For a lot of my life, I wondered what to do with my voice.

It never seemed like I had a choice.

I look like this so I must sound like that.

I come from there so I must be like this.

Don’t be too loud they said, you’ll scare them.

Don’t be too soft they said, you’ll embarrass us.

All these rules and yet, no space for expression of self.

Nuance taken away in the name of systems and expectations.

Identity stripped away to make people I barely know comfortable.

I rehearsed several versions of myself so I could play in whatever movie was showing for the day.

All this hard work only to play supporting characters or extras.

I was never the star because God forbid I be seen as too extra.

So I did what they said.

I became an actor in my own life instead of THE director.

That was before I heard the power in the sound of my voice.

What a day it was because I could finally use it to rejoice.

My voice led me to the hidden layers I had covered up.

I could finally see myself without any apologies.

My voice led me to the mic so I could project even more.

Yes! No more hiding.

My voice taught me a lot! But, more importantly, it brought me to this realization.

Your approval will not make or break me.

Your DISapproval will no longer silence me.

I’m not placed here to make you feel comfortable about your choices.

My existence isn’t something you can tokenize and my story isn’t something you will weaponize.

I’ve decided to quit playing your game and the only game I’ll play now is to live up to my name.

A warrior that brings joy!

Not someone that plays coy.

Follow Your Curiosity

I had a conversation with my bestie

She said to me, follow your curiosity

for it is the ultimate expression of your identity.

Imagine a world where you know nothing

and that is the beginning of something.

Even if you don’t know where you shine

or where your interests align,

resist the urge to whine.

Give yourself permission

to experience this confusion

because it informs your mission

and ultimately your passion.

Out of this chaos, you’ll get the right information.

And it might seem like a mess

something very hard to express

but as you put yourself through this test,

you’ll find your best.

Follow your curiosity

to rid yourself of a crisis of identity.

Connect the Visible to the Invisible

As humans, we are tribal by nature so we want to gravitate towards what we understand and what is familiar. 

We fear what we don’t understand because a lack of understanding represents a lack of control.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with similarities though but I want to encourage you all to reflect on how you react to differences. 

Do you avoid them or make an effort to understand them? 

I think if you make an effort to understand them, you’ll find that we have a lot more in common than we initially think. 

Diversity to me is much more than the color of our skin, our age, gender or affiliations. It’s also about the inside. 

Essentially, true diversity is being able to connect the visible to the invisible. 

How will you connect the visible to the invisible today?

When you don’t see something or experience something, it’s hard for you to acknowledge there’s a problem so awareness is key. 

Both/And vs. Either/Or

I believe in both and NOT either or

 I refuse to believe humanity is this intellectually poor.

How did we get here?

Where your fear 

is translated as me not having a care 

and leads to despair.

Impulse is to react, react, react.

It’s like we've signed a contract that we can’t retract to overact. 

Meanwhile, we've lost sight of the many voices around us. 

Voices that can’t compete because they aren’t loud enough. 

Now THEY think they aren’t enough. 

But even YOU must admit that being this invisible is pretty rough. 

These days, it seems like we only have two options 

My way or your way. 

It doesn’t matter what I say, anyway.

We have created binary systems to govern the nuance.

Where is the balance? 

I’m just as guilty. I’m no innocent. 

But as I sit with my thoughts and inspect, 

I can start to see the cause of the confusion

and the blurry vision.

The whole picture just isn’t being seen and no one is clean.

We need to examine our lenses and take down our fences.

If we address our blind spots, 

we can connect the dots. 

Next time you want to tell a story from your perspective, 

be more inventive and think of the collective. 

Next time you ask a question, let it be open ended instead of close minded. 

Step back to look at the whole picture.

You'll see that we are a beautiful and complex mixture. 

Examine the canvas frame by frame 

It will be hard, but do it all the same.

Move past homogeneity and create spaces for more forms of identity. 

We all need to apply this sensitivity.

Please don’t ignore this because that’s how we got here in the first place

where what’s limited now is grace.  

Seek to affirm not and not to confirm.

Remember, people want to be heard. 

They don’t want to be a part of your herd.

Life should be liberating and enriching 

not selective and elusive. 

Your presence should invite other forms of existence. 

I believe in both and NOT either or.