Dear Friends and Family,
2020 was the year I never anticipated.
For one, the global Covid pandemic. My oldest daughter left her preschool for Spring Break and never returned. Life began to slowly shut down, with politicians and scientists scrambling to understand the extent of this novel virus. And now we have a trampoline in our living room, and nearly every wall has been drawn on by my two-year-old son. My daughter started kindergarten in the fall at our kitchen table staring into the screen of her school-issued laptop. Not only is she an amazing student, she is also a budding photographer and graphic designer thanks to the countless selfies she takes during class.
The other change I didn’t anticipate is becoming a full-time freelance journalist, writer, and publisher. What began as a part-time passion project in July of last year became a full-blown career this year. The firsts included:
I founded Black Oak Society and published three “zines” (or magazines) featuring Black writers, artists, and entrepreneurs across the greater Raleigh area.
receiving my first assigned piece from a publication,
my first newsroom experience as an election reporter for Scalawag Magazine’s As The South Votes initiative,
My first radio interview on The State of Things with the one-and-only Frank Statio
And, finally, my first article for a national news outlet.
It will take me some time to get over the shocking anxiety of this year as well as the overwhelming joy of being able to do what I love to do while providing for my family. One thing I don’t want to get over, however, is the humility and awe I felt when in the presence with those I have had the privilege of interviewing this year. Many of the individuals I spoke with are community organizers, healers, nurturers, and change agents who have provided their neighborhoods with nourishment and hope during this challenging time. In this year-end letter, I want to lift up the various networks and organizations that these folks are running across the Triangle. If you are able, please consider donating your money or time to support the continuation of their work.
The National Black Workers Center Project is building power and resources with Raleigh’s Black workers in order to make our capital city work for the benefit all of its residents, not just the business class.
Liberation Station Bookstore is a movement that’s fostering joy and imagination in Black and brown children by creating spaces where they can see themselves reflected in literature.
Black Farmer’s HUB is a grocery store in the heart of Downtown Raleigh’s most under resourced neighborhood. Demetrius Hunter is providing fresh produce to the city and partnering with Black farmers and makers to build resilience in his community through nourishing the body, mind, and soul.
Raleigh PACT, Emancipate NC, and Young Americans Protest were the organizers of one of the largest protest demonstrations in the history of Raleigh. Several of the members from these organizations are now partnering with the city and state government to bring much needed change to our criminal justice system.
The Education Justice Alliance and Southern Coalition for Social Justice have been supporting Black and brown families, as well as those families with disabled students and those seeking refuge in Wake County to make Wake County Public Schools a safe and nurturing learning environment for all.
The Mustard Seed Project, Feed Durham NC, Potbangerz, and SONG are all doing the vital work of feeding the hungry and loving those on the margins of society. They are all modeling the better future that will come when we use our gifts and resources to care for our neighbors and accept that same care in return.
Covering the stories of the phenomenal humans behind these organizations and collectives have changed me forever. They kept hope alive in my heart when the world around me tried its best to extinguish the flame. I am so grateful to Scalawag Magazine, WALTER Magazine, and The Appeal for allowing me to bring awareness to the work of these community builders. My prayer for 2021 is that I am able to do more of the same in bigger and deeper ways.
Peace and blessings to all of you in 2021!