"I am so glad to see you!" Those were the words said to me by a staff member-- a young, Black, man--- working with kids inside the gym at one of our branches. It was my second week on the job--a young, Black, man, and Senior Vice President of Branches taking a tour of the Club.
That moment is profound to me because when I entered the gym I was a stranger to him and to every child. He had to make sure that I was supposed to be there, and that I wasn't a threat. I try not to wonder how many rooms I've been in where my job, my purpose, my story, my education, or my very humanity didn't keep me from being viewed as a threat. But what I understood in "being glad to be seen", was that beyond the position and title that I hold, he was recognizing hope in what I might represent.
In all honesty, being Black, whether in the C-Suite or the Boardroom or the break room so often demands that you walk a thin line balancing that your success may open doors, while knowing that your failures will close them to the Black faces that come after you. With that comes a heaviness and an exhaustion; but it also brings with it great pride and responsibility.
My blackness is who I am. It is quite literally the fabric of my life. It is the very thread that connects me as a son, a brother, a friend, a colleague, and as a man. My blackness is my humanity, and my humanity is how I love. When you see my blackness, I hope that you will recognize our humanity. Do you see me now?
Senior Vice President of Branches