I woke up this morning in tears. The past few days have been a rollercoaster of emotions. For so long I have been the person who has held things together, who has presented topics around race, diversity and equity, and with eloquently thought-out language. But if I am being completely honest…
I am tired.
I am tired of having to present these topics in a way that is approachable for my white counterparts. I am tired of this fight, of constantly feeling like I am one of few, if not the only person at work who addresses issues of inequality when I see them.
It’s exhausting and feels like running towards a brick wall. And after so many times of running full force, I am left bruised and defeated.
I grew up in an extremely diverse household and community. As a person who is mixed, I found that navigating this world came with its own set of unpredictable rules, and therefore, struggled to find my place. I never acted “black” enough to my peers who said that I spoke too much like white people and often found that my white friends would say things like “you’re not really black” or “you are white to us.”
I was being validated in one community for appearing to succumb to their ideals, while ridiculed in another.
Among my family, I too felt that there were certain standards of how I was to act and perform based on who I was with. Growing up with parents who both came from multiracial backgrounds, meant that I spent much of my childhood navigating different cultures and identities. I vividly remember traditions around food; tamales for Christmas at my grandpa’s, so much sauerkraut and sausage at my grandma’s, and dirty rice and gumbo with my dad’s family.
All of the different cultures within my immediate family (and the community I grew up with), while full of vibrant traditions, often expected me to choose and perform a certain way. Feeling as if I were being pulled in many different directions, I sometimes felt lost — as if I was constantly trying to put a puzzle together but had yet to find the missing piece. So I have spent much of my life searching for that missing piece, searching for the communities where I feel that it is acceptable to be me, a multicultural, plus-size woman who is black, Mexican, German and Native American.
I am a woman who believes that education is the key to freedom, that all people — no matter the color of their skin, the size of their body, the religion they follow, or their political beliefs — should be able to live in a world where they feel empowered to be themselves while also understanding and respecting others.
At the end of the day…my hope is that we can all learn to be a little bit more empathetic, more understanding, and have more opportunities to listen and learn. And above all, to approach others with kindness and respect. We, as people, are all uniquely different and that is what makes us so special.
If we can learn to accept that being different is a good thing, and — no matter if you are black, Latinx or anything else — you have every right to a place at the table, we would be in a much better place.
While I may be tired, and devastated by everything currently happening in our world, I am also hopeful that one day diversity will be embraced and we will all evolve for the better.