Bryana Clover is a Michigan-native, currently residing near Raleigh, North Carolina. For over a decade, she has worked in various strategic marketing roles within Agribusiness. She has a demonstrated history of collaborating, facilitating, and managing cross-functional projects and teams in animal health and nutrition. As a bi-racial woman with a Black racial identity, her lived experience working and worshipping in predominantly White communities, has cultivated within her an intense passion for creating brave spaces to have tough conversations about race. This passion has led her to be a student of a Master’s Certificate program: Anti-racism in Urban Education with UNC Charlotte. She brings an educational perspective to her work with the ultimate goal of inspiring individual and organizational change.
Why 1619?History re-told
In August of 1619, a ship arrived on the shores of Virginia (present day Fort Monroe, Hampton, VA), carrying over 20 enslaved Africans. These Angolans were stolen from their native land, captured from a Portuguese slave ship, then sold by British pirates for food. We know the names of two of them. Antony and Isabella, who later married and had the first child of African ancestry, William Turner, born in America in 1624.
Why didn’t we learn this in school? How history is taught depends on who tells the story. Native people of this land, now called America, were here thousands of years before they were stripped of their land, communities, and languages. Enslaved African Americans shaped the nation through the sale of their bodies, the product of their labor, and their fight for freedom and equality. This moment in history, August 1619, shaped our Nation as we know it today.
We need to understand the complete story in order to experience racial healing. We all need this. Individually, as well as in our workplaces and our churches and in our communities. It’s time to change the narrative.
Many months ago, I was starting to find my voice on the LinkedIn platform, which included the sharing of my personal perspective on race discussions in the workplace. I had ended my post with this thought:
“What are ways we can be more intentional about addressing all aspects of diversity? And perhaps enabling a more inclusive environment starts with asking those most impacted by D&I shortfalls?”
“Great article and I love what you added at the end - if we don't talk about D&I openly, how will it ever be more than a pillar on a corporate website? I am doing a ton of research around gender equality and have found myself being asked to represent the voice of women - but I am white. My experience is one dimensional so I have been working to incorporate more intersectional data that includes racial and LBGTQ perspectives. I have so much more to learn and I think it all starts with open conversations and a willingness to see things from a different vantage point.
Currently I am reading "White Fragility" and I found this to be profound: "Thus, reflecting on our racial frames is particularly challenging for many white people, because we are taught that to have a racial viewpoint is to be biased. Unfortunately, this belief protects our biases, because denying that we have them ensures that we won't examine or change them" (Diangelo, 2018. p. 11).
Thank you for the post! “
I recognized Jessica’s name, as we both worked at the same company in the past, but in separate business units. I decided to do a bit of LinkedIn exploration, and learned that she had taken a sabbatical from the Corporate World. At the end of her sabbatical, she made the brave decision to change direction professionally. She founded Just Pursuits, an inclusion collective focused on research and candid conversations that address today’s diversity and inclusion goals. Jessica is in constant pursuit of learning and engaging in conversations to share with others.
This is where our friendship started! Jessica was a sounding board for me as I discerned the next step in my vocational (and life) journey. We both share a passion for learning, and engaging in tough conversations for further understanding and growth. Many passionate conversations later, we decided it was time to take our conversations more public. Enter: Lunch and Unlearn by Jess and Bry.
Lunch and Unlearn is a brave space to learn and discuss about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion topics with an intersectional approach. Stay tuned for more details!
Claire Cox-Woodlief is a dear friend and mentor of mine. About four years ago, Claire and I connected through mutual friends. What connected us, was our desire to work alongside churches that are focused on racial healing work. Our friendship blossomed into a partnership that includes spiritual retreat and direction, as well as church events focused on increasing the awareness of America’s racial history and present in predominantly White churches.
Claire Cox-Woodlief believes that to grow closer to God, we must grow closer to one another. We are called to the life-long work of self-reflection and discovery and our collective lives will be enriched as we build honest and trustworthy relationships with people from other cultures. We are called to cultural humility and ALL of God’s people will benefit as we live into the beloved community.
Claire and I share this belief: as people of faith we are also called to be people of peace and justice and to be active in the ministry of reconciliation. Claire has helped churches, secular organizations and individuals in this work of self discovery, growth and reconciliation. We built a natural partnership, bringing together Claire’s passion and experience working with faith communities and my passion for racial equity dialogue in church-places. While our primary focus of work together is in faith communities and non-profits, we believe this work is meant for everyone to experience!
I'd always heard terms like systemic racism but never understood the concept; I don't see racism on a daily basis so how can it exist? The White Fragility book study completely opened my eyes to not only understand what systemic racism is but to have language to talk about it and understand how it impacts me, and others. Bryana did an amazing job 'calling us in' to the discussion in a way that challenged my views while creating a respectful place to ask questions and debrief what we were learning while reading the book. The study was high impact in and of itself, but perhaps the highest impact was helping me see that understanding someone else's experience and working to dismantle racism is a journey, not a destination.Janette Barnard, Managing Principal, Rock Road Consulting
Prior to my study with Bryana, the conversation of Race is not one that I intentionally broached. Her encouragement to start coupled with a promise of a safe space to ask questions, engage with others and learn has provided the opportunity for me to tackle my own feelings on this polarizing topic. She facilitated a group dialogue that not only was engaging but fruitful with personal insight. Thank you Bryana for the opportunity to be brave!Kerryann Kocher, Principal, Rock Road Consulting