More than a month has passed since George Floyd's death, and perhaps it's just me, but it seems like the energy behind supporting Black businesses and standing with Black people has waned a little. The company statements have been made and filed, the black squares have disappeared from Instagram, and the protests and those who support them seem to be out of the news cycle.
Particularly for those of us who continue to work in Corporate America, the environment can be especially difficult because after a few weeks of advocacy for change, it appears that everyone in the office has moved past "Black Lives Matter" and addressing inequality and discrimination in the workplace in favor of returning to "normal". Unfortunately, there is no returning to normal for us. So, what can we do to help keep the conversation going in a positive way to create the workplace transformation we desire to see?
Here are some ideas to help your organization keep that same energy:
Create conversations where they may not yet exist.
If you have staff or all-hands meetings, consider introducing diversity and inclusion topics into the agenda to facilitate open discussions. Many of our non-Black counterparts may be unaware of the privilege they possess in the workplace and the injustices that Black people face at work. They may not fully understand that racism is displayed not only overt action, but by covert behaviors and the microaggressions we experience. Pro Tip: Consider using interactive exercises to make concepts more concrete and relevant.
Leverage leadership connections.
Do you have a mentor, sponsor, or advocate who is also passionate about changing the racial landscape in your organization? How can you leverage their platform and/or influence to help engage other members of the leadership team? Share your perspective with your connections and get their feedback on methods to create impact and revise long-standing policies. When leaders show that this issue is not only important to them, but that they are willing to take the necessary steps to change, the employees throughout the company are much more likely to take it seriously.
Utilize employee resource groups (ERGs).
Typically these internal collectives are focused on diverse segments of the employee population that face discrimination, prejudice, or exclusion in some way, i.e. women, underrepresented minorities, and the LGBTQ community. Engaging these groups can be another avenue to penetrate the organization and bring additional attention to the issues facing Black employees. ERGs usually have executive or leadership sponsors/contacts who may be able to use their voices to keep these issues at the forefront to be addressed.
Advocate for a more diverse workforce.
Hear me out. Part of the reason why the response from many companies on Black Lives Matter was not as impactful or as long-lasting as we would have hoped is because the diversity of the employee population does not support the message. It's hard for people to believe you care about the equality of Black people and that you want to see them succeed when: 1) no one in a mid-level to senior-level management position is Black, 2) no one in the C-Suite is Black, and 3) none of the top-tier management roles have succession plans that include Black people. When you have no one to look up to in your company that looks like you, it truly feels like it's impossible for you to succeed.
Outside of leveraging connections and support groups you already have, this is an opportunity for you to bring this issue head-on to those making the hiring decisions. Whether it's a direct letter to your CEO and executive leadership team, a frank conversation with your human resources department on hiring practices, organizing 1:1 or intimate meetings with the VP or Director of your department and other Black employees, let your voice be heard clearly. A good friend of mine prepared a full PowerPoint presentation for his Vice President to share the rather sobering figures of the lack of Black employees in leadership in his department, which in turn sparked a deeper dive into hiring practices and job placement of Black employees once hired. While these conversations are uncomfortable, these can prove to be the catalyst required for change.
Believe me, I get it. Being Black in corporate workspaces, many times you feel undervalued and unseen, and even more so right now. But while racism is not our problem to fix, we can help drive the solutions. We cannot wait on others to do the work. We must be the change we want to see.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood