Dear Black Colleagues, I see you.
I want you to know I saw how you let everyone else give feedback first even though you were the most senior person in the room. I watched how you politely said thank you when someone called you “articulate.” I remember how you made sure to never swear in a public setting. I recognized how you always dressed professionally even on informal Fridays. I noticed how you turned being singled out into an opportunity to educate a room full of white people on cultural insensitivity. I listened at all the times you found the heart to be polite and kind and understanding in the face of other’s privilege.
I want you to know I heard you go out of your way to make others feel comfortable in their whiteness while you were expected to control your blackness. I watched how you gave others the benefit of the doubt even when we both knew it wasn’t earned. I watched how you would avoid any and every expression of anger even at the moments when it was most deserved. I paid attention to the way you navigated rules, expectations, and norms that were written without you in mind. And yet every single day you showed up and worked ten times harder with more integrity and tenacity than anyone else.
As we go back to our zoom meetings, internal check-ins, and team all hands I want you to know I see you. I can only imagine how you’re feeling today and honestly, every day. I want you to know while I admire you, I’m angry for you. And with you. I will forever see you and the challenges you fight to overcome. I will help elevate your voice. I will advocate even when I know there will be consequences. I will be with you when you win and beside you when we need to fight.
Because I’ve learned more from you than anyone else in my career. I’ve learned the definition of leadership, integrity, and work ethic. Because I’ve learned the importance of creating community, having honest conversations and asking uncomfortable questions. Because even in the face of everything you must deal with each and every day you still make the time to ask how I’m doing.