Markea Dickinson ’20 reflects on BlackOut, Yale SOM’s annual celebration of culture across the African diaspora, and shares insights into the school’s other Black History Month-related events.
This year’s Black History Month was an amazing opportunity to host various events to celebrate the African diaspora, engage in discussions around supporting Black entrepreneurs, and further strengthen the relationship between Yale and New Haven.
The Black Innovators Talk on February 26 featured a panel of Black Achievement Fellows from Echoing Green who discussed the barriers that Black female entrepreneurs face in accessing funding and venture capital. Echoing Green is a New York-based prestigious fellowship program focused on helping young founders transform ideas into world-changing organizations. This forum was a collaboration among Echoing Green, the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, SOM’s student-run Impact Investing Club, and the student-run Black Business Alliance.
As a Black female founder myself, it was incredibly empowering to glean pearls of wisdom and success stories from the panelists about breaking through glass ceilings in the investment space. It was the first forum in my experiences at Yale with a room full of other Black founders who were facing similar challenges, yet who have accomplished so many amazing milestones as social innovators. We were able to have real conversations about scarcity mindsets, superhero stigmas, and navigating the gender/racial biases that exist in the investment world. I feel a bit more equipped to face these challenges head on and to continue paving the way for young girls who will follow in my footsteps.
The very same day, we hosted our annual BlackOut event, a celebration of the diversity of AfroHeritage, featuring variety of performances/cultural displays from students of African heritage in the Yale and New Haven community. The event was co-hosted by Black Business Alliance, the African Business Society club, and the Student National Medical Association and Latino Medical Student Association. We locally sourced soul, Nigerian, and Caribbean food from Black-owned businesses. This year’s theme was “Year of Return,” to celebrate the major landmark and birthright journey inviting the global African family to visit Ghana in recognition of 400 years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia. This is definitely one of my favorite events each year, since it highlights the beautiful diversity across the African diaspora through music, spoken word, Afrobeats dancing, rapping, and much more. I always leave the event feeling so inspired and proud to be Black. I was also really excited that this was the first year we featured more New Haven locals than Yale students, which was intentional to showcase the symbiotic relationship between Yale and New Haven. The Yale students that performed were from across the university, from School of Drama students to the Divinity School, to the School of Medicine, and beyond.