The Courage to Transform: A Love Letter to Black Lives Matter Activist

Dear Black Lives Matter Activist, Creatives, Radicals and Revolutionaries,

This a love letter. I feel an overwhelming need to repeatedly thank you for your efforts. Every day you show up and share your voice, your vision, and your passion. The importance of your actions and the strength of your values, exhibited by deed and action, have had a profound effect on me.

I know it takes so much courage just to show up.

You are creating a new culture while showing us — black and white — a new path. Your calls for liberation and justice have awakened the world, and more impressively, has fought to stir this country into an awareness that hasn’t always, if ever, been present. The willingness to be your authentic selves is affecting the way this country does business, views politics, and approaches the everyday business of living. YOU are affecting the way we are perceived throughout the world.

You are building a body of work that is changing the world because you affect the way we see ourselves. You have made room for us to name a deeply painful truth. What Black folks know is that not all lives are at risk, but black lives are on the line every day because racism kills.

It kills black queer and trans folks.

And black straight families.

It kills black disabled folks.

And black able-bodied folks.

It kills black undocumented folks.

And black folks whose family lineages stretch back beyond the founding of “America.”

It kills black folks with records and black folks with degrees.

It kills black women, black men, black children, and black elders.

You have made the world see me, and you have helped me see my value. You are using your dance, your art, your painting, your writing, your imagination, your heart, your voice, and your hands to change people. And in doing so, you are changing communities.

You see collaboration not as a way of working, but as the ONLY option. That collaboration is the only way to birth new solutions. Success is not about more money or a bigger office, but about a life of depth and meaning. Success is about survival and how we as black people will walk this earth. It’s about liberation of black people from external and internal oppression. Success is about leaving no one behind and showing the world what black love looks like. Success looks like flourishing black lives.

You are simultaneously vulnerable and strong. You are beautiful. You are brave.

I see you doing all of this and I see you doing it alone. No one has ever really understood you or this path you are on until you found a community. Even as you stand alone, firmly believing in your ability to change systems and communities, you have courage.

Creativity requires the courage of letting go of certainty. Every day you ride the wave of possibility and most days you get “worked” by life. It takes courage to subject your great ideas, your bold vision, and your soul to the world— dissected, discussed, and sometimes ridiculed. Yet, every day you come back for more.

You strategize and align. You listen and shout out. You heal and transform. You rage and you revolutionize. Yet, you get back up and you do the most holy thing that humans can ever do. You rebuild, restart, rethink, and recover. You teach me that failure is not fatal. It takes courage and heart, nerve and perseverance to let your light shine and to do that which has long seemed impossible. But, you make it very clear that making black lives matter is an unstoppable movement.

It is through your acts of courage that you are making a better world possible. You are gifting us with a future of greater things. On those days your light shines upon my face it invigorates my spirit and inspires me to fight the good fight. It renews my soul.

So I honor you. I lift you up. I celebrate you. And, I thank you. Continue to be fearless. The world needs you. I need you.

Because you are, I am.

With love and gratitude,


By Desiree Adaway

Leading difficult conversations on race, class + gender. Building resilient organizations and cultures at The Adaway Group.