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#ItStartsWithConversation: On Compassion, Responsibility, and Breaking Barriers

Posted in: Highspot News

We believe in the power of conversations: they show us truths, challenge our beliefs, and ignite change. As we honour Black History Month, we asked four Highspot employees to share stories of the conversations that have changed their lives, from visions of a better future to reminders of the work that is necessary to create it. Here’s what they had to say.

“See people as they are.”

When I was in the second grade, my grandma gave me the first instalment of an encyclopedia for Christmas. I remember reading it at school when I felt a shadow over my shoulder: my teacher was behind me, pointing at the book. She accused me of taking it from the library; I told her my grandma had bought it for me. She made me read a section out loud, and when I stumbled on a word, she told me I didn’t need to bring it in again because “my kind” wasn’t smart enough to read it.

Ciara Namude

I was very quiet when I got home that day. My mother asked what was wrong and I told her. She’s normally a very calm person, but not then. She went to the school and had me transferred to another more advanced class. But the fact that someone thought less of me because of how I looked remained.

After that day, I knew I would never make someone feel that way. I look for opportunities to see people as they are, their whole essence. That said, there will always be people who are going to have negative thoughts about you. And you may not be able to change that. So remember that it’s okay to protect yourself, protect your well-being, and reserve your energy for the people who deserve it.

–Ciara Namude, Marketing Manager, Community Platform

“We have a responsibility to always be learning.”

I grew up in a typical suburban family. I went to a great public school. And my perspective of the world was pretty sheltered. It wasn’t until I went to college that my eyes were opened to different social issues, different outlooks on life. And I’m grateful for that – not just the conversations but the willingness of my generation to be such open communicators.Spencer Turner

There’s a lot happening in the world right now – and a lot that has happened that we’re still dealing with the repercussions of. That means we have a responsibility to always be learning. Personally, I do not want to be one of those people who refuses to take in new information. It’s my responsibility to absorb new things, reflect on my perspectives, and yes, even admit when I am wrong.

My advice to any readers? Don’t have that concrete opinion yet. Let it be malleable. Listen more than you talk. And always, always be a student.

–Spencer Turner, Account Development Representative

“I’m proud to welcome people in.”

My father was the first Black fireman in my hometown of Conway, Arkansas. More than that, he was one of the first Black firemen in the state. My dream was to replace my father. And oftentimes, this job was passed down through the family: there were brothers, uncles, and cousins working together.

Priest Payne

I remember getting out of the military, just like he had done, and studying to take the firefighter exam. I told my dad I had signed up to take the test and he said, “I have some bad news for you.” A no nepotism law had just been placed into effect…just after he had mentioned to his colleagues that I was planning on applying. It was a really big slap in the face. There went my plan, his legacy. We were heartbroken.

Eventually, I came to Seattle, took the firefighter exam here, and passed it. At the same time, I had the opportunity to begin a career in recruiting. I took the recruiter route and am glad that I did. Having gone through that ordeal, I now have the power to do better than what was done to me. You should work hard to follow your dreams, but someone has to open the door for you. As a recruiter, I’m proud to welcome people in.

–Priest Payne, Sr. Technical Recruiter

It Starts with Conversation

What conversations have impacted your life? Share your story with us on social media using the hashtag #ItStartsWithConversation – and be sure to check back for more stories from our Highspot team.