As I get ready to post this, Erin Jackson just became the first Black woman to win an individual medal in speed skating at the Olympics. She is an incredible athlete with such a neat story (she is relatively new to the sport!) and just seems like such a cool, humble human. I love hearing about firsts (the first Black woman, the first trans woman, the first Korean woman, and the list goes on….) AND I also dream of a day when “firsts” won’t be headline worthy. I stay hopeful for a day, perhaps one my grandchildren or great grandchildren will know, when access and opportunity will be equally distributed across our country and our world. We know that talents and gifts abound in all God’s people and unfortunately, it is the lack of access that separates those who shine from those who don’t shine as brightly as they could. I am not saying all of us were born to be Olympians, but I am saying that the world will be more beautiful and just when all kinds of people show up in all the spaces- the boardrooms, the sports fields, the Olympic stage, the congressional seats, the C-suites, the head coach jobs, and so many more.
During Black History Month, I am doing my best to be consistent with my general mantra of “learn and then learn some more,” albeit with a more focused effort on Black culture and people. I also am increasingly aware this month that there are a lot of practices in my life that I hope become more habitual. For example, I wish I didn’t have to refer to a list of Black-owned businesses in my city but knew more of them off the top of my head. Hear me- I am really grateful for lists like this, but also know I have my own work to do on this front. Below are some small things I have enjoyed doing this month in case they are helpful for you as well. (Oh, and Charlotte friends- check out the list!)
Learning More about Black People Doing Awesome Work
It’s fun to simply read about other inspiring people doing their best work. I loved this article that highlights Black individuals who are the firsts in their respective fields. If you are like me, you will easily recognize several of these names, but there was also a ton of new learning for me in this list. I also appreciate how my kids’ school is featuring Black people in so many fields, not just those who were influential in the Civil Rights movement for example, but Black inventors and authors. Did y’all know that the basis for the modern day stoplight was invented by a Black man? Yeah, me neither. (Thanks, kiddos, for teaching me about Garrett Morgan!)
Supporting a New Organization Tackling Inequity in the Black Community
I love supporting other women in general- those who are starting their own businesses or raising money for something about which they are passionate. And this month, I tried to pay attention to opportunities to support Black women. I was so glad a friend of mine on social media shared about the amazing work her friend was doing to help Black women have safer childbirths. I learned many years ago that Black women die in childbirth at much higher rates than White women and was struck at that time at yet another inequity that I don’t think about everyday. I know I took it for granted that I would get great care at the hospital and have a safe birthing experience with my children. So when I saw a post about this amazing organization, instead of mindlessly liking and moving on, I decided I could give a gift to support. I share this in hopes of encouraging you to learn more about a racial inequity happening in our country and then putting some money towards helping. Some places to look- education, healthcare, housing, and workforce opportunities.
Sharing the Work of Black Authors I Love
One of my goals with my blog is to point people, especially those who identify as White, to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) leaders whom they can learn from and be inspired by as I have. Today, I wanted to share about two teachers of mine- one I don’t know personally and one I do.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Lisa runs Freedom Road, and is an incredible advocate and writer. I have learned so much from her over the years as it relates to the intersection of the gospel and issues of race and racism. I just bought her new book Fortune and look forward to continuing to learn about ways in which the people of God can do our part to uproot racial injustice. If you don’t already follow Lisa and her work on social media, I encourage you to do so!
Dr. Christa Flood: Christa is my dear friend who is also an author! If you are looking for an awesome Black woman to support this month, her book of quotes is a great gift for yourself or a friend who likes quotes. As Christa mentions in her book, she and I have had some beautiful and eye-opening conversations over the years – we share our love of Jesus and heart for the marginalized but have lived very different lives, she as a Black woman and me as a White woman. I have learned so much from Dr. Flood over the years and am so grateful for the grace that she has shown me, especially as I have made mistakes in our work together. And also, she is my model of someone who always gives God the glory.
Staying Inspired and Rooted in Hope Via Black Leaders and Creatives
A colleague shared this prayer written by MLK the other day and I thought it was beautiful. It seems timeless to me, like many prayers do:
“O Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget. And so as we look within ourselves, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love thy will. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.”
And finally, if you need a little inspiration today, please watch the incredible Amanda Gorman reciting her New Day’s Lyric. I could watch this a hundred times. Feel the hope. Feel the connectedness. Feel the love.
Happy Black History Month, friends. Let’s keep learning together.