We were first introduced to Chanita Christmas thanks to Mat Paterson, who made an appearance earlier in this series. Chanita and Mat used to work together at HelpScout, but these days she’s dedicating her time and energy to building Melanin.Tech, a community dedicated to accelerating the growth of the Black tech ecosystem.
We knew Chanita was one of our weirdos when we saw that her definition of growth includes finding inner peace, and “protecting the peace of people around me.” (There was some celebratory “YESSSSS”-ing in the &yet Slack when we read that line.)
A world traveler, photographer, self-described “mediocre salsa dancer” (honestly, we aspire to mediocre), and a voice that will not be silenced: Chanita is making the tech world more equitable and inclusive one deep breath at a time.
🤓 I geek out about…
- Is this whole thing a simulation, or are we actually living life
- Why is it so hard for us to rid things like capitalism, racism, white supremacy, poverty, and homelessness (spoiler alert: it isn’t hard)
- The stories behind random photos
- How unrealistic monogamy feels
- Love. On every level (romantic, platonic, family, animals, possessions… stuff like that
🎒 I collect…
Art from my travels. I’ve collected wooden sculptures from Belize, graffiti prints from Colombia, paintings from Vietnam, feminist postcards and tiles from Portugal, beadwork from Thailand, poetry from New Orleans, and everything in between. I like to be reminded of where I’ve been, but even more, I love to be taken away in the middle of the day just by looking at the art I’ve collected.
💬 My friends ask my advice about…
Traveling the world, how to fix their computers, and their wild ideas. I LOVE talking about travel. More so, how to do it without breaking the bank and how to find comfort even when you are so far away. Anytime I can help someone relocate to their dream city or country, I feel so magical. I’m guessing this is how Whitney Houston felt as Brandy’s Fairy God Mother in Cinderella. A lot of people also ask me how to fix their computers, and I laugh every time. Working in tech gives you a rep that you know how to do all the things. Which, for me, is SOOOO false. I dig it when friends come to me for advice on their wildest dreams. They know I don’t always have the answers, but it’s so cool to see them light up and want to bounce ideas around.
🧰 How my weird obsessions show up in my work…
I’m obsessed with obtaining some form of internal peace. I’ve had moments where I stop whatever is going on so that we can breathe and re-center. I’ll usually say something corny like, “Do you know what time it is?? Time for us to chill TF out. Three breaths now yall!” just to keep it light, but deep down inside, I’m serious as hell about those three breaths. I don’t believe in making life harder, especially for the sake of work. That concept seems ridiculous to me. So, by all means necessary, I’m going to protect my peace and do what I can to protect the peace of people around me.
🌱 What form(s) of growth is/are most important for your company?
Our most significant initiative of the year is to turn Melanin.Tech into a community hub. We want to bring in all communities with an aligned focus on the personal and professional advancement of Black people in tech. So growth for us looks like expanding our resources to our friends in the fight and make sure every community leader has what they need to succeed.
🌤️ A thing that makes me hopeful about the future of business:
That people are no longer staying in toxic work environments for the sake of a paycheck. We’re realizing our worth and making these companies step their game up to take care of their employees.
💭 I wish more companies would…
Chill with the performative ally crap. We don’t believe you. Just do the work behind those words, k?
💛 How can companies and industries take better care of people?
Focus on creating a psychologically safe work environment for ALL people. It’s worth it, yall!
❓ A question I love:
Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Answer: I don’t fucking know. But wherever I’ll be, I’ll be joyful as hell and in a state of peace. Because I’ve worked hard for both of those things, even when society does its best to take them away.
🚶 I would walk/drive/travel 500 miles to…
Eat amazing food and to see my babies. I have 7 nieces and nephews that I adore. I’ll do anything for them at anytime.
You can connect with Chanita at Melanin.Tech.