Remembering my roots so I know where I’m going

In celebration of Black History Month, we sat down with Moni, a professional development manager in Chicago, to learn why setting aside time to reflect on her past and look forward to the future is important to her, especially at this time of the year.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

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I view Black History Month as a celebration of inclusivity and diversity. It’s a time to learn about a path or story different from your own – to recognize that everyone’s walk is different and no two histories are the same. Understanding and appreciating those differences strengthen us. I reflect on my personal journey and learn more from those around me.

How do you celebrate Black History Month?

All celebrations in my household center on food. Food elicits strong memories and helps create new ones. I enjoy cooking dishes from my childhood; I am a first–generation American. I grew up with a mom who cooked exclusively Nigerian food. I regularly cook many of her dishes, like jollof rice with fried plantains, to pass on my culture to my children.

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Which aspects of your family’s culture were particularly influential in your upbringing?

My family takes pride in being hard–working and earning everything you achieve. My Nigerian upbringing emphasized entrepreneurialism and bringing your best to all aspects of your work and personal life. These are values I hope to instill in my children, too.

Tell us more about your family.

My husband Jake is an engagement manager at McKinsey. We met on our first day of college in 2004 and have been together for 14 years. We have two children – Asher (2.5y) and Rio (8m) who are loosely–confined, mini–tornados. I love our crazy weekend mornings, which are a whirlwind of coffee, podcasts, pancakes, and more coffee!

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Is there a specific black woman who inspires you?

Maya Angelou. Her impact will span generations. She preached the power of words; hers were motivating. Her story is inspirational, and her art is woven into our culture.

If you could trade places with any person for a week, who would you pick?

Oprah! While no explanation is required, I love hearing people’s stories and understanding where they came from, how they think, and what lessons they’ve learned in life. If only her wallpaper could talk….

Learn more about the McKinsey Black Network

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