This past weekend, I took a girls’ trip to New Orleans with two of my closest friends, Keara and Dionne. You might remember them from the wedding – they were both bridesmaids! I feel like I’ve told this story a million times but I met Keara in college and she’s partly responsible for Jonathan and I getting together. Dionne and I met on Craigslist when I was looking for a roommate in Harlem, and she listened to me complain about grad school and my long-distance relationship on many many occasions. These girls have both shaped me in so many ways, and I was super excited to spend some girls time with them in the Big Easy!
Having grown up in a predominantly white neighborhood and as the only girl in the family, it is VERY important for me to have strong friendships with other black women. Something unique about both Keara and Dionne is that our friendships were unexpected. Many of my other friends are first or second generation West African immigrants, or friends I made through blogging or graduate school. Keara and Dionne are both African American women raised in Texas and Oklahoma, and I’m an African immigrant raised in New Jersey. Keara is an educator with a passion for social work and Dionne works in online media marketing, so we don’t have work in common either. I even lived with Dionne for two whole years – and living with people is the fastest way to kill friendships – but somehow we made it through! Because of my background and nontraditional work life, it took time to find a community of women of color from whom I could learn and grow, and with whom I could work together to empower other black women. But whether we’re talking about hair products, the In My Feelings challenge, or our individual plans to leave an impact on the world, I can always trust these girls to leave me feeling like I can do anything.
In true Southern hospitality, Keara and Dionne both acted as my unofficial NOLA tour guides. They led me around the usual tourist spots on foot (Bourbon Street, The French Quarter, etc), but we used Uber to get to a few further out destinations like the beautiful Garden District, which is where we shot these photos! Over the weekend, we had many convos about culture, entertainment, politics, relationships, and faith, and even though we don’t always agree, I know they share the same passion I do for connecting with and growing alongside other women of color.
I love that Uber is committed to creating spaces and fostering relationships like these both within the company and in the communities it serves. Employee resource groups like Women of Uber and UberHue (for black employees and allies) provide a supportive space for women of color employees through peer mentorship, fireside chats, creative outlets, and other programmings. Uber’s diversity ERGs help ensure that Uber’s broader mission to elevate diverse communities and give voice to the underrepresented doesn’t get lost in the company’s greater business strategy. I’m excited to have partnered with Uber because they actively help their employees do something that took me years to do: find a community of women of color that can uplift, inspire, and empower you!