An illustration of an outdoor scene with a very large orange cowboy hat on a stand and a massive pair of blue, white and red cowboy boots nearby, with trees around them and a sasquatch wearing a yellow Seattle SuperSonics basketball uniform looking up at the night sky next to a telescope on a tripod and constellations connected by lines in the sky behind the park.

What the Emerald Means to Me: The Power of Unity

by Sharon Nyree Williams 

(In support of the Emerald’s 7th Anniversary fundraiser we asked community members to share about what the Emerald means to them.)

When I wake up and look in the mirror, I see black. 
When I turn on my computer and click that zoom link, I may see black. 
I know I will see non-black.
And there is one zoom meeting space where I’m guaranteed to see brown and black. 

When I hear and/or read someone who mentions BIPOC. I cringe. 
I cringe because it’s become a buzz word that has fallen flat on an idea and not built on reality. 
BIPOC, Black, Indigenous and People of Color. 
Say it again, Black, Indigenous and People of Color. 
One more time, Black, Indigenous and People of Color. 

I cringe because just because people say it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is so. 
I cringe because the majority of the time words are used as a sign of good-faith effort. 
I cringe because people say BIPOC because it sounds like we are unified. 
I cringe because I question how many of us, including myself, are making BIPOC a reality in our community and not just trying to make a politically correct impression. 

In my opinion, it takes more to bring Black and Brown folks (I’m a proud country girl.) together than just the easiness in which it may roll off our tongues or enter into your social media or news feeds. 

In my opinion, the work to bring Black and Brown folks together takes an asserted effort to mend cultural understanding and authentically built relationships. 

In my opinion, a lot of folks say BIPOC; 

We as BIPOC…
Our BIPOC community…
The BIPOC community…

In my opinion a lot of folks say BIPOC, without ever intending to create space or a platform that allows Black and Brown folks to develop an authentic relationship. 

What the Emerald means to me, is a blueprint to showing, sharing, and bridging Black and Brown folks through the power of storytelling. The Emerald to me is what we should be truly striving for as a community. Don’t just talk about it. Create a way to practice and be about us coming together. The Emerald is setting the example, and now we as a community just have to follow it beyond the platform and the politically correctness of what is expected of us. 

The power is in the stories.
The power lives within the unity of Black and Brown folks. 
Thank you to, my friend Marcus Green, to my new friend Sharon Ho Chang, to the staff, contributors and board of directors; for being the blueprint to unity and dignity for all. 

Peace, Love, Appreciation & Respect,

Sharon Nyree Williams

Sharon Nyree Williams is a Storyteller and Arts Administrator. She is the Executive Director, Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas, Chair of the Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District, LANGSTON Board of Directors, and a former Seattle Arts Commissioner. Sharon loves experiencing life through the artistry of storytelling and leadership. For more info about Sharon, visit her website

Featured Image: Original illustration by Alexa Strabuk 譚文曠.

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