I am so damn tired of not enough.
There’s something that’s been weighing on my heart a lot this year. I am not the most qualified voice to speak out on this, nor do I have any kind of education that allows me to speak out authoritatively on this. Nonetheless, these words need to be said.
I am so damn tired of not enough.
I am so tired of hearing the words “not enough” in our community. I am so tired of being told that my “otherness” does not show up visibly, therefore it does not count. I am so tired of watching us cut one another down because we didn’t try hard enough to bring diverse voices. I am so tired of us tearing each other apart because we didn’t speak loud enough to make sure everyone’s voice was represented. I am so damn tired of not enough.
The entrepreneurial world is so diverse. There are so many unique and original and interesting and amazing voices in our community and we all deserve to be heard. But here’s the thing...we own the responsibility of making ourselves heard.
To build this community into something bigger and better and stronger than what it is today, we each bear a little bit of the burden of growth. Tearing one another apart on public forums is not the correct answer to moving towards a community of celebrated diversity. It is on me as a minority individual (we’ll come back to that in a minute) to apply for speaking engagements, build relationships, and seek out new opportunities. It is equally on a conference organizer, program director, shop owner, or anyone else to do their very best to make sure that diverse voices are represented.
We also bear the burden of knowledge together. It is not enough to look at the images that make up a conference speaker group and decide at face value whether or not that conference is diverse. It is not enough to scroll through Instagram and begin to make assumptions. Regardless of what minority you are or are not, you may or may not wear that diversity on your skin.
Need an example of what I mean? I am in a mastermind group with Rosemary Watson, Jana Bishop, and AllieDanae Walker. At face value, if you saw a photo of the four of us together, we look like four white middle class women. If you were to question our diversity based on a photograph, you’d be hard pressed to identify what it is that makes us diverse. However, Rosemary is half Mexican and half Native American. Jana is 20% Cherokee. I am 50% Brazilian and 100% lesbian (and 25% covered in tattoos). Once you step beyond face value, you find that our mastermind group is actually incredibly damn diverse. In age, we span nearly 20 years. In religion, we represent four very different faiths. In education, we run the gamut. In industry, no two of us are identical. We’re even pretty split between conservative and liberal. But if you were to judge us on face value, you would come to the age-old conclusion that we’re just a group of white women chatting about our middle-class problems over glasses of pricey champagne.
Extrapolating this example across every conference that posts its speaker lineup, every leadership team that posts a group headshot, and every entrepreneur that features humans in his or her Instagram feed, we cannot continue to judge the diversity of a group based on the images we see online. In the same way that we don’t really know what’s going on in someone’s business based on a curated Instagram feed, we cannot pass judgement on something’s diversity or lack thereof based on a photo.
How can we be more intentional when building diversity as a community? Is there a better way to ask the hard questions without cutting one another down? The incredibly amazing thing about the entrepreneurial community is that every. single. one. of us has something original to offer. Every single one of us is unique, our own kind of diverse. We bear the burden of reaching out, building relationships, and finding more ways to showcase how incredibly amazing and unique and diverse we are. Diversity is a discussion beyond race. It considers religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political persuasion, location, education and a myriad of other things that cannot be summed up into a tiny square.
I want to be able to celebrate you for who you are, for the amazing things you’ve done, for the tremendous dreams you’re afraid to share with the world, for the powerful moments that make you stop and pause. I want to be able to look up and not see the color of your skin first - instead seeing who you are at your core. What do you hold dear? What are your core values? What motivates you every day? I want to know you for you.
I may be tired of not enough but I’m ready to bear the burdens of knowledge and growth. It is not enough to simply pitch every single speaking opportunity, guest blog, panelist spot, or media opening that comes across our plates (or we find out there on the internet). It is not enough to start conversations about true, meaningful diversity. We have to work to bridge the gap on both sides. Only then can we truly meet in the middle.