A few weeks ago, I attended a party and met Jalina and we immediately clicked. I knew as soon as I started talking to her that she was a Black Southern Belle. She loves her hometown of Baton Rouge and no matter how far her travels take her she is keeps it close to her heart. Jalina is a shining example of a what a Black Southern Belle means today as she pursues all of her passions including dance, diplomacy and a love of southern food! Learn more about Jalina and her story below. It will be sure to inspire you to pursue some of your dreams.
Name: Jalina Porter
Organization: Dance Diplomacy
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Alma Mater: Howard University
Sorority: Delta Sigma Theta
Favorite thing about being southern: I love the instant connection I get from other true GRITS I meet anywhere I go. The chemistry is instant and they just get it! I also love that being Southern is more than a lifestyle, it’s also a brand. It’s shaped the way I think, act, and view the world, which is pretty profound. Being southern to me means family reigns supreme, you’re hospitable, you possess a strong moral compass, and you’re proud of where you’re from even if you’ve been displaced or had to relocate away from the South.
What is your personal life motto: Dance like you’re on center stage, be giving and forget the gift, travel the world intrepidly, and shine like the light God blessed you to be.
What is your most exciting professional experience? I would say my most exciting professional experiences thus far have been serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cambodia and also dancing professionally for NBA and NFL teams. While both may seem on opposite ends of the spectrum they have helped me grow as a woman both interpersonally and professionally, and have also given me opportunities of a lifetime while enabling me to live my in my purpose.
What trait do you hope to enhance about yourself professionally or personally? I hope to be able to say ‘No’ more often and simply slow down. Southern women are well known Superwomen. We do it all, and we do it all well. We can’t help it because that’s how we were raised, but sometimes that means your own needs become lower on the priorities list than they should be. I have recently started practicing turning off my cell phone for a few hours every weekend just to focus on myself. This has helped a bit, but I do admit that I eventually succumb to my iPhone. It’s definitely a work in progress.
Who do you wish you could meet? I plan to meet His Holiness Pope Francis one day, God willing ☺
What is your favorite thing about your hometown? Baton Rouge represents the humility, grace, and spice that has shaped the way I was raised and how I carry myself today. Besides its personality, I love the Southern charm of architecture found in most homes with front porches, the food (Tony’s Seafood is my staple), and of course, the people.
What is your favorite southern dish? Fried oyster eggs benedict for brunch, red beans and rice or crawfish bisque for dinner, and classic pecan pie with vanilla Blue Bell ice cream for dessert. (We now want to go make all of these dishes tonight!)
Where can we connect with you? Twitter: @justjalina
Jalina’s story of joining the Peace Corp and pursuing her love of dance professionally is exactly what it means to be a Black Southern Belle. We have so many interests and we can pursue them while still staying true to our southern values. In fact, it is our southern train that often help us achieve our goals. I am inspired by Jalina’s story and can’t wait to follow her journey and the great work that Dance Diplomacy will do in the future. Let her story inspire you to take that leap of faith because you never know where it will take you.