How I Found My Black Girl Joy Again

No amount of money could make up for a life that felt empty

Tomika Anderson
Published in
8 min readJul 10, 2019


Courtesy of Claire Soares

By Claire Soares, as told to Tomika Anderson

I knew it was time to go when I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

At my old apartment in Oakland, California, my bedroom window framed the most incredible sunrise — the kind you see lovers gazing into, arm in arm, in rom-coms.

Still, all I saw was darkness.

I was depressed when I should have been basking in Black girl joy.

As one of the few Black people on the sales side of the Fortune 500 company I worked at for more than a decade, I was breathing rarified air.

My job was 100% remote, and most weeks I spent my time flying around the country to wine and dine clients at similarly successful companies, smashing through deal goals in the process.

As the primary sales engineer, I brokered some of the largest deals in my company’s history, securing contracts with the U.S. government, Microsoft, Disney, and IBM to name a few — contracts worth billions of dollars.

A 10-time President’s Club winner, I was treated to luxury trips most years on my company’s dime: a reward for a job well done. These trips were to exotic destinations with five-star accommodations, where I toasted it up with colleagues who had also made it into the coveted “winner’s” circle. And I brought home a healthy salary and benefits for all of my efforts.

BBut beneath the shiny veneer of my enviable position within the company, I was deeply unhappy. Year after year, despite my achievements, I watched my peers move up the ranks title-wise and be sponsored, while I was passed up for promotions. I felt invisible. I was always compensated well but higher-ranking titles generally mean more long-term opportunities.

Out of a company of thousands, I worked with fewer than 10 Black people in my entire career. I often was the most senior. There were hardly any Black people in management. I remember only two in 10 years.

My mentor, now the CFO of the company, was, predictably, a White male, and while he went to bat for me on a number of occasions, he wasn’t able to relate to what I was…