“…we gon’ be alright; we gon’ be alright. We gon’ be alright; Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon’ be alright…”- Kendrick Lamar 

I had no intention of blogging again this week. Nonewhatsoever. I’m tired. A good tired but tired. And as of right this second, I have 32 minutes until my kid calls me to watch Jeopardy. So this will be brief.

I was looking for something this week.  I was looking for something that could help me say: you know what, we gon’ be alright. Because, recently, I’ve truly been going back and forth on that. Some days I’m wondering what’s going on in my county, state, country. (Y’all did see that white supremacists marched down the street some days ago, right? And the redistricting debate going on in Howard County? Wow. #dontreadthecomments)

But this week. 

This week some solid things happened, y’all. FOUR. SOLID. THINGS. Four things that made my heart smile. That made me smile. And so I just had to share in case someone else needs to know that we gon’ be alright. (I think.) 

On Monday, a group of thoughtful people and a few elected officials (and candidates for office- pay attention!!) publicly protested the presence of a Confederate monument at the County courthouse. On Tuesday, the monument was gone. Edit: And I almost forgot this piece!! On Sunday, someone covered the thing up. With duck tape. Like all stealth like.  (That’s one.) 

On Wednesday, I proudly presented our new (not live yet but you know I’ll share when it is) diversity and inclusion website to my colleagues at our retreat. And it was well received. That same day, at that same retreat, an incredible panel of campus leaders (professors, a staff member, and students) talked about what diversity and inclusion means at our university. And even challenged us to be better! I’ll blog more about this later (or maybe even talk about it on Elevate Maryland with Tom) but I’ll just drop these concepts for now: critical diversity and diversity mindfulness. Google this stuff, y’all. Read it. Learn it. I haven’t absorbed it all yet but after that panel, I’m thhiiisss close to applying for the Language, Literacy, and Culture PhD program at UMBC. This close. #iwanttolearnmorefromsmartpeople (That’s two.)

Today. Today. Today. Four brave students who I’ve been working with brought the house down at our annual fall meeting. Like standing ovations and everything. (I can’t clearly articulate how great they are so I’ll briefly describe who they are. Also, I have 14 minutes until Jeopardy.) 

Student 1- A young, quiet, beautiful, soulful man who will major in dance (and biology). Dance. A young man. And in his words to me: “I love ballet and have been dancing that style since I was three but I like the way I can express myself with modern dance. I plan to study that and fall back on the biology thing.” #word

Student 2- A homeschooled young lady from Howard County who wants to be an engineer and a role model as a woman in STEM. Her greatest accomplishment thus far? She is a world champion in robotics. World champion. #beast

Student 3- A DACA student from Mexico who decided she didn’t want to “hide in the shadows” anymore. She’s the recipient of our Presidential scholarship and will do great things. I cried real tears when she told me about her journey. And I cried again when she spoke today. I wasn’t alone. She represented all that is right in the world. #inspiration 

Student 4- An African American PhD student who used poetry to explain that he’s more than his MIT and Duke degrees and will be studying health disparities so he can give back. He dropped knowledge today about his experience as a black man. Serious knowledge. #woke (That’s three.)

And then. I returned to my office after the meeting and happened to check my mailbox (I’m bad at this.). There was a card in the box. I can’t reveal what the person wrote because it wasn’t signed (and they may want to remain anonymous) but just know that it’s in the top 5 as one of the nicest things anyone has ever written about me/to me. About leadership and strength and having my back/hearing my voice as we navigate the world’s challenges. Whoever you are, you brought me to tears. I appreciate what you did/said more than you’ll ever know. And when/if you want to reveal yourself, I’m ready to talk…and listen. Thank you so much. (That’s 4.)

Jeopardy started. I’m out. But we gon’ be alright.

“…we gon’ be alright; we gon’ be alright. We gon’ be alright; Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon’ be alright…”

Pardon any grammatical or spelling errors. I had minutes folks. 

“One day when the glory comes; It will be ours, it will be ours; Oh one day when the war is won; We will be sure, we will be sure; Oh glory”- John Legend and Common

Heeeyy… it’s been awhile. Busy….Kid. Family. Work. Volunteer stuff. Friends. Dating. Plus I am co-hosting a new podcast called Elevate Maryland with my friend, Tom Coale. And I’m having a lot of fun with that. We get to talk about important issues in our county, state, country and we interview some interesting people from around our state. Check it out.  

But this past week was a tough one for me so I’m banging this out on my phone. 

Folks, what happened in Charlottesville and on the campus of UVA last week was horrifying. Frightening. Terrifying. I mean, armed white supremacists walked through the streets and on the campus of a higher education institution. And they chanted hateful words meant to intimate and strike fear in the hearts of people who don’t look like them, worship like them, love like them. It’s hard for me to even type that. It’s just a lot to process.

And just like when other horrific national events occur, it seems that good people try to figure out what action they can take so that said incident doesn’t happen in their state, city, town, county.  Or they think their state, city, town, county is special so “it couldn’t happen in <insert name of special town here>”. Well, it can and it will if good people don’t stand up and speak out. I’m sure the good folks of Charlottesville couldn’t imagine making national news in the way they did this week. 

So what are you going to do? 

Let’s start local. 

Speak up when you hear your neighbor say something about “that family” or “those kids”.

If you’re in the majority, listen when minorities talk about racism. Just please listen. 

Visit a mosque, synagogue, church. And take a friend. 

Don’t sit silent when your friends, relatives, moms group members say racist, hateful things on social media (or in person!) about certain schools and certain communities and certain people. 

Donate to the local NAACP or PFLAG or a Jewish organization or find an anti hate group and send them a few bucks. 

Invite someone who doesn’t look like you/worship like you/love like you to dinner. And just get to know them.

Push for equity in education, housing, entrepreneurship opportunities, healthcare, politics, etc.  

If you’re in a leadership role, look around the table in the boardroom. Look at the diversity (or lack thereof) of your team or the executive leadership. If it’s not inclusive, ask why not? 

Look at your board…is it reflective of the diversity of your community? If not, make the effort to change it. Now.

Ask your elected officials to remove monuments that celebrate Confederate leaders.

Research candidates for elected office. VOTE.

This isn’t rocket science and I’m not claiming to be an expert…but I do have a voice. And while I’ve not said anything super profound or written some publish-worthy extended essay, I hope this can serve as a reminder that fighting back against hate will require folks to have difficult conversations and some serious self awareness. It may require folks to challenge their current organizational structure. It may mean that you lose some friends (I promise you’ll also gain some) and that some family members won’t speak to you again until Thanksgiving. It will mean you need to reach out of your comfort zone. 

But doing nothing just isn’t acceptable. Silence is not an option. 

“Now the war is not over, victory isn’t won; And we’ll fight on to the finish, then when it’s all done;We’ll cry glory, oh glory; Oh (Glory, glory); We’ll cry glory, oh glory…”

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