2020 was a pivotal and stressful year for our city. We were hit with a pandemic and were forced to address the lingering inequalities and racist and oppressive systems that have caused many of us so much pain. We here at the Greater Louisville Project (GLP) were also forced to examine ways in which we uphold racist and oppressive systems. We have renewed our call to build authentic relationships with our neighbors. We launched a Missing Data series where our neighbors from marginalized communities can speak on data that our city has not traditionally collected or made easily available. We recognize our role as curators of our community’s data, but we also recognize our responsibility to step back and let our neighbors speak for themselves.
As a Black woman, living in Louisville and in the United States, I was used to racism. It is all I’ve ever known. My parents taught my sister and I, from a very young age, that we would have to fight for respect. We would have to work harder, and we would have to be on our best behavior. But even if we did all of that, we may still not get the opportunities or treatment we deserve. My experience is common within the Black community. That is one reason the Black community has always created and sustained ways to care for ourselves. We have never been able to trust the traditional powers to respect and care for us. We are often told what we need and are rarely asked what we need. We are studied, but not consulted. It is as if we are not trusted to understand our own lives. We are denied the right to self-determination.
This Black History Month, GLP has asked several Black community leaders and organizers to write blogs to share their work. These pieces will be shared at a variety of times throughout the month. They will speak on how they use data and how they have had to collect their own data because others will not collect it. This is part of the GLP’s continued efforts to pass the mic and share the spotlight. We are not heroes in this work. We are servants and partners.
We hope that you not only read these blogs, but that you reach out to these leaders, and others in our community, doing this very important and difficult work. I should note that they are often doing this work with little, to no, funding, few or no staff, and exhausted volunteers. They are all living through daily oppression and trauma, but they all have a “will do” spirit. We here at GLP hope that you will see these blogs, and other bogs as an opportunity for you and your organization to build new, authentic relationships.
As always, GLP will be here to assist with your data needs.
Monica E. Unseld, Ph.D, MPH
Director of Community Engagement
Greater Louisville Project