Why Your Identity is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of — Uncovering Racism and Discovering Dignity

I did not want to be Fatima

I refused to wear colorful dresses, bold earrings or anything that would have been considered “ethnic”. I did not want to be labeled. I talked about this publicly at a youth professional event for Taitaja-Global Dignity 2017 in front of 1,600 people. Global Dignity is a NGO now present in 80 countries, also in Uzbekistan.

My speech at Taitaja — Global Dignity 2017

You deserve to be who you are

Growing up in Uzbekistan, I was too tanned for Uzbek culture — they called me “blackie”. I knew it would be hard to find someone to marry me because men wanted light fair-skinned women.

Your culture and background is not a deficiency but an asset

Bloom where you are planted

Now, ten years later, all I do in my work is tell people to not run away from who they are. To embrace their identity, to strengthen it. Bloom where you are planted.

I love supporting people to not run away from who they are

Antiracism is the work of becoming a better human to other humans

Austin Channing Brown said that “the work of antiracism is the work of becoming a better human to other humans.” She’s the author of I’m still here: Black dignity in a world made for whiteness and her message is so important to hear. Working on becoming a better human to other humans is one of the reasons why I create events around dignity and inclusion.

What can you do?

I want to invite you to ask the hard questions in your company and your social circles. What are the diversity and inclusion elements in the team or company? Teach yourself through the resources that are available — be it watching 13th on Netflix or listening to the interview with Austin Channing Brown on her work.

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Kamilla Sultanova

Kamilla Sultanova

I’m a keynote speaker and entrepreneur with a passion for diversity and inclusion and all things cross-sectoral.