One day, while sitting at home, the fondest memories of my childhood started running across my mind. Playing games with my friends and siblings on the streets during those hot summers and the time my grandfather came to walk me home from the train station after school; and caught me talking to boys! I was mortified. And as I was being somewhat berated by him – you see, according to Grandad, I had no business chatting to the opposite sex at 13 years old – we bumped into his friend. They spoke and when the conversation finished my Grandad’s friend walked through his front gate into his home.
It reads like a simple recollection, but there are a few builds to it. My Grandad was disabled and had an artificial leg, so he had a very distinct walk. When he and his friend had their conversation, they spoke patois. When my Grandad’s friend walked through his front gate, the gate and his whole house was painted neon pink and yellow because he was losing his sight and it was the only way he could distinguish his home from the others on the street of our West Indian community.
This particular memory led to an idea which I wrote down and decided to save and pitch to the right client: developing criteria that measures and evaluates the level of inclusivity that every piece of technology facilitates; bridging the divide between cultures across the globe and demystifying the lives of people in marginalized communities.
My career has been built on providing counsel to blue-chip companies, dignitaries, CEOs on ideas that would benefit their business and move the world forward in the name of social good. Then as time went on, a quote married with my own words kept replaying in my head over and over again; sometimes you can’t wait on the world to make changes you want to see. Sometimes, you have to be the change you wish to see in the world.
So I took a leap of faith and decided that instead of storing the idea and waiting for an opportunity to pitch it as part of a campaign, I could be the my own architect of change by asking others to demand more for equality, leveraging the idea as inspiration – connecting the design and purpose of technology, such as the mobile phone, to the impact that it can have on someone’s life.
I submitted an overview of the idea to TEDx, a platform that believes in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and the world. I thought I was dreaming way too big when I pressed the submit button. These uncertainties formed a committee in my head “Who do you think you are Sabrina?”, “Why do you think you’re the person to share this idea?”, “Why would people want to listen to you?”
But those doubts were overshadowed by the echoes of my childhood memories and voices of my family and friends. The experiences we shared together were the genesis of the idea, these moments were the qualifications that gave me a right to speak. To echo the words of Michelle Obama – sometimes you can’t wait for the world to be equal to start being seen.
Time passed and then one Wednesday afternoon, I received a call from the organizers of TEDx in Los Angeles, Grand Park. It was an invitation to speak at the event. I was elated.
One of the many lessons I learned during my time being mentored and guided by the TEDx organizers – Ben Patwa and Suzanne Catherine – was to use words that come from the heart rather than the thesaurus. Heart conveys the message; the words are just a small part of the mechanics.
The ethics I absorbed from early childhood watching my parents and grandparents work exceptionally hard made me a striver, learning by example. They told me in many different ways to never let anyone determine my value or commandeer my story.
Because my heart is my story.