It is with great pleasure that I welcome guest blogger Cristina Hernandez as a contributor to my blog. Cristina is VP of Business Development and is an extremely talented member of my team. I hope you enjoy her words as much as I do.
By Cristina Hernandez
Our country is talking about death. The tragic deaths of black men at the hands of police – Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner. The tragic, accidental death of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and diversity champion, Dave Goldberg. And the anonymous, untold deaths that are not recounted in the public square, but are very much present in our everyday discussions – loved ones, friends, strangers we encounter as we move through life.
Totally unrelated circumstances, but the same in one way – the shattered families and friends left behind. We are in mourning.
There have also been discussions over the last several years of Sheryl Sandberg and the whole philosophy of “Leaning In”, with Ms. Sandberg weathering much criticism because of the privileges we perceive her to hold. People questioned whether her message really has relevance to those who are not white, wealthy, educated, and with the good fortune of having a supportive life partner. It is true that all of these privileges appear to be a part of her life story. So now is untimely death.
None of us can succeed in life without support – support from friends, family, and the small and large communities in which we live. Some people in our society get additional support as a result of the positions they occupy by accident of birth. As Vernā Myers says, some people have a tailwind through life because of their privilege. Some have a headwind because they do not have the same privilege. It would be foolish to pretend these privileges do not exist.
But what all of these stories of death teach us is that the winds can shift. And we as a community must not tell those individuals facing the headwind just to work harder and fix things themselves. To survive as a noble society, we must support those facing adversity. We must do more than lean in as individuals – we must lean with others to create change.
We must change the dialogue. We must lean with each other to lift up those in mourning. We must lean with each other to change the circumstances for black men in America. We must lean with each other to support parents who find themselves, for whatever reason, facing the challenge of raising children on their own. We must lean with each other to support those who are different from us. We must stop looking for ways to criticize and distance ourselves. To lean with others to support one another across difference is to engage.
Baltimore, we lean with you. Ms. Sandberg, we lean with you.