There are always reasons to connect, if we remember our past and work towards our future

January 14, 2022, 8:07 PM UTC

The Grand Ole Opry broke some achy hearts, baseball slowly understands the assignment, and where are the coins for Black TikTok? Respect is due: A hero rat joins the elders, and reminds the world of a very ugly situation. Bonus! Fortune wants to Connect with you.

But first, here’s your other things that Martin Luther King Jr. said (sort of), week in review, in Haiku.

You have not started living 
until you can rise

above the narrow 
confines of you, to see the
we, humanity.

(That means errrrbody.)
This we know: Almost always 
a creative group,

maladjusted and
in the minority—love
and justice bound—has

made the world better.
Human salvation depends 
on us being we.

Wishing you a love and justice bound holiday weekend, if you celebrate.

Ellen McGirt

This edition of raceAhead was edited by Wandy Felicita Ortiz.

In Brief: Connect with Fortune

This week, Fortune opened its Fortune Connect community—aimed at informing, educating and inspiring the next generation of business leadership—to executives beyond those who work at the 20 companies currently supporting the platform. If you are interested meeting the leaders who are shaping the future of work, “building muscle” as a purpose-driven leader, or becoming more effective at removing the barriers to true inclusion, then consider joining us.

I've been on the Connect team since the early days, and now work as the editorial director. Since we launched late 2020, we’ve welcomed more than 1,000 fellows from a wide array of backgrounds and companies including Accenture, Genpact, IBM, PayPal, RBC, Salesforce, Workday, Fedex, GM, Hyatt, Xerox and more. They dial in regularly from countries on every continent, except Antartica. (I remain optimistic.)

We also, from time to time, feel inspired and hopeful. It's good to find a squad.

Connect curious? Don’t delay! We just debuted a private, interactive community on the Mighty Network, which gives fellows more ways to meet, network, and collaborate. Later this month we’ll be launching our first executive learning sprint designed by Duke Corporate Education exclusively for Fortune Connect. Duke CE's debut learning sprint, "Purpose Driven Leadership," will be taught by Michael Chavez, Duke CE's Global Managing Director. With Chavez's guidance, Fellows will work together to fine-tune their sense of individual purpose and learn to apply it in their roles as members of larger organizations, in order to become stronger, impactful, and authentic leaders.  

You can apply for membership here.

On Point

“We just say dumb stuff together” This was Morgan Wallen’s tepid response when television host Michael Strahan asked him about leaked video of the country star using the n-word in February, 2021. Despite an apology, Wallen was dropped by his label and several radio stations removed him from rotation. So, you can imagine the outcry when the beloved Grand Ole Opry decided to book Wallen last weekend. Critics took to social media to express their dismay. Grammy nominee Allison Russell tweeted, "the rot of bigotry permeating mainstream country is rough.”

Baseball diamonds are a girl’s best friend A woman making waves in a male-dominated field? Tell us more. After 10 years of working in professional baseball, the Yankees’ tapped Rachel Balkovec to manage the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate team. Balkovec earned a Masters in biomechanics from Vrije Universiteit, which she says has helped her to better understand the science of swinging a bat, among other things. Best of all, Balkovec has company as a trailblazer. Last year, Bianca Smith became the first Black woman to coach in professional baseball after joining the Boston Red Sox staff and in 2020, Kim Ng became first female general manager of the MLB for the Miami Marlins. How did Balkovec persevere while pursuing her passion? Click through for the inspiration.

Where are the wealthy Black TikTokers?  The good people at People of Color in Tech rightly point out that the recent Forbes list of highest TikTok earners doesn’t include a single Black creator. Despite the fact that the beloved Khaby Lame is right there. The list is yet another data point in the ongoing conversation about appropriation, race, money, and who gets paid for their work. Last year, Black creators on TikTok went on a “dance strike” to draw attention to the uncredited work of choreographers in videos on the app.  “It’s about damn time, actually. I’m super proud of all the creators that are speaking up and speaking out. It’s a highly important issue that’s oftentimes overlooked,” JaQuel Knight, the choreographer behind Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” tells the Hollywood Reporter. “Regardless of the level of the magnitude of what you’re creating, the least you can do is give credit.”
Hollywood Reporter

Book bans are not about protecting students Books by writers of color, particularly Black authors are being removed from school libraries, typically at the request of angry white parents. In 2020,  American Library Association said its Office for Intellectual Freedom reported that 273 books were flagged for censorship attempts. In a sharp uptick, there have been been 230 challenges since September 2021. Newbery Medal-winning author and illustrator Jerry Craft learned last year that his books were being pulled from a school library in Texas and his school visit was going to be cancelled. I was caught off guard,” he told NBCBLK. “I felt bad for the kids because I know how much they love ‘New Kid’ and ‘Class Act.’ I know what my school visits do. … I felt bad if there was going to be some kids that would not be able to take advantage of that.”
NBC News

Magawa, the “hero rat” has died The giant African pouched rat had a special skill that would have Remy tipping his chef’s hat in respect: He sniffed out landmines left behind in Cambodia in the aftermath of the ouster of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. During his eight years of sniffing service, he identified some 71 landmines, and 38 items of unexploded ordnance. According to the Halo Trust, a landmine clearing charity, extensive landmine fields still exist, and have devastated the Cambodian people. Some 64,000 deaths and 25,000 amputees have been reported since 1979. Magwa’s work earned him a gold medal from veterinary charity PDSA in 2020, and he retired to great acclaim in June 2021. More at the Cambodian Landmine Museum, and watch Magawa work below.
WION on YouTube 

Shannon Worley is a Sweet Equity Media intern and contributed to today’s summaries. She is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Columbia studying journalism with an emphasis in writing and reporting, and minors in social justice, human development, and family science. She plans to pursue a Masters in Public Affairs Reporting.

Mood board

Maya Angelou, American Women quarter.
U.S. Mint

This is the web version of raceAhead, Fortune’s daily newsletter on race, culture, and inclusive leadership. To get it delivered daily to your inbox, sign up here

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