SSD: There are two big questions that I’m asking every interview subject to answer.
First: What does it mean to you to “Be Black” in 2022?
JH: Blackness, for me, has always been rooted in the tradition of uplift and creative expression. I grew up half Caribbean and Afro-Latino, part African and part African American – so my understanding of Blackness has always had an international bent. One that is connected through language, music, and passion and transcends space and time.
In 2022, with more and more expressions of Blackness in everything from Tech to Media to Politics and everything in between, it’s important for folks to recognize that there is no one “right” way to be Black. There is no such thing as not being “Black enough”. Instead, it’s important that we embrace that Blackness is not a monolith, and there are many beautiful ways to share one’s Blackness with the world.
SSD: Ok, moving on to Numero Dos: As a Black Person in America, what’s one thing that you wish other people knew about your daily experiences?
JH: Being Black can be hard. Being Afro-Latino can be hard. But being Black and Afro-Latino is also beautiful and uplifting and filled with song and dance and language and rhythm and smoothness and everything good and whole in this world!
Anyone that speaks to me is also speaking to my ancestors — they are benefiting from the years of sacrifice and blood, sweat, and tears that eventually culminated into me being the woman I am today. That said, being here was an uphill battle and it’s tough. Being the first, only, or “one of the few” can be incredibly lonely sometimes and is overwhelming.
The thing that keeps me going is knowing that every time someone hears my ethnic name beside my title, assumptions are changed. Every time I share my experiences and am open with my story, the light of acceptance begins to come in. Every time I’m at a talk or on a Zoom call and they see the dreads and the arm tattoos and East Atlanta upbringing coupled with the heritage, boxes are blown wide open.
It’s an honor to make an impact in Tech, but that does not excuse how hard it was to get and remain here. Allies need to make it their duty to make sure that future Black and Brown folks do not have to work as hard as I had to to be where I am.