I have been thinking a lot about courage and what it means to make space for people in general. When I started The Gem Project, I was a shy and quirky 19-year-old college student, still am +/- a decade or more. What was most important to me, which pushed me beyond my comfort zone, was the cause itself.
When you are called to do something, anything, it’s like this magnetic force. You don’t really think about whether you have all the tools. You rise up and get the tools that you do have and make things work. Over the years, I have had amazing encounters and experiences with other entrepreneurs and friends.
I’ve been in rooms with people who control most of the world’s decisions, while I have also been in rooms with people who fight every day for justice, and our known as unsung heroes within their communities. Now, back to courage. Courage is like the catalyst that fuels your next big or small step. Right now, courage is not a choice for me. It is a necessity.
While I have had various leadership positions in Boards, associations, and companies, I still have gone through not so unique circumstances of being silenced. The associations, Boards and companies I am part of now, don’t this. However, as a woman, and a Black woman, I have had to think more strategically to amplify my voice.
Despite this, I acknowledge the privileges I have in various positions where I currently sit. Knowing this, I don’t take it for granted and again, I think more strategically on how I can illuminate the voices and presence of others, especially women of color and Black women, in general who are brilliant and get passed on day by day.
So, when I think of courage it is not a choice but necessity. It can mean the difference between a more realized and whole world or empty one.
Starting today, I am making a choice to write about the journey more as I have shifted a few gears, since I last wrote, that was nearly 5 years ago. The Gem Project is still here and doing quite well now. Currently, we are getting ready for our largest high school and college cohort of changemakers yet: 45 fellows to serve, employed, and hired this summer on civic initiatives, organizing, and fulfill a leadership role. 45. If you count our clients who use our new platform and program design, we are engaging over 65+ youth this summer. It just struck us.