement strives to make a difference in every aspect possible. Dorceus says, “Afrodiziac is not a business. It is a culture. A lifestyle. A mindset.”

 

Article by Jada Lucas