While I aspire to optimism, even if my aspirations come to fruition: My optimism cannot absolve you.

In the most recent moments of grappling with police brutality against Black Americans, I’ve been asked countless times, mostly by non-Black friends and colleagues, “Are you optimistic?”

Truth is, I aspire to optimism.

But in practice I am probably more of a pragmatic idealist. What’s completely indisputable, however, is that I’m a truth teller.

And the truth about what I’ve come to understand is that many of these inquiries about my state of “optimism” or lack thereof have so much more to do with the fact that the questioner needs me to be optimistic. This is particularly true in cases where they’ve shared their new awareness about the state of “race relations” in the U.S.; their commitment to learn, grow, and change; or, their plans and actions, e.g., those related to anti-racism.

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I’ve even had well-meaning colleagues suggest that optimism would be good for my health and state of mind. And while several studies have apparently linked extreme or strong pessimism with health risks, I’ve not seen strong links of optimism with positive health outcomes. A recent study on perceptions of financial outcomes does suggest that realists report a strong sense of subjective well-being; so, maybe my pragmatic idealist roots may serve me well.

All that said, I’ve gotten a sense that my expressing optimism about where we are or where we may be headed in our communities, workplaces, or as a country as a whole would give some of these non-Black friends and work associates a sense of absolution.

The truth is we each need to sit with the raw reality of this moment—a reality that I and many of my Black and other minoritized friends, family, and colleagues have traversed and continue to navigate. While the issues at hand, the historical paths related to them, and the daunting work that we must do to “right the ship” seems at times completely overwhelming, exhausting, and uncomfortable, we cannot look to those among us most impacted by the systemic racism in this country to carry the optimism and absolution.

So please know that while I aspire to optimism, even if my aspirations come to fruition: My optimism cannot absolve you.

You must continue to reflect, learn, grow, and commit to the hard, long work ahead. Your absolution is in doing the work, and fully submitting to the process of learning and growth.

If you have comments on this post, as always find me on Twitter—@BerondaM.

Posted on Categories Equity, Reflection


My biggest hope emerging from this week is that the conversation and celebration of Black people and the plants they love continue!


I love studying plants, learning about plants, reading about plants, writing about plants.

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Perhaps one of the things that I love most is the plasticity and resilience of these organisms.

This week in particular has been AMAZING!

#BlackBotanistsWeek exceeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Inspired by #BlackBirdersWeek that followed the targeted and racist harassment of Christian Cooper in NYC’s Central Park, Tanisha Williams coordinated a group of twelve Black botanists (pictured below) in the planning and implementation of Black Botanists Week.

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The goal of the week was simple: to provide inclusive digital spaces to celebrate individuals who self-identify as Black to celebrate their love for plants. We didn’t want to limit participation to “certified” botanists who have completed recognized courses of study as botanists, but wanted to broadly celebrate the love of plants by Black people globally.

When we started the week, we didn’t know where it would take us, but what a ride it’s been.

I have been so inspired this week to see broad representation of the Black people — including some “Baby Botanists” — from across the globe who eagerly participated in declaring their love for plants.

Representation matters!

It matters for BIPOC to see others like them who love, grow, study, or simply thoughtfully use plants.

But, it also matters [安卓ssr下载工具] that non-BIPOC see the large numbers of Black botanists out there and the myriad ways that we love plants, and how we are impactfully contributing to practical, inspirational, and academic knowledge about them.

My biggest hope emerging from this week is that the conversation and celebration of Black people and the plants they love continue!

Furthermore, I hope that every Black botanist that engaged via any of the platforms used during this #BlackBotanistsWeek recognizes that YOU MATTER…WE MATTER!!!

Figure with text: You matter, you are valued, you are important, you are enough.

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To the organizers, it was a honor to serve with you.

To all the Black botanists who participated this week, I thank you. You made my week and life forever richer!!!

To continue the conversation or start a new one, connect with me on Twiter at 酸酸乳分享社区.

Posted on Categories Reflection



I’m a second generation Black botanist.

My mother was the first.

Actually considering the botanists that were certainly among my enslaved ancestors, this accounting is undoubtedly numerically wrong.

Yet, my mother is the Black botanical legacy and Black botanist that I admire and observed up close and personal.

No, she didn’t formally train in plant biology or academic botany in the revered halls of the ivory tower as did I; yet, she is a botanist extraordinaire.

My childhood home and gardens were the stuff of legends – a virtual plant sanctuary.

If you’ve attended any of my talks or workshops on #LessonsFromPlants on mentoring, you’ve almost certainly heard me wax poetic about her “green thumb” that was a gift to our home and the neighborhood beyond. If not, she (and her green thumb) will make an appearance in the preface of my upcoming book.

Mother is a botanist of the broader definition that I’m FULLY embracing this “Black Botanists Week”:

Screenshot from Instagram post @Beronda_M

I’m eagerly looking forward to learning more about and from Black botanists & the broader botany community during #BlackBotanistsWeek 2020 and much longer thereafter.

I look forward to learning about Black botanical legacies far and wide.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @BerondaM and with many in the community at #BlackBotanistsWeek or meet the organizing committee and learn more at blackbotanistsweek.weebly.com.

Posted on Categories Lessons From Plants, 安卓ssr小工具打不开1 Comment on My Black Botanical Legacy