Spotlight: Black History Month, Cassie Torrisi Interviews Jennifer Hail

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Today’s spotlight is a lady with a heart of gold. This beautiful woman is full of grace and elegance and continues to show her community the love and support it needs. I am so fortunate to have been blessed to know this kind-hearted woman, and with that, I would like to introduce you all to Mrs. Jennifer Hail.

Jennifer Hail is currently a correctional supervisor for the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Department. Along with that, Jennifer is the owner of Hailsplanning Wedding and Events and has just recently become an online boutique owner where she sells athleisure. Jennifer enjoys “singing, traveling, and most importantly being with family.”

When I asked Jennifer what Black History Month meant to her, she said, “I truly feel that it’s a time to celebrate the Black heroes that seem to be forgotten once this month passes. It saddens me that the powerful history behind Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and James Baldwin is not taught more in our schools today. I would encourage all of you, no matter what race you are, to dig deep and educate yourself further. These amazing and inspiring legends are so much more than just a month.” I could not agree with Jennnifer more, these stories are unlike any other and we need more than one month to really listen and understand how powerful their messages are.

I asked Jennifer what she wishes people who aren’t Black Americans would know or better understand. She said wished people understood that “racism is real! Many responses I’ve read, or possibly overheard in the past, [stated that] “all people are treated equally.” That is not a correct, or fair, statement. Until you personally have experienced injustice or racial tension, I don’t feel you’re in a position to make that statement.”  

The question I enjoy learning from the most is, “What steps do you think are needed to be taken to start a true shift towards equality in our nation?” Jennifer had wonderful insight, saying, “First, I would say, we are all different. Labeling an individual is just so hateful and hurtful. Learn to listen as many speak out. Moving forward, this could be a great start. Avoiding the issues doesn’t resolve the problems.”

Jennifer shared with me some common Black American stereotypes. These consist of comments such as, “You speak proper!” or “You don’t even speak black!” Jennifer responded to these stereotypes, saying, “Educate yourself.” She said that another comment Black Americans hear when they are “speaking in a higher tone or elevated voice” is, “Why do you have an attitude?” Jennifer’s takeaway is, “I’m me and I love me. Educate yourself and get to know someone before you judge their character based on their race.” 

I think there are many things we can all take away from Jennifer. Her words carry such power and wisdom. Before judging someone’s character or making a comment that you do not know enough about, educate yourself first. We have one month designated to educate ourselves, but we have a whole year to put that education to work. Thank you Jennifer for showing us what a woman of grace and dignity is.