Angel Even grew up as the Black adopted daughter to white parents in a small community in Minnesota. As a child, Angel always stood out in the crowd due to her skin color, yet she went unnoticed when it came to who she actually was. Angel's first experience with racism came at the age of 5 when she was called the N-word repeatedly throughout kindergarten. At such a young age, she learned that the color of her skin deemed her unacceptable and unworthy in the community that she called home. This prolonged exposure to colorism in her own community created an internal conflict within her; having her skin compared to burnt toast made her feel undesirable, pushing her away from self-acceptance. Angel strove to prove herself instead through every effort she put forth, particularly education. Being good was not an option, she had to go above and beyond to make up for what she saw as her shortcoming: her Blackness. Those around her often told Angel she was the exception to the rule: she was so “well spoken,” friendly and hard working. Being called an exception always left Angel with a bad taste in her mouth; why was she considered the "exception" when surface-level interactions couldn't come close to understanding a person's soul?
Continuing her pursuit to prove herself, Angel became the first in her family to graduate college, and she purchased her first home at age 20. Her drive to further her education continued through a Master's degree in Healthcare Administration. Even while she worked at top healthcare organizations, her professional successes did not help her escape the microaggressions that tormented her throughout childhood. She soon found out that her confidence was deemed aggressive, her voice was too outspoken, there were no additional seats at the table, and she was seen as nothing more than a worker bee who must stay in her place in the system. These constant reminders only pushed her to exceed expectations. She led regional and systemic initiatives when others doubted her capabilities, and she took credit for her accomplishments while being told to wait patiently for advancement opportunities. That time never came. She was overlooked, underappreciated, and overworked. Angel honed her consulting skills to help departments and teams transform their processes and their cultures, yet she still experienced being talked down to- her experiences and skills always in question. Whether it was within her personal or professional life, racism, microaggressions, and constant ignorant experiences always managed to trickle into her day.
Angel had enough of having to justify herself, having to provide evidence or facts based on her experience of racism to explain others’ perception of her life experience, and she was tired of being good enough to take on massive work and responsibility, but not good enough to elevate herself in the system. No more waiting patiently; if the system won't change, she committed to paving a new path to allow for change to occur. The first step is acceptance: “I am a strong, intelligent, successful, hard working Black woman, and I am NOT an exception to the rule. I will be heard, I will be seen, and my truth will lead me on this journey of inspiration!”