I remember spotting your melanin-rich face at a conference because you were the only other woman of color in a sea of faces. We finally met in the gym, and you confidently introduced yourself. You were exasperated that several people had mistaken you for the keynote speaker (me), which was laughable as we both saw ourselves as distinct. I could tell from your expression that you had far more to share, and we decided to meet later.
That discussion would linger with me for years because of what you shared and the quiet determination behind your words. The distance you had traveled to gain entrance into a prestigious company exposed you to painful social isolation. Attempting to be helpful, I asked if any colleague could offer you a shoulder of support. You smiled as if I was tone-deaf and, without hesitation, mentioned the cleaning staff, who often found you working late at night, praising your work ethic and self-sacrifice. To them, you were a beacon of hope, reminding them what was possible for their children. To you, they symbolized your parents and home community rooting for your success.
With brilliance like yours, it was clear that you were heading toward something great. Try as it may, this unkind world would not dissuade your fierce spirit. Last I heard, you had moved to another company and taken on a much broader role.
Wherever this letter finds you, I hope you have someone around you who has your back, can catch your drift, and is a constant cheerleader. You deserve that and so much more!
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