In the Spotlight



BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN

Dr. Brittany Pearl Battle
What makes you YOU?
I like to think I am made up of the best parts of both my parents. I love hard, laughter is my medicine, and I’m unapologetic in fighting for the things I believe in.

What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of fighting through all the things that could have kept me from being where I am today. I have experienced violence in many different ways throughout my life, and those experiences could have prevented me from accomplishing all the things that have made me proud – finishing my PhD, organizing annual Juneteenth celebrations which honor the Black elders and ancestors in my hometown, organizing OccupyWSNC, mentoring and teaching, showing up for my family and friends. All these things were only possible because I did the work to fight through things that were meant to break me.

What keeps you going when things are tough?
Finding the joy and staying firmly grounded in intention, even when the work is exhausting and overwhelming. In social justice work, there is so much trauma and tragedy, but there is also joy in fellowship and relationship-building, and that is crucial in getting through those difficult moments. There were days this summer during OccupyWSNC that I did not know how I could do another day in Bailey Park, but the joy that we found in the smallest moments and focusing on the purpose that brought us to the occupation allowed me to push through.

What keeps you up at night?
To be honest, nothing keeps me up at night, because sleep is a crucial component for being able to do the work and contribute in the ways that I do. There are many things that worry me about this world though. I certainly struggle with the fears of how we can combat white supremacy, police violence, colonialism, neoliberalism, capitalism, and patriarchy which make us all less safe. But I choose a practice of hope and love because I think it’s the only way that we can not only survive but know the fullness of life as we push for a reimagined future.

Chelsea Barnes
What makes you YOU?
I am an attorney by day, and a deep thinker by night. I work hard and I love harder. I’m often a little too blunt, and won’t hesitate to tell you the first thing that comes to my mind. I’ve got a streak of “YOLO” with a heaping spoonful of responsibility and doing everything “right.” I care deeply for others and am passionate about social justice. I’m an avid bargain shopper, and I am most happy at a beach far, far away from Winston-Salem.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud to be a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and of my greatest accomplishment: becoming an attorney. Native Americans comprise only 0.2 percent of attorneys in the United States. Achieving this milestone was “bigger than me.” I do everything I can to honor those who helped me get here by paying it forward to help others achieve their dreams.
What keeps you going when things are tough?

Growing up, a phrase my mom always told me was that I’d “regret failing to reach my fullest potential.” That phrase has been a guiding light for me throughout my life, pushing me to give my absolute best in everything that I do, no matter what challenges I might face. I have a personal responsibility to succeed because of the things she sacrificed for me to get where I am today. I keep going because I want to make her proud.
What keeps you up at night?

I often describe my life to others as “the hamster wheel.” I’m enjoying the ride, but I often think critically about what it means to live a meaningful life. I challenge myself to live with no regrets and encourage others to do the same. I think about what I can do to leave an impact on the world that I’ll be proud of, and what I can do to ensure the spaces I am a part of reflect the rich diversity of our world.

 


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