bridge building

i was promoted recently to director and i was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from my fellow black colleagues. one brotha passed me and grabbed my hand, told me he was proud of me, that i am one few black directors in the company. i received email after email from brothas and sistas telling me they support me, are proud of me, and letting me know they are lifting me up. never have i felt such warmth and love coming from my own.

i spoke with a lovely colleague today and after a warm smile and hug, she told me when she saw the announcement she was proud, that this was a victory for us. we chatted briefly and then she alluded to a situation with another woman of color that put her on the back-foot. she didn’t offer details but i got the sense that the other woman had an issue with her and rather than resolve it between them, it escalated.  she talked about the personal responsibility she feels to perform in her daily job, in interviews, at all times because we are the stepping stone for the next woman of color. sadly what she described was all to familiar, fellow people of color divided instead of banding together and being each other’s bridge.

i’ve heard story after story of people of color failing to lend a hand, to train, to assist, to prepare our fellow sisters and brothers for the road ahead. we know it’s treacherous, we’ve dealt with enough nonsense in corporate america to know the landmines ahead of those who are behind us. we cannot sit idly by and watch our own fail, not knowing the road we traveled to reach our present destination.

sisters, look around your office, your neighborhood, your favorite grocery store. how many people in there look like you? are you 1 out of 2 or 1 out of 200? we are underrepresented in nearly every place we go except church, so why is it so difficult for us to form that sister circle and be supportive? when you see another person of color, extend yourself, be her bridge, thread your hands and be her step up. it takes effort to be a coach, a mentor, to extend yourself to others so they can find their why and live their dream, but the reward is in paying it forward.

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