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Celebrating Black History Month

During Black History Month, we celebrated African American culture and used it as an opportunity to learn about the everyday workplace challenges experienced by many people of color.

At Haven Life, we believe it’s important to have candid conversations not because they are easy, but because they are hard—whether it’s having that critical discussion with your loved ones about financial coverage in the event of your death, or whether it’s having a team conversation about race in the workplace.

That’s why this February, in honor of Black History Month, Haven Life held several events that encouraged a dialogue about, and celebration of, African-American culture. These events included a soul food luncheon and an African drum and dance performance, plus a panel discussion in which all members of our team could express and share their perspectives on their professional and personal experiences. Our team walked away from these initiatives more united around our commitment to workplace inclusivity.

The panel was moderated by office manager extraordinaire Shadea Blyther, and addressed the everyday workplace challenges experienced by people of color. Panelists also included Devon Cooke (Executive Assistant to the CEO & CTO), Judy Hopkins (Head of Legal for Haven Life), Nkenge Blue (Product Actuary), Kofi James (Product Actuary), Morgan Clarke (Recruiting Partner) and Shekendra Jones (Brand Creative Producer). 

What we discussed goes beyond the walls of Haven Life HQ, which is why we wanted to share excerpts from our conversation with you. Here are the highlights, organized by topic.

On history

“Black History Month, to me, means sacrifice. Because without the sacrifices of the people that came before me, I may not be sitting in this position that I’m in now. And to highlight the fact that a lot of issues activists before my time were fighting for, we’re still kind of fighting for those issues today.”— Cooke

Haven Life actuary, Nkenge Blue, dances along with other members of the team during a live African drum performance.

On culture

“Cultural identity to me is what my parents have instilled in me. It’s the culture they were raised in and to negate that in any way is to negate what their experiences were. Their experiences…help define who I am. It’s important for me to never lose sight of that.” — Hopkins

“It took me 4 years in the workforce before I felt comfortable wearing my natural hair. I didn’t feel like I could come in as my full self, I had to prove I was worthy first. It’s always a battle because, if you’re the only one in the room that looks like you, you do the best you can to fit in.”  — Blue

On stereotypes

“I am never late.” — Jones, after noting that nagging stereotypes mean that a late subway or slow elevator can be seen as a misguided reflection on one’s entire race.

On education

“I don’t know any black person my age whose grandparents went to college. Even the idea of college from a generational perspective is a somewhat new achievement.” — Blue

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About Brad Everson

Brad Everson is a New York City-based freelance writer and baseball fan. (Go Cards!)

Read more by Brad Everson

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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