by: Courtney Tucker
Murder after murder, my peers go about everyday life as if nothing traumatic has occurred. Meanwhile, I’m fighting back tears to push through meetings. My inner voice is screaming, yet no one can hear me. This is when I found my voice.
Let’s get raw for a second. Imagine as a kid in school, it’s movie time, the lights go out and you hear “Smile. I can’t see you.” Imagine every time you turn on your tv or log onto social media, you see a face that looks like yours getting killed, brutally beat, or sent to jail. Imagine walking into a store and an employee follows you around while continuously asking if you need help. However, there are others in the store as well—that just don’t happen to look like you. Imagine hanging out with your friends and a police officer calling your group derogatory names. Imagine feeling scared and anxious every day your dad, brother, boyfriend, or friend steps outside their door. You pray and you pray that they stay safe, but who knows what may happen that day. Imagine walking into your place of employment every day, feeling like an outcast, feeling as if people view you differently, feeling as if you can’t be yourself because of how you will be viewed, feeling as if the ladder is harder for you to climb. And it’s all because of the color of your skin. I woke up Black yesterday. And guess what? I woke up Black again today. I’ll continue to wake up Black and face these challenges every day, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Diversity & Inclusion. Diversity & Inclusion. Are you tired of hearing this yet? Can you imagine how I feel? These are more than just praised HR terms. Together, they embody a sense of equality that people who look like me have been persistently fighting to attain for decades. This is why it’s important for us to actually understand what is going on in today’s world, empathize with those that are feeling pain, and have patience during this time of uncertainty, especially in the workplace.
As a black person in the workforce, it’s hard to often be the only one who looks like you. It’s hard to make a change, to speak up, and to be a catalyst, when few people try to understand where you’re coming from. I work for an organization whose mission is to put Christain principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. This is the goal we aim to meet every day, but along the way we as a team lose sight of other aspects.
I work for the YMCA. You may see it as just a place to come workout, swim, or where kids play. But to me, I see a place where I found my voice and a place that allowed me to use it as a resource and an outlet to do greater things. After George Floyd’s death, our city was hurt, my people were hurt, and I was hurt. I reached out to our CEO because I felt that as an organization, we needed to do more. We need to say, “Black lives DO matter.” Once I voiced my concerns, we released a Black lives matter video, revamped the Minority Affinity Group (MAG) which is helping us make the changes needed within the Y, and got more involved in the community and different programs. No place is perfect, but I appreciate the values that the Y upholds – achievement, relationships, and belonging. These three words have been instilled in me to make sure I am delivering to our members and community, but now I see that the Y is also allowing me to experience these three values, personally, as well.
The woman I am today is bold. I’m in a place now where I use my voice to speak on the many injustices in the world, and I am comfortable helping people understand them as well. I thank the Y every day for supporting my ‘aha’ moment and for helping me find my voice.
It’s not always easy, but I encourage you to find yours too. The world needs more people to take a stand and speak up. Find a way to be comfortable being uncomfortable, put yourself in someone’s shoes who isn’t like you, start a new journey towards awareness, and then please act on that awareness. In the words of Maya Angelou, “when you know better, do better.”
Start your journey toward awareness with this Awareness Activity.
Courtney Tucker was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. She graduated from Sycamore High School and went on to play basketball and pursue a degree from Wilmington College. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management, she embarked on a Personal Training career. She feels this fulfills calling to help others. She is currently the Health and Wellness Director at the YMCA, which allows her to continue to pursue her passion and even has helped her discover other passions as well. Reach out or follow her journey on Instagram @tuckyy__.