“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable.”
— C.S. Lewis
After I met a man who is now my partner…
I will never forget the time when a white colleague said to me, “When I look at you, I don’t see color. I don’t see you as a black person.” He was saying, “Race doesn’t matter to me. I am not a racist.” But I heard, “I am denying a big part of who you are and your experiences.”
He pissed me off.
When I asked him to explain his statement, he said he wanted me to belong. To be part of a team.
He’s not the only one who had bias without intention. One time, a white colleague asked…
“I regret not doing things I should have done in my 20s, Banchi,” my best friend whispered to me on her death bed. Her haunting words were the last words she ever spoke to me.
I didn’t check on her the next day because I was busy at work. I woke up to a dark day on September 22, 2019. When the phone rang, and I answered it, the news I heard was like nothing I’d ever heard before.
I slammed the phone down in shock, and tears rolled down my face. The wave of grief that settled over me…
“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
We were destroying our relationship.
We lived in our tiny house on the hill. Every few days, people from our neighborhood saw us walking towards the local supermarket and back carrying our groceries. They waved at us and we waved back. Some of those neighbors we are close to approaching us and asked how we were doing. I have lost a dear friend in a car accident 6 weeks ago. And my boyfriend has…
I accidentally saw his tortured face and wondered how I had missed he was suffering with me too.
After I lost a dear friend, I knew since high school through a terrible car accident; I was in a dark pit. So black that I couldn’t see. No light penetrated the gloom. Not a glimmer of luminosity reached me. It was like the bottom of the ocean. Frigid and sunless. I had sunk in utter grief.
I yearned for the pain to go away.
Never realizing the one I love was living with my pain, too.
Sometimes we miss what’s right…
They are my clients. But they pissed me off.
“But you are an amazing public speaker… for a black woman.” Their words seemed like an innocent compliment. But their compliment, which I did not take as one, hurt me to the bone. My clients flew from different parts of the world to attend my classes. They thought they complimented me. Their faces were full of goofy smiles when they raised their hands and shared with the entire class how well I spoke English and commanded the stage.
It has been over a year since the last time I stood in…
They gaped at me, slack-jawed, as I opened my purse, took out my pink notebook, and started scribbling notes in the middle of a business dinner.
Foreign clients had invited my team and I to eat dinner and discuss our latest project in an exotic Arabian restaurant facing the Abu Dhabi River. One of our clients was late for the dinner.
His reason was epic story material.
His wife is battling stage IV cancer. After the birth of her first son, rogue cells started attacking her body. She had a double mastectomy. She and her husband hoped that was the…
Would you believe me if I said black people have emotional works no one talks about, my friends?
I don’t blame you. Most people don’t believe black people have exhausting emotional works either.
But let us be honest. Black people have exhausting emotional works we don’t talk about. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a black woman from Ethiopia. And I have several white friends and colleagues I love.
Hanging out with a white friend or working with a white colleague or boss exhausts me.
Let me give you an example:
When a white friend says…
Can you imagine being reminded constantly that you do not have the privilege of fitting in just by sheer existence?
Can you imagine what it’s like to be effective in your role and have the same or more credentials as your peers, but be passed over for promotions because you are used to rejection because of your race?
Can you imagine the pressure that comes with trying to be perfect and represent your race well because if you make a mistake, the odds of you being given another opportunity are slim?
Can you imagine feeling like you couldn’t be your…
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
Sparkle for a great idea hits your heart. You sit down in front of your computer for a few minutes, hoping to publish a great article. You write, becoming more convinced with every word that you’re onto something. The feeling grows until your fingers fly across the keyboard. Your words flow and you’re saying what you want to say, exactly the way you want to say it.
You can’t wait until thousands of readers read your article.
You close your article with an ending you can only describe as, “perfect”. You take a minute…