Black History Month is a time of reflection and celebration as we look back and honor the achievements of Black people who have shaped our history. This year’s Black History Month at Braze was focused on education, community, and unapologetic Black joy. While our celebrations this year looked different, our Black@Braze Employee Resource Group (ERG) worked tirelessly to honor trailblazing leaders who shaped today’s landscape. Black@Braze created a ‘Buying Black’ initiative to encourage our 700+ employees to help close the racial wealth gap and create more opportunities for Black business owners.
We spoke directly with eleven members of Black@Braze to hear what being part of Black@Braze means to them, how they feel and stay connected to the Black community, and what activities they engaged in to celebrate.
Lauren Francis, Customer Success Operation Lead, RevOps: Being a member of Black@Braze means being part of a community that has an unspoken understanding of the Black experience. It gives me an outlet to be myself by making meaningful connections with others. These connections can be sparked by something as subtle as a look, word, phrase, or joke that is specific to Black culture. It's these little things that can turn someone from being a stranger into a family member.
Shaun Bryce, Senior Onboarding Manager, Global Delivery, GSS: Being a member of Black@Braze makes me feel I work for a company that takes DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] seriously and empowers all groups to have a voice, be heard, and be invited to take a seat at the table.
Kenneth Lockett, Data Engineer II Data & Analytics: It means being able to have a community of Black professionals that I can go to for support while also highlighting our history and accomplishments. It creates an opportunity to resist bias and discrimination and work towards a more equitable workplace.
Ashton Bray, Tech Support Specialist, Global Technical Support: It means having a network that can celebrate each other’s accomplishments, dreams, and goals in support of the advancement of Black people in a country where many obstacles have been systematically designed to suppress, oppress, and neglect.
Annie Beatson, Workplace Coordinator, People Team, EMEA: Black@Braze provides opportunities to speak about issues that affect Black people and allows me to work together with a wider audience to find solutions that may help an immediate few, but can also cause an impactful ripple effect. For as long as I can, I will help make a difference for present Black people and any that may join after me.
Ross Belfon, Senior Salesforce Administrator, Revenue Operations: Being a person from the UK Black community, Black@Braze allows me to build a stronger connection with colleagues from the US and worldwide Black communities.
Braze: How are you celebrating Black History Month this year?
Davon Robinson, Technical Project Manager, Growth: I'm going to support more Black-owned businesses and take some time to do more independent research on historical Black figures, within the US and globally.
Lakresha Watts, Workplace Coordinator, People Ops, West: I have a one-year-old son, so for Black History Month, I will be teaching him the importance of Black culture through music, film, and stories.
Ashley Baird, Web Developer: I have actually been interviewing and asking my grandmother and family a lot about their experiences when they first emigrated to America and even their childhoods in Trinidad. It has been so eye-opening to hear what they had to go through back in the day.
Lauren Francis, Customer Success Operation Lead, RevOps: Issa Rae is the trailblazing person of color I look up to the most because she was the first person that was an accurate representation of myself. Her web series and book "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" gave me life. She captures what it's like to be Black, awkward, and unapologetic so well! I also admire her creativity, sense of humor, authenticity, and boss-ass attitude about life.
Ivana Mena, Sales - East Scale Renewal Manager: La Lupe was a Cuban singer and pioneer in Latin soul and salsa, known for her energetic and often controversial performances in the 60s and 70s. La Lupe became a cult-figure for bringing pure grit, emotion, and passion to her performances which even led to her being exiled from Puerto Rico in the early 60s. She gained international success throughout her career but eventually died in obscurity.
I consider La Lupe a trailblazer because she played by her own rules and was the pinnacle of success in Latin Music, although often ostracized for not following the respectability politics and standards set for women and entertainment in her day. She remains an icon and legend in her own right whose legacy emboldens freedom of expression.
Esosa Igbinosun, GSS, Technical Support Specialist: The trailblazers I look up to would have to be Kobe Bryant, for his relentless pursuit of excellence at his craft; Nelson Mandela, for his fight against apartheid and embracing peace on release; and Fela Kuti, for speaking truth to power via his craft.
Interested in joining the growing team at Braze? We’re hiring! Head over to our careers page to explore open roles.
Erin is the Communications Coordinator on the Comms team based out of Braze HQ in New York. When she's not working, you can find her studying to become a certified personal trainer or listening to true crime podcasts.
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