Who are The ONES who made it? Individuals raised in the margins, yet who achieved mainstream success—the American dream. We Ones are affirmative action hires, first generation success stories, tokens whose lives are known more from policy rhetoric and statistical snapshots than from realistic discussions of who we really are.
Are you a One or an ally? Take this Quiz to find out.
We’ve made it in academics, arts, business, construction, non-profits, politics, and every other industry. Ones exist at every step of the corporate hierarchy. And, some are self-employed. While money’s important, having made it doesn’t involve a minimum take-home salary, holiday bonus, or return-on-investment. We made it by enjoying fruitful careers, owning homes, taking vacations… We find ways to live a stable existence. Meanwhile, our families struggle with money, health, mental illness, livelihood, the law, and each other. They love and are proud of, but do not understand us. We’re apples that rolled downhill, into tributaries, out to the ocean and worlds beyond.
Discussion surrounding The Ones suggests we’re on easy street. We tirelessly pull up our bootstraps with so much stealth and astute craft that others don’t even notice we’ve bent over to do so. However, a peek into the details of our real lives reveals active, ongoing struggle. Yet, it seems like few of us have forums in which we can be our full selves. Therefore, this website takes a step towards rectifying that problem. It extends the recognition our beautiful and complicated lives deserve and celebrates our efforts while providing resources we can put to good use in all of the worlds we navigate.
Here’s a word to all who consider themselves allies of The Ones who made it and those who are still trying. Thanks for holding our stories, for listening, for speaking up to non-allies, for asking how to support us… all of us. Thanks for negotiating all that you do as we together as a nation strive for our democracy to realize its vision of equality. Hope to read your letters to Dear Ms. Harriet and to see your reactions to posts here in this safe space.
As a Black woman who everyday juggles with higher echelon academia, working-class roots and values, criminal histories, blended family of origin structures that will make your head spin, I am one of the Ones who made it. I got off the beaten path, I wrote my own script where I could, I let them think that I played by their rules, and I won. And now, I want to use all that experience to help you.
I want to help those who are just realizing that their worlds don’t blend easily. Do you hold off from social media, because you don’t want to be transparent? Yeah, been there. Do you never mention work at home or home at work? Exhausting, ain’t it? Today more than ever we need every competent, capable Black voice because the alternative is not acceptable. The only acceptable situation—ample persons of color in every context—is where this website is not needed, but I think we have several lifetimes of work ahead of us.
So, please, think of this as your safe place. Think of this as the place where you can talk about the multiple hats you wear and how wearisome it is. View this site as a place where your friends live, where people who share your values and your frustrations come to laugh, to cry, to share and ultimately to transcend. You got this Honey!
About this website — why explore it?
Dare to read this web site as a way increase understanding of We ones who negotiate multiple worlds. Remember the term token? Does it conjure images of early efforts to integrate Blacks and woman into mainstream society? It led to a better understanding of diversity. Still, to date, too few diverse individuals hold professional and, especially, executive positions. While there may not be a critical mass of us in any one place, we form a critical mass collectively. Due to this collective representation, read to help bring our complex existence out of the shadows of ignorance. Post a comment to help spread candlelight into which we are all welcome. Submit questions to help yourself and others bask in the warmth offered here and enjoy the full light of day.
About the candles
Many cultures recognize a candle in the window as a space for safety, guidance, or comfort. This site extends that sentiment to The Ones who made it and their allies. Images of candles in the logo and throughout the site signify how it extends a welcome, provides respite, offers guidance, and—above all else—sheds light on those who negotiate multiple worlds.
Like the logo design, this website’s design also deserves notice. While some recognize the virtues of the brown color scheme selected (for example, links appear in bold brown, not underlined blue), others view it as a drawback. Why did I choose the colors you see? They reflect us. We Ones and our allies come in many colors. All are welcome here.
About Dear Ms. Harriet
Dear Ms. Harriet, advice for The Ones Who Made It, emerges from getting advice for one world that fails to acknowledge the other worlds we Ones also inhabit. Folks who work to change their circumstance sometimes need guidance. Such folks who are also Ones need advice that acknowledges change they make in their professional life will likely have implications on one or more aspects of their personal life and vice versa. In full recognition of such dynamics, Dear Ms. Harriet serves as a guide for The Ones.
About Why I meditate
So many things move us out of our usual dailiness. We laugh until we cry, get surprised, and wonder why. We lose our cool, our footing, our place—whether angered, confused, disheartened or whether things just make us “…go hmmmm” (as sung in a popular 1980s song). Sometimes I share these moments with others. Our conversations come back to the same thing, wanting change. This desire arises again and again despite how a lot of people do a lot of things for change.
One website I like presents an endless collection of neat stuff to buy, while somehow reminding me that I can choose not to overspend. I told a friend about the site, called This is Why I’m Broke, in a conversation that eventaully turned to disturbing news. I off-handedly came up with the title of this micro-blog. Why I mediate presents quotes, images, statistics, news… information that shapes the worlds we Ones navigate. I come back to its title after each post.
Meditating tempers the information about our world presented with an invocation to let the sheer beauty of the day seep back into our pores while reminding us that we can always do something until things are at peace again in the cycle of life. Some prefer walks in nature. Others participate in religious or spiritual rituals. Still, others climb mountains, run hard, or otherwise engage physically all to become grounded again. I meditate.
My intention is to increase understanding. I do so by listening, reframing, suggesting, sharing insights & opinions—giving advice. I’ve been fortunate to have met other Ones who have confided their experiences negotiating complicated lives. I’m forever grateful to each one and hope I was able to reciprocate as we strived to not feel so alone in our struggles. I extend that appreciation and hope here by managing this website as follows:
- Dear Ms. Harriet and me, we’re awful discreet and your name, institution, organization are never going pass our lips or keyboards. That’s for sure.
- Additionally, Dear Ms. Harriet may need to change details to help protect participants’ identities or to abbreviate text. I may need to do that as well.
- Finally, we don’t want to keep a good thing down. So, I or Dear Ms. Harriet may publish any questions received here or in other media.