I am a Black woman who was born and raised in Washington, D.C. I attended some of the best D.C. public schools and had many opportunities other Black people in our city and across the country will never have. But when I walk into any room, I am Black first. And because I am Black, my personal experiences – more often than not – do not matter.
In public spaces and corporate workplaces, I know that the stereotypes associated with Black people and women who look like me will supersede the accolades I am so proud of. I have always felt welcomed and included by the District Fray editorial team, which is why I trust them to offer me space as a Black woman genuinely and authentically in their publication.
It took me a while to begin writing this piece. Initially, I wanted to talk all about my new media site, www.blackexchange.co, and how it will be a resource hub for moving actions, organizations and Black businesses forward. But I believe every opportunity presented for someone like me to share on a platform with a different audience should be much more impactful.
Right now, many of us are navigating having very real and oftentimes traumatic conversations about race and social injustice. We are trying to figure out how to join these conversations in a substantive way, and how we can share our personal stories in hopes of changing toxic aspects of our culture. Many of you may be trying to figure out how you can be a true ally, because despite the fact that you are not a person of color, you are morally sound. You know racism has no place in our world.
Recently, many of my friends have reached out and asked where they should start. How can you join the conversation about racial and social justice in a real way? Here are three steps you can take right now within your workplaces and personal relationships.
1. Real allyship begins with listening.
When a Black friend or colleague shares an experience with racism or shares what racism has looked like for them throughout their lives, listen first. Try not to respond from your own perspective or feel like it is a personal attack because you aren’t a person of color.
2. Don’t expect the one person of color in the room to be the voice for the Black community.
Sometimes, we want answers quickly and may turn to the person that feels the most accessible. Our experiences and interests as Black people vary widely. You still have to keep the individual in mind when having tough conversations.
3. Check to see if a Black person is in the mental space to share.
I am a sharer and always open to educating someone who wants to learn. This will not be the case for many people. Trauma and grief manifest themselves in different ways, so be sure your Black counterpart is in the space to share before you ask a race-related question.
This moment for racial and social justice feels different to me, and I am inspired. I hope we can all continue to learn from one another. Each of us has the same goal: to make this world a better place for us all.
Kelcie Glass is a marketing professional and entrepreneur based in Washington, D.C. She uses her communications experience and expertise to amplify the work of progressive organizations, especially those run by women of color. The work she does for her clients is centered on finding new and innovative ways for organizations and businesses to connect with consumers, members and allies. She is also the media director for GIRLAAA, a creative collective that centers the artistic work of Black women.
In response to the national racial and social justice movement happening right now, she launched a new media venture: The Black Exchange. As a communications professional, she looked at how social activism items moved through our digital and personal spaces and was awestruck by how they did things like reopen the investigation into Elijah McClain’s 2019 murder, move the system to charge George Floyd’s killers at record-breaking speed, and force almost every single major corporation to say publicly, “We support Black Lives Matter.” After a month of watching, learning and listening, she came up with the idea of a media site and resource hub for the exchange of information regarding important actions happening in communities across the country in hopes of continuing to move racial equality forward.
She hopes to continue to be an advocate for her community and add to the important conversations we have daily in substantive ways. Learn more about Glass at www.kelcieglass.com and follow her on Instagram @thefire. Follow creative collective GIRLAAA on Instagram @girlaaa.world, and check out The Black Exchange at www.blackexchange.co and on Instagram @blackexchange.co.
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