I didn't know it mattered till it happened. I was sitting on a Zoom call when it hit me. I had never worked for a Black-owned business, and I was about to. That felt like a huge, almost overwhelming moment. And it wasn’t the only one.
As I sat there, I ran through my working life in my head. The schools I worked for in France were owned by the municipality, and I don't even know who owned the first company I worked for in Barbados. The second was owned by a white Canadian, and the third, by an American. When I worked in the UK, I was often the only Black person in the office (there were a couple of places where I was one of two or three). I wouldn’t have known where to find a Black-owned business, and there was no Google to help me, either.
There wasn’t much difference in my freelancing life. While my local clients in Barbados were mostly (but not exclusively) Black, 99% of my international clients prior to 2020 were white. So the fact that I was meeting with the founding members of a Black-owned business felt like a major milestone.
But there was another one to come. Throughout my freelancing life, whenever there was a group call, or an online meeting, I was generally the only Black person there. I didn’t think much about it at the time.
This particular meeting changed that.
Like most meetings these days, it took place on Zoom, and as I looked around the array of small screens, I noticed something: everyone on the call was Black. It was a rare experience, and one I never expected in an international business setting. I've had calls with friends and family, of course, and one on ones with Black colleagues and potential clients, but never in the 18 years since Skype launched had I been on a video call where everyone else looked like me. It was mind-blowing.