Featuring La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson


The government that prided itself in touting “We The People” certainly didn’t have us in mind. Black was definitely beautiful, we had a Miss Black America contest, after all, but this change was going to take a lot more than a new hairstyle and a dashiki.
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About La Rhonda

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson is an educator, writer, certified Integral Coach and founder and CEO of BARUTI Enterprises. She is dedicated to creating and supporting environments for transformation. She was born in Oakland, California, and was a product of Oakland public schools before entering San Francisco State University. She received a bachelor’s degree in social work in the winter of 1984. La Rhonda, a much-sought-after speaker and facilitator, is proud of her nearly thirty-five-year career, which has focused on women’s wellness, providing access to health care, reproductive rights, community development and education. She is currently working on a novel and establishing a publishing company.

We had a chance to interview author La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson, whose essay "From Negro to Black" appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned...

 

What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?

I was inspired to write “Negro to Black” because of witnessing of current events.  This skin we are in has brought with it many lessons and challenges.  I have always been curious about what seems to be our ever-changing name and I wonder how what we call ourselves (or allow others to call us) impacts how we show up in the world.

What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the 21st century?

This could be a very long list.  What stands out and seems to be a common thread in all challenges is the need to have to explain my viewpoint and experience as a Black woman. When I am at my best, I welcome the opportunity to give others a glimpse of my walk.  Other days I just feel frustrated, angry and fatigued that in 2017 the explanation is still necessary.

Give an example of women’s roles in today's social justice movement.

The role of women in today’s social justice movement is very much like our participation in all the previous movements for justice – to stand, speak, resist and work so that our children won’t have the same fight on their hands.  We have to unify and move past arbitrary lines of differences:  skin tone and hair texture, education, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, etc.  The greatest demonstration of this today has to be the young and dynamic sisters at the helm of the Black Lives Matter movement!

What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color? 

I have had leadership in both female empowered spaces (women’s reproductive health, education, parent advocacy, etc.) and in spaces where I had to fight male dominance (community-based health care organizations, Black Christian churches.)  Both have had an upside and a shadow side.  They both require a great amount of physical, emotional and spiritual strength to bring women’s voices into decision-making spaces.  The challenge in working with women was often helping women see their worthiness.  Working in male spaces it was the constant fight to be heard as a valid and worthy voice.

What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?

I hope female readers will take away a greater understanding and appreciation of themselves.  I hope they will be able to see themselves as powerful and brilliant and capable of sharing their stories in ways that empower those around them.  For male readers, it is my hope that they will take away a holistic view of women as complete beings, outside of our roles of mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, etc.  I hope they gain a greater capacity to see and hear women.

Learn more about La Rhonda's at www.barutienterprises.com