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Nikole Hannah-Jones Refused, and We Can Too.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a boss.

We often have to forget in order to live. So, let us hold this skill with grace.

Our ancestors learned this “forgetting” for trauma survival, and it was passed down in the expression of our DNA to keep us alive. So, when I come into my body and REMEMBER the truth by connecting with my ancestors, I can recall the resource and knowledge that my body has always known. My body knows what Nikole Hannah-Jones was experiencing.

Nikole Hannah-Jones knew the culture of misogynoir, anti-Blackness, and white supremacy at UNC would try to destroy her Black woman body and any creativity and freedom she dared to display.

I was so proud that she would choose Howard, a historically and culturally Black institution, to be the incubator for future freedom writing journalists to learn with her in community. There would be more and more Ida B. Wells-Barnett-like elders coming into the field. More truth would be told. More freedom would be sung.

1. Excessive, Inequitable and Unpaid Labor

“As part of the months-long tenure process, I had to write a teaching statement, a creative statement and a service statement. I had to teach a class while being observed by faculty. Dean King solicited letters to assess my portfolio of work and professional accomplishments from several academic experts in the field of journalism whom I did not personally know. I presented to the journalism faculty. Following these steps, my tenure was put to vote by all the full professors of the journalism school, who were overwhelmingly in support.“

2. Made to experience the pain of retaliation in public.

Nikole Hannah-Jones was hurting and healing in public for the culture and to protect the institution. There is and was nothing wrong with her. She was in her power and fighting for her dignity. In her statement she said,

And here is the lesson.

The lesson that I pray all Black bodies and any body targeted for domination and marginalization holds within their being with ease and grace.

Nikole Hannah-Jones was Unbought and Unbossed when she said, I refuse.

This is the lesson. We are not stuck between binary alternatives of slightly free and the false promises of a piece of freedom.

We have choices. This is freedom in real life.

Erin Trent Johnson is the Founder and Principal Coach of Community Equity Partners. Erin coaches for love, healing, liberation, and leadership.