In celebration of Black history month 9Paths has chosen to showcase current Black leaders we have had the privilege to work alongside. Our past has always influenced our present.
It is the change these Black leaders make today that will pave the way for future leaders. I asked them to share who has influenced their work, why they believe in inclusion, and how to find visibility in a world where you may be unnoticed.
I asked Aja what her best advice was for Black women whose work is unseen, the heart is not heard, or intellectually not recognized. She said:
What advice would you give to Black colleague to find strength when they find themselves invisible.
“M’Dear, professionalism, and speaking what you feel are mutually inclusive. You can be professional and express what you feel at the same time – so do it.
As a child, I remember having a conversation with my grandmother and mother. Both my sister and I were present, and it was the type of conversation we had to “sit down for.” They told us that sometimes in life, we’d be met with situations and things that would not be fair.
And that it had nothing to do with how smart we were, how kind, how involved we were, or even that we were at the top of our class because all of that wouldn’t matter.
Because sometimes the only thing people would allow themselves to see would be the color of our skin – and in those moments, without any exchange, a judgment or rather decision would be made about us.
They told us, “that’s just how it is.” They encouraged us to keep being the best version of ourselves, always. But I’m stubborn, and I’ve always refused to accept that – still do. After so many pass ups of well-deserved promotions, being excluded from meetings, silenced, and called upon to only participate in the diversity conversations, I did one thing.
I stopped holding my tongue because I couldn’t do it anymore. I was tired. I mustered up an immense amount of courage, and I wrote down first how I felt. Later I had many courageous conversations. But know I didn’t do it for them, or really even for myself.
I did it because I don’t want to have the same conversation with my children that my family had to have with me. I want their greatest fear to be how nervous they are to deliver a presentation they’ve worked so hard on, or perhaps those stomach jitters they get when they start their very first business.
So my best advice is to stop curbing your tongue. Step into your greatness and own it. You deserve every bit. I see you and know that professionalism and speaking what you feel are mutually inclusive.” Learn more about Notably Gray and Aja Price by clicking “Learn More” below.