Black History Month Employee Spotlight: La Toshia Burrell
As a company, we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today is the least diverse we will ever be. In light of this, we are excited to announce that La Toshia Burrell will be stepping into a role that is brand new for us, a role that will shape the future of our company and enable us to provide our Partners with a more effective, connected and provoking people-focused approach to hiring strategy.
This month we welcome La Toshia into the role as our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist. She will be pioneering something with us that positively amplifies the uniqueness of our people and challenges us to embrace our diversity.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BLACK CULTURE?
I love our collective resiliency, creativity, perseverance, wisdom and ability to make others laugh, dance, sing and experience Black joy! There is nothing like being surrounded by Black people and culture. We are innovative trend setters and are UNSTOPPABLE no matter the roadblocks meant to stop us!
SHARE WITH US WHAT BLACK HISTORY MONTH MEANS TO YOU:
Black History Month to me is an opportunity to celebrate our past, present, and future while also recommitting to progressive advancement in one’s mindset, education, support of, and action for the Black communities. Black History is for everyone and a great reminder of the beautiful people that make up the heritage but also of the work ahead that needs to be done to support the advancement of Black communities who continue to be negatively impacted to this day in America from all aspects of systemic oppression and racism.
SHARE HOW YOU CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH:
With my educational background in Health and Fitness, it is especially empowering being that this year’s theme is ‘Black Health and Wellness’. I love to see more medical research focused on systemic health disparities, quality care, and especially around breaking stigmas of seeking therapy within Black cultures. This Black History Month I am currently involved in a Racial Healing and Trauma workshop that provides a circle of individuals across the world to come together and ‘witness’ interrelations, which has been impactful thus far.
Racial trauma is real and can effect the brain similarly to that of actual physical pain. Knowing the harm caused towards our ancestors for hundreds of years to current day having the Black community continuously witness and learn about the killing of and mistreatment of our people, which takes a major toll to bear on a daily basis. Unfortunately, being Black comes with a cost in America, no matter how much we are proud of and celebrate our Black heritage.
Additionally, I am personally re-igniting my journey with therapy, with a local Black therapist and hope to be more open about my own mental health struggles. I have directly struggled from negative racial and physical situations while being a Black female in the workplace in addition to raising my young Black son as a single mother in America, who, will too, inevitably begin to encounter hate and discrimination at a young age for the color of his skin. It is my wish to be an example for my son and so many others to be on the side of good, actively involved in serving others, having a growth mindset to learn and unlearn harmful stereotypes and implicit bias of others, and collectively create change, knowing that it is only possible to dismantle systemic racism together!
WHAT ARE SOME INSPIRATIONAL BLACK LEADERS OR PEOPLE THAT YOU LOOK UP TO AND WHY?
Past: Muhammad Ali– For his courage to go against the status quo in the height of his career to speak the hard truths about disadvantages and racism against the Black community. Michelle and Barack Obama– Making history in the White House and doing so with such class, elegance, and respect; showing us all what Black Excellence looks like. Maya Angelou- For her wisdom that was so beautifully spoken. My favorite poem of hers being ‘Still I Rise’
Present: Sabryna Fulton- Trayvon Martin’s mother. Experiencing unimaginable loss and turning it into good in honor of her son by creating the Trayvon Martin Foundation, a non-profit whose main purpose is to provide emotional and financial support to families who have lost a child to gun violence.
Shaun King and his work with Grassroots Law is a modern-day leader similar to that of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. He has been a fearless leader despite him and his family constantly being under attack, he has kept me aware of stories of the Black community that are often not published or misconstrued and through his and Grassroots Law efforts combined with people throughout the country, has brought accountability to minority families who have lost a loved one from police brutality, has helped educate me and so many others regarding the possibility of dismantling systemic systems, the power of local and state government and the importance of knowing who and what you are voting for, and has shared the power of change through consistent collective organization we CAN transform our present and future for our children.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR INVOLVEMENT OF AN ORGANIZATION OR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT (IF ANY):
Co-Founder and President of Embrace: Celebrating Diversity
-What started off as a grassroots annual event in a small Iowa town eventually turned into a grassroots organization. Embrace promotes the education of historically marginalized communities in order to encourage awareness, truth, and discomfort through education; in doing so, we invite people to allyship, belonging and celebration. We have hosted small group learning series, donated children’s books to elementary classrooms, created informative newsletters, collaborated with community events promoting diversity and launched an Embrace Little Free Library of diverse books and authors for all ages
In addition, I created an event called ‘Embrace the Race’. This idea was initiated after the traumatic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and so many others, as the fear to run and walk in predominately white neighborhoods was a real fear, during a time when hate crimes were growing in our country. I wanted an intentional way to honor those lost to such tragic events but also to spread cultural awareness, promote wellness, and ultimately create safe spaces for people of all backgrounds to unite together for an in-person and/or virtual movement race. With amazing sponsorship, including that of @Titus Talent Strategies, we have been able to provide free and accessible participation, medals for top finishes, Embrace the Race music playlist with diverse artists and themes, ETR t-shirts and wristbands, and educational take-away information
I am happy to announce that this year, for our 3rd Annual Embrace the Race that we are partnering with Charge Running, offering a LIVE virtual race during Juneteenth weekend! We hope that we can increase participation to spread awareness, promote wellness, and create unity throughout the world
You can find more information on Facebook: @Embrace:CelebratingDiversity @EmbracetheRace2022
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