Ryann Richardson: Tech Founder | Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Advocate | Miss Black America
I came of age professionally in the tech industry. As an extreme minority, black and a woman, in a space which so clearly deprioritized my inclusion, I was always keenly aware of my otherness. Out of fear, and necessity, and an instinctual drive for self-preservation, I learned to cope in my environment. Like the chameleon, I learned to camouflage myself, altering my being as to go unnoticed. Every day, I muted my voice. I shrank. I hid in plain sight. And I remained hidden until the weight of my bated breath began to crush me.
My travels as Miss Black America have taken me across the country, meeting women, people of color, LGTBQ+ folks, and so many more individuals representing other marginalized communities. Together, we’ve laughed, cried, celebrated, and lamented. And all too often, we’ve shared versions of the very same story. Whether in our workplaces, our neighborhoods, or even within our families; while sitting in a coffee shop, or riding on the train, or enjoying time in a public park, we’ve told tales about how we learned to survive in hostile environments by hiding ourselves. We made ourselves invisible out of fear that someone would notice that we don’t belong, assert that we don’t deserve, or suggest that we ought not invade spaces in which we aren’t welcome.
I made this collection for us.
“Take up Space Being Your Whole Self”, my mantra, is my freedom and my self-granted permission to exist. This message is more than a daily affirmation. It’s a call to action. It is a measure of self-care. It is an intentional act of rebellion. Embrace it. They will see you, whether they want to or not.