At the beginning of February, my friend and colleague Dawn Hunter, Acting Aviation Chief Operating Officer; President of the Port’s Chapter of Blacks in Government (BIG), and I
sent a joint message to all Port staff in recognition and celebration of Black History Month. This month, I’d like to share an excerpt from the letter.
Throughout every stage of our country’s short life, Black Americans have led the struggle for equity and justice. From the abolition of slavery to voting rights to civil rights to LGBTQ rights, Black communities Bookda Gheisar
have fought for generations to strengthen our nation and perfect our democracy. February is undoubtedly a recognition of the immeasurable sacrifice and contributions of Black Americans, while recognizing that we all benefit from the eradication of social injustice.
On February 8, for the first time in the Port’s history, the Port Commission issued a proclamation recognizing February as Black History Month — a beautiful acknowledgment of Black Americans. Commenting on the significance of the proclamation, Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed said, “As the first Black woman elected to this Commission, I suppose I am a tiny bit of Black history myself. However, the reason I ran for office and got elected to this position has less to do with Black history and more to do with Black futures.”
In this spirit, this February, we — Dawn Hunter and Bookda Gheisar — as leaders of BIG and OEDI, respectively, encourage and challenge us all to make time and space for Black voices and stories, both past and present. We challenge us all to confront our history, even when it’s hurtful and shameful. We encourage us all to reframe how Black Americans are viewed and seen in our country, because when our country truly values Black lives, we will create a culture that values all lives. We challenge us all, in big ways and small, to center Black Americans in the narrative of
our nation, and to not think of February as the only time to uplift Black leaders and accomplishments, but to think of the stories of Black Americans and our country as inseparable.
Finally, we challenge us all to come together to fight against racism and to transform our systems so that those communities who are too often marginalized and left behind — Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color — are accessing the opportunities and support they need to succeed. For transformation to truly occur, Black people cannot end racism on their own. We — people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and identities — must work together, because our success and wellbeing are all connected.
In the words of Amanda Gorman, “We are battered but bolder; worn but wiser. I’m not telling you to not be tired or afraid. If anything, the very fact that we’re weary means we are, by definition, changed; we are brave enough to listen to, and learn from, our fear. This time will be different because this time we’ll be different. We already are.”
Happy Black History Month,
Senior Director, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion