Over the past week, the murder of yet another black man at the hands of yet another police officer has agitated not only our country but the world. Protests can be seen in all 50 states as well as globally, including but not limited to Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Sweden, Syria, and others.
We’re halfway through 2020 and this world is finally seeming to want to change for the better, against racism. As a black woman, I have grown up watching black lives being taken at the hands of the oppressor my entire life. I cannot fathom how exhausting it is for older generations of black Americans to witness these videos over and over again of our brothers and sisters being shot down or kneeled on or lynched in some new way, but at 21 years old, I am already exhausted from witnessing what I’ve witnessed.
This morning, just like every other Thursday morning, I joined the TechFides’ staff meeting. Anything but ordinary, today’s staff meeting started with a long and candid conversation challenging each and every one of us to reflect and share our personal thoughts and feelings about where our country is at this moment in time, as we witness protest after protest in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement this past week. Being the youngest of the group, and only an intern, I sat back and listened to the Zoom call waiting to hear what my more experienced, white, black, female, male, foreign, and American colleagues had to say. To my surprise, I related all too well with what they were saying. I listened to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. I listened to feelings of outrage and confusion. I listened to feelings of hope and power. In what could have easily been like any other staff meeting, we were given a platform to have an open conversation with everyone on the team about a subject that (for some reason) is controversial. And this is why I love the TechFides team. Not because we are diverse, in race, gender, and age. Not because I’m developing great relationships with everyone on the team. No. I love being a part of the TechFides team because they love and support me as a black woman by encouraging me to express my opinion. I was able to share my own feelings of helplessness, rage, and hope without feeling ostracized or cornered. When our black CEO shared his experiences with microaggressions used against him in his own neighborhood, his white colleagues simply listened, heard, and intentionally reflected on that experience and on their own white privilege.
This environment that I am experiencing at TechFides is a great example of what corporate America should do when discussing diversity and race relations within each company. And even so, we still have room to grow, as does everyone. So often in the corporate world do we see microaggressions such as assuming you’re there to serve coffee or clean up, subliminally passing opportunities for promotions to white colleagues, poor performance reviews, and so on, all due to the melanin in our skin. To this, I will say: ‘diversity and inclusion’ should not just be a branch of HR. Live and work in diverse and inclusive ways in order to lead as a corporate example. Moreover, make sure that your diversity and inclusivity doesn’t translate to simply having one token black person on your team. Or one token woman. Or one token gay person. Diversity and inclusion mean representation from a variety of people, regardless of gender, age, race, sexual orientation, or religion.
We must be intersectional in our views of what justice is. I understand that everyone struggles. I understand that everyone has to overcome obstacles in order to get to where they want to be in their lives. I understand. But what I do not understand is the motif of self-advocacy over justice. If you are simply fighting for your own cause and not the cause of your brothers and sisters, you do not want justice. You want personal gain. And at TechFides, that is simply not in our values. We fight for justice for all. All lives do not matter until black lives matter. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”