It’s been a painful and challenging week. From stomaching the horrifying deaths of two unarmed Black men at the hands of white police officers, to watching or being among the protesters in Charlotte being teargassed, to being subjected to listening to the distorted, institutional biased media coverage, all while having to show up and be fully present at work and in our daily routines, I’ve straddled between feeling drained and distraught all week.
I am exhausted. Exhausted from seeing the final, tragic moments of my brothers’ and sisters’ lives plastered across TV screens and computer monitors around the country. Exhausted from living in a country where Black people are seen and treated as the dangerous and provoking enemy despite being on the receiving end of centuries-long genocide and murder at the hands of white people. Exhausted from having to explain to my white friends and colleagues why I seem to “always be talking about race.” Exhausted from carrying the burden of systemic racism on my back, knowing that it will rear its ugly head at some point in my day. Exhausted from the incessant reminders that Black lives should be feared and ended, rather than valued and understood. Exhausted from seeing white people go on about their merry lives while I struggle to feel safe in my skin. Exhausted from living within the confines of an inherently racist country, knowing that there are limitations to my freedom. Exhausted from having to explain why my life matters.
We are beyond excited to launch a new series called #BlackMagicMondays, where we will be featuring inspiring Black professionals who demonstrate and embody the essence of #blackprofessionalmagic in their lives everyday! While one of the key purposes of this blog is to provide critical insight and into the systems and institutions that we all engage within everyday, another important purpose is to elevate the authentic stories, perspectives, voices and accomplishments of Black professionals, to continue to show the world how magical and powerful we are.
So, without further ado, we’d like to introduce you to today’s #BlackMagicMondays feature, Joy Monet Kajogbola!
In a perfect world, we’d all see eye to eye. Despite our differences, we’d understand each other’s lived experiences, and lead with demonstrating empathy and support. We’d avoid making harsh generalizations or rash judgments, and rather than characterizing or shunning certain behaviors and stances that we didn’t understand, we would graciously accept the fact that not understanding something doesn’t make it wrong.
This week, I’ve had the privilege of attending the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 46th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. Here, I’m surrounded by inspiring, Black change-agents who are all working tirelessly to eradicate the social and systemic injustices that plague our community. For a few days, we don’t feel like minorities. We look around rooms full of positional power, and we see ourselves. For a few days, we don’t have to justify our feelings or make a case for our perspectives; we don’t have to code switch or rework our standpoints so they fit within the unspoken dominant expectation. For a few days, we are surrounded by a sea of raw, authentic, beautiful Blackness. And it feels good.
Being Black in a profession that requires specialized training and/or credentialing is a complex and inevitably isolating experience. Despite companies and organizations ramping up diversity efforts in recent years, the white-collar workforce is still overwhelming white. 8 out of every 10 lawyers are white; 80.8% of social scientists are white; 78.2% of education professionals are white; nearly three-quarters of business professionals are white; over 70% of healthcare professionals, engineers, and physical scientists are white. The list goes on and on.
It’s all good until people of color start coming for what has historically been explicitly reserved for white people.
As we’re all aware, we have a long, disturbing, brutal history of racism in our country. The construct of race itself was created to ensure white people would consistently benefit from the systems of our government, while guaranteeing the opposite outcome for people of color. It’s important to understand that the fight for racial justice and reconciliation didn’t begin with this idea of “leveling the playing field” that is often discussed in race relations today. Instead, it began with the desire to just be seen and treated as human. It began with the yearning to not live in a constant state of fear. It began as a fight for survival.