(Gender, Race, Sexuality)

On the first day of school in fifth grade, I looked around and realized I was the only black person in the room. I had a scholarship to go to an expensive private school, and there just weren’t many people at the school that looked like me. I later learned that not only was I the only black person, I was also the only person whose family didn’t go on lavish vacations, and the only person that commuted an hour and a half by my own version of a BMW (Bus/Metro/Walk.)

Knowing it was a privilege to be at this…


Who I think of as my family has transformed, but the love and support the word represents remains.

When I was a child the word ‘family’ was clearly an indication of a blood connection. You have family (mom, dad, siblings,) and you have extended family (uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, etc.) If or when you get married, your spouse joins this exclusive group. There are other exceptions like adoption, step siblings, godparents, but, regardless, the concept of family is associated with certain behaviors and expectations that carry through to adulthood. You’re flying into town and need a place to crash? Of course you can stay with your family. Need a last minute baby-sitter? Someone in your family’s got your…


Explicit and Implicit Bias: What You Can Do

A couple months ago, I shared my experience grocery shopping at Raleys, where an employee called the police accusing me of stealing deli meat; an accusation so absurd because I’m a vegan who had just spent $220 at their store. Many people have followed up with me wondering what ended up happening, so I thought I’d provide an update.

The ACLU Foundation of Northern California was a tremendous help in negotiations with Raleys. I applaud Keith Knopf, President and CEO of the regional grocery chain, for agreeing to some of our requests to make changes to company policies. …


A black vegan MBA and an Asian lawyer spend $220 on groceries at Raley’s and get harassed by the police for shoplifting.

Citrus Heights, CA.
Imagine you’ve just spent $220 at Raley’s on groceries for a camping road trip. You’re in the parking lot putting the groceries in your trunk when you hear the screech of a police SUV make a sudden stop at your car.

“Ma’am, did you buy those groceries? We have a witness cashier that says that you took several items without paying for it,” says a 6 foot tall white policeman in full uniform accompanied by his partner.

“Excuse me?” I say, shocked and horrified at the accusation. …


How western medicine’s shortcomings opened my eyes to a more holistic approach

I spent the last few years passionately speaking about lifelong learning, preaching to individuals and companies about how important it is for us to always be learning. The world is rapidly changing around us and if we don’t continue to learn, we will be left behind. In my role at Udacity, I was speaking in the context of job skills in technology. While this continues to be true, I have become more and more aware that job skills aren’t the only thing that we need to be learning.

A couple of years ago I sat in a doctors office as…


A 10 day silent meditation retreat experience — Vipassana style

What’s the longest you’ve gone without talking to anyone? What if talking included texting and emailing? Do you think you could do it for 10 days? It might sound daunting, but you can do it. I know you can.

What’s the longest you’ve gone without moving? Sitting at the movie theater doesn’t count because you probably scratched that itch on your arm and didn’t even think about it. Maybe when you were about to fall asleep last night? Or did you take one last stretch before dozing off?

Imagine you’re…


How scholarships saved my life and landed me in Silicon Valley

When I was nine years old, I remember nose-diving to the floor of the backseat of our car because there was a drive-by shooting at the local drugstore parking lot. The sound of bullets was so familiar, that my reflexes to duck were ingrained. The shots were still a new sound to my curious six-year-old brother, so he sat up trying to look out the window to see what was going on. My big sister instincts yanked him down hard. That was our neighborhood — you never knew if you were safe.

I grew up in Washington DC, the murder…

Zhalisa Clarke

Mindfulness Coach. Sound Healer. Yogi. Rock Climber. Violinist. Harvard MBA. Tech Executive. www.reclaimingflow.com; www.linkedin.com/in/zhalisa/

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