My Journey

by Program Partner Kandace Freeman (She/Her)
Hi Friends!

Kandace Here! I am a resilient, strong, queer, black woman furiously passionate about using my positive attitude and tireless energy to uplift, affirm, educate, and develop others. You may notice I am a new addition to the IC team, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! I joined the Inclusive Communities team during the pandemic in February 2021. I would love to share with you about my journey and discovery of finding my voice.

Ready! Set! Go! Let’s get into it beloveds.

Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, I was a talkative, outgoing, and vocal child. Quite often, my actions and behaviors were perceived as defiance in the eyes of authoritative figures. Around middle school was when I began to notice and question the inconsistencies around me. During this stage of my life, I felt it was my duty to advocate and give a voice to the voiceless in my community. I believed that being the loudest in the room was how to accomplish my goal. Oh boy, was I highly mistaken. My intention of uplifting and being an ally for marginalized groups backfired, and the impact was lost in translation. Many tried to dim my light along the road; I was told to “not question the process” and “be quiet” so as not to ruffle any feathers. Still, I prevailed; I was determined to push the limits and shake it up by not allowing covert barriers to steer me off my version of success.

As the years trailed on and the more seasoned I became, I learned to tap into a new way of thinking and communicating. I had hit the jackpot, folks; by high school, I discovered how to use my voice as a tool to impact the world positively. You don’t have to be a celebrity or famous for motivating, developing, and empowering individuals into making a difference. It’s time to break free of either-or thinking by realizing that there is no “one size fits all” approach to dismantling the systems around us. There are many ways, both big and small, we all can use our voice for the betterment of our communities, despite how young or old you may be.

Fast forward to today……

At the ripe age of 29, I can confidently say I am at a space in my life where I love myself, finding strength in my own adversities, and celebrating the complexity of the authentic Kandace was invigorating. It’s been a journey, to say the least; I want to give a special shout-out to my mother for always being my biggest cheerleader. Choosing to love me unconditionally even when I pushed all of her buttons by always needing the last word or sound. Thank you, mom, for being such a phenomenal role model; I envy your strength, resilience, and, most importantly, love for all walks of life. My mother’s continuous compassion and patience gave me the grace and space to evolve into the strong, black queer woman writing to you today.

As I prepare to close, I want to leave you, beautiful humans, with one of my favorite quotes that still resonates with me today. I wish you endless luck as you continue or embark on your own personal discovery journey.

“You’ve got to know what your magic is. How else will you fully share your gifts with others and enrich the world for these precious years that you live”?
– Rasheed Ogunlaru
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