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We know what it’s like to not belong, to be overlooked, or to feel misunderstood.

It’s a human experience, after all.

But what do you do when not belonging becomes the norm?
What do you do when you’re left out because of something you can’t change, like the color of your skin?
What do you when the barriers of broken systems and exclusive cultures consistently remind you:

"This space is not for you…”

 

 
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I’m a Black woman who grew up in a small, segregated town. As a kid, Friday night football games always reminded me of the racism in our community. The white people sat on one side of the bleachers, while the black people sat on the other–even though we were all cheering for the same team. As I became an adult and joined the working world, I realized that racism isn’t always about the obvious things we see. Sometimes racism is the small ways people overlook you, or ask you hurtful questions that remind you of the ways you don’t belong.
It’s painful.
And it’s ongoing.

Over the past 10 years as a racial justice educator, I’ve interacted with many well-meaning leaders who value diversity, but don’t understand how nuanced the problem of racism is. They hire people of color and interact with more diverse groups, but their practices still communicate to minorities:

“You don’t belong here.”

I’ve seen this play out countless times.
Good intentions fall short of good outcomes.
It’s hard to know what to do next.