“When the stories of individuals are incomplete, the narrative of HUEmanity is inaccurate”
- FOLAKE PHILLIPS, AWỌ Founder
Founder & Executive Director
AWỌ is the word for skin and color in the Nigerian language of Yoruba. We’re a social justice non-profit vehemently dedicated to unifying the glorious shades of HUEmanity. Founded in 2020in response to the death of George Floyd, we provide community space where people can ingest accurate cultural narratives – about themselves, others, and HUEmanity as a collective.
We believe that an incomplete understanding of the human experience perpetuates social inequality. Western history has long been dominated by the narratives and viewpoints of those from European ancestry. But as we make room for the voices of darker-skinned people, marginalized and misrepresented people, we can foster a more profound understanding, inclusion, and sense of belonging within our communities.
To deliver our innovative HUEmanity programs, we use education and awareness supported by the arts and culture. Throughout the year, we put on a variety of workshops, events, and school forums meant to galvanize and offer authentic context to rewrite individual stories. In doing so, we dismantle the false narratives that keep people divided and unwilling to connect.
Our curated experiences, targeting youth and families, prove there is more than one lens from which to see the world. We use storytelling, music, and other art forms to make complex social issues digestible, ease tensions, and open hearts. We bridge color, class, and culture by putting diversity and representation at the forefront of everything we do.
We want people to learn, engage, and speak truthfully about systemic racism, xenophobia, economic disenfranchisement, human rights violations, and other social injustice. We enjoy working closely with children in schools because we believe they are the answer to solving these long-standing social challenges. We make available community resources and opportunities for people to improve their lives.
As we bring people together, who would otherwise never rub shoulders, we reaffirm our oneness and shared HUEmanity. By matching the well-connected with the marginalized, we create new opportunities for upward mobility, raising the tide for us all.
The stories we tell ourselves and each other
have rippling effects beyond our own circles.
ROOTS IN AFRICA
Our story starts with a little girl born in Lagos, Nigeria. Moved by the Black Lives Matter protests and the death of George Floyd, she felt a need to help shift social narratives to be more inclusive for her son and those who look like her.
This incomplete understanding of Huemanity perpetuates social inequalities, generational traumas, continuing the cycles of oppression and systemic exploitation of different groups of people to this day. Though we know that these gaps exist, many of us are not aware of our own cultural stories or even the narratives that feed our implicit biases. Most of us have no life experience befriending people outside our family networks or “cultural tribe,” be it ethnic, religious, or even recreational. Living in segregated neighborhoods, working in cultural silos, we have few opportunities to cross over and know people different from ourselves. At worst, this continues negative social attitudes towards dark skinned people that have led to anti-black bias and violence in many of our communities.
INSPIRED BY BLM
Black Lives Matter. And all Black Lives are not the same. Black identity is not monolithic, but just as wide-ranging, nuanced and varied as the Asians, the Caucasians, or the Indigenous Peoples. Throughout human history, the stories of people with lighter skin, color or race have dominated Western history, religion, commerce and education in different parts of the world. Yet there are still many stories of people with different skin, color or race who have not been heard.
BIRTH OF AWỌ
In response to these conscious and unconscious systemic injustices, AWỌ was born. AWỌ in Nigeria is a word that means skin and also color. Learning from the experiences and stories of people different from ourselves is critical to a more holistic perspective and therefore, more diversity and inclusion.
What's your story?
Join us as we journey to complete
the whole story of our Huemanity.
Our Mission & Vision
It is our mission to create engaging opportunities for historically unheard or misrepresented stories to be shared and expressed.
The Vision of AWỌ is to achieve a more inclusive and representative world by
focusing on the unheard stories of individuals within society to build a more collective understanding about ourselves.
We believe that a more complete story of HUEmanity creates accurate cultural narratives within society and translates into more inclusion and opportunities in local schools, workplaces and government agencies.