10K80 by Tremain Prioleau January 26, 2021
One mompreneur is changing the game for black motorists with an app called Just Us…
One of the harsh realities of being Black in America is that the simple act of being stopped by the police could result in death.
This scenario rings in the heads of Black mothers nationwide fearing for their child’s safety. For Charmine Davis, clinical psychologist and mother, her fear pushed her into action.
Davis created and self-funded Just Us, an app that uses hand’s free voice control to notify designated contacts when you have been stopped by the police.
We sat down with Davis and social impact technologist, Candace Walker, to learn more about the inspiration behind the app and how justice and technology are becoming more connected than ever. All in an attempt to help black motorists all over the country.
Just Us wouldn’t exist without the power of a mother’s love. Davis’s love for her son hitting a milestone in life inspired her to create an app to protect all mothers’ sons.
“My son, he wanted a driver’s license and of course that’s something that we should celebrate. And I’m one of those mothers that celebrate every milestone but I couldn’t celebrate that,” said Davis.
“I couldn’t celebrate because of the fear of everything that’s going on and the unfavorable interactions that Black males are having with the police these days.”– Charmine Davis, Just Us App Founder
The Just Us app founder continued, “I went to bed that night that he came in and brought it up and I’m just thinking, how could myself and other mothers connect with our children and just know that they’re okay?”
For Charmine Davis, being able to create something that can put other mother’s minds at ease is a blessing.
It’s important to remember that it’s dangerous out there for all motorists. Not to mention young black drivers. “I was tired of feeling that debilitating fear that comes over you. As a psychotherapist, I see mothers and talk to them all the time,” said the mompreneur.
She continued, “When you talk about mental health issues and anxiety and folks that can’t sleep and all these things that lead to poor mental health it all turns back to families and our children and how things are going for them.
“So for me to have created something that can put these mothers that look just like me and want the same things as I do, to be able to put them at ease, it warms my heart.”– Charmine Davis, Just Us App Founder
The app was entirely self-funded by Charmine Davis. She waited for nobody to get started on her dream project to protect Black children, putting her heart directly into creating this project. There was no time to wait for this app to be created.
For Davis, an app like this should have already been created. “The time was now and the time was then for sure. It took a while for the app to come full circle. As my children get older, as I talk to more parents and understand the impacts of their fears and what health issues they created…”
Davis continued, “And everything going on in the world with social justice and unrest, I kind of beat myself up because I felt like had I thought about or brought this app to creation faster, maybe some lives would have been saved. “
Just like Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, it takes two to make a thing go right and Davis knew she needed the help of a skilled technologist to make her vision become a reality. Davis sought out Candace Walker, a social impact technologist, and mother herself, to form the team that would create Just Us.
“It took about a year from the time I first brought it to Candace who is this amazing technologist that worked on some apps that I knew about previously and they were so phenomenal.”– Charmine Davis, Just Us App Founder
Walker and Davis worked so well together because they both shared the same dream to protect Black children through technology. That shared dream to see this app come together is what pushed them through.
“We chose August 28 to bring the app out in commemoration of the day Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. And this is our dream. Our dream is that we can send our children out to the world and they can be okay,” said Charmine Davis.
Of course, there are tons of apps and programs that have some of the same capabilities as the Just Us app, but the difference between them and Just Us is in the love, care, and community behind it.
“We know there are tons of apps out there that do certain things, but this app was created by moms. This app was created by us for us and for our community. And we wanted everything to be perfect.”– Charmine Davis, Just Us App Founder
In 2019, researchers found through a study of nearly 100 million traffic stops from around the country that, on average, black drivers are 20 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers.
Black motorists have lived in fear way before the Green Book days and it’s a shame that drivers of color still have to live in fear of DWB (driving while black).
For those who are unaware of what the Green Book was, it served as a travel guide published during the segregation era in the United States that identified businesses that would accept African American motorists.
The book would go on to save so many lives…
According to Stanford data scientist Amy Shoemaker, a researcher who worked on the 2019 study, “Activists and individuals of color have long presented anecdotal evidence of this kind of bias… The new part is being able to understand it in quantifiable terms.”
We’re living in the height of the social media and technology age where justice is being filmed on cameras, social media campaigns are making voices heard, and hashtags are being shared around the world. Technology has become intertwined with justice now more than ever.
For Walker, technology has become just that.
“The one thing that technology can do, in mass, is democratize platforms and access. We think that technology aids in the process of providing justice because of its capability of gathering evidence because of the features of the app.”Candace Walker, Just Us App Social Impact Technologist
Davis believes that this is all just a natural evolution of unmasking our struggles.
“Through all the civil rights movements that have taken place, even then to now, we all want the same things. We want freedom, we want equality, and we want to be able to be safe and have that American dream like everyone else.”– Charmine Davis, Just Us App Founder
“When you talk about technology, you talk about my son. All he has to say is ‘Siri, Just Us help.’ He didn’t have to move his hand. He says that and his phone automatically comes on and its alerts others within a two-mile radius. So my son is able to be relaxed because of this,” said Davis.
What Davis has created with Just Us will inspire other creatives to find new ways to incorporate activism and safety into technology for the betterment of us all. Ending our conversation, she gives creatives some advice.
“Be true to your dreams. There was an old professor of mine that would always say ‘What your head can conceive, your heart can believe, your hands can achieve.'”– Charmine Davis, Just Us App Founder
The mompreneur continued, “He would always say that to us. When you believe in something, make it come to pass. If it’s something for your community, usually things are selfless, things that we can all benefit from. Find someone that you feel is knowledgeable in what you want to do and have them mentor you.”
Download the app saving the lives of black motorists here (iOS)