Kara James Courtesy photo

By Tribune Staff

NASHVILLE, TN — The F.I.N.D. Design is working in schools, courts, and the community to bring healing for Black and Brown girls in Tennessee. 

Growing up in suburban Detroit, Kara James saw both sides of the Black experience in America. She was surrounded by Black excellence and Black trauma. On one side she saw Black and Brown doctors, lawyers, and nurses, while also seeing social ills like mass incarceration and violence. As a teenager, she relocated to small-town Tennessee and entered a world that did not want to understand her nor her life. 

Her early lived experiences sparked the desire to help heal the trauma Black and Brown girls experience daily in the United States and as an adult she co-founded The F.I.N.D. Design, an organization that attempts to heal young Black and Brown girls from the trauma they’ve experienced in their lives. 

Eschewing euro-centric models, the organization focuses on building Black and Brown girls back up from the trauma that they have faced. These girls experience unique challenges, and the curriculum focuses on those to prompt healing. The organization is not interested in placing a band-aid on systemic issues, but instead challenges each girl that enters their program to value themselves. James knows that every girl is powerful, and the organization’s role is to help them realize their own strength and power. 

While their core programs focus on helping build powerful and healed women, their organization also focuses on educating other organizations. The F.I.N.D. Design has brought their work with Black and Brown girls to the Juvenile Courts, the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), and schools. According to James, they have a waitlist of 20 schools in Tennessee. The F.I.N.D. Design is not interested in just treating symptoms; rather, according to James “we want to dismantle systems.” 

Part of dismantling those systems is their work in the foster care system and the success of a 13-year-old girl named “Rae Rae.” Rae Rae had been in 23 foster homes, had multiple interactions with the juvenile court system, and had been suspended. Over her time working with the organization, she found her voice, was finally adopted, had no further interactions with the juvenile court system, and graduated on the honor roll. The F.I.N.D. Design helps girls like Rae Rae to feel truly safe for the first time in their lives.

James wants to see the organization grow into the premier service organization for Black and Brown girls and women in middle Tennessee and eventually nationwide. She challenges the Middle Tennessee community to look within themselves and ask how they’re treating the Black and Brown girls in their lives. She encourages everyone to be intentional in their interactions and truly see and hear these girls. 

If you are interested in getting involved with The F.I.N.D. Design, you can visit their website at thefinddesign.org.