As part of NetApp’s commitment to DI&B, we highlight and celebrate NetApp employees who are working to build belonging every day and foster a greater understanding of the importance of diversity, inclusion, and belonging throughout the NetApp community. Hear their stories in our new series.
Life at the intersection of three marginalized identities is no cake walk, let me tell you. However, as a Black queer woman I feel a sense of pride and peace in my identity. It’s been a journey to get to the point where I am, but the connections that I’ve been able to make because of these identities has helped to shape my life and who I am.
Being raised by a Black family has been one of the greatest joys of my life. My parents are strong examples of what Black excellence looks like. The love and support they’ve shown to me and my sister, even when we weren’t making the best choices, is unparalleled. They also instilled in us an acute knowledge of how we were going to be perceived in the world. Each year before we started school, my dad would give us The Talk, telling us we’d have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get half the respect. A bleak but realistic perspective that many Black folks are used to. Had I not received The Talk, there’s no way I’d be where I am today.
My friends have helped shape my identity of what it’s like to be a queer woman. For so long, I viewed the world as a binary, when actually it’s a spectrum. I spent so much time trying to define myself by the standards set by others instead of living my truth. All of our experiences are different, and we’re all somewhere on the spectrum of gender and sexuality. I’m so glad that I had my friends and chosen family to help me realize that who I am is enough. I now know that I don’t have to define myself by antiquated and rigid standards that have been set by people who don’t know a single thing about me.
There’s nothing quite like having a group of strong women in your life. The women and girls in my life teach me something new each and every single day. From my mom and sister who support me no matter what, but also tell me that my shade of lipstick isn’t right. To my friends who listen to me and provide advice on how to navigate through some of life’s biggest challenges. There’s a reason why there are so many shows and songs about female friendships, mother-daughter relationships, sisters, etc., because they’re simply the best. I am so grateful for the women in my life who help and show me how to thrive in my own skin.
There’s a line in the song Tha Crossroads by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony that really stands out to me: “See you at the crossroads…So you won't be lonely,” which is sort of how I see myself. I’m living at the intersection of all of these different identities, but I never feel alone. My family and friends are always there to support me, and I feel comfortable with who I am because of it. We celebrate our differences and make sure that everyone is seen, heard, and cared for. I know that my experience is unique and there are so many others who live at these crossroads but don’t have the love and support that I do. Just imagine if we could build that world, if we could shape that world for future generations to be the most authentic versions of themselves.
I’m a dreamer and I’m imagining it and I think that’s why my journey has brought me here to help create this world here at NetApp.
Lana Williams is the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Project Manager. She joined NetApp in June 2021 to help accelerate NetApp’s diversity initiatives and build belonging every day by fostering an inclusive organization reflective of the communities where we live and do business. Prior to NetApp she worked in community relations at the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation and worked on workplace equality for the LGBTQ community at the Human Rights Campaign.