As the nation celebrates Black History Month, the O’Neill School is working to amplify Black voices within our own community. From students to faculty and alumni, the O’Neill IUPUI blog will feature guest posts throughout February discussing the individual’s research, fields of expertise, and/or experiences.
Written by Dr. Cheryl Hall-Russell, Ed.D, MPA’99–Nonprofit Management
“Hello everyone and welcome to “What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know!”
As I introduce my colleagues and our guest, I see my face reflecting back at me from my computer screen. Producing and moderating a weekly live public affairs podcast was the last thing on my mind this time a year ago.
I had launched a diversity, equity, and inclusion practice in 2017 and had been very fortunate to build the business quickly. I had just returned from Los Angeles working with a client on their DEI challenges and within two weeks the country had shut down.
As I sat on my couch anxiously watching the crisis deepen, I saw the response to it fall prey to the racial and economic fault lines so deeply entrenched in American society. My colleagues and I witnessed anxious social media posts as job losses ramped up and myths about COVID-19 spread like wildfire. While my work focused on race and equity, how to help a community respond to a pandemic was not in my toolbox.