An image of the author, dark-skinned Black femme with a baseball hat, sunglasses and a mask obscuring her facial features.
An image of the author, dark-skinned Black femme with a baseball hat, sunglasses and a mask obscuring her facial features.
pandemic fashion statements.

One of the best gifts I was given as a kid was permission not to care about how I looked.

You could find me on any warm day: sweaty, afro puffs lopsided, edges everywhere but laid, ashy elbows, chapped lips, grass stains on my knees, running around — free. I’m grateful for that time the people closest to me allowed because the world shortens it well enough on its own.

Speaking of the world: it’s funny how the world behaves, believing the way a little girl looks, a little Black girl especially — is free material for them to comment…

Serena Williams crip walk to celebrate demolishing Maria Sharapova to win a Gold medal during the 2012 Olympics lives rent-free in my head.

It’s one of the best and blackest things to ever happen in tennis (aside from the Williams sisters themselves). I think I may have yelled “Yasss Compton!” if memory serves me right. First of all, I love it when we introduce ourselves into white spaces unannounced. It’s my favorite song. Second of all, she is the greatest athlete of our time (not debating this). So to me, and many — it was a perfect moment.

But as…

As we know and have experienced, the culture of work changed fundamentally in 2020.

We learned traditionally office-bound work can be done remotely — our employee base can be dispersed — we didn’t really need to be onsite to lead teams. We also learned that the work/life boundaries can easily be violated in this world. We learned we were forced to ‘show’ our lives in ways that weren’t always comfortable. We learned everyone’s home may not be ‘suitable’ for work in the ways employers may have demanded. Caretakers, for example, didn’t get the space they needed to navigate these new…

I remember the first time I learned being “too good” at something could get me in trouble.

I must have been in first or second grade when my teacher asked me to hang back so she could talk to after the class left for recess (the universal sign of being in trouble). She asked me “Grace, is someone helping you do your homework?” I was confused — I grew up in a busy household and finished my work independently. “No” I remember answering sheepishly. “Grace I think a grown-up is doing your work for you, you really should do your…

The subject of DEI isn’t often associated with imagination. But anything truly transformative starts with imagining.

Imagination plays an important role in business. Startups and ‘disruptive’ brands know the value of dreaming and imagining. They have to create impactful, valuable things which have never existed before.

Now, let’s imagine a workplace free of bias and discrimination — unshackled from systemic and structural racism. A workplace where diversity, equity and inclusion were core values of leaders and pillars of the culture-not relegated to “committees”.

Imagining what you can do or be is what motivates us to work hard on big plans…

I decided not to bury the lede here: I’ve learned over the last 15 years of my career, that adding me to your team will not solve your diversity problem. At best, perhaps it is a start. Without the culture, values and organizational will — the results may actually be disappointing for the both of us.

As many who’ve worked with me may know first-hand (and those who may follow me on LinkedIn or on Instagram may gather from my content) I’m a fairly outspoken advocate of diversity and inclusion generally and amplification of Black talent specifically in the context…

Grace Ouma-Cabezas

Founder & Community Lead at FIELD, a platform for people of color to share our real experiences at work:

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