I have spent a lot of time in predominantly white spaces. From non-profit and faith-based organizations to corporate settings, I’ve seen and experienced first-hand how predominantly white spaces are harmful to Black people.
As a Black person existing in those spaces, I did a fair amount of white-washing and setting aside of my blackness. I became a palatable version the white people around me could tolerate and even promote/hold up as an example.
I became a model black person, turning down all aspects of myself that were not welcome (not that anyone said this out loud, but their actions told me these parts were not acceptable).
Slowly over time, however, I began to retreat emotionally inside those spaces. I used other language at the time, like needing to set boundaries or wanting to be more intentional with my time and energy.
What I now see is my body knew those spaces were not safe for me. My body was asking me to pull back and while I did, I didn’t fully understand that my body knew something my mind couldn’t yet grasp.
Eventually, my body and my mind got on the same page. I now see clearly how predominantly white spaces are inherently unsafe for Black people. And I recognize that white people in those spaces would argue that I am wrong. Yet my experience, and that of others I know, tells me that I am correct.
To name just a few, there are the issues of unchecked biases, the prevalence of white saviorism mentality, and the ever-present white is right and/or superior mindset that is never fully challenged or explored.
White people who want to create spaces that are inclusive and equitable have to do the work of exploring these issues and commit to making long-lasting changes. This work cannot be done in a vacuum. It must be done with accountability and support.
This is where I can help.
Being racist or antiracist is not about who you are; it is about what you do. Biases and a lack of understanding has the potential to harm because impact matters more than intent. Through one-on-one coaching we’ll explore your biases, identify the ways your privilege keeps you from connecting authentically across racial lines, what it looks like to be a true ally, plus much more.
It begins with a half-day training where we will explore such topics as why diversity is not enough, power dynamics, unchecked biases and the saviorism mentality that often exists, particularly in non-profit organizations. We can then look at an on-going partnership to ensure you remain consistent in shifting the dynamics inside your organization.
It’s not enough to say you are not racist. You have to ask yourself, how are you ACTIVELY working to be an anti-racist? What does your consistent anti-racism work look like (with consistency being the key)?
How you answer these questions, and others like them, determine if you will create spaces that are safe for Black people (and other people of color). Are you ready?