When was the last time you watched the sun rise?
Maybe you were looking out a window, enjoying those first quiet moments as the horizon gradually brightened, giving way to steady daylight. Just a few weeks ago, Victor Glover sent the world a reminder that the sunrise may be enjoyed from multiple perspectives. As the first Black astronaut in residence on the International Space Station, he sent pictures of the sun rising over the earth. His photos remind us that sometimes things that have been happening for thousands of years can still be viewed in a new way. As we begin Black History Month in the U.S., we have much to consider in a new light.
Over the past year, I have engaged in conversations on familiar topics about race, privilege, and power. I have tried to do as much listening as talking, investing my time and energy in ways that promote meaningful change. I’m proud to be a new member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (now many more than 100), an organization dedicated to advocacy for black women and girls through health, education, and economic empowerment. During Black History Month I will talk with a group of women who are navigating the job market, learning to present their many strengths, and finding the best place to make a contribution.
When I consider how I built my own career, I think of my mother arriving in the U.S. from Cape Verde in the 1950s. As a young girl of mixed race, she did not completely fit in with either the black kids or the white kids. My grandmother gave her encouragement that she always remembered – hold your head high and be proud. My mother developed resilience and a firm belief in her abilities that led her to become a registered nurse, caring for others during their times of greatest need. Both of my parents were immigrants who gave me a combination of their Cape Verdean and Portuguese heritage, and encouraged me to make the most of my uniqueness. I learned to view my mixed race as a source of strength and a way of seeing the world. This perspective, a gift from my parents and grandparents, has guided every step of my life and career. This includes my most recent decision to join a wonderful team at The Trade Desk, where we are working to give marketers a fresh way of looking at the world of advertising.
Family is the theme of Black History Month this year, highlighting the representation, diversity, and identity of Black families in America. Later in the month, I will join colleagues at our company for a panel conversation, sharing insights and obstacles, successes and disappointments; all to promote the importance of inclusion and belonging at work and at home. In whatever way you are telling your stories or building your brand, I invite you to engage in similar conversations. Education and understanding are part of our sunrise, illuminating all of the challenges and possibilities for us to consider.
As a new month gradually increases the amount of daylight we enjoy here in California, I will think about Victor Glover orbiting above me in the space station. In his words, “It will take all of us exploring, learning, and building together to create a brighter future for humanity.”
During Black History Month and throughout 2021, find your place in the sun. Then bring others into it.
Photo by Victor Glover, from the Space Station