The other day I made a statement about people changing their titles and profiles and “cashing” in on the “black work” – I am some may not like my observation ( who likes to be called out! – right?) anywho… I am only showing this first picture as an example of people placed in positions to guide and guard human rights, equity, social justice, etc., and then this happens. You see, I’ve been saying this for a while, the work of equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Anti-Black Racism (ABR) cannot be done like your usual regular lessons, staff development “over-coffee workshops” and fairytale style stories. It takes real authentic delivery and honesty. The kind that makes you nervous at times, the truths that make your voice break and the ones that make you wonder if they will use you back. DISMANTLE is a word everyone is jumping to use. Do you understand the concept of dismantling? It is about breaking, destroying, pulling away, or as my granny would have said, “mashing up” – it is not cute work, it is not the most pleasant work, it is not the best-looking work. However, it is incredible work – it is about building.
Many people want this work to be done, but they want it to be done so cute that no one is challenged, and no one is provoked. No one is pushed to reflection, and no one demands change and action. Yes, in the middle of this ABR talk, we have those in POWER who are asking for workshops and consulting still demanding the privileged way. You see, ABR is not just a colour thing – it is a powerful thing!
We also see the requests for Black professionals to discount their work, engage in training and consulting and walk away even drained ( which is fine for me since I always intend to pour out my everything and then return to a place that I am able to fill up again #selfcare has always been my thing). These same people who are requesting the ” quick black talk” are the very ones who forget that many of us as PROFESSIONALS have been doing this work for years, qualified to do this work and can offer many many more workshops. For example, my work has always been in leadership, teacher education, staff development, teacher performance evaluation and diversity – take note of all the things listed before diversity. Do not request us only for the “black talk” then call on your regular white pals you pau twice as much! I have seen it. I have challenged it. I know from where I am writing. Yes, clutch your pearls mam – people have been doing this!
Wonder why I love teaching in a teacher education program and school administration/leadership program so much? Because each time I engage a group of students for 7-12 weeks and I challenge them, I am confident 85% of them walk away wanting to be a better teacher or vice-principals, principals, and other educational leaders. I know it. I feel it. I have a real solid hope that our future will be better as I have seen more and more of my students, many of which are White, understanding how to use their power and privilege to create real change. I see them being provoked to being transformative. Please take note of the many White faces we saw in the protests.
My advice? (Even though you did not ask..)
- Do not discount Black labour at any time, especially during this hyper-sensitive period. Looking for “cheap Black labour” is a dangerous premise to build your intentions on.
- Look who is at the table for the EDI and ABR talk and who is leading? What are their cultural competence and currency like? Have they been engaged in the unpacking of SELF?
- Do not warn facilitators of the many things they should not do to offend. If they are skilled, their intention should never be to offend. However, they must be capable enough, equipped enough, and reliable enough to call-out without fear and then call-in to ensure people are left in places and spaces of reflection and growth-intention.
- Do not ask for the watered-down version of the EDI and ABR training like the pool-side drinks at the 3-star all-inclusive hotel. Ask for the strong top-shelf, premium brand. The one that you can feel going down your chest, but leave you knowing you had a damn good drink!
- Walk into your EDI and ABR training with an open heart. Yes, I did say heart. Your mind will follow. Begin with your heart. A heart that wants to see better for others.
- Be patient with your growth. We can’t learn it all in one go. I have been doing this work for years and each time I attend a workshop that I am not the facilitator or sit on a panel with other experts, I drink up so much! I take it so much! I learn so much! Cultural Competence is about growth.
- Keep the door open!
Equity Blog # 1
June 26, 2020