This is the third in a series of profiles celebrating the work of our alumni for Black History Month. Please see the slideshow at the bottom of this article for additional profiles.
Casey Bruce-White (ABJ ’11) is Associate Director, Program and Strategy for Affiliate Support and National Initiatives with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Prior to that, she worked at the ACLU of Florida for 6½ years, holding several communications positions, including Director of Communications. She has also worked with numerous organizations including the Miami City Ballet, Georgia Center for Nonprofits, and AmeriCorps VISTA. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications such as Florida Today, The Huffington Post, and Art Saves Lives International.
Bruce-White was named one of Miami’s Top 50 Female Leaders for 2023 by Women We Admire, a 2021 Fellow for the New Leaders Council, and a 2017 Miami Girl Making History by the Miami Girls Foundation. She is a professional member of ColorComm, a national membership organization for women of color in the communications industry, and she is a founding member of MINO, a professional membership organization that provides emerging black women leaders with professional development and networking. . support on their journey to becoming world changers.
While a student at Grady College, Bruce-White majored in magazine journalism and was involved with several campus organizations, including the Black Affairs Council, InfUSion Magazine, and the National Association of Black Journalists. She also completed Safe Space training with the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, volunteered for the after-school youth program at Rocksprings in Athens, and served as a resident assistant for two years in the Reed community.
She lives in Miami with her husband, Corey, her son, Gabriel, and her dog, Bella.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Bruce-White that have been edited for clarity and length:
What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on your current situation?
Studying at Grady College was one of the best experiences of my life. I remember the day I learned that I had been admitted to school. It was a day filled with joy and appreciation for the hard work I had put in after struggling to adjust to college and university life during my freshman year. When I was admitted to school, I felt like I was finally in a good rhythm.
I was fortunate to learn from two amazing teachers who became my mentors after graduating from Grady College. They are the late Conrad Fink and Valerie Boyd. Without them, I don’t think I would have continued to pursue a career in advocacy communications. In early 2011, Professor Fink told me (after being late to another of his classes) that I was a “howler” and that my best writing happened when I wrote about things that bored me. Well, he was right. I have spent much of my career in the movement on behalf of historically marginalized communities, and in particular black and brown people. I’ve written about everything from voter suppression to paid sick leave and access to abortion. I have never forgotten what he said, and it drives me to keep writing and organizing on social and economic issues in pursuit of equity and justice.
Professor Boyd was another professor at Grady College who meant the world to me. She was the first black teacher I had at Grady College, and that performance meant so much to me. She helped me learn to focus my writing to become clearer and more persuasive. Professor Boyd really wanted to help his students succeed, and thanks to her, I was able to connect with other writers in Atlanta and work with them as they launched their own online journals and magazines. I finally started my own online blog with two friends in 2016. Professor Boyd taught me a lot and I owe a lot of my success to him. She had a profound impact on me, and I honor her life and her friendship through my work.
What brought you to your current career path?
At the end of my freshman year at UGA in 2010, I was fortunate enough to be chosen for an internship with the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, whose mission is to empower, empower and equip young women of gender and young people of color as agents. for a change in their lives and in the world. Operating at the intersection of love and rigor, the Sadie Nash Leadership Project uses popular education to build community, critical awareness, and college and career readiness among participants. This experience changed the trajectory of my career and I have never looked back. I have used my journalism training to propel me into a career of advocacy communication, movement building and organizing to disrupt systems of power and oppression that harm historically marginalized communities. My work now is not so much a career path as a life calling for the spirit of good and evil to push our country to change.
What advice do you follow?
Two pieces of advice I respect are #1: Believe it can change and #2: Love at the center. The struggle for liberation is omnipresent and the work of dismantling systems of oppression and evil is urgent. It is easy and understandable to view these challenges as insurmountable. But I rely on my ancestors, I learn from my elders, and I am inspired by so many people who do this work every day. They make me believe that can change, and I live by that advice. Also, I remember someone at a conference once telling me that with love at the center, the change we seek is possible. It upset me and made me think differently about how I approach this work for justice. With love at the center, I believe we can and will make our country a place where everyone can live in dignity and thrive.
What advice would you give to young students of color who will soon enter the workforce?
There are so many little nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned from other great leaders I’ve met that I think would be helpful for students of color entering the workforce. The first would be to find a mentor. Look for people who do the work you want to do, befriend them, and learn from them.
The second would be to stand up for what you know is right. We all have a moral obligation to do the right thing, and it’s not just societal, but it should be part of your daily practice. Just because something is part of the company culture doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. It could also mean encouraging your company to expand its policies to meet the needs of workers now. I urge young students of color to challenge policies that are not mission-aligned or EDIB-centric (equity, diversity, inclusion or belonging) and urge organizational leaders to effect change. Whether it’s speaking out about bad workplace behavior or urging your company to extend paid family leave or mental health days. Be brave for what you know is right.
The third would be to look for opportunities to help you develop your expertise and skills. Approach life with curiosity! There are so many free workshops and seminars available to us. There are also opportunities that cater specifically to students of color in a variety of different fields. Never stop learning or trying to grow and expand your expertise. Also, join professional groups or spaces that concentrate people of color.
Finally, impostor syndrome is a very real problem for many people, but especially for women of color. For example, women of color who suffer from impostor syndrome will often not apply for a job for which they are qualified if they feel they do not meet all of the criteria listed in a job description. News flash: No one has all the skills listed in a job description! Remember that you are powerful and you can learn new skills. Apply for this job or other new opportunities. And, if you need help coping with impostor syndrome, talk to a medical professional or life coach. They can help you gain confidence and learn how to deal with feelings of impostor syndrome, especially when it comes to work.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a time for us to reflect on the contributions, culture, and lived experiences of Black people in America. It is a way for us to honor our ancestors and elders, to teach our children about the struggles we have faced and still face for fairness and justice, and to envision a future where black people are safe, valued, seen, believed, can thrive and live here peacefully and with dignity. In addition to Black History Month, I celebrate Black Future Month, which is a forward-looking vision of what black freedom can look like. This month is a time of reflection and celebration. It is a time of work, rest, joy and resistance. As we live in a time when Black History education is under threat from state governments across the country, this month means everything to me. As a new mom, this month has given me a new opportunity to teach my son the power of his community and the beauty of his culture. It’s powerful. This month is a space to celebrate our history and imagine a world where all black people are free.
Date: February 28, 2023
Editor: Sarah Freeman/Elise Kim, firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com
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