This this.

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I’m at a conference; at the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference, held this year in the heart of Seattle’s downtown.

I’m also 9 hours away from home. I’m not sleeping particularly well or let’s say, not enough at the right times. That said, my head and my heart are on fire. I am here for a feast.

I feast my eyes of the multitude of beautiful skin tones, the bounty of hair textures, styles and expressions. I feast my ears on the stories we share with one another as colleagues of color, as parents of black and brown and multiracial children, as aspiring leaders, as conference veterans, as old friends, as trusted allies, as people who need each other and who desperately need all of this.

Which this?

It’s the this I cannot draw well with my words because language falls short.

It’s the this that keeps me writing in my head as I listen and digest; that compels me to look around whatever room I’m in and sigh with a satisfaction that says, “Yes, just this…”

It’s the this that makes me reach out with both hands to shake the hand of someone I’m meeting for the first time. It is me saying, “Thank you for reminding me that I have a place here and a purpose. Thank you for confirming my belonging.”

It’s the this when we open up with each other in ways that defy the logic of individualistic and competitive norms we experience in other contexts. We bring our whole selves to the conversation because, for once, here, we can.

It’s the this in acknowledging each others’ accomplishments and ambitions with encouragement and pride. The way we rally around each other and also hold each other up when we have to contend with our demons.

It’s the this in being accorded a fundamental benefit of the doubt about my competence, my expertise, my positive intent and willingness to learn. It’s in being valued and seen as valuable.

It’s the this of being warmly welcomed and in turn extending that same welcome to others; a deep abiding kindness that permeates this whole space in its incredible mass and complexity of moving parts.

So much of this.

Here for it,

here for me.

Thank you, #NAISPoCC.

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