“Isn’t that for white girls?”
I cannot count the number of times I have heard that phrase in my life. The that has been a whole host of things, ranging from playing in the band, reading nonfiction, and of course running marathons. Even when that phrase is not verbally shared, I know that by being an African-American woman marathoner, I am going against the grain. But yet. When I joined Oiselle back in 2013, the team was small – less than 100 women total. I was not the only woman of color on the team, but it did sometimes feel like it. As the team grew, I was constantly on the lookout for other brown girls of Oiselle. I made it my business to know who the women of color on the team were, and to help ensure they felt welcomed.
As I got to know Sally and Lesko and other leaders of this company, I was heartened to realize that the hunch I had when I joined was correct – they truly did care about inclusion both in terms of the company but also in the world. And so when during Birdcamp 2018 I had the idea to gather all the women of color present to take a picture, no one batted an eye. That moment brought me such joy – we had such a diverse group of women of color and we were seen and celebrated. It led to me pitching the idea of a special session of Birdcamp 2019 for women of color – just giving us the space to connect. The Nest loved the idea and added the session to the camp schedule right away. The feeling of being able to look around and celebrate how diverse this team truly is cannot be overstated. The feeling of belonging matters. Celebrating our differences matters. And sharing that the team is NOT just for white girls matters. Get on in here, we love you.