I grew up in LA, in a predominantly Chinese and Mexican area (and my 4 blocks were mostly white). My mom is Uruguayan and we got together with her tribe of Argentines, Chileans, and Peruvians on weekends. I went to private schools. I did have diversity in my life, but it was limited to the circles that surrounded me. We didn’t have social media to get out of our geography. I didn’t cross paths with anyone black: at school, in sports, at church.*
This happens in our industry today. We clique into circles, and we don’t “leave the neighborhood”.
But we are grown-ups now. We choose who we spend time with. I love that our industry is richer in all kinds of diversity that I didn’t get to have while growing up. I feel so lucky to have made so many different friends, including black women, BECAUSE of the opportunities I’ve been given in this industry. Do you know how lucky we are to have this community? I feel so lucky to have made so many different friends, including black women, BECAUSE of the opportunities I’ve been given in this industry. Do you know how lucky we are to have this community?
If you want to see more inclusion, it starts with the most basic idea we learn in kindergarten: make a friend. We can talk until we are blue in the face about having more black leaders as speakers, or diversifying our vendor teams, or featuring black couples in websites and magazines. But those business “deals” don’t happen without friendship first.
If you want to do better, get to know people individually. Have a coffee meetup, or a Zoom get-to-know-you chat. (Important note: not now. Your soon-to-be-friends are tired.) It’s easy to do business, to refer business, to hire people that you actually know. If you have deep relationships with people this is all so much easier to do, you guys.
I’m not perfect. My circles are still too separate for my taste. I have to expand further. I need to be more proactive with getting to know new people. I need to get out my “neighborhood”.
You ALWAYS have a seat at my table. And if you are ever made to feel otherwise, tell me. If I haven’t pulled out the chair for you, let me know.
Will you join me in making new friends? Show your solidarity with me and my friends here: Unity in Community.