#SteelCitySnowflake Q&A with Tereneh Idia

As part of our #SteelCitySnowflakes project, we are highlighting neighbors who contribute to the social justice fabric in our communities. Our very first snowflake profiles Tereneh Idia who sets the bar high for this work by thoughtfully assessing the concept. I personally think her feedback is vital and appreciate being in community with her.  Thank you for supporting our project, Tereneh.

Tereneh Idia Steel City Snowflakes
Photo via Tereneh Idia

Your Name: Tereneh Idia
Your Pronouns: she/her
Your Age: 50

How do you describe your identity? Black woman, Black Atlantic, Black American

What does reclaiming the term ‘snowflake’ mean to you? I so associate “snowflake” with the way white people battle amongst themselves in what it means to be white.  On one hand to be about supporting the white supremacist patriarchy or moving along the continuum of various degrees of creating an equitable society.  I keep wondering if I as a Black person can be a snowflake in the 2020 sense of the word?

On the other hand to think of hometown hero Mister Rogers – is we are unique and special, all of us, then we are all snowflakes, stardust, valuable – even those that disagree, discredit, devalue or in some cases destroy our humanity. By “our” I mean the people of the global majority who have been minoritized, Indigneous, all women, LGBTQIA and other marginalized peoples.


“In Missouri in the 1860s, a “snowflake” was a person who was against the abolition of slavery, according to Merriam-Webster.

Snowflakes during that time period valued white people over black people and wanted slavery to continue after the Civil War.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/college/2017/02/01/been-called-a-snowflake-the-it-new-insult/37427267/

Snowflake is a 2010s derogatory slang term for a person, implying that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions. Common usages include the terms special snowflake, Generation Snowflake, and snowflake as a politicized insult.

Snowflake as a politicized insult is typically used by those on the political right to insult those on the political left.[8] In an article from the Los Angeles Times, Jessica Roy says the alt-right in the United States pejoratively describes most liberals and those protesting against Donald Trump as “snowflakes”.[20]


How are you working with other snowflakes in your community(ies)? As I am defining snowflakes as unique people who see the uniqueness in others.  I am working with people from many areas but focuses on arts, cultures and design as it relates to environmental, social, and racial justice.  Building local and global collaborative efforts and new creative communities that work on a shared future for equitable environmental, economic, education, cultural social and heritage across borders. So that involves making stuff, writing stuff, learning together and creating.  I am doing this in Pittsburgh, across the US, in Indigenous nations in America, Kenya, India and hope to keep expanding.

What are your top three issues/concerns right now?

Environmental justice
Racial justice
Gender and non-gender equity

Tell us about the Steel City aka Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a beautiful city. Pittsburgh is a city that is insecure about its past and future.

Is Pittsburgh a snowflake city? Why or why not? Not at all, Pittsburgh has no real idea or value of uniqueness, it is conservative and most are too afraid to stick their head up for fear it will be chopped off.

Where can readers find you on social media? @tereneh152xx

Who do you nominate to be profiled in this feature and why? Princess Jafar, they have such spirit and speak a truth I do not see enough.

Thank you, Tereneh Idia.

Readers who would like to nominate a Steel City Snowflake will find the nomination form at this link.


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