Whelp, another year is in the books. 2018 brought some interesting highlights — many of us were full on #WakandaForever in honor of the movie Black Panther; we dissected Danny Glover’s masterful video for the song This is America; and millions of activists found their voices as a result of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, as well as due to the current presidential administration. We lost Anthony Bourdain and Aretha Franklin. We joyfully welcomed a new Duchess of Sussex in Meghan Markle during a glorious royal wedding.
In my life, 2018 was a year of growth. I became President of the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, found my stride as Deputy Director of the ACLU of Florida, and was recognized by the American Bar Association for having one of the best Legal twitter accounts and for being one of the eight most inspiring members for 2018.
I didn’t get to write as much as I wanted to — but you, my RLD Family, hung in there with me! For this, I thank you.
Here are the top 5 pieces that you loved:
Every year, I write as a form of therapy to cope with the untimely passing of my mother from cancer. It’s a way to honor her, as well as to take my mind off of the pain. It’s been six years — the grief is better than it was, but I know I will never be the same. Over time, I’ve come to accept this new normal. Not everyone is blessed to have had a great relationship with their mother — so I count myself lucky.
This article came out of the #BlackWomenAtWork Twitter hashtag from last year. Women of color were discussing various microaggressions we face in the workplace, often from folks who seem so “surprised” by our presence, or for defying the stereotypes they have of us. I shared an experience I had, and a conservative commentator decided to weigh in without completely understanding the context (or frankly, even trying to understand). So, a tutorial ensued. The fact that it has been so highly read for two years in a row shows that the issue is one that is not going away any time soon.
In June of this year, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain passed away as a result of suicide. It hit me hard — not only because I was a huge fan of his shows, not because we were in France at the same time — but because many people still struggle to understand mental health. There are so many misconceptions tied to money, material things, and outward appearances — as to who should or can be depressed. Money gives you access to better care, but it does not insulate you from the crippling effects of depression. There is no shame in admitting you need help. There were dark periods in my life where a good therapist helped me get back on track. Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness. May he rest in peace.
Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 175 years this past January for molesting the athletes in his care over a span of 30 years. Instead of the focus being on his heinous actions and betrayal of young athletes who were serving our country through sport, the attention shifted to Judge Rosemarie Acquilina for comments she made during sentencing. It was, what has sadly, become a pattern of the “boys need to stick together” mentality, even when one of the boys was dead wrong. In this piece I analyzed her actions and the context. Little did we know that there was more to come in the form of continued #MeToo revelations, and a contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearing. These occurrences are a constant reminder of the need for diversity at all levels of the criminal justice system, to ensure that everyone gets a voice — regardless of gender, money, power or privilege.
And the #1 story of 2018 is…
A judge in Miami Dade County, who many of us knew for many years, lost his seat due to his use of racial slurs at work. Many folks who are not of color wonder how to be an ally. I laid out a few — but the key is not to remain silent. Record everything, and don’t let racist instances slide. The lives of many hang in the balance.
There you have it! Were there other pieces that you liked from this year? Anything you’d like to see me write about next year? Sound off in the comments!
Wishing you and yours a happy, safe and prosperous New Year. See you on the flip side!