Utah’s Black community is thriving. A new book compiled by the Utah Black Chamber shows why.

Utah is the quickest rising state within the nation, in keeping with knowledge from the 2020 U.S. Census — and a few of that exponential development comes from the state’s burgeoning Black group.

A brand new e book, compiled by the top of the Utah Black Chamber, is crammed with testimonies from entrepreneurs, artists and enterprise homeowners who’re a part of that story.

“Black Utah: Tales from a Thriving Group” is a set of interviews with Black Utahns — a bunch ranging in age from 26 to 86, and contains musician Bri Ray, ballet dancer Katlyn Addison, Rev. France Davis, his son France II and his spouse Melanie, and state legislator Sandra Hollins — speaking about their experiences in Utah. (The e book is on sale now on Amazon.)

James Jackson III, the manager director of the Utah Black Chamber, interviewed the 33 trailblazers profiled within the e book. The motivation to compile the interviews right into a e book in 10 months got here from a easy reality: The Utah Black Chamber has been round for 13 years, but persons are nonetheless simply discovering out about it. “It’s [about] placing the Black group on the map,” he stated, “[to] join with them extra, establish alternatives to assist them out, to let the general group know there’s a Black group right here for them.”

Census knowledge exhibits that 1.5% of Utah’s general inhabitants identifies as Black, making it considered one of 5 states within the nation with solely 2% of its inhabitants figuring out as Black. (The others are New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming.)

The census additionally discovered the West because the area of the nation with the smallest inhabitants of Black folks, at 10%.

However whereas Utah’s Black group could also be small, in relation to your entire state, the e book exhibits it’s flourishing.

The Utah Black Chamber has 360 members. Some have been born and raised within the state, others are transplants. All, Jackson believes, have tales to share.

The facility of lived experiences

Aanjel Clayton is a variety, fairness and inclusion marketing consultant for the consulting agency Shift SLC and the recruiting platform PowertoFly. She’s additionally the director of New Sample Utah, a coalition that helps Black women-owned companies.

Clayton, who grew up in Utah and was educated within the Davis College District, stated she hopes her contribution to the e book can supply one thing to the youthful era: Illustration of a brand new wave of Black society.

Her dialog with Jackson facilities round rising up in Utah and on her DEI work. In a approach, it comes full circle. Clayton stated she grew up with an “ingrained respect” for elders in the neighborhood and studying from them.

“I by no means actually noticed anybody [in their] 20s or 30s actually within the highlight or heard in regards to the impacts that they have been making [in] the group,” Clayton stated. “So I all the time thought, ‘Oh, you bought to be like older to start out doing stuff proper?’”

Clayton added that it’s essential for youthful folks to see somebody like themselves in society. “I feel oftentimes excessive schoolers and younger people, they make important impacts on historical past … for them to see there are youthful folks which might be taken severely, there are youthful folks whose voices are heard and who’re making a constructive impression on our house,” she stated.

The identical thread of considering is present in Betty Sawyer’s testimony for the e book. Sawyer is the president of the Ogden department of the NAACP, and a co-founder of the Venture Success Coalition, which organizes Ogden’s annual Juneteenth pageant. Sawyer is a self-described “East coast transplant,” and her interview focuses on her transfer to the state.

Sawyer stated there are recognizable themes all through the e book, like exhausting work and perseverance, however there’s an unstated energy to listening to tales.

“The opposite half is the worth of individuals’s lived experiences,” she stated. “Another person could also be impressed to jot down a e book, to inform their story, and that’s one thing that we don’t do lots of — recognizing the ability of storytelling is part of our tradition.”

Engaged on the e book allowed Jackson to attach with these people on a private degree, fairly than only a enterprise one. It allowed them, as a group, to discover completely different sides of Black tradition. It’s a nod towards the broader concept of what it means to be Black in Utah.

Jackson notes that his group modified its identify from the Utah African-American Chamber to the Utah Black Chamber for that actual cause, as a result of Black is extra inclusive.

Sawyer famous that “oftentimes, we’re wanting on the majority tradition, however recognizing too within the e book that our tradition shouldn’t be monolithic. There’s simply not one Black tradition in Utah.”

The e book is split into 9 chapters, based mostly on completely different experiences of background. Jackson stated he’ll all the time keep in mind the best way this challenge allowed him to hook up with folks he’d solely met in passing earlier than, equivalent to Addison, a principal artist at Ballet West and one of many few Black prima ballerinas within the nation. Or, how Jackson discovered that Chef Julius Thompson, the proprietor of Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen, has been on his personal since highschool. Thompson put himself by way of faculty and navigated from Chicago to Ogden, and finally pursued his dream of turning into a chef and making folks pleased by way of meals.

The e book, Jackson stated, is an opportunity for Black Utahns to inform their very own constructive tales, and clue folks into what’s really occurring of their group.

“I feel this entire course of [has] helped humanize who we’re,” Sawyer stated. “Individuals tend to only watch or take note of what they could see on tv, however not that these reside, respiration communities which might be all through the state of Utah.”

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