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My Soapbox Diary Blog

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I had the wonderful fortune of getting to hear the comedy act of Mike Goodwin three times this summer. He was so funny and had me laughing until I cried, which my family will tell you that I am a pushover for a good laugh. I really do believe that laughter is good for the soul. There has been so much heavy stuff going on in the world, that sometimes it feels like we are holding our collective breath and waiting for the next bad thing to happen. But I made a choice to just be in the moment, to let go and laugh.

As Black people, we have been struggling really since we landed on these shores, but there is also a resilience that lies beneath that pain and struggle that has enabled us to find joy in the midst of the darkness. We have found a way to resist by finding a way to laugh in spite of, and sometimes that has meant finding the humor, or at least the irony, in the world in which we exist day in and day out.

What I loved about my conversation with Mike Goodwin is he embraced the gift he has and he is his authentic self even when the world he has to navigate may be different. I love that he does not try to separate himself from his race or his faith, and that even when it comes to tough issues like police brutality, he faces that head on without making light of the situation, but also without depositing the weight of that for people who just came to have a good time. Sometimes, we all just need a good laugh.

I saw myself in his jokes, in his painting of pictures that resembled by roots, in his seeing lives lived that looked like my family, my friends, my life. He remarked about Southerners embracing our culture, and that was part of that laughter, like sharing an inside joke, but there are lots of other people in on the joke, that you thought only happened in your family. Don't be ashamed of where you came from. Our roots made us who we are.

Yeah, there's a lot of heavy stuff going on in the world, but give yourself permission to take a break from it, for just a little bit, and laugh. We all need it. Thank you Mike Goodwin for sharing your Bowtie Comedy with us.


Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Sometimes you can use a carrot. Sometimes it takes a stick. The city of Beaver Creek, Ohio learned that lesson the hard way. I have never heard of this case before watching the nonfiction film, Free to Ride, by Jamaal Bell. It detailed the lengths that some people will go to for a better life, and the equal lengths that others will go to in order to prevent that progress.

It was reported in the Dayton Daily News by reporter Joanne Huist Smith that "Beavercreek could lose millions of dollars in transportation funding if the city fails to act on Federal Highway Administration recommendations to revisit bus stops near the Mall at Fairfield Commons. At stake is at least $10.7 million in federal funding the city is depending on during the next five years to fund $19 million in road projects."

You see residents had to walk over an Interstate overpass to get to a bus stop that would take them to jobs that were located outside of their residence and in the city of Beaver Creek. There was all kinds of nonsense about the possibly needing air conditioning bus shelters or that the added route would bring crime. Although the local transit authority did everything they were supposed to, Beaver Creek declined their application. You guessed it, until along came that stick. According to Smith, "the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Civil Rights on Thursday ruled that the “African Americans have faced discriminatory impact as a result of the city’s decision to deny the RTA’s application to install bus stops along Pentagon Boulevard in the City.”"

Although this case took place some years ago, the pattern and practice has not changed. We still need civil rights divisions at the local and federal level to ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected, but especially African Americans who have consistently had our rights violated.

In addition to his thought-provoking film, Jamaal made me consider what was at the root of the motivation behind Beaver Creek's actions. We talked about access, economics, voting rights, scarcity, competition, redlining, investments and so much more. The conversation definitely warranted two episodes. And Jamaal definitely gave me a lot to think about and process.

It can be easy to write people off who struggle to overcome the barriers erected by poverty, but there is skillset not often appreciated possessed by people who have to make little go a long way, and who know by lived experience the value of being able to grind it out. That perseverance, innovation, drive, and creativity should make them highly sought after employees. Instead if looks like tardiness when public transportation isn't reliable, it looks like excuses when you can't work late because the last bus leaves an hour earlier.

Then taking the next step to consider how those barriers of poverty were erected is a whole other discussion and how we can go about dismantling those barriers is our ultimate goal.

I hope you enjoy my extended conversation with Jamaal Bell on Season 5, Episodes 7 and 8 of Soapbox Diaries.


Catch Part 1 and Part 2 of Compelled at:

Watch Free to Ride on YouTube

Folks in my generation probably grew up having a fear of sharks after the likes of JAWS. So forget wanting to pet a shark or study a shark. According to GreenPeace, destructive fishing practices have resulted in the killing of up to 100 million sharks every year and are in large part responsible for the 70 percent decline in shark populations globally over the past 50 years. But in 2020, in the whole world, there were just 129 shark-related incidents (57 unprovoked, 39 provoked). That’s a lot of sharks just doing their thing and not thinking about humans.

So now, take Jasmin Graham, she is a marine biologist who studies sharks and works to create awareness to dispel fears that we might have. Jasmin also happens to be a black woman in this field. My eyes were wide when I saw her on Facebook because I wanted to know how a young black woman would even discover a field like this. But I am also struck by the life lesson that a narrative can be painted of a vicious predator that largely is in its own community trying to just live. Sound familiar?

Jasmin has an amazing story, and along with 3 other women of color, have launched Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS). The goals of MISS are to help women of color overcome the financial barriers that have historically kept women out of the field of shark science, create a network of support for women of color in shark science, and promote career growth among women of color in shark science. They not only reached for something that they had not seen widely, but they are creating pathways for others to follow.

When we choose to use #blackgirlmagic, Jasmin and her co-founders embody that sentiment. This is a space that many people could not have imagined them in, and not only did they show up, but they did it in spades. I am so proud of the example that they are setting by not letting anyone define what they can pursue.

Jasmin’s story is a reminder to me that sometimes you may feel like you are the only one, and you may be in the space that you operate every day. But don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. Show up. Be excellent. Don’t shrink back. Be you. And what you will find is there is community out there, sometimes it just takes a minute to find it. There are others who feel like they too are the only ones, and it is the isolation that can seed the discouragement that causes us to walk away from our dreams. Well, I am glad that Jasmin Graham, Amani Webber-Shultz, Carlee Jackson, and Jaida Elcock are leading the way.

And honestly, there’s a lot for us to learn in the oceans that make up 96.5 percent of the Earth’s water. I’m glad that these young sisters of color are doing just that and helping us gain a greater appreciation of sharks beyond Shark Week and SharkFest.

Listen to Season 5, Episode 5 of Soapbox Diaries

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