Editor’s Letter

YES! We at OHF Weekly are still here, still doing our thing!

For the last two months, my complete attention has been focused on the culmination of Our Human Family’s two-year courtship of a potentially major client. Partnering with this client would enable Our Human Family to meet some of the goals we’ve not been able to achieve thus far.

But between being an active participant in said courtship, I’ve prepared for two major client presentations a month apart, contracted COVID, protected at-risk family members from COVID, recovered from COVID, and worked with new thought-partners on said project—my life has been . . . well . . . bananas! And something had to give. Unfortunately, OHF Weekly fell by the wayside.

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank OHF Weekly Managing Editor Sherry Kappel for stepping up and publishing the stories you’ve read during my absence. If not for Sherry’s efforts, many of the articles you have read would have gone unpublished. Thank you, Sherry. You are one in a million! 😘

As a lifelong creative (I art directed my first project in second grade), I understand the importance of meeting deadlines. It’s especially important when publishing a periodical. Ask anyone who has published a periodical—weekly newsletters in particular—for any length of time, they will tell you that it’s not for the faint of heart. Crafting articles and layouts on a regular basis should say something about one’s dedication to a project; even if that newsletter contains only one article. (Gestures to Volume 5 Number 34.)

Perfectionism? Not so much.

For me it’s about valuing our readers—those who have been with us since we published our first article and those who have recently discovered us. We’re glad you find value in our articles. Even if that newsletter contains only a single article (see OHF Weekly, Vol. 5 No. 34), we are committed to this undertaking. And were it not for the efforts of Sherry Kappel, many of the articles you’ve of late would have gone unpublished.

But we’re back.

Rest assured, as the OHF Weekly editor-in-chief, I take our commitment to our readers, subscribers, donors, and the quality of our products seriously, but this opportunity demanded my undivided attention. The moment I get an update, I will share with you what we can.

Thank you for your continued readership and support. And now, on to this week’s long-awaited editor’s letter.

One question people ask when they decide to advocate for racial equity and inclusion is: Where do I start? People assume they must conceal their mild-mannered Clark Kent or Diana Prince persona and become the Superman or Wonder Woman of allyship.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The practice of people erroneously hiding their true identity and abilities for the opportunity to trot out a bigger, bolder, and faster alter ego they believe is better equipped to get the job done has dogged humanity since people have walked the Earth. It’s one of those universal themes that can be found in just about every culture. Whether the theme is played out in movies (Disney’s Aladdin, The Pursuit of Happiness), books (Beloved, The Alchemist, Giovanni’s Room), musicals (Hairspray, Wicked) — the lesson to be learned is always the same: Be yourself.

The same principle applies to allyship.

In essence, allyship is about being your best self in service to others. That does not mean one has to be “perfect,” which implies without flaw or fault. The inferred meaning is that if you want to advocate for others, you would be well-served to engage the true you—the parts of you that have encountered life’s bumps and bruises and learned some truths along the way.

I’m referring to your senses, reasoning, talents, access, your comfort with not having all the answers, your willingness to listen with the intent to learn—all the parts of you that give a damn about the injustices someone else is experiencing. Your best self never operates from ego. People want the real you, not some sterile, picture-perfect version.

In general, human beings are adept at recognizing authenticity. In particular, Black people have a highly developed ability for distinguishing genuine allyship from the performative. As I’ve written here and here, our survival has been and continues to be dependent, in part, upon our ability to glean white intent.

Show of hands. Who knows when they are in the presence of someone comfortable in their own skin? These folks have a keen awareness of their distinguishing traits and those of others and understand how they’re perceived—and they embrace them with a sense of joy, not fear.

Can’t think of anyone like that?

What about Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, your best friend, or a favorite family member? Yes, I know . . . the first two are extreme examples, but you get the point. These people are known for their unbridled advocacy. But their self-awareness, authenticity, and empathy for others continue to catapult their legacy into the stratosphere. That’s not to say that allyship is about popularity because it’s not. The point I’m making is their advocacy was well-documented.

Start right where you are. You life is your platform. Everything you've learned, endured, seen, done, and experienced is usable. Nothing in your life is wasted. It’s all applicable. Not all at once and not in every instance. But it’s all happened for a purpose.

I like to think my story is pretty common. Okay, maybe the adventures of a forty-eight-inch tall, Black man, who is both Christian and gay who’s an artist, author, and accidental activist are on the outer fringe of the everyday, but the lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, and the life I’ve led isn’t so different from anyone else’s. I bring all of that along with my whole self to this cause called racial equity—the years of art direction, writing, the acting; being othered for my race, height, sexual orientation, and sometimes my faith; it’s all in there. None of it as a source of victimhood, but one of encouragement and shared experience. They way I see it, if I can get past all that and still genuinely love people, surely others can get over their biases and prejudices to see and support the humanity in others. Our specific challenges may be different, but the overlapping experiences are none-the-less human in that we all want to accepted, understood, and loved.

Love one another.

Clay Rivers
OHF Weekly Editor in Chief

New This Week

Do Old Wounds Ever Heal?

When do the memories of children torn from mothers’ breasts, fathers’ protection, a community’s legacy stop haunting us? When does healing begin?

By R. Wayne Branch, PhD

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash
We live in a world that has narrowed into a neighborhood before it has broadened into a brotherhood.
—President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Remember being twelve, thirteen? An almost teenager! One moment feeling like you want to be mommy and daddy’s baby forever. And the next moment wanting to be in make-up, cool clothes and cars.

Momma would make me go to church. Daddy didn’t go much. But always backed up momma when she said I had to go. And dutifully I did go. Partly because I didn’t want to get my butt beat. The other part because I wanted to see who of my friends would be there. Sunday school was the meet-up. The only place we could be without our parents watching our every move. A precious hour and a half before you went into lockdown wrapped in pews flanked by parents and other adults.

Read the complete article at OHF Weekly.

Workers Like it When Their Employers Talk about DEI

Policies that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion have been shown to have many positive operational impacts — including leading to more worker engagement.

By The Conversation

How companies communicate their diversity initiatives matters. Morsa Images/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Many companies have made commitments toward diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in recent years, particularly since the murder of George Floyd sparked weeks of racial justice riots in 2020.

But some of those efforts, such as hiring diversity leaders and creating policies to address racial inequality, have stalled or reversed at the same time as a growing conservative backlash is threatening to further undermine such initiatives.

Most recently, a June 2023 Supreme Court ruling tossing out affirmative action policies at several universities has prompted businesses and advocates to worry that similar corporate efforts to improve the diversity of their workforces may be next.

That would be bad news for companies, because research has shown that diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives improve creativity, innovation, productivity, and organizational performance.

What’s more, a majority of workers say they want their employers to do DEI. My own research in corporate communications suggests how employees communicate their efforts is just as important as having them.

Read the complete article at OHF Weekly.

Controlling Access to Success

Some people say “indoctrination” is not what schools should do. Yet, going back to the first schools in Boston, Protestants were unwaveringly clear: that’s exactly what schools do!

By R. Wayne Branch, PhD

Photo by Nikhita S on Unsplash

An old game with new twists

Many culture war battles are focused on education — or perhaps better said, access to success. What students learn, who decides what students learn, and who gains access to success incites fear and anger, determines elections, and raises millions of dollars. Some recent highlights:

  • Earlier this month, “the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida voted to accept the Classic Learning Test, a controversial standardized testing alternative to the SAT and ACT, on applications to its twelve campuses starting this fall.” Florida is the first state to approve the college admissions exam’s use. (Florida System Adopts the Classic Learning Test, Liam Knox, Inside Higher Ed., September 11, 2023). It certainly is not a far leap to see, he/she who controls the test controls who gets access.
  • Critical Race Theory (CRT) and calls for schools to “sanitize” curricular references to slavery, segregation, and racism and their impact on society, dominated headlines, social media, and gave some candidates sway in the 2022 election cycle. No further evidence is needed to see that this fight is absolutely about what is taught and how what is taught relates to the thinking society wants its members to have.
  • Led by South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Missouri, and Utah, the increase in book bans in U.S. schools and libraries during the first half of the 2022–2023 school year has been estimated by Pen America to be twenty-eight percent. Thirty percent of these titles are related to race or racism, or feature characters of color. (Banned in the USA: State Laws Supercharge Book Suppression in Schools, Meehan and Friedman PhD, Pen America, April 20, 2023). What people learn informs perspectives and determines, to a great degree, decisions. Making it illegal to teach enslaved people was intentional. Controlling access to what people learn is a well-honed tool for determining the meritocracy’s inclusiveness.
  • Florida State educational standards for middle school social studies appear to advocate teaching students that “the various duties performed by [enslaved people] (e.g., agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation)” illustrate “. . . how [enslaved people] developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” This has been interpreted by many as saying enslaved people benefited from slavery. (The Real Problems with Florida Teaching About the “Benefits” of Slavery, Michael C Doff, The Verdict, August 1, 2023). Making the enslavement of people appear to have benefitted those enslaved is a nod to the Manifest Destiny (white supremacist) underpinnings of the country’s ideological vantage point.

Read the complete article at OHF Weekly.

I Am Not Your Diversity

What is diversity? This is a question that I have seen answered in two different ways, depending on who is asked.

By Terra Kestrel

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I don’t know how to write this essay.

I don’t want to write this essay.

Most of all, I don’t want to believe that the scale and breadth of Black writing on this exact topic can exist and be so completely ignored that I would feel like there should be yet another pointless plea for Black existence in an endless stream of unread pleas for Black existence.

I have been part of this endless stream. For decades I’ve written about Blackness and racism, about how Black folk exist to provide free emotional labor1, how we exist in white spaces as an errant mark.2 In white spaces, Black folk are an intrigue, a confusion, a misplacement. Where we exist, we are seen as existing rather than being allowed the anonymity of normalcy. “We are an errant brush stroke on the canvas of an otherwise perfect painting, notable not for what we are, but for where we do not belong.”3 I have written and published scores of essays that are, in a sense, about diversity.

But I don’t know how to write this essay. I don’t want to feel I have to write this essay. Because it means that such a simple yet vital concept is still, despite so much literature on the subject, so misunderstood that it makes me wonder . . . what is the point of trying?

Read the complete article at OHF Weekly.

Write with Us

OHF Weekly writers are intentional in their message, careful in their craft, and have a public record of support for racial equity. We strongly prefer writers with an active Twitter account, as we use Twitter as a primary channel of social media engagement.

Our writers share their first-hand experiences and musings as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), members of the LGBTQ community, People living with disabilities, or their allies, and include all who recognize and uplift the inherent humanity and equality of all human beings regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or religious affiliation or lack thereof.

Submissions should have a point of view that supports marginalized people or that explores your personal journey out of a dominant-culture-biased worldview and offers insight to others who want to do the same.

Because of our non-profit status, we can neither accept nor publish works that support or oppose a political campaign or candidate.

For more info about what we look for, check out our Submission Guidelines.

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