How Can I “Be” What I Cannot See?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(MP3 Recording)  

Dear Corporate America,

How can I be what I cannot see?

I know that there are qualified people that look like me,

But rarely, if ever, do I see someone who resembles me,

In positions that matter, or succeeding in climbing the corporate ladder.

I have grandiose visions of being in a position where I am truly making a difference.

However, who I see in these positions, that make a difference, look nothing     like me and I wonder, Is that the key?

I ask myself, “could I ever fit in. How will I ever make friends if they refuse to acknowledge people like me?”

I am intelligent and qualified, but your judgmental expression makes me question the reason I even tried.

What do you think when you see me, Can you be true to yourself and answer that question honestly?

We all have unconscious bias that is rooted deep within causing us to judge based on the color of one’s skin.

So I am judging you right now; judging the fact that you lack the strength to identify the need for people like me in this industry.

I am biased to believe that you, conscious or unconscious, keep people like me from advancing in this industry.

Can you relate to my plight, do you understand my fight?

Be like me and be willing to acknowledge your bias, unafraid to be your friend to work hard and help you win.

Can’t you see that not advancing people that look like me will eventually be the death to growth and creativity in this industry?

I need to see people that look like me, to be comfortable in a space I wouldn’t normally be.

I agree that we shouldn’t allow the lack of representation to stop our aspiration to achieve more than the previous generation.

This is about more than me. It’s about all the young women of color who are not yet able or ready to address this issue and so I am willing to forego my fears to help the next generation in the coming years.

Is it the bias, or is it the process of seeing the bias and what that means about us as people, that we would need to consciously acknowledge we are all equal?

We have to be honest with ourselves to make progress; without each other we regress.

To your positions we will not apply and our interest will die, due to the lack of representation of people that make up thirty percent of our nation’s population.

So the next time you see an applicant like me, give them the opportunity to show you how great they can be.

So the next time you see an applicant like me, give them the opportunity to show you how great they can be.

Allow the next applicant to see how truly great we all can be if we would just treat each other equally.

 

 

 

 

Poem By: Shonnah Hughes AKA Saasy Sistah

Voice over by: Azarria Hughes

My First Trailhead4All Event

Well, to start, some would say that I am a glutton for punishment. I would just say I like a challenge (get it challenge… Trailhead check challenge (I crack myself up) okay I will stop now).

I decided to host my first event in my son’s classroom. My son goes to Hillcrest Community School in Bloomington, MN, and the Hillcrest School hosts a special needs program called The Vision Program. These students have emotional and or behavioral needs. My son is on the autism spectrum, hence his involvement with the program. It was extremely easy to get the teacher on board and get sign off from the principle since most schools have a big push to get more technology in the classroom. Since I had familiarity with the classroom setting I asked the teacher if it would be okay to have the students invite a “buddy” from their main stream classes (main stream is just regular class setting). My idea here was twofold: one, kids in the vision program rarely have the opportunity to invite their friends from the main stream class into the vision class. This would give them the opportunity to allow the main stream students to see that they are in a learning setting as well, albeit a smaller setting with more support staff. It would also boost the vision class confidence and give them something to “brag” about like all the events that happen in their main stream classes. The second was to have unofficial helpers and supporters. This type of thing can be very intimidating to students with special needs, however having a “buddy” to help with confidence and following along can go a long way.

From the beginning, Mrs. Amanda (Vision teacher) said that when she announced the event the students were excited. When she told them they could invite a buddy they were overjoyed. The Vision classroom has seven students and each brought a buddy so that made fourteen students total, one teacher, one therapist, one para, myself and Zayne Turner from the Minnesota WIT group were all in attendance to build their first App!

Quick Start: Build Your First App

The Preparation:

To keep the students engaged I knew I would need some “props” so I decided to create little booklets that highlighted the steps they would follow in the Trailhead module. I intentionally only created seven booklets, one for each set of students. This sort of forced them to work together, and oh boy did they. You should have seen them working as a team helping each other: PRICELESS! I also created Astro and Trailhead signs for the students to use to raise their hand. I created fourteen of these, one for each student, so that if one had the answer they could raise and then help the other to find the answer.

 

Trailhead Supplies

 

The Classroom:

The classroom had a smart board. This was a really cool feature to have! As we walked through the steps in the Trailhead module, the kids were able to touch the screen and enter data, save data and check the challenges. This kept them engaged and happy to participate.

Lamar at the smartboard

This would also allow me to present in front of the class while the student told me what the next step was. This was fun and engaging because when there was no data entry to be done and I had them read the steps out loud. Each student got a chance to answer and or come up to the board, and you should have seen the camaraderie! If the main stream student answered, they would allow the vision student to come up to the board.  Zayne was my “driver” if there was something that could not be done on the smartboard she would ask the kids to tell her what the next step was precisely and she would do it while telling them exactly the steps she was taking.

 

The Challenge:

Explaining to them what Salesforce and Trailhead are was a bit of a challenge (I know they didn’t fully understand) but they were so excited that they could build an app. Some of the students got a little lost when going through the steps for the challenge. However, with just a little bit of direction we were able to stay on track, and this is where the buddy system also helped out a ton. Another challenge was the lack of mobile devices for the students to see the finished product. They were so excited to see the app we had created and most of them wanted to see it on a mobile device, thank goodness I had Zayne who reminded me that Salesforce has a mobile view simulator that we were able to display on the smartboard. Additionally, not all the students remembered to use the Astro and Trailhead signs to raise their hands, my pride is just hurt on that one (I spent a lot of time and money on those lol).

Hillcrest Kids Raising hands

The Results:

The students had a really great time and they learned some cool new things. (I’m not just saying that because I think I’m cool; they told the teacher this when I left the room.) We were able to complete the app module in forty minutes. Most of the students wanted to know how they could complete more free Trailhead modules and if I would come back for another round of “Trailheading with Hillcrest”. After the module was complete, I asked follow-up questions to see if anyone had retained some of the things they just learned. Most of the students were able to tell me one thing that they learned, however, I did offer them swag to recant lol. I would have to say all in all it was a success and I can’t wait to return and explore more trails with these awesome kids.

Hillcrest kids working togather

 

Takeaways:

Have fun be silly and always bring snacks and swag!

Last photo collage for blog

 

Special thanks to Annie Shek for issuing the challenge, April Kyle at Salesforce who put in a ‘rush’ order for our swag, Zayne Turner for being my co-pilot and the Hillcrest school and Vision program for allowing me to give the love and knowledge of Salesforce.

Written By:

Shonnah Hughes

Saasysistah.com

@saasy_sistah

Why Intersectionality NEEDS to be Addressed in our Community

“Intersectionality (or intersectional theory) is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination or discrimination.” –From Wikipedia

Have you ever heard statements like, Black women are so angry or “sassy”, Asian women are smart and submissive, Latina women are promiscuous and exotic or Arab women are oppressed?

All of these are stereotypes and hateful communication that are meant to depreciate WOC (Women of Color), you cannot classify this as just racist or sexist because they’re both.

Intersectionality and tech

This is where intersectionality comes in; WOC have overlapping struggles to fight against. Today I will focus on race and gender in the tech ecosystem, but as all WOC know there could be a number of other issues at play such as classism, but let’s stay focused.

As a black woman I have experienced this discrimination on many occasions whether it’s subtle or direct it is a disgusting practice that most are oblivious to.

The problem with “picking a struggle”

There are people who will say, “Pick a struggle.” You can’t have both and if you try and have both you will be devaluing the other. So when a Woman of Color stands up for gender and racial equality, her allegiances get pitted against each other.

For example In a feminist space, a WOC is dismissed or talked over when she tries to discuss issues that specifically affect Black women, due to the combined influences of racism, sexism, and classism.

Why the discomfort?

Why are people so uncomfortable about real issues that exist?

Is it because they lack the knowledge or understanding to actually have an intelligent conversation about the issues, or that they may practice these hateful tactics.

Whatever their issue we need to address the issue of intersectionality in technology. As we know there is a large movement for women in technology, but everyone seems to forget the fact that racism also plays a part in the lack of representation of women in technology.

As a WOC in technology I am determined to shed light on this issue and if necessary make others uncomfortable.

The consequences of ignoring intersexuality?

If you only focus on “gender” without including “race,” WOC experiences of discrimination are rendered invisible by these ways of categorizing discriminatory practices.

As women we know that it is hard being in a male-dominated industry, the technology eco system is very much a “taker of faces.”

What I mean by this is that most people (even in the technology space) think that “techies” are men who sit at a computer and code all day with a tee-shirt/sweat shirt and jeans. They have the idea that they are introverts and lack personality with no sense of humor. When they see someone that does not fit their profile or idea of what a technical person should look like they immediately assume or draw inaccurate conclusions.

Those of you who know me will totally understand when I say I am far from this stereotype. Obviously I am not a man, I love fashion and I am not afraid to speak to anyone. You have no idea how many times I have gotten the side eye (confused look) when I tell people I am in the tech field.  Then the questions come that will either undervalue me as a women, POC (Person of Color) or both (POC and Woman = WOC).

I separate those two here because of the questions I get from the oblivious. Some will just be specific to women, while others will be specific to that fact that I am a minority, and then there is the whammy that will highlight me being a WOC.

Because this industry is such a “taker of faces,” WOC will inevitably be discriminated against and will need to work twice as hard to prove their value and we all know value equates to money. This can be largely due to unconscious bias.

This places WOC at a disadvantage from the moment they enter the workforce; creating major structural barriers to entering top-earning professional fields. Additionally at every point in the hiring process hidden bias trickles in. Some enter at the stage of reviewing names on résumés. Yet more at the stage of different gender and race styles of presentation during interviews. And a steady stream come into play when it comes time to negotiate for salaries.

With WOC making upwards of 30 fewer cents for every dollar than a white man earns, we cannot have a one size fits all approach every WOC experiences make her unique. No one should be pigeonholed into a single category. FACT: racism and sexism can’t be isolated and treated as separate issues. For WOC, they intersect. So let’s change the narrative on how those in tech view WOC!

But what can we do?

WOC can…

  • Demand equality and respect. Never allow a “privileged” person to insult your intelligence or your experience.
  • Speak up and Reach out. You have a voice make sure that it is heard (closed mouths don’t get fed), Reach out for advancement look for every opportunity possible.
  • Use your uniqueness. You are beautifully unique, your experiences allow you to “see” things from a point of view this makes you valuable.
  • Love yourself. This should need no explanation, I love my color do you?
  • Reach Back. All of us should be looking for opportunities to help the next generation of WOC, mentorship/volunteering should not be optional.

Allies of WOC need to…

  • Promote an atmosphere of inclusion. Stop the “boys club” mentality.
  • Speak up and reach out. You are in a prime position to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Reach out of you comfort zone and look for opportunities to assist WOC.
  • Use your privileged position to your advantage. Whether you realize it or not, you have power … power to change the narrative and you can find your own unique way to do this.
  • Show love. Never forget this is a powerful uniting tool that can tear down any barrier.
  • Reach back, forward, and to the side. Wherever you can find an opportunity to mentor/volunteer to help WOC….do it!

Rally Cry…

We all have a responsibility, whether it’s as a WOC or as allies, to promote the fact that intersectionality is real. As a WOC I don’t get to take my race hat off and put my gender hat on or vice versa. It’s a package deal. Change is coming. Will you choose knowledge over ignorance, love over hate. Join the movement and be a change agent!