Her reaction shocked me.
"I've never been interviewed by Black people before," she said. "Black people are just not interested in my story."
She is Black. She is a woman. She's the first Black graduate of Alabama University holding a Ph.D. in material science with a concentration in physics.
Dr. K. Renee Horton has quite an impressive resume. She currently works as a Space Launch System Quality Engineer for NASA. In short, she's a rocket scientist.
Just a simple internet search revealed her many accomplishments, including launching a nonprofit focused on youth in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) called Unapologetically Being, she is a published author, was elected president of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) and she was an invited speaker for the first International Women and Girls Day at the United Nations. These are just a few of her many accomplishments.
On the other end of the phone, Horton sat at her Louisiana home with her 4-year-old grandson, she was sporting a bald head, belly beads, and a crop top that said, "my body, not yours." She sometimes carries a purse that says "Protect Black Girls," does acupuncture therapy, wears faux lashes and stiletto fingernails, and has a French Bulldog.
"Good evening Queen," is how she greeted me on our first phone call. It was such an unexpected greeting. I just didn't expect it from a rocket scientist. As humble, relatable, and reachable as she is, her story wasn't being told by people who look like her.
How did they miss her? Why hadn't Black media written about her? She wasn't hiding.
Personally, I think she's amazing. I mean, she is a beautiful spirit. I just had to meet her in person. I drove hundreds of miles from Michigan to Louisiana to sit through a second interview with her for a video piece. I just had to meet her personally.
Now I have to be honest, she fell into my lap. A friend of a friend connected us when they found out about our Black Like Us project. I don't know if I would have ever interviewed her but what I do know is I have a list of story ideas and people that are Black and also doing some amazing things.
For our emotional health, it is crucial to develop healthy spaces, even when it comes to media. I feel empowered to be able to tell these stories for Black Like Us.
Since I've launched the project, I've noticed the more stories I write, the more pushback I receive. I'm not bothered by it. I use it as fuel to strategize how I am going to develop more content.
There are other platforms that do focus on some positive and inspirational stories about Black people, including websites like Good Black News, but sometimes those stories get lost in the weeds as we tackle social issues ( a much-needed fight) and a litany of public health problems that Black folks face in America including gun violence and illiteracy.
It seems like there is no balance. Even for me as a journalist, I get caught up in the protest and amplifying voices and issues that should be spotlighted. I sometimes have in my 20-year career forgotten to make sure to highlight what is simply good and inspirational news about Black people.
In the next few weeks, you will see more from me. You will see more content focused on investing in Black communities and neighborhoods including some business features and spotlights.
Our team will work better to engage our readers and to shake up our naysayers.
Thank you for allowing me to share stories that empower and inspire,
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