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Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Words Are My Weapon.

You know, there’s this old saying that goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s a little mantra I picked up when I first came to this country about 20 years ago.

I used to repeat it to myself whenever I faced racism, as a way to protect my heart from all the hurtful comments that came my way. It was my coping mechanism, you know?

But now that I’m older, it makes me think about all the women of color who are also taught to ignore the pain caused by words, and how this way of thinking actually ends up shielding the people who perpetuate racism.


Let me take you back to a warm summer day when I walked into work feeling all dressed up and ready to have my photos taken professionally.

I greeted my boss, and he mentioned that the photographer was waiting to take a picture of the executive first.

Now, here’s the thing, I was NOT only the ONLY woman on the c-level team, but also the ONLY immigrant at that location.

You see, growing up, I was raised to see people for who they are, not their race or color.

I came from a sheltered and religious household in Trinidad, and it wasn’t until I was 15, attending a “mixed race school” for my A levels, that I first encountered prejudice.

There is racism in every society.

Little did I know that it was just the beginning of countless experiences I would face in America.


So, as I walked into the room where the photoshoot was happening, I could feel this tension in the air. The photographer seemed uneasy, giving me a look that clearly said, “Why the f*ck are you even here?”

Even my boss sensed something was off, but we carried on with the plan. We took the group photos first, and then it was time for the individual shots.

I decided to go last because, well, I needed my coffee fix.

About 10 minutes later, coffee in hand, I returned to the staging room. The atmosphere was thick, almost palpable.

I introduced myself again and extended my hand for a handshake, but he didn’t reciprocate. That confirmed my suspicions that something was definitely not right.


In situations like these, it’s important to hold people accountable.

Allowing someone to get away with an act of prejudice sends a message that they can do it again.

At that moment, I realized it was time to interrupt, to question, and to educate.

I had been immersing myself in emotional intelligence courses and lectures, so maybe it was time to respectfully call this out.


I didn’t get my photo taken by that photographer that day, but I made sure it happened two weeks later.

I want to make it clear that he didn’t refuse to provide the service. I refused to accept the situation.

Interestingly, this photographer was a regular at the facilities, and I had noticed him around before.

So, the following week, I mustered up the courage to ask him to join me for a cup of coffee. He didn’t agree right away, but he was intrigued.

After all, coffee solves everything, doesn’t it?

During our conversation, I debunked two main myths that I thought were important to address.


The first myth is the idea that jobs filled by immigrants are stealing opportunities from unemployed Americans.

But the reality is that immigrants often bring unique skills and perspectives that complement those of native-born workers. It’s not a zero-sum game.

If we were to remove all undocumented immigrant workers from the economy, it wouldn’t magically create job openings for unemployed Americans.

In fact, it would harm the economy and result in job losses. We need to understand that immigrants contribute to the economy as entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers.


The second myth — Reforming the legal immigration system will not help secure the border.

FACT - immigration reform is actually an integral part of any effective border security strategy. It’s not just about pouring money into enforcement.

We’ve seen that spending billions on immigration enforcement since 1986 hasn’t curbed the growth of the unauthorized population.

The problem lies in our immigration laws failing to match the needs of the U.S. economy and the natural desires of immigrants to be with their families.

So, it’s crucial to combine enforcement with commonsense reforms to our legal immigration system. This would not only enhance national security but also provide a pathway.


You know, when it comes to my experiences with prejudice, I’ve never really opened up about them to anyone. Not my family, not even my husband.

I often wonder, what’s the point?

If I can’t resolve these issues on a personal level, how can I expect people to pay me to solve problems for them in a start-up? It’s a frustrating situation, to say the least.


That day, I didn’t get a handshake in the cafeteria, but this individual listened to me.

His thoughts were never challenged by anyone.

People hold perceptions based on their lived experiences, no matter how broken they are.

Two things:

Remember that the way you deliver your message is almost as meaningful as the message itself.

Find where you agree and build from there.

I had many conversations with that individual since then, and when he’s in town, we’ll sometimes grab a coffee.

In my America, I still believe that words and conversations are the most powerful weapons we have against hatred.

Happy July 4th!!!


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