Who is Black Girl in Maine?

Meet Shay

Black Girl in Maine, also known as BGIM for those who want to keep their typing-related finger stress down, is a Chicago-born, Chicago-raised chick by the name of Shay Stewart-Bouley who was forcibly relocated to Maine in 2002. (How else does a Black woman from Chicago end up in Maine?) I am a graduate of both DePaul University and Antioch University New England. Currently I earn my daily bread by working as the Executive Director of Community Change Inc., a 49-year-old civil rights organization in Boston, MA, that has been educating and organizing for racial equality since 1968 with a specific focus on the white problem. In 2003, I decided to test the waters of a childhood dream of writing and started producing pieces periodically for publications such as the Portland Press Herald and the Journal Tribune, later that year landing my own column in the Portland Phoenix, “Diverse-City,” which for over a decade I used to share insight and commentary monthly on a variety of diversity issues ranging from race to class, gender relations to sexual orientation, and workplace issues to lifestyle choices. In 2011, I won a New England Press Association Award for my work writing on diversity issues. I was the diversity writer for the short-lived Maine weekly DigPortland in 2015. After a two-year hiatus, I returned to the Portland Phoenix in early 2017.  My writing also has been featured in a variety of Maine and national publications as well as several anthologies. In November 2016, I gave a TEDx talked entitled Inequity, Injustice… Infection.

I started this site in 2008 as a way to blow off steam and frankly to connect with any other people of color who are in Maine or other Northern New England states, whether by choice or by unforeseen circumstances. After years of striving to be a blogger, the truth is I am a shitty blogger, but I am a solid writer and a strong storyteller. I am a child of the working class and now a supposed member of the middle class, and I like to write about race, class, social issues and sometimes even motherhood. My work is deeply influenced by the work of my childhood idol, Studs Terkel and I want to bring back the art of storytelling. In the end though,  I am big mouth with an opinion on any and everything. Oddly enough in December 2011 and December 2012, I was named to Babble’s Top 100 Mom Bloggers of 2011 and 2012; however, they saw the error of their ways and did not repeat that mistake for 2013, since I don’t quite fit the “mom blogger” mold.

Opinions expressed here are my personal opinions alone (or those of the contributors when it’s not my writing) and while many other people may share them, they should never be construed as the opinions of my current or past employers; any professional organizations with which I might be involved; nor anyone who may have contracted with me for consulting, writing or other services now or in the future. To be honest, some of my own opinions might not always be my opinions, as I continue to expand my knowledge and readjust my views of myself and the world.

Feel free to reach me by email blackgirlinmaine@gmail.com or drop me a line or whatever else, I rarely do reviews, but if the right item comes my way who knows…

Black Girl in Maine

c/o Shay Stewart-Bouley

P.O. Box 564

Saco, ME 04072 

189 thoughts on “Who is Black Girl in Maine?”

  1. Nice site, BGIM.

    Like you, I’ve been reading, pondering… and have not found answers to a long list of concerns.

    “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right….here I am, stuck in the middle again.”

    Those lyrics sum up my views.

    Going forward, I hope women connect, discuss, and work to present a voice of reason in a time of great uncertainty.

    Very best to you, the spousal unit, and mini-me 🙂

  2. Hello,

    I just moved to Maine about 3 weeks ago and I just love your blog I am too a black woman in the mix of Maine, my family is from the West Side of Chicago so I know this is a big change for you.

  3. I’m not in Maine but Boston from NC….I feel a tiny lil piece of your pain. I love your blog and I just sent you a message on Nappturality. Hang in there sis! If you ever feel the need to head this way shout me out….I certainly could use a chance to get out of the city.



  4. I’ve been up to Maine and it is a beautiful state.

    This is my first visit to your site and I just wanted to see or something like that, what a Black girl was doing in Maine. I know. I bet you married a white dude. I’m willing to bet my life on it and I swear I haven’t read that anywhere.

    Oh yeah, I’m Black.

  5. It is true that I’m white. However, the wife dragged me here…not the other way around. 😉

    I had only been to Maine once before (years before we moved here), and it was a miserable trip fraught with problems.

    In hindsight, the move has probably been good for us (and it was necessary for her to have regular contact with her son), but originally, I would have been happy to keep my melanin-challenged ass in Chicago where the palette of humans is more diverse….

  6. I’m about to move to Maine and I’m black. Anyone willing to give me some advice or whatever? I hear it’s hard to meet friends and I’ll be up in the Hallowell area. According to City Data, there are no blacks in Hallowell. Any advice.

  7. Well, on the bright side, you won’t be too far from Augusta. Hallowell is the smallest “city” in Maine (city is always a relative term in this state…most cities here seem more like really big towns to me), but Augusta is the state capital and I suspect it, at least, has some small amount of diversity, but probably less than in Southern Maine.

    I would suggest making it a habit to get into Portland with some regularity. Maybe not every week, but the drive is reasonable enough to get down there a couple times a month at least, and maybe develop some black contacts.

    The Augusta area is pretty civilized, from what I recall. Nothing spectacular, but reminded me of suburban areas in more populous states.

    The key is not to get too stressed out or expect too much the first year or so. You’ll spend much of that time just finding places you can consider cool or interesting, and getting used to the pace of life in Maine and the personalities.

    I’ll leave any additional advice to my wife.

    • I lived in Maine for 17 years before moving to Columbia Missouri and would say that if you go much further north or east than Bangor (not much to the west except trees and Canada), you may honestly be the first person of color some people have ever met. Also, be aware that ‘minority’ in Maine most often refers to Indians and French Canadians!

      • Come visit Western Maine, especially Bethel, which is my home. Some diversity. Some culture. And a truly unique small town experience. I promise you’ll love it!

    • I live outside of Augusta, just need to connect with good people. We’re out there I promise. Hallowell is next to Gardiner, very friendly town.

  8. Hi! I’m a black woman who moved to NH from Los Angeles to teach at UNH last year, and I’m sooo glad to come across your blog. I’m beginning a new research project on women of color in New England. Actually, I have a blog (that I need to get writing on) called This (Covered) Bridge Called My Back: New England’s Radical Women of Color. I’m looking forward to reading your earlier postings and getting up to Portland.


  9. Maine and Vermont are almost dead even when it comes to Black folks except Maine has a few more I believe.

    • My 1st time reading your blogs. I’m interested because I have an attraction to maine. Don’t know where it came from. I love seafood. Heard Maine has really fresh, good seafood. Also heard it was beautiful. I LOVE green grass, the trees, the water..Heard all of that was in Maine and oh so beautiful. So, I have been trying(planning) to drive up from NJ for such along time. I just could not seem to find the time. Heard Bar Harbor was the place to go. Please give me your favorite places to visit. I am sure I will vist sometime next. Since I just retired oct.1, 2012….YEAAA !!! I would love to take a boat ride so it has to be someplace I can enjoy the water, and scenery while relaxin on a nice boat/tour ride. THANK YOU SO MUCH….ANNETTE

  10. Pretty close, Maine is 0.8% black (10,918) and Vermont is 0.7% (4,329) as of 2006. The two whitest states east of the Mississippi.

  11. Loving this!
    I will visit often.
    I moved to Colorado in 2002, from CHICAGO (Hyde Park) and I miss Chicago daily.
    Hubby is from rural MN and Chicago was a bit much for him.
    So now we’re in Colorado with our two kiddos and my non-black mother-in-law.
    Gorgeous Colorado is about 4.4% black, and I do have my lonely moments (and I get tired of explaining EVERYTHING).
    Keep up the great work!

  12. So, how do we get all the Black girls in Maine together for some prolly much appreciated bonding time?
    Bonjour! Je m’appelle Folami.
    I’m teaching myself French, but more importantly I’m also a Black girl in Maine and a long time follower of your blog…in fact a year before I ever considered Maine an actual place I ran across your musings and enjoyed them. Now I’se here. And outta my mind in Lowell bout 45 minutes north from Bangor.

    We should get familiar(imho), no?


  13. I stumbled across your website by accident, but must admit I like what I’ve read. Do your thang gurl! Nice to see what I’m experiencing is very valid…gotta love that joint custody stuff 🙁

  14. Hey! I’m AfriqShenehneh on nappturality, I couldn’t figure out how to contact you there I’m still jus a lurker. I’ll be in Portland soon for the P-Funk show and would love to spend time gettin my hair correct and what not. I’m about to have to hit up westbrook because all these salons I talk to promise they know about natural hair, but…I don’t trust them one bit. Anywho, email me whenever you have time, my dear.

  15. Hey! I just ran across your blog and really enjoying both your and your spousal unit’s posts. I am a white guy from Maine who will soon be engaged to an awesome black woman from St Lucia. She lives in Mass. I rarely see couples like us in the mass. southcoast area but seem to see a few in the Portland area. Have you had any musings on this?

  16. I was turned on to your blog by a fellow sister whose son attends school with my son.

    I love what you say and how you say it! Black people in Maine? Who knew! I was adopted by a white family so I understand how things can be.

    Kudos on being one of the top bloggers! Go sister go!

  17. My family is in the process of determing where to live when we relocate to Maine. I have two children. My son who is 9 and my daughter who is 8. We are african american and my husband will be working out of the Bangor area. Can anyone point me in the right direction regarding places to live with great schools for my children. We are moving from Fairfield county CT.
    “feeling a little lost”

    Thanks in advance to all who respond!!

    • Relocator- do you have an update? I see your message was from Feb. I am a Mainer living in the Midwest, but your inquiry was interesting to me. I hope you found an artsy welcoming open community along the coast- I know they are there!

  18. Hey! I came across your blog from the Top 100 blog thingy. I like the way you write. And you do yoga. That’s enough for me. I’m going to add you to my RSS reader so I can read more. 🙂

  19. I just discovered your wonderful refreshing and authentic blog today when I did a #BlogHer12 search on Twitter. So glad you are coming to BlogHer. I look forward to meeting you there too. PS: I have family in Chicago!

  20. Hi! I saw you referenced on another blog and had to come in here! I lived in Maine from 1995 to 1997. Altho I am white, I had no idea that such places as Maine even existed: 98% white – more trees than people – an entire county w/o psych services so people couched with friends to make appts – no streetlights! – snow every day from October to March (which is mud season, in the dohyahd)! I was originally from NJ …and one day while going thru a Dunkin Donuts drive thru, I met a woman who immediately recognized my accent -she was from Newark! She was white, and Maine had been this vague fantasy, and it somehow worked for her, BUT her mixed race son was having a horrific time of it and so she was on the cusp of a decision to either move back or send him to live w/ his dad. It was in Maine that I began to realize how well my own mother had raised me (sadly, too late – she was deceased) and how weird people can be when they’ve never been exposed to something very different than themselves – be it skin color, religion, sexuality, et al. So … I’m going to dig into your posts now 🙂

  21. Hello from a fellow Maine blogger! I honestly had no idea that Maine was the whitest state in the nation. I was shocked to read that. Thankfully, I’ve had no negative experiences with diversity while living here in Maine. My best friend all throughout elementary and high school was black. She was the ONLY black person in the entire school district and one of the most popular girls around. Gorgeous and outgoing! Everyone loved her and all guys – no matter skin color – wanted to date her. 🙂 I’ve also dated black guys (I’m a white woman) and never had an issue. I think I’ve been lucky in experiencing the positives of living in Maine.

    Going to read some of your posts now. So excited to have found such a well-established, local blogger!


  22. Hi, my name is Cherice, I stumbled across your site as I am thinking about moving to Maine with my husband and two sons (age 5 and 1), I visited Lewiston Maine back in 2002 for a high school trip in which I stayed for two weeks although I can relate very much to how few of “us” their are there I still found it to be a lovely place and compared to new jersey where we live now it seems to be more affordable to live, just want to know more up close and personal about where and how to establish ourselves there after a major relocation, like what is the job market like or any advice you would have for me if any. We are a young family I have my bachelors from Temple University in Philadelphia and my husband is in school to be an Electrician after working for Verizon as a lineman for five years. You have a wonderful blog, I love meeting unique women of color always makes me feel less lonely:)

  23. Wonderful blog! Ijust finihsed watching the segment on Melissa-Harris Perry show and it is great to know that their is educated, wonderful black people in Maine. Keep speaking, teaching, and educating the masses who seem to think otherwise. Lovely blog!

  24. Lovely blog! I just finished watching your segment on the Melissa Harris-Perry show this morning. It was wonderful to know that there are many successful black people living in Maine despite what some are saying. Keep speaking, teaching and educating them…great work!

  25. Good morning I just seen you on Melissa Harris-Perry show and yes, American Knows that there are Blacks in Maine. Also, for your Governor to make a unintelligent statement is ludicrous. From Donnetta Maria Carter, Toledo, Ohio

  26. This was so interesting. I live in one of the whitest cities in Michigan. Where do you get your hair done? Great blog.

  27. I saw the Melissa Harris-perry show which introduce me to your blog. How can a black woman in Detroit, mi start a blog?

  28. I stumbled upon your sight looking for homemakers in Maine. I’ve been a SAHM for about a year. I’m fumbling through how to be self sufficent, save money, & environmentally friendly (and remain sane). I can relate to your posts- well except the black part- I’m as pale as they get. But, I am opinionated and sometimes have a little trouble keeping my mouth shut. Anyhow, I love your candor & think you are a riot. So glad I stumbled upon your site- it brightened my day.

  29. Hi! I travel to Maine often for work and its definitely different. Currently, I’m in Bangor and I dined at Applebee’s and was the only minority. Weird. I caught people staring like I was an oddity. Lol. Usually, I am in Portland so this experience is odd.

  30. Decided to rent a cabin in Harpswell on Casco Bay. We love the view and the dogs love the freedom to run free. We stopped in town to pick up necessities and I noticed two men staring in our direction as we entered the (major chain grocery) store, as we went further down the aisle; they had now repositioned themselves so that they could watch us from the top of the aisle. As we continued to shop I passed them again hearing giggles. We live near Boston but my spouse and I are from different parts of the U.S. and we have traveled quite a bit before and after our marriage. I am always intrigued at how much attention we still garner.

  31. Stumbled upon your blog researching Maine vs North Carolina. Thinking about relocating to either of these states trying to determine if Maine is a good fit for a black woman from Chicago. Yes, I want some peace away from the craziness here in Chicago.

    Thanks for your post

  32. Hello: I recently had a co-worker buy property and retire in Maine and another bought property and plans to retire there. Both are married and are women. I have been considering relocating there after retirement as I love being near the water. However, I am not married and am wondering what your take is on being single and a woman of color in Maine?

  33. I moved to Maine a couple of months ago and yes I am black and also a foreigner. I had out of state plates for some time and I once had a group of white guys stick their tongue out at me as they drove past my car. I had a white female coworker in the car with me when this happened and she was very surprised. I haven’t had had any crazy incidents besides that but I have noticed stares, I must add that I have met some nice people as well.

  34. I never would’ve thought black people lived in Maine. Honestly I never thought about it and I have no idea how I found your blog but I read it. However, I wI’ll not be moving to Maine.

  35. Wow, I’m so sad reading the comments above, some reflecting the bad behaviors of my fellow Mainers. Apologies! We’re not all jerks or different-o-phobes. Jeez Louise.

  36. My young Black Queen is a Freshman at UMaine and this past August while helping our daughter set up her room we came across news articles and social media pieces about the racist Governor LePage calling Black people “the enemy”! Immediately thought,”What have we gotten our daughter into?” and” He better not mess with my child or there will be a racial incident in Maine resulting in a special election for the Governor!” She is in Orono where the people are nice so far because there are not enough Black people for whte people to feel threatened yet….YET!! We have met some very nice people on and off campus. As long as they don’t start none there won’t be none…I’m just sayin’

  37. I don’t live in Maine now, but I still have a lot of friends there and to a person they’re all disgusted with gov. LePage ( he doesn’t deserve capitalization IMHO). I hope your daughter has a great college experience in Orono – it took me a good 2 weeks to decode the accent ( I grew up in CT). One of the best parts of college for me was getting to meet people I might not have otherwise, and I remember one African American gal in my dorm who brought up in class her take on an issue I’d never really thought about before: she (and many others) made me think and for me UMaine was a great experience, ayuh! Maine is bigger than its gnat-brained governor!!

  38. Just stumbled on your blog and will be back to explore more. I’m white and lived in Maine from 1997 – 2001 and one of the reason we moved back to NY/NJ was the lack of diversity that I didn’t want to bring my kids up in. Ironically we ended up in WA state about 4 years later where there is a little more diversity but not as much as I grew up with. Realizing now I should have done more about that in my kids younger years but unfortunately didn’t. Doing my education now.

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