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Dear 2021, 


Thank you and goodbye. It’s been an “interesting” year. This word “interesting” has taken on new meaning over the past two (or three, I’ve lost count) years. In this case, I suppose “interesting” really means – thought-provoking. I revise my last statement: 2021, you have been a thought-provoking year.  


As I entered into a relationship with you, 2021, I didn’t really know what I was getting into or how you would serve as a catalyst for collective evolution. You started with a sigh of relief and signs of change. I was hopeful, tired but hopeful. You gave me glimmers of what might be different. I used those glimmers to create full narratives about how life would be much easier as we got back to our lives.  


You proved me wrong. 2021, you were relentless in your efforts to cause disruption, agitation, and healing. You gave me and the world countless opportunities to grapple with the tensions of change and hope. You’ve taught me more than I have learned in any one year on this planet.  


Today, I take a moment to share the lessons you’ve given me over the past 365 days: 


Time is a precious commodity that we rarely control. Not having control is hard to admit to myself and to others. The truth is, we actually can’t control time. Despite how much energy we spend trying to alter timelines, things take as long as they take. Our role is to figure out what we are uniquely suited to do and spend most of our time doing that thing. Once I understood the core of this lesson, I felt free. What if we all let go of our obsession with time? 


Mindset can be learned and unlearned. We often convince ourselves that “we are who we are.” While there’s some truth to that, we’re also constantly shaping who we are with the choices we make. The person I am today is extremely different than the person I was five years ago. What if we all chose to operate with more flexibility? 


Children learn from example. Our kids are observant.  They learn lessons from us all the time. We have the opportunity to show them a more just and joyous world. We can shape their habits even before they are born. In theory, we know that, but we often come up short in practice. It’s up to us to create bridges to our ancestry by sharing stories of the past, giving witness to the present, and helping build a framework for a just future. What if we chose to be the change we wish to pass on to our children? 


There’s power in pausing. When I pause and take… a… deep… breath, I become more open to opportunities to find my truth. I hear what’s possible, and I see beyond the current moment. There’s power in pausing. What would our world look like if we decided to pause before acting? 


Abundant thinking is a key component of liberation. Abundance is more than wealth. Abundance is a mindset that is cultivated over time. Even in the darkest moments, choosing to find abundance can create possibilities. The brilliance that emerges in these moments enables us to create new worlds, new communities, and new ways of thinking. What if we let go of scarcity and embraced abundance?  


So, 2021, thank you for the countless lessons. I’m leaving you stronger. And, I am committing to using your lessons to build a new narrative of Blackness for every child in this country, and for that, I am forever grateful.  


With deep respect, 


Shawna