As part of our programming for Black History Month, ALICE’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee had the pleasure of hosting renowned activist and speaker, Briona Jenkins (organized by WildSF). Based out of Austin, Texas, Jenkins has a prolific advocacy career championing Black, female, and LGBTQIA+ communities. The event was a company-wide presentation and discussion in which Briona shared her experiences as a queer Black woman in America, and presented on the larger movement for Black lives today. Her message was that marginalized communities are allowed and entitled to take up space, use their voices, and feel worthy.
“It is my job to give you perspective, not to persuade you.” is how Briona Jenkins began her discussion, so as to inform the audience with her experiences. She then went on to discuss Black history and LGBTQIA+ history and then had our ALICE staff contextualize where these communities are at today in terms of representation. Jenkins had the unique talent of teaching a large group something that she was expert on in a way that was a fun, engaging, and refreshing discussion.
Following this history, Jenkins then went on to discuss how she became an influential activist that has created a space for change in the communities around her. She participated in her first march at the age of five, then became invested in social causes after the 2000 election, after realizing that not everyone felt the same way about social policies as she did. Since then, she has worked to provide affordable housing in Austin, supported young people at OutYouth, and has worked at a political software and literacy company. She has also sat on the boards of Keep Austin Fed, Austin Black Pride, Lone Star Victims, and the New Leader’s Council.
In the latter half of the discussion, Jenkins reinforced that everyday people can take action and make change. This was after she discussed how deeply microaggressions and gaslighting can hurt people. Jenkins urged the group to be allies and speak up for someone who may not feel like they can.
All proceeds of the event went directly to grassroots, Black-focused social justice causes. If you are interested in hearing more from Briona Jenkins, she hosts the podcast The Tea with Bri and has more information on her website: brionajenkins.com.
It was a great learning experience and discussion with our team, and we are looking forward to additional programming from our Diversity and Inclusion Committee.