I found out about Black & Pink January of 2016. We had traveled from Omaha, Nebraska to Chicago for Creating Change that year. There was a blizzard and after crowdfunding to be able to attend— there was nothing in the world that was going to keep me from attending Creating Change that year. It was known as the Mecca of networking for LGBTQ+ folks who wanted to magnify their work—and I was tired of being the kid from Nebraska who couldn’t get in the room to do the work I knew I was meant to do for the rest of my life.
I remember meeting Jason for the first time. Being so surprised how down to Earth he was. How dope this organization seemed and angry that for the 8 years I’d been in the Nebraska Department of Corrections, I wasn’t connected to Black & Pink and their work.
30 days later I’d accepted a job with the Nebraska Democratic Party. 5 months later I’d graduate with a degree in Public Health from Southern New Hampshire University and a month after that I began my career as a Sexual Health Educator at Charles Drew Health Center.
Fast forward to the summer of 2017—Black & Pink National Gathering in Chicago (I’m a huge believer in full circle moments) Meeting Jason again. Meeting so many Black & Pink members. Learning that I was going to be involved in the Leadership Circle. There was so much joy I received from those 3 days.
Then November of 2017 it was like the sky started falling. What had I gotten myself into? Who were these people we had to love as members but battle to save our organization from? What had I gotten myself into?
At that point I was the President of the Board of Directors. By default it seemed. But I had a responsibility nonetheless. December 22nd 2017 I boarded a plane to Boston. Our ground zero. I was scared and alone. In a new city. It was the anniversary of my Mother’s’ death. It was a cold and few days before Christmas.
Did I mention I was alone?
But I had a job to do. I had an organization on the brink of destruction and more people than I could imagine who were depending on us to make it right. That evening I received a call about a healing circle that I was asked to attend to represent Black & Pink. I’m going to be honest. I’d been molested as a child. I’d been raped by a correctional officer the last 6 months of my sentence. My husband had cheated and had a baby on the way—This healing circle ranks up there as an experience of violation to my body, my mind and spirit. Being attacked in a space that was the office of the organization that historically had been known as a harbinger of peace for LGBTQ+ folks. A radical space. This abolition nexus of Boston. I was told I didn’t love black women. I was lied on. My character was attacked by people who knew me from email exchanges. I left there over it all. I wanted to fly home and go back to my house and deal with my failing marriage and eat my way through my feelings. It was over.
I thought—this is what advocacy looks like? This is what an amplifier reach was going to cost me? If this is what the work looks like—I wasn’t fit for it.
I walked out of the city school building and up the street to the pizza parlor where I would meet members of the Boston chapter for the first time. I smiled and chatted my way through the meeting while I mentally crafted my resignation letter that I would send when I got back to the hotel.
I went back and cried myself to sleep. I woke up the next morning— Sunday and it was a light snow covering the city. I decided to leave the hotel and find a place to have breakfast. I ended up at this small diner and sat down to begin my resignation email. It was then a few things happened—the jukebox began to play a Whitney Houston song. “How Will I Know” to be exact. I’ll never be in a space and hear a Whitney song and now stop in my tracks. Then I scrolled through FB and saw the post that I made December of 2009 thanking people who had reached out after my Mother had passed away. I instantly heard my Mother’s voice say “Don’t let anyone steal your joy”.
Regardless of everything we had went through as a Board—I was doing the work I had dreamed of and had prayed for. How was I going to let anyone take that from me? I’d always been a fighter. Why would I stop now?
January 22nd, 2018, I accepted the position of National Director permanently. I can say 9 months later I don’t regret stepping into this roller coaster at all. Is it easy? Absolutely not. We are still working to rebuild what some tried to destroy. Are we growing and thriving in the midst of it all? ABSOLUTELY.
New funders. New programs. A renewed organizational spirit. Over the next few months we will be doing a complete mail catch up in Boston. Our Reentry program launched this summer. Our reconstituted Leadership Circle will launch this fall as well.
At the end of the day I get up and get going in the morning for you all. I have a responsibility to you. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you for allowing me to be the captain of this ship. I can’t promise calm waters at all times but I can promise that we will always move full speed ahead and stay on course.
With Love, Dominique Morgan, National Director, Black & Pink, September 6th, 2018