Black Voices of Chapel Hill (NC) Share Their Wins

I could feel the anger starting before I even finished watching the media clip. A 14-year-old Black boy, the son of award-winning jazz artist Keyon Harrold, was being violated in the lobby of a boutique New York hotel by a White woman who claimed he had her smartphone. Another racial incident went viral because of the glaring abuse of privilege whereby irrationality disses a respect for life.

Image for post
Image for post
Grammy-winner jazz artist, Keyon Harrold, with son who was accused of a smartphone theft on Dec. 26, 2020.

This trauma made me pause and think about how many times this year and in the past Blacks have observed or experienced acts of racism by systems, institutions or well-intentioned people. I’m not like the victim’s mother who repeatedly asked why this would happen to her gentle son. I know why. I analyze and reflect on the why in my daily racial justice work. It is hurtful and tiring to know that there are people who hate you, institutions who work against you, or policies written to hold you back just because of the color of your skin. …


The Awakening. The Reckoning. After the George Floyd atrocity on May 25, 2020 and in the midst of an anticipated holiday season, America is now breathing again. People are asking questions and seeking answers to the mistreatment of particular communities. Covid-19 attention and precautions notwithstanding, the #BLM corporate statements, community billboards, witty social media posts, highly marketable and trendy t-shirts have been read and received by the nation.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Leaders have adjusted their microphones to speak of equality and righting the wrongs of the past. Many citizens who were waiting rather patiently for change and even those protestors in the streets who remain “sick and tired of being sick and tired” now have a flicker of hope for a country whose racial history is consumed with denial and dismissal of truth. It was made clear on that day. Collectively, Black, Indigenous, Asians, Latinx, and Native Americans have disturbingly different outcomes than Whites in all of our systems and institutions. …


The Ultimate Guide to Selecting an Historically White College and University for the Elite Black Athlete

Image for post
Image for post
“The art of decision making includes the art of questioning.”
Pearl Zhu

What never sleeps? Sports. Despite the shelter-in-place and safety protocols due to COVID-19 and the economic and racial equity protests across the United States, many Americans are still expending a great deal of time and attention to athletes and athletic competition. In fact, it is hard to deny the reality that the nation often takes its lead and accordingly acts based on the decisions of our sporting life. For example, did it not take the NBA to cease all of its games and related activities on March 11 before the country truly awakened to the pandemic? To that end, here is a recommendation to those young Black men who are contemplating where to “take their talents” for the further development of their athletic and academic gifts. …


What Should White America Do Now? This.

Image for post
Image for post

The alarm bell has rung. The 2x4 has been swung. The punch in the stomach has been felt. Now what? Yes, many citizens have awakened to the United States’ greatest challenge — applying the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the lives of Black Americans. The anti-blackness ideology and structural racism, which causes racially disparate outcomes in all systems, has disturbed the heartbeat of our country through the death of an unarmed and handcuffed African American man, George Floyd. People are angry. People are tired. People are in the streets. Blacks and people of color can’t breathe. We are tired of having a knee on our neck. …


Image for post
Image for post

It’s funny how that mid-19th century phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” still has a place in our memory today. Although meant to explain how physical harm is real and name-calling does not have the same impact, the idiom over time has been altered and often dismissed as being inappropriate and out of touch with societal mores. I never gave the expression much thought until I began my deeper journey and analysis into racial equity education. …


“… I believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people … are the safeguard to the continuance of a free government … whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.” ― General Robert E. Lee, Confederate Army

Image for post
Image for post

COVID-19 is real. The novel coronavirus has impacted the entire world as it does not discriminate based on race, gender, geographic location, or religion. With now ~ 2 million confirmed global cases, COVID-19 has generated intense attention from all aspects of societal structures including economics, health, politics, security, and technology. Healthcare professionals are searching for a pandemic cure and a way to slow down the transmission in ways that require urgent collaboration and trust. Disturbingly, there is one country, the United States of America, that has chosen to address the distribution of resources in the nation primarily through the rights and powers reserved by the state governments rather than the national government. President Donald Trump’s decision to lean back and allow state governors to manage this complex process has only reminded many African-Americans of the historical racist experience endured by our ancestors. …


Women’s History Month Feature

Image for post
Image for post

It’s disturbing how these monthly tributes to overlooked heroes, sheroes, and history makers are lifted up by society for 30 days or less and then often tucked away to be ignored, dismissed or denied over the next 11 months. March is Women’s History Month and April is International Black Women’s History Month. The unsung stories being told draw us closer to the beauty of humanity and sacrifice for equality and justice. I have been inspired all of my life by amazing women. Last summer I began a beautiful sisterhood journey by participating in an intense life-changing Rites of Passage (ROP) program for women at the Omega Institute. Since then I have become so much more reflective of my attitude and behaviors. This shift is primarily due to the ROP practices learned and the implementation of an early morning prayer call with three other alumnae. So many women have coached and mentored me to be courageous and confident in my skills and faith. …


Image for post
Image for post
African-American Read-In program at Glenwood Elementary (Chapel Hill, NC)

Why Our Schools Don’t Work

Let’s be clear. The research on the failure of American schools has been quite alarming for decades. Prominent educational scholars, impassioned parents, overwhelmed teachers, and frustrated students all share a common disappointment regarding ineffective curriculum, poor consequences, and stifling culture in many locales across the country. Having attended the Orange County (NC) Strong School Board forum for candidates, I can now double-down on at least one very obvious reason why we can’t make progress — smart people aren’t always smart. When posed with the question: “Without defaulting to the easy answer of them both being equal, which ‘ism do you find to be more disturbing in terms of educational inequities in Orange County — classism or racism?” only one candidate replied racism. …


“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the most triggering words to hear in the labor market is “fit” for a Black person seeking belonging and appreciation. It’s that f* word stated by a person with positional power that causes one to question belonging in an organization that on paper states a strong desire to have a diverse and inclusive community. “You have to fit in to be successful here.” When management mentions the importance of fit the red flags often go up because the translation means you are different, abnormal, and possibly non-conforming. And it’s doubly troubling and disturbing to find yourself wondering about your fit in a faith center. Welcome to life for a Black person as a member of a historical White Christian church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. …


Twelve years ago I made the very conscious decision to move from Maryland back to the “southern part of heaven” Chapel Hill. Although the job offer from my alma mater, the prestigious research institution University of North Carolina (UNC), was compelling, the overall lifestyle of the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) area including the food, liberal bent, location, and slower pace made the sale pretty easy. I thought I knew this attractive small town having been a graduate student in the mid-1980s. And on the surface, all my fantasies about living in a diverse, creative, and hospitable community have come to pass. However, over this time period I have intentionally kept my eyes and ears open to stay grounded and cognizant of those trap doors (more so than the glass ceilings) that confirm the very rich research findings that speak to the challenging environments that most Black people experience when living and working in historically white institutions and cities. …

About

Deborah Stroman

Professor. Advocate. Connector. “Inspiring Thought & Action.” www.dstroman.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store