There is a lot of crazy in the air these days. Sometimes it seems like things are only getting worse.
Besides all the obvious drama of markets, geopolitical (and political) brinksmanship, and racial strife, someone keeps charging Kanye’s phone and now it feels like we’re all walking around clutching our stomachs like we’re on the bad romaine.
On a lark, and because I’m always stressing about columns, I threw out a Twitter request looking for something uplifting.
“Hallo! I’m collecting good news, good works, important projects you want to amplify for a special feel-good #raceahead,”I said, now feeling weird about quoting myself. “Who are you proud of? What’s working in inclusion and humanity? Let me know. #gracias”
RaceAhead readers immediately began to lift each other up. (And you still are!)
Here you go:
There are more stories still pouring in, and even more good news below.
We see and appreciate all of you. Let’s do this as a semi-regular feature, and not just on my birthday. (Surprise!) Turns out, you are the gift. The work you’re doing is a vital reminder that hope is all around.
Special Good-News-Thursday shoutout to raceAhead editor Grace Donnelly, who always believes. I am grateful for you.
|Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson take us to reparations school|
|Robinson and Nelson, better known as “the two black men arrested for waiting for a friend at a Philadelphia Starbucks,” settled with the coffee-giant for an undisclosed sum and an offer to complete their bachelor’s degrees for free through a Starbucks partnership with Arizona State University. But they reached a separate deal with the city of Philadelphia for $1 each and a pledge from the city to set up a $200,000 program geared to young entrepreneurs from Philadelphia high schools. “We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change we want to see,” said Robinson.|
|Pinterest just made search more inclusive|
|Hey, remember when Pinterest hired Candice Morgan in 2016 to be their first-ever head of diversity and we were pretty excited about it? Well, it turns out she’s been busy. Last week, the company took an important step toward creating a more diverse online community by launching a new search tool that will help users of color more quickly find the images they’re looking for. If you’ve ever been a woman of color searching for braided hairstyles and only got photos of a white model in pigtails, you already get it. Click through to see how they’re trying to help everyone find what they need with dignity and efficiency.|
|A company that makes beautiful, natural hair dolls has won an important start-up competition|
|Many of you are rooting for Healthy Roots, a Cleveland-based start-up which manufactures natural hair dolls and gorgeous books designed to reinforce a positive self-image in young girls of color. Two days ago, they won the Startup Stampede, a competition run by a Durham-based consumer product incubator worth $100,000. “We will be working with the McKinney agency to spread our brand to reach and empower more kids of color with toys designed for them!” says @RootsDolls, founder Yelitsa Jean-Charles. Watch her extraordinary TEDx talk below. Really.|
|National treasure Michael Twitty wins the James Beard Award book of the year|
|Last week Twitty, identified by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as an “African-American Jew-by-choice,” won both the Book of the Year and the Best Writing awards his autobiographical work, “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South.” The book explores Twitty’s ancestry through food, a true African American story that spans from Africa to America and enslavement, to his quest to reclaim his stolen cultural identity. It is a poignant story, painstakingly researched. Twitty is a raceAhead reader favorite for his work as a chef, writer and cultural explainer. (And also because he gives us recipes.) Now, he’s the first African American author ever to win a James Beard Award for Book of the Year. His personal site is below.|
|An employee-led diversity program shines a light at Microsoft|
|“Two years ago a few of us at Microsoft decided to stand up and create a group called BlackLight with the purpose to shine a light on the things you can’t see,” says Ronell Hugh, who answered my call. “Today it flourishes with the support of Microsoft CMO,” he says. “I’m no longer at the company, but it’s a great story.” It sure looks like it. Last month, the BlackLight team launched its first large-scale employee learning event designed to share insights about the black consumer and how a more inclusive environment can lead to better storytelling. But the conversation itself, which naturally touched on uncomfortable subjects, was the real gift, says CMO Chris Capossela, talking like a true ally. “I’ve found that one of BlackLight’s greatest contributions to the culture we are building at Microsoft is creating a safe environment for embracing that discomfort, as a way to learn, stretch and grow,” he said in a LinkedIn post.|
The Woke Leader
|Our favorite aliebn was on Seth Myers’s show!|
|I’ve been a Jonny Sun (@JomnySun) fan for so long, that I almost forgot he was real. His persona as a sweetly befuddled alien who comes to earth and tries to figure things out began as a chatty Twitter stream long before the cool kids were threading things. The character, in the course of trying to figure out who we are, teaches us about ourselves in a funny and loving way. The Twitter character became a best-selling book – “Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too,” which Sun wrote while getting his PhD at MIT. “The common thread throughout the story is that it’s okay to be imperfect,” he says. His success has turned his fans into a legion of aliebns dedicated to acceptance, inclusion, whimsy and joy. Sun is also a multi-hyphenate talent: Humorist, playwright, engineer, writer, internet and identity researcher, illustrator, academic, architect, Earthling. Enjoy.|
|Can Portland, Oregon reverse gentrification, displacement and racial strife?|
|Reporter Deonna Anderson wrote about Albina Vision, an ambitious effort in Portland, Oregon “to undo the harm of urban renewal and heal the wounds of a community,” she says. It’s a long-term plan — 50-years! — to revitalize the Rose Quarter, a 94-acre area in the city’s Northeast that is ideal for sustainable and inclusive redevelopment. “[T]he Albina Vision is not prescriptive, but rather is a framework to foster the growth of a diverse, sustainable, urban district—on par with great neighborhoods of the world.” Among other things, they’re looking to connect cultural life with natural beauty and are studying Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, Germany and Millennium Park in Chicago for inspiration.|
|Yesterday was College Signing Day and Michelle Obama has a speech you need to hear|
|College Signing Day was launched in 2014 and was part of the then First Lady’s Reach Higher program, designed to encourage students to continue with their education past high school. While it’s now an annual celebration for incoming freshpersons, her message is one that everyone needs to hear. Yes, it’s a scary, big step. Bottom line, don’t believe the doubters, ask for help when you need it, and know your struggles will be worth it. “We need you all to be successful,” calling herself their forever First Lady. “We need you to strive and to reach these heights that you can imagine for yourselves. We love you so much.” We do, indeed. Bring tissues and follow #CollegeSigningDay for more stories of excellence.|