Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I just finished watching Coded Bias, and was thinking about how many times I’ve had the conversation about why diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is important in technology. The documentary expands upon the continuing argument that AI, Machine Learning, and many algorithmic paths are laden in white supremacist thinking and bias. In the film, the journey of M.I.T. Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s activism to uncover this knowledge is followed, and we learn about how hard it is to grapple with, overall.

Back in 2015, I was widely recognized for being a leader and pioneer with my involvement in the…

Many times, White allies try their best to offer their hand: joining Black Lives Matter movements, promoting supportive hashtags, or just generally expanding their network of friends. But sometimes, the mark misses the target when it comes to substantial, lasting change. Below, I talk a bit about some of the common things that White allies can do to be helpful and impactful.

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Sometimes, I try to explain exactly what I’m going through as a black, indigenous person of color (BIPOC) and it seems to miss the point.

I sit down and try to explain exactly what I’m going through, in…

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

You’re an up-and-coming business or a staid Fortune 500 company and noticing that many of your colleagues are complaining about a lack of diversity.

For most folks, they say, “Wow. We need diversity training, stat!”… and may stop there. But for others, they think it’s simply having t-shirts that say “We Support Diversity” and slapping on rainbow paraphernalia, a Black Power fist, or some other type of oppressed society’s iconography.

Or even still, some say to themselves, “We have a good group or community here. We don’t *need* a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).”

And… that’s PRECISELY why they do.


I forget the first time I heard this story about a person going off and doing their own thing. It’s something that I grew up with for so long, that I believed that the smartest, most intelligent people were explorers and conquerors who — despite the odds — did something “different” than everyone else. And it was an epiphany. And sometimes refuted. But eventually, like the prodigal child, embraced by all and hailed in the annals of genius or whatnot.

LaShana Lewis talking about her story during TechHire’s roundtable in Chicago (Sept. 2017, Photo: TechHire)

Granted, I’ve gone off and started talking about my unique story and journey. I’ve told people, countless times, why “I…

Closeup of LaShana Lewis wearing a bandana cloth mask in late April 2020.

I had been following the launch of Crew Dragon ever since I knew that Tesla founder, Elon Musk, created SpaceX to specifically pick up where the space race had left off. Being in St. Louis and volunteering at the local science museum, the St. Louis Science Center — a place I visited almost every month since 10 years of age — I knew that we were smack dab in the center of the fight for the first human on the moon. Starting with the Mercury and Gemini projects (two of the original capsules created for them at the nearby Boeing…

A person lays on their bed, staring at a mobile device, looking sullen.
A person lays on their bed, staring at a mobile device, looking sullen.
Photo by Shane on Unsplash

In the projects, no one really cares about you or your well-being. Self-sacrifice is the norm.

I remember summers when the lights would go out. We’d all have the electricity out for blocks. Taking sleeping bags and blankets out to the porch, or sleeping with the main door open and screen-door locked were standards. Sometimes, it would be days.

Learning how to cook on a gas stove and light the pilot, having warm baths and “cleanups” using the standard “heat up the water in the pot, then pour it into the washbowl or bathtub”, and keeping flashlights and candles on…

Photo of LaShana Lewis during St. Louis Science Center’s First Friday event. (February 2018)

As I read yet another article about Greta Thunberg, I kinda roll my eyes, huff, and grunt.

Don’t get me wrong: I love her story, everything she has to say, and the witty vigor in which she spits back on criticisms made by local yokels and authorities on high.

What I’m rolling my eyes about is the insistence that either she is a dolt, a pawn, and only doing what people say, or that she has some sort of superhuman strength and is exceptionally cunning and thoughtful.

I’m rolling my eyes at it because this is systemic of something I’ve…

Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

It’s been 55 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed. People in our generation still remember stories from our parents and grandparents on how they struggled just to survive. They fought tirelessly for their children to have the same rights as white folks around them.

Now, what do those children and grandchildren look like? I recently watched a video of a majority-black town hall meeting and noticed something that half surprised me, and half made me smile with joy: folks spoke a different dialect than one I’d grown accustomed to. …

I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood. I have to say this many times to get it through people’s skull that I didn’t grow up elite, privileged, and resource-filled although I do live and dabble in that world. People think I forgot, but trust, I never do and am never allowed to.

Men were always a mystery in my mind. I knew that physically they were different, but not much else. I never saw a difference between, for instance, me and my favorite cousin. We stuck together like glue for a while, and we were almost inseparable. …

LaShana Lewis at Venture Café STL during her talk, “The Importance of Recognizing Intersectionality” on July 25, 2019 at CIC@4240. (Photo by: Seanna Tucker)

Most people take a look at their normal 9-to-5 job and reveal to themselves that this drudgery is all there is. That for them to make any sort of progress during most of their active, waking life, one must give up their desires and deal with someone else’s dreams. Not true. Work is so much more than that, but we’ve been trained to think otherwise.

I account for things coming up at last minute, for sudden changes of heart, and for the occasional spontaneous joy-filled rant.

At the age of 10, I started to first get the ruminations of what…

LaShana Lewis

LaShana is CEO of L. M. Lewis Consulting, a diversity consulting company, and former Director of the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective.

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