by Carson Griffith
The Scorpio icon’s nonprofit allows for children of the diaspora to travel back to West Africa.
If Ebonee Davis hadn’t been a model or an activist, she easily could have been a very successful travel agent. When the 27-year-old Scorpio talks about West Africa, it’s hard not to start surfing the internet for flights. (“Christmas time is lit there,” she raves). The way Davis tells it, a trip to Ghana or Togo or Benin will knock the majority of your problems right out of you. “Life-changing,” she claims. That’s why Davis started Daughter, a non-profit organization, which sponsors travel back to Africa for children of the diaspora. In 2018, Davis, who appeared on season 18 of America’s Next Top Model (she was eliminated in the tenth episode) and in ads for Adidas and Fendi, took her first trip to West Africa alongside Very Temporary, an Accra-based artist program.
Her trip to Ghana coincided with the 400-year anniversary of the first recorded landing of a slave ship in Point Comfort, Virginia, which began the Middle Passage, a forcible transport of enslaved Africans and the start of a long and horrific history that would impact the lives of millions. In Ghana and surrounding areas, it was entitled the “Year of Return,” an event that gave those connected with the diaspora a chance to address their past head-on while still embracing the power and beauty of their culture and country. “I feel like psychologically it changed me, and I feel physically it changed me,” Davis, who was born in Seattle, Washington and had ancestors who were brought to the United States by the Atlantic Slave Trade, says.
Once she returned stateside, Davis intended to visit West Africa every year, but it wasn’t until she started working on the development of Daughter that the pieces began to fall into place. “We provide a birth-right experience to return to the motherland and connect through two trips a year to Togo, Benin, and Ghana,” she explains. “Just realizing the power of being connected to your soil, connected to your land, you get to see how powerful you are and how nature guides us. You really get the opportunity to give thanks to that space.”
Daughter took its inaugural trip in August with six “scholars” (participants do not have to be students, but those between the age of 18-30 interested in learning more about their culture), and in December, on their sophomore journey, they expect more than twenty. Davis traveled with the organization on their two-week trip to Ghana, Benin, and Togo in August, but realizes as the program scales, she won’t be able to participate in every adventure. She does, however, “want to be as involved as I can be. It’s just in its infancy right now. It’s really so inspiring.”
This seems likes the natural next step for Davis, who has been vocal about causes that have been important to her since she garnered attention for appearing on America’s Next Top Model in 2012. She appeared in Calvin Klein’s Fall 2016 campaign with natural hair—a coup in an industry that often discourages this look on African-American women (she has spoken and written about his subject profusely). And in 2017, she gave a TED Talk about diversity issues and tackling racism in the fashion industry. “Inclusion doesn’t just mean one token black,” she said to the audience at the University of Nevada. “I don’t want to be hired so I can fill an HR box. I want to be hired for my unique contribution to the industry. Instead of forcing my beauty into your preexisting box and asking me to change, expand your definition of beauty to be inclusive.” When the talk went viral, she shared an Instagram post from it with a caption that ended: “I AM MY ANCESTORS’ WILDEST DREAM.”
Two-and-a-half years and two trips to Africa later, Davis sees progress with room to flourish. “I truly think we’re focused on all the right things,” she says positively, always a good sign in someone who is making an impact the way Davis so profoundly does. “I think there was a huge rise in consciousness over the last three years, and our vision is empathy. We’re in the developing stages of what that looks like, and overall it’s a paradigm shift. I feel like people should continue to make space for themselves in whatever activism they choose and continue to make space for other people.”
The cover star of L’Officiel USA‘s winter issue isn’t one to shy away from what she has to say, and that’s very much in line with her Scorpio zodiac sign. She is persistent, fiercely loyal, and passionate, all attributes that went towards creating her Scorpio-inspired beauty look. “The red lip is passionate, its a little bit dark, deep, and that’s how Scorpios are. We’re intuitive people, we’re very feeling people, we’re passionate people,” the model enthused.
L’Officiel teamed up with famed astrologist Susan Miller for each zodiac sign’s prediction for 2020. Miller sees that Scorpio’s ability to communicate well could make or break 2020.