The First of Many… Hooray?

When most people think of the saying “delayed but not denied,” it is regarding a specific, overdue outcome that was months or years in the making. It comes with feelings of gratitude and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

But what is joy when the lack of recognition is specific to a race of people?

In recent weeks, the African-American community has experienced a series of historic firsts – winning national spelling bees to breaking athletic records. While the victories are sweet, they leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many who feel like Black athletes deserve recognition on a large scale and a more consistent basis.

This request is nothing new; for years, fans of Black athletes, scholars, entertainers, and more have argued for equal representation on behalf of their beloved idols. How is it possible that in 20, 50, or 100+ years of an organization’s existence, its high-level executives could not find a worthy African-American candidate to award an accomplishment? Is society expected to believe that there weren’t any capable Black people interested in these activities before 2021?

In recent weeks, the African-American community has experienced a series of historic firsts – winning national spelling bees to breaking athletic records. While the victories are sweet, they leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many who feel like Black athletes deserve recognition on a large scale and a more consistent basis.

This request is nothing new; for years, fans of Black athletes, scholars, entertainers, and more have argued for equal representation on behalf of their beloved idols. How is it possible that in 20, 50, or 100+ years of an organization’s existence, its high-level executives could not find a worthy African-American candidate to award an accomplishment? Is society expected to believe that there weren’t any capable Black people interested in these activities before 2021?

The idea that members of the African-American community are almost as ridiculous as it is false. Despite being heavily underrepresented and disregarded by high-level stakeholders, Black creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators are not only trailblazers in their communities but also in the industries they hold dear.

For many Black people, these honors are confirmation of what we already knew – Black excellence exists. And as quiet as it’s kept, Black excellence is a standard that knows no bounds. More often than not, it exceeds the limited talents held by other, more regularly praised groups and warrants the same accolades.

Certainly the first but never the last, Black leaders are paving the way. There’s no denying how good this representation feels – no matter how late it got here.

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