As a Black woman in nonprofit leadership, when I think of freedom, I think of the power to be authentically and unapologetically myself. It's about breaking free from the expectations of "covering" and "assimilating" to fit into predefined molds of leadership. It's about reclaiming my identity and taking ownership of my voice and experiences.
In rooms filled with predominantly white peers, despite earning my position through hard work and merit, there are times when I can't shake the feeling of isolation. The room seems loud, fast-paced, and I find myself transported back to my elementary school days, surrounded by eager hands raised high, waiting to be chosen. But in this room, no one else's hand is up, and no one else seems as eager.
The journey of a Black leader in the nonprofit sector can be filled with both triumphs and challenges. The weight of representation and the responsibility to make others feel "safe" can often feel burdensome. It's a constant battle between staying true to myself and navigating the systemic barriers that still exist.
However, I refuse to be defined solely by these obstacles. Instead, I embrace the power of my unique perspective, my experiences, and my voice. I am here to make a difference, to challenge the status quo, and to create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.
This 4th of July, let us reflect on the true meaning of freedom and continue the fight for justice and equality. Together, we can dismantle the barriers that hold us back, celebrate our authentic selves, and pave the way for a future where everyone can thrive and find true freedom in their own skin.