A year has gone by already. Where did the time go fam? The uncertainty of in-betweens – like the in-between of ending one journey and starting another – can be scary, but, if there is one thing I’m certain of, is that this year spent with the warm and caring people at 7th Street Northwest and Good Hope Road Southeast has been an unforgettable experience. Young unapologetically-black gay boys from the global south need more opportunities like this to slay, and slay I have. Thank you Bread for the City for making that happen. There must have been some point in the preparation for this Fellowship when you all thought, ‘This could go bad’ but you stuck it through and for that also I thank you, with the hope that you and Atlas Corps continue to build bridges and give young unapologetically-themselves people from the global south more experiences like this.
And speaking of bridges, I share with you a beautiful word from Jamaican Patois. That word is Blessings. I feel that half this year has been spent telling people that words that sound like English in Jamaican Patois don’t always mean the same in English. Blessings is one such word. Blessings is a greeting, as in Hello, as much as it is acceptance of praise, like Thank you. The very essence of this word is about building bridges and the right kind of bridges, the ones that make equals of all parties involved. Blessings is about acceptance of what others can offer you in equal amount as you invite others to help build them. Blessings is magic.
At the beginning of this year, I literally ran from networking opportunities because largely they made me feel parasitic, like I was in a space to get as much as I could from the people. However, since I embraced the duality of blessings, I completely changed my approach to networking. It’s okay for people to network, or even organizations to exist, with the purpose of building equals out of others. Bread for the City, I believe, is built on this concept and continues to improve how they go about doing this.
The centrepiece of my year here in Washington DC has been to help Bread improve their bridge building skills. With the development of a Nonprofit Guide for Racial Equity Communications I assisted with the improving how Bread builds bridges with the residents of DC it serves. Instead of communicating in a way that portrays our clients as below us as we try to pull them up, our approach is to communicate with our clients as equals who are experiencing difficult and trying circumstances that we have the expertise and resources to help with while allowing them to guide the process of how we provide them with assistance. While the organization has always operated like this in principle, we now have 20-page document which puts it in concrete terms. Literally taking the concept of blessings and making it into actionable policy.
I could sit here and talk about building bridges on blessings all day but this letter has to end at some point. Thanks again for the opportunity and I look forward to hearing greater things from Bread for the City as I hope you will also hear about me. As you can tell, I had fun writing this letter and I hope you have fun reading it too.