Where were you born and raised?
Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
What is your occupation?
Office administrator at the AdHoc Group Against Crime
What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is when I was around 8 -years-old my Aunt took me and my cousins to Washington, D.C. to visit the monuments. We had a tour of the White House and I will never forget looking around at all of the pictures and none of them looked like me. Fast Forward to 2008, I was living in Washington, D.C., and Barack Obama was elected as the president of the United States of America. I stood in the freezing cold with my friends and family as he was sworn in. I was proud that there would be a family picture in the White House that looked like me.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History is every day for me, but this month of February is a time to learn about the accomplishments of Black people I didn't know existed. It is a time of celebration for the accomplishments of people who look like me. Sadly, it is a reminder of how far we must go as a nation to achieve justice for all. I look forward to the day that Black History will just be American history recorded and told in its truth.
What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
I think the most important issue facing the Black community is systemic racism. It is in every facet of our lives. It is the reason a white co-worker assumes I grew up in poverty. It is the surprise of a supervisor when I informed him of my mom having her doctorate from Penn State. It is in the education system and creates a school-to-prison pipeline and also a pipeline for Black children to end up in the service industry. It is the creator of the homegrown domestic terrorists who are a threat to democracy. Racism is evil and must be eradicated.
When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
My earliest memory of being Black was when I was a little girl. My grandfather owned a store in a small town in Arkansas. My grandparents would never allow us to go past the railroad tracks. My grandfather explained to me that some white people think they are better than we are. He taught us to not be afraid, but to know we could be whoever or whatever we chose to be. But he warned us there would always be white people who hated us because of the color of our skin. He admonished, "That is not your problem, it is their problem."
Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
The young Black women in my life including my daughter, my nieces, and former mentees. I push for change for them. I want them to grow up and get paid what they are worth. I want a world that sees them as leaders and not as bossy or angry. Watching these young women accomplish degrees, advanced degrees, and making all As is inspiring to me. It is my job to push for a society where there are no microaggressions and stereotypes.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I support and contribute to the Black community by giving of my time and resources. I try to be educated about the things going on in my community, my city, and globally. In my relationships with white allies, I am a place to ask questions and to give advice. I have mentored young people for close to 20 years and I don't see this changing. Lastly, the work I have the honor to do at AdHoc Group Against Crime brings me great joy and hope. Sometimes it is very sad work. But, even in those times, I have the faith to believe we can accomplish great things together.