One of my favorite quotes is from Demetria Martinez, an American poet and novelist born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She writes, “No one lacks voice. Not even the dead. But many lack ears, the ability to hear those stories out of which the most destitute of people are forging their destinies, breathing life into bleached bones.”
As a Mexican American born and raised in Albuquerque, I have always regarded Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as a reminder that I have ears, ears that hear stories and practice a temperance at sometimes opposing views and ideals. My New Mexican background and proud family offered me countless opportunities to fine tune my ears to listen to Mexican, pueblo, native, and diverse backgrounds that are both similar and yet so different from my own.
Transitioning from Albuquerque to Washington D.C. challenged my lungs to breathe new life into bleached bones. I struggled with leaving my home behind and felt guilt that I was my happiest pursuing a life that was not in New Mexico. I feared that my history would disappear as soon as I boarded my one-way flight. I held onto the hope that my diversity may one day be in boardrooms across Washington D.C., and soon the new places I found myself made me think about my perception of what being a good steward of DEI means. Slowly I realized that DEI is essential in private, non-profit, public-sector organizations, and businesses across the nation.
In the capital of the melting pot, I slowly found places that chipped away at my fears. My background did not melt away, but was celebrated and solidified by my work, friends, and mentors that invested in my aspirations. In the last year, my participation with Women in Government Relations (WGR), the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI), Hispanic Lobbyists Association (HLA), and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) let me see that DEI is a spectrum, and that representation is valuable from the C-suite to grassroots advocacy. I have learned, too, that diversity of thought and bipartisanship is vital to our democracy and that advocacy goes far beyond my assumptions, all while accepting that changing course was essential to my individual growth.
It has been a challenge to retune myself and embrace that DEI is significant and necessary regardless of individual circumstance, location, or career. To be a good steward is to participate, listen, relearn, and invest in the next generation. Today, I keep my family’s traditions alive, I am encouraged to share my culture, and I work with organizations and people who create pipelines and support systems for young professionals like me who are in spaces and industries that demand diversity at every level. Through this I have begun to embody the words of Demetria Martinez, “No one lacks voice. Not even the dead.”Women in Government Relations