Not to be cliche or quote a movie, but Reese Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde, Elle Woods, was right, “You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.”
A room full of men can be intimidating because as females, sometimes we wonder if we’re enough. I think it’s time I share a moment in which I almost stayed quiet because I truly struggled to find my voice. Back in 2015, I was invited to an event MLB was hosting, the Sports Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, which is just a fancy smancy title for, ‘we need more diversity in sports.’ This was in the very beginning of my career but was an opportunity I thoroughly wanted to take advantage of. The then MLB Senior VP of Diversity & Strategic Alliances, Wendy Lewis, grabbed me towards the end and said, “Alright, the press room is all ready for you guys to speak to Robert Manfred,” he’s the MLB commissioner. Immediately, I said WHOA, okay let’s do this. I was taken to the Mets press room and I expected a room full of people because duh- this is the MLB commish. To my surprise, it was only 3 other men, older and white at that. I took my seat and was like wow, I’m representing so many people right now. And when I say representing, I mean Black women, Latino men, and Black men. I’m a minority and the irony is that I was at a diversity symposium. That room didn’t reflect that at all. But, I have to admit that at first, I was struggling to find my voice. I felt so intimidated because I didn’t identify with anyone in the room and it’s such a sad feeling because you want to excel. I literally told myself as they discussed diversity in MLB & more inclusion of Mexico (ironically), “Erika, you need to ask something and make it memorable. Own the fucking moment! You deserve to be here. Don’t ever forget that.” I took a breath and then raised my hand and grabbed the microphone. It was the proudest moment I’ve ever had in sports.