Executive Kalina Bryant has accomplished the impossible — namely, by being unapologetically Black and female in a white male-dominated Silicon Valley.
And at night, she spills the real corporate tea in her podcast, UnapologeTECH. For Black women looking to penetrate that world, Bryant’s podcast is a salvo. But, she said, that salvo goes both ways.
“When the George Floyd murder happened, I said to myself, ‘who could I turn to, in tech, about this?'” she told AfroTech. “When your colleagues don’t look like you, they may mean well, but they can’t relate to you on a real level. But on my podcast, we can talk that real talk and address those real issues with people that look like us.”
Bryant also brings some of her experience as a consumer advocate to the podcast, where she talks to both her audience and guests about the pitfalls and privileges of the tech world. Her experience as the “lonely only” is not an unusual one for Black women, but Bryant aims to educate above and beyond the typical how-tos.
“You can’t advocate for yourself in the wrong room,” she said, “and, you certainly can’t be what you can’t see. I cannot over-emphasize how important it is for Black women in tech to find each other — no matter where they are in the world — because having that “tribe” around you makes all the difference. And this goes beyond just the professional network — although, certainly, it doesn’t hurt to have that, either — this goes into having that “tribe” around you that understands what you’re going through, because they’re just like you.”
The importance of that community-within-a-community is one that’s near and dear to Bryant, who also said that her first years in tech were “draining” and taught her to play her proverbial cards close to the chest. The white women in tech, ironically (or not…), were the most demeaning to her and her experiences, which is yet another reason Bryant advocates for herself and other Black women in the tech world — and why she consistently pushes that message on UnapologeTECH.
And while she understands — perhaps better than anyone else — that being a Black woman in tech is far from easy, Bryant also emphasizes the importance of coalition-building to reinforce the idea that there’s strength in numbers.
“For many people in tech, there’s a lack of empathy and awareness,” she said. “Especially in a field dominated by white men — you can’t expect them to know what Black women go through. But Black women know what we go through. And that’s why it’s so important to build a community within our community. All we’ve got is each other, and if we’re going to get ahead, we have to do it our way.”
Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.