At Hyphens and Spaces, we advocate for creating spaces where individuals can develop and grow via exploration and reflection within their authentic cultural contexts. Each of our journeys toward generating beautifully accepting, celebratory, and just relationships is nuanced based on our intersectional experiences. My personal journey, as Co-Founder and CCO has been shaped by Caribbean roots, my Muslim identity, and my experiences as a Black man in America.
One of those recent cornerstone experiences was when my wife Samira and I were able to perform Hajj. Hajj is an annual pilgrimage, to one of the holiest cities in the world. It is a recommended journey for Muslims who are physically and financially capable to take at least once in their lifetime.
“My current understanding of what it means to be a man — the fragility and the care that should go into the definition — didn’t exist in my early twenties.”
One of the requirements before making a pilgrimage to Hajj is to connect with all the people who you have mistreated or hurt and ask them for forgiveness. For me, this was an extremely difficult task. The man that I am today is very different from the person I was in my early twenties. My current understanding of what it means to be a man — the fragility and the care that should go into the definition — didn’t exist in my early twenties. So the list of people that I had to reach out to was a long one.
Preparing for Hajj reminded me that we do have the potential to change and become better and I’m living proof of that statement. I truly believe if we treated each person as though they have that potential, we would all be gentler with each other. We would be more compassionate toward the people around us who are not in the place that we might want them to be.
“It’s also important to be able to meet people where they are in their life and not judge them for the place that they’re in.”
I’m not saying that we should remain in toxic relationships waiting for people to change: It’s also important to give people the space they need and distance yourself from people who may not be the best fit for you in your life right now. It’s also important to be able to meet people where they are in their life and not judge them for the place that they’re in.
I know it’s not an easy transition to switch from being a person who frequently judges others to someone who accepts people as they are. I’ve judged people all my life. It has been my default. I know it mainly comes from my own fears that I carry with me daily and project onto others. I also judge myself harshly and have for as long as I could remember. I first had to learn to not be so hard on myself and give myself room to fail and learn from my mistakes. Practicing that is the only way I am able to do the same for others.
“I first had to learn to not be so hard on myself and give myself room to fail and learn from my mistakes. Practicing that is the only way I am able to do the same for others.”
I bring this sentiment with me to my work at Hyphens and Spaces, a diversity, equity, and inclusion company I Co-founded with my wife Samira. At Hyphens and Spaces, we invite people into this work at whatever point they are ready to begin. We believe that there is no “right” starting place. Inequity and bias permeate our systems, institutions, and interpersonal relationships. We’re on a collective journey to address those.
At Hyphens and Spaces, we support you in entering into that journey at the starting point that is most meaningful for you. By encouraging that motivation and cultivating that curiosity, we aim to support and enable each person on the long journey ahead.