By Jessica Dortch, AFRO Staff
Each year, the Baltimore Community Mediation Center (BCMC) recognizes a volunteer who embodies what servant leadership should look like. Based on her dedication and commitment to providing people with a neutral space to vent, BCMC named Jewel Guy as their 2019 Volunteer of the Year, and she will be awarded on Sept. 26.
BCMC’s mediation training taught Guy how to make a win-win situation of any conflict, which is why she was able to identify a disconnect in her own community. She found that there are certain unspoken issues in the Black community that create a divide between Black men and women. Guy created the Dear Black Men series as an attempt to repair the breach.
“So after I completed my first photo documentary series, Show Your Love, I decided that I would begin to work on a documentary that viewed Black men through the lens of empathy. Not knowing where to start, I took the lessons learned through conversations with my husband and brothers and began posting daily affirmations, questions, and apologies directly to Black men through my personal Facebook page. That is how Dear Black Men came to be,” Guy explains to the AFRO.
Although skeptical at first, the response has been overwhelming from both Black men and women. Guy elaborates, “Black men were thanking me for speaking directly to them, daily, in ways that were positive and uplifting and some Black women were happy to share my posts with their networks, while others read and pondered on the information shared.” What started as a string of Facebook posts sharing positive affirmations and sincere apologies specifically to Black men, has now become a full fledged book.
The author’s mission, similar to that of BCMC’s, is to be consistent in presenting a “safe zone” for non-judgemental dialogue to take place. Guy, a Morgan State University grad, admits that remaining neutral in a conflict is harder than it looks, “It takes a lot of practice, self-reflection, unlearning, and discipline, and we get the opportunity to perfect our craft each time we sign up to make sure participants are heard and understood,” Guy tells the AFRO.
The BCMC tells us that Jewel Guy is nothing short of exceptional, jumping right in and completing her general and outreach hours along with the entire first half of her apprenticeship. Outside of her required duties, the 34-year-old volunteer can be seen in mediation training and at various events, manning the BCMC table. “This award came as a total surprise, so I don’t think I have taken it all in just yet. I’m just doing what I love: helping people,” Guy admits.
The Annual Celebration takes place on Sept. 26 from 5:30p.m. to 9p.m. at 2225 Smith Ave. in the Mt. Washington area. The theme of the event is #SpeakYourPeace and in addition to honoring Jewel Guy, BCMC will celebrate the many ways in which the people of Baltimore speaks their peace.