CyberSN, SecureDiversity.org and Deidre Diamond all stand with Black Lives Matter. The treatment of humans is a topic I am in everyday, as many of you are aware. I talk with you about words and behaviors at work that cause problems and or that can make cultures better so that our community can have happiness at work. I enjoy being in this conversation with you all tremendously. I want to share a personal story with you now so that we can be authentic in conversation, while around us all, our communities are hurting. I hope my personal story helps.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is about human treatment being equitable and human actions being equally accountable, with greater consequences than job dissatisfaction. I am the Founder and CEO of CyberSN and Secure Diversity. I self-funded these businesses from my own hard work, no investors, just risk and a strong desire to create a work environment that people loved. I represent the 1% of Women in Technology that are founding CEOs. I am in my late forties and I have white skin. My biological father is a first-generation Engineering immigrant from the Middle East, my mother is from Pennsylvania and of English descent. I had the honor of having Tommy, a black man, as a stepfather starting at age six. Tommy was a hairdresser in LA, when he met and married my mother. My mother, a white woman who was an LA City School Teacher for forty years and owned hair salons with my step father Tommy after they married. This wonderful man Tommy, passed on from earth just before I graduated college, I think about him all the time and I wish he could see what I have accomplished with others. I cook with his skillet still to this day and have taken it with me through many moves around the US. This man is a HUGE piece of who I became as an adult and a Leader. I love him, and for him and others I stand with BLM.
Tommy moved to live with myself, my mom and my brothers in Orange County, California in the late seventies. I remember him quietly saying while we were driving and listening to music, “most people don’t want me around here” or “I am so happy you don’t have to deal with what I deal with”. At the time, being so young, I didn’t understand. “Why wouldn’t Tommy be wanted here?” I thought, “I am so lucky to have him, he is kind, he loves music, he sings with me, he loves mood lighting and always makes our home feel calm, he loves eating and takes me to awesome ethnic restaurants.” Why? Tommy was always kind and never said anything bad about anyone, I loved him for that every day! Why wasn’t he wanted? I could not comprehend.
Time gave me answers to my questions. Questions that should never have to be asked. I mourn for the black men and all humans who have experienced discrimination, for Tommy, for equality of all humans. I pray for leadership to find solutions now, not tomorrow. I pray for extreme change to our laws now, not tomorrow. I vote and I serve and I pledge to never forget that all humans want the same things in life and no human should be treated differently than another human under any circumstances. I know you stand too and that we are together standing.
Tommy was the one who told me at age 6 and onward, “you are a leader” and “people love to follow you, do good with that”. He told me “you can do anything you want”. He never stopped saying positive empowering things to me. At the age of 9, Tommy and my mother had me running the front desk appointment setting, collecting customer payment, making bank deposits and cleaning the salon after hours; every weekend! I became business savvy before 10 because of this man. I was then and I am now, fearless and Tommy is a key reason. I hear his kind words about me in my head all the time. There is no greater gift than to give a child positive affirmations. While I have a wonderful father, who is very involved in my life, it was even more wonderful to have two Dads to love me. Tommy was and is my Dad too.
I am heavy hearted knowing there are so many Tommys out there being mistreated. So many men and women with black skin are being treated poorly, imprisoned and murdered for reasons white people are not imprisoned or murdered for, because of the color of their skin. All of this has to stop. I think about how Tommy didn’t care what color my skin was, or that I had a father or that I was a girl. He loved me unconditionally and cared for me daily, all while he endured discrimination for the color of his skin. All while he was being a father to a white child. Not only do I stand with Black Lives Matter, I live my life with no tolerance for discrimination. I do not tolerate discrimination at our companies or in any of my relationships. My heart breaks for what is happening in our country, and I plan to make sure things change. Love to everyone and thank you for letting me share this story.