June 2022
A new holiday story
We celebrate Juneteenth for the second time as a nation this year. And while some folks might have been celebrating this day on the community or state level for quite a while, for most folks this story is just now being told - 157 years later.

A big part of forgotten and re-emerging history comes from who got to tell the story in the first place. In so many cases, history is the story of the winners, of the holders of power. So as our society inches forward in the development of equity, we become privy to new stories and new pictures that make up this whole tapestry of who we are as a nation.

This brand new federal holiday presents a wonderful opportunity to come together as a community and have new conversations about our history. When did you first learn about Juneteenth? What does it mean? How has it challenged your previous understanding of our history?

Cammy first learned about Juneteenth in 2005 at a North Omaha celebration that was held on 24th Street (where Blackburn High is now). She was already a young adult, no longer in school, but this hadn't been a part of any history class she'd taken. We have a great opportunity today to engage in our own research, to investigate the accounts of our history that give us new stories and new perspectives - stories of Black history fraught with injustice and liberation delayed. These are crucial to our understanding of where we are today and where we have yet to go.

We encourage you to learn the stories of our not-so-distant history too. Ask your parents or grandparents what they were doing during the Civil Rights movement, for example, and get a living account. There are parts of our collective story that continue to be cast in shadows and we need to shine a light on that to bring reconciliation so we can move forward with equity, respect, and dignity.
Back Together for Omaha Table Talk!
On July 12 at 6 pm*, our Omaha Table Talk once again becomes an in-person community event! Don't worry, this will be a hybrid event and online attendance via Zoom is still possible.

We will be gathering at KANEKO for this discussion Exploring Undocumented Workers and the Path to Citizenship.

There is a 50-person capacity for the in-person event so register soon! Doors open at 5:30 pm. Parking is available at the nearby Omaha Park Four and will be validated upon your arrival. If you require wheelchair accessible parking, please contact Program Partner, Nikki Smith.
We have partnered with KANEKO and other community organizations for Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Academy Award®-winning virtual reality experience CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) which explores the human condition of immigrants and refugees. The exhibit runs from June 9 - September 10.

KANEKO is located at 1111 Jones Street, Omaha NE 68102.

*Earlier information on this event showed a start time of 11:30 am. Be aware that it has shifted to the evening time slot.
Previously on Queer Table Talk
Mental Health in the Queer Community
We had a blast celebrating our LeadDIVERSITY Cohort 3 Advocates this past Friday! Since this was our first ever in-person graduation for LeadDIVERSITY we invited all three cohorts. It was a powerful feeling to be in community with three cohorts of Advocates who are dedicated to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplaces.

Please celebrate Cohort Three along with us!
Daryl Anderson, Clark Creative Group 
Cody Brookhouser-Sisney, McGrath, North Mullin & Kratz PC LLO 
Cruz Cabrera, Mutual of Omaha 
Shari Collins, Methodist Health System 
Ana Diaz-Orozco, Office of Latino/Latin American Studies, UNO
Alexis Dickerson, NE Medicine/Omaha Integrative Care 
Julie Dierberger, University of Nebraska at Omaha 
Lauren Foster, Greater Fremont Development Council 
Ireydisa Gomez-Hall, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative 
Wendy Hamilton, Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska 
Janique Hayes, Creighton University 
Andrea Haynes, Westside Community Schools 
Gina Langel, Metropolitan Utilities District 
Tess Larson, The Sherwood Foundation 
Scott Lloyd, Miso 
Vanessa Martinez-Hernandez, Mutual of Omaha 
Collette Nero, Omaha Public Schools 
Caitlin Osborn, Amplify Arts 
Ericka Payton, Westside Community Schools- West Campus 
DerNecia Phillips, Nelson Mandela Elementary 
Jamie Reyes, Nebraska Public Service Commission 
Connie Schaffer, University of Nebraska at Omaha 
Debra Shaw, Partnership 4 Kids 
Justina Struck, Koley Jessen, P.C., L.L.O. 
Christopher Tooley, Anaplan 
Leah Whitney Chavez, World Speaks 
Chaplain Crystall Williams, Nebraska Methodist Hospital 
Melissa Wurth 
Wissam Zeineddine, Omni Hotels and Resorts
Job Opportunities

Accepting Applications
Prioritizing Rest
by Nikki Smith
This year I have been learning about ‘rest’. Even as I write the word it feels silly. But I’ve been seeing a lot of things posted online or in articles about how we should treat rest as a right not as a reward. As a perfectionist and chronic people-pleaser with a little anxiety sprinkled in, I have never allowed myself the luxury of resting until everything was done and everyone was else was taken care of. In this culture of side hustles and glamorizing the grind, rest just sounds lazy and childish. Who has time for that? What will people think if I don’t get everything done or if I say ‘no’ to something so I can, what? Nap?

I recently graduated from college. I’m 37 years old, and I turned my whole life upside down to go to school. Because of that, I wanted to do well. If I was going to take on a load of student debt, you better believe I was planning on getting A’s. And I did. I graduated with honors. I made the Dean’s list every semester. I am very proud of myself for that. But if I hadn’t just told you that, you would never know. You aren’t looking up my college transcripts. No one is. So, I’ve been asking myself this year if it was worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in trying your best. But as we say here at Inclusive Communities, we strive for progress, not perfection. I wanted perfection. And it almost killed me.

I got sick in February of 2020, and for two years I struggled with relapses of sickness that would leave me feeling exhausted beyond belief among many other debilitating symptoms. I went to numerous doctors to try figure out why I wasn’t getting better. I even thought I might have an autoimmune disease. But every blood test came back normal. By the Fall of last year, I was so discouraged and burnt out. My mental health took a major nose-dive. I wanted to quit everything. The collective world trauma of enduring a global pandemic definitely did not help. But this past February I went to a specialist who more or less told me he thought that I had just been so stressed that my body was never able to fully fight off the virus that I'd had. He told me I needed to prioritize a healthy diet, REST, and exercise. OUCH. So, you’re saying I did this to myself?

It only takes a quick Google search to find endless articles about the negative effects of pro-longed stress on our mental and physical health. I got my degree in Social Work where we discussed how stress and trauma affect our bodies in practically every class. I should have known better. I was living in the collective global trauma of COVID, going to school full-time, and working at a pulmonary clinic. So ya know, I had just a little stress in my life. But every time I thought about making changes I felt guilty. I just needed to “push through” and I could take a break later… Without getting into the details, I will just say, that mentality nearly cost me everything.

So, this year of 2022 I am on a journey of discovering what it means to slow down. To say ‘no’ without feeling guilty. To find ‘rest’. Not just a quick cat-nap, although I am a huge fan of those, but to find things that bring joy to my soul. I am learning to listen to my body and my intuition, and this means carving out space for sitting still and being quiet. This means prioritizing myself even though growing up I was taught that was selfish. But what I realize now, is that if I am not ok how can I show up for the people in my life that I love and care about? How can I keep doing this work?

So no, rest is no small thing and certainly not silly. It takes work and intentionality. It means shifting your priorities and maybe giving up things to make space for something better. It means learning to set boundaries or changing existing ones. It means letting go of guilt and learning to trust yourself. All of that that can be really uncomfortable for a while. But if I learned anything from COVID, it’s that life can change in an instant. Who or what am I not showing up for because I am prioritizing the grind when I should be focusing on rest?
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