Let me tell you a story…
A few days after the world erupted in protests over the death of George Floyd, I was sitting outside of my apartment building in downtown Chicago trying to wrap my head around what was going on across the country. As I sat in “my spot” and listened to the sounds of the city, I heard lots of shuffling footsteps. I stood up and walked towards the street, and that was when I saw lines of Chicago Police Officers dressed in riot gear heading down Columbus Drive/Fairbanks and turning towards the Magnificent Mile/Michigan Ave. Witnessing that scene, I felt my entire spirit break, and I broke down in tears. At that moment, all I wanted was a hug (from my big sister Alysia mostly, but I would have taken a hug from anyone in my inner circle), but it was early into the pandemic, and I was keeping my distance from people. So there I was, watching things implode before my eyes and feeling heartbroken and isolated.
I texted a friend that lived a couple of blocks from me, and after a bit of back and forth, we agreed to meet the next day in a park a couple of blocks up the street from our respective apartment buildings. As I walked to the park that Saturday morning, I couldn’t even enjoy the beautiful Chicago Spring day because I was numb. My friend and I sat on a bench, 6 feet apart, and I just let all of my thoughts out. After about an hour and a half, I was emotionally exhausted, and I just wanted to go home. With tears forming in the corners of my eyes, my friend gave me the hug I so desperately needed, and we went back to our respective apartment buildings.
That next day, May 31, 2020, still numb and exhausted, I made the decision that I needed to do something – that I needed to be a change agent. I decided that I would not let this world that so often shows me as a Black woman that it doesn’t care about Black or Brown bodies break me down. However, I wasn’t entirely sure exactly what I wanted to do. Some people make changes by attending protests. Others make changes by writing letters to their local, state, and federal leaders. I just knew that doing nothing was not an option. I thought to myself, “Self,” (cause that’s what I call myself) – “what is going to be your contribution to helping make a change?”
I decided to contribute something that touched on at least two of my passions – education and mentoring young people. That is when the idea for creating a scholarship foundation was born. Once I finalized the idea, I shared it with those closest to me. During one of my conversations, my friend Arielle Miller said, “I would love to do this with you,” and we have been working side-by-side ever since.
At work and in life, Black women face discrimination and systematic racism every day, and therefore, as Black women, we wanted to focus on supporting Black women.
Melissa D. Green,
President, The MGAM Scholarship Foundation
The MGAM Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting cis and transgender Black female students in their educational pursuits.