Don’t be out here letting these social media streets fool you.

Hey Advocates,

Welcome back! I’m from the South, so, in true Southern Hospitality, I’m passing out hugs and Georgia sweet tea all around, to show that your presence is such a present! 

This week, we are going to celebrate the diverse tapestry of humanity, while highlighting the idea of “Same But Different” in Communities of Color (CoC). It should be no secret that diversity exists beyond race. However, as I’ve said before, when people use the word “diversity”, they often use it as the twin of race, specifically using it as a description for Black and Brown folks. The struggle with this is that people sometimes forget that, within Black and Brown communities, there exists a spectrum of radical diversity components. We're a vibrant mix of cultures, languages, and experiences. I haven’t met a person, yet, outside of my family, who can say they have lived my EXACT life experiences, no matter how close the proximity was. You know what? Even in my own family, underneath the same roof, our narratives are similar but not the same. Same but different. This may make some people cringe; but, let’s set aside, for a little while (maybe even permanently, after this writing), the old-school notion that we're all the same. Because, are we really? 

I attended and graduated from the illustrious and divine Spelman College (HH PHI BETA - those who know, know), but my Spelman College experience was not like my best friends’ experiences nor any of my other Spelman sisters’ experiences. We all brought something to the proverbial table and we all ate, of our choosing, from that grand table. Still, my experiences don’t make me less nor more knowledgeable of the Spelman College experience over their experiences.

What I want to impress upon you is that Black and Brown ain't no cookie-cutter crew, my friends. Don’t be out here letting these social media streets fool you. We can be in the same space, have similar life connections, even share the same bloodline, and still be so very different. We're like a dope mixtape with endless tracks. Each one of us brings our own secret sauce to the atmosphere, formulated with our energy, our thoughts, our mindsets, our unique experiences, and our roots (aka “backgrounds”).

Now, intersectionality is where the magic happens. Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of my faves, broke it down, when she let the world know that we're all about that intersectionality vibe. It is within intersectionality and the awareness of intersectionality that you fall in love with empathy, learning, and growth. You realize that CoC have blended identities that stem from our hustle, our gender, our exposures, and our lived experiences. You learn that it is okay to not know or to not assume, because the people you thought you knew, even if you belong to the community and the culture, aren’t at all who you assumed them to be. You begin to see and to understand that the -isms show up significantly differently for each person. What impacts one person, in the Community, may not impact the next person. As I live, I joyfully learn. One thing I’ve learned is that the most arrogant thing I can ever say to a person is “I know what you’re going through”, because I do not. Listening, active listening, changes how you extend grace. It expands how you see and celebrate the “allness” of an individual. If personal growth is your jam, like it is mine, you yearn to explore more of the beautiful connectedness of intersectionality and allyship. You soak up different perspectives so that you can provide life-affirming spaces that offer validation, empowerment, and advocacy for all humans. 

Learn from others, appreciate diverse voices and stories, and allow individuals to share their kaleidoscopic self without the need to compare, to compete, to center, to deflate, to deflect, to rebuke, to provoke, and to de-power. I promise people can be lifted without stopping in the center, unless you need to pause and take a quick knowledge break. Black and Brown people are not the experts of all things “Black and Brown”. We experience things, like anyone else, and it’s not our obligation to educate anyone on anything but what we choose to share about our life journey. 

Let's ditch the monochrome perspectives, bust stereotypes, and become one with empathy. As my best friend (in my head), Beyonce G. Knowles-Carter said, “Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnicities behind the lens, we will continue to have a narrow approach and view of what the world actually looks like.”. So, there you have it, fam! Embracing the diversity of humanity is where it's at. 

As always, take a quick second and let us know what you think about this piece and how you plan to acknowledge and appreciate the multifaceted perspectives of humanity, in your work/life, moving forward. 

Written By: Sholanda Smith, Content Creator Leading Equity Center


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