Editor’s Note: To honor Black History Month across EMEA, we talked with three team members based in three different cities. The following letters were written by featured team members to their own communities, highlighting their rich cultures and demonstrating the beauty to be found and celebrated in these unique stories, all the time, everywhere.
Though I couldn’t have known it then, growing up with you in West Cameroon shaped me into the woman I’m proud to be today. While telling people I’m a Bamoun princess might sound like a funny joke at first, knowing where I come from has served as a strong foundation for everything I’ve built. Sharing our rich history, which goes all the way back to 1394, has become one of the best ways for me to start a conversation about Africa. Because of you, I can educate people about our traditions and the true beauty of our continent.
I was recently asked to share my favorite thing about our culture, my answer was immediate: our sense of pride. Bamoun people, you taught me that rather than worrying about receiving an undermining look, I can hold my head high and say, “I’m a proud African, and I’m unapologetically telling you I own my seat.” I’ve taken this spirit with me to London, to Paris and to each chapter I’ve written in my career. Because of you, I’m empowered to sit at the table, have a strong voice and say, “I won’t be excusing myself here.” Because of you, I’m teaching my daughters the same. I tell them, “Don’t wait for your seat — no one is going to stand up and leave their seat for you. Instead, bring your own seat to the table… and then make space for others.”
Béatrice brings the pride of the Bouman people to everything she does
You are a country many people know and love, but to me, you have always been home. A home where I got married, a home where I’m raising three amazing boys, and a home where I’m truly grateful to have worked throughout my entire life. You are home not only to me, but to many people who are doing great things on the world stage. I look around and I’m so proud to see entertainers who have achieved global superstardom, to see Nigerian artists, photographers, creators and athletes being recognized. In tech, I see brilliant young entrepreneurs who are building multi-billion dollar companies. And right here, at the Meta office in Lagos, we are coming together to build technology and help bridge gaps that will connect more people across Africa — and the rest of the world.
As if this wasn’t enough already, you also taught me about the importance of respect. Whether rooted in longstanding tradition, such as how we posture to and treat our elders or making time for dinner with family, or in small daily interactions while collaborating with teammates and partners, respect is central to everything I do. Demonstrating it is my way of honoring you, my home and where I come from, every day.”
Home is wherever Stanislaus’ family is
I live in Germany today, but one of my most treasured childhood memories will always be visiting my family in Jamaica. I remember vividly the beauty of our land and when my uncles would pick chocolate fruit for me. This is a fond memory, yes, but it’s so much more. Growing up a first-generation Caribbean-American, where I spent time between New York and the Midwest, having these experiences opened my eyes to the beauty of our culture and where I come from. At an early age, I also saw that there are many different ways to do and experience life. You taught me that there is no one way to be Black, a powerful lesson I’ve taken with me across the globe.
Whenever I look around, I see you. I see you in me, I see you in my teammates. I also see that right now, we have a meaningful opportunity to progress an important discussion about our community beyond the historical figures and moments we’re already familiar with. When we shine a light on important new topics, we can create a powerful jumping off point for a continuous conversation. Because of you, I’m driven to help people see and recognize how big and broad Black history really is. Our diversity and collective experiences empower us to do even more — and do it our way — together.”
Jacqueline creates new memories with her son in France
Jacqueline visits her happy place in Jamaica with her cousins