Resistance Breeds Resilience
This year’s Black History Month theme is Black Resistance. African Americans have had to resist systemic oppression for far too many generations. The racism, poverty, lack of access to education, housing, and jobs – the eroding right to vote – are barriers to self-determination that no person should have to face. Resistors and freedom fighters continue to battle against discrimination as these forces sustain. Our resistance has enabled our community to achieve great success, but we must continue this work until we effect change, individual to individual.
These external forces become an all-too familiar part of the experiences many of us internalize. Facing seemingly countless barriers to success – being told too many times that it can’t be done, that you won’t succeed – builds up an emotional resistance too. The person told too often that they’re not smart enough, not strong enough, not educated enough, or that they come from the wrong place, can become empowered by adversity. Resistance turns into resilience. The status quo becomes unacceptable, and you build the momentum to break inertia.
We champion those who succeed despite their environment – business leaders, academics, scientists, artists, athletes, and the like. But, sadly, their success tends to be the exception, not the norm. To change that, we have to empower our community from the inside out, person by person, individual by individual. We have to help each other harness the resistance.
Many of us in the tech community have amassed the agency to effect change. Mentoring someone from an underrepresented community is a simple act of resistance than can have a significant impact. In the spirit of breaking the cycle of oppression and furthering the work of the resistors who have come before us, I encourage my colleagues and peers in the industry to embrace Black History Month, support resistance, and take action to inspire future generations. Open the doors of opportunity to those who may have thought it was off limits. Show them a pathway to a fulfilling career. Be a part of the movement that breaks down barriers instead of builds them.
Black History Month was created to focus the public’s attention on matters of injustice and oppression. In today’s world, it is easy for many of us to feel removed from the real impact of oppression. But you don’t need to look far to see it in action – it exists within virtually every institution. The pursuit of more just and dignified lives continues to be challenged so we carry this awareness with us, and we empower each other to resist.
Read more about this year’s theme, Black Resistance.