Over the last few months, Boldly Inclusive has been working closely with a number of organizations to support their anti-racism efforts. Given current dialogues about the particular challenges and barriers faced by Black communities, many are interested in learning how businesses can be better allies in confronting and disrupting anti-Blackness.
The truth is that we are in an exceptional moment of change. The closest we’ve ever come prior to this was about 60 years ago. The Civil Rights movement coupled with a wave of anti-colonialism efforts in Africa and across the Diaspora drastically transformed possibilities for Black communities worldwide. Though people of all races, creeds, and colours were partners in the fight for change, the scope of their involvement is unlike what we are seeing today. The strength of Black voices, supported by many more white and non-Black racialized people serving as allies, has brought us to a time where we can reimagine the future we want to see, the type of inclusion that we should all experience, and everyone’s role in striving for change.
For this reason, when I facilitate workshops, we encourage learners to be open to learning and in doing so, lean into what can often be uncomfortable. Be honest, be vulnerable, ask questions. If we don’t exercise curiosity, we limit our understanding of one another and our potential to support them in building this new reality.
This blog will tackle 3 of the more frequently asked questions that have come up in our anti-racism workshops.
the politics of allyship
As you probably know by now, Boldly Inclusive has been a monthly contributor to the Leadership Leap Radio for the better part of a year. During our last appearance before the summer break, we dove deep into the Inclusion Zone to talk race and politics. Two taboo topics at once -- they don’t call us bold for nothing!
The idea for this segment came from a question posed during a masterclass we recently delivered. The question was “can you be an ally while not being political?” The answer was yes, no and it's complicated.
Interestingly, as the world continues to grapple with concepts of anti-racism, justice and equity – particularly in the context of events taking place south of Canadian boarders – this question has been posed more and more often, and with more and more trepidation. Still, it's an important one, as we consider how many of us remain on the margins of society due to inaction.
Check out this episode to learn more, and unpack why this question is much more complex and nuanced than it appears on the surface. (HINT: It has more to do with trust than anything else).
June 18, 2020: "Don't Be Political!"
It’s been over two months since Memorial Day in the US. Over two months since the Central Park “Karen”, Canadian ex-pat Amy Cooper, leveraged her whiteness and gender to threaten the safety of a Black man during a feigned distress call to the police. Over two months since George Floyd was killed when a police officer asphyxiated him by digging his knee to Floyd’s neck for 8 mins and 46 seconds, while others either held Floyd down or prevented the public from intervening -- all over a $20 counterfeit bill.
It seems it has been ages ago, but indeed, the world finally started to wake up to the gruesome reality of anti-Black racism. On Memorial Day. A day to honour those who gave their lives for the good of their country.
Although it has and continues to be a painful time for many, the response I have seen from organizations wanting to be part of the solution has been commendable. It seems we are in a crucial moment of transformation. Each of us has a choice to make, to welcome, ignore, or resist it.
allyship and accountability
In last month's blog, I told the story of Belly Mujinga, a Black woman who died from COVID-19 after her employers failed her. In the context of #BlackLivesMatter and global calls to address anti-Black racism, her story is a clear example of how power and privilege play out in the workplace. We often talk about microaggressions, likening them to “death by a thousand cuts”. In this case, the on-the-job microinvalidations Belly faced were one cut too deep.
In recent weeks, the conversation has shifted to allyship. The business world has been vocal in its solidarity, and many organizations have been willing to contribute financially to the fight for justice. Although these are welcome steps, they are not sufficient. Allyship is a process. It is a commitment to ongoing learning and unlearning to understand how systems of oppression work, recognize these systems in action, face one's complicity in upholding these systems, and actively confront them in solidarity with marginalized groups and individuals. Allyship is a title that you earn, given by those with whom you are in solidarity, when you have done the hard work of change.
I got the chance to talk about allyship and accountability during last week’s episode of The Leadership Leap Radio show. You can listen in to my segment, The Inclusion Zone by clicking the following link:
we can all be bolder leaders
"With great power comes great responsibility". We often attribute this deeply historical quote to Spider-Man, an ordinary kid with extraordinary gifts.
As inclusive leaders, many of us would hesitate to compare ourselves to beloved superheroes. We go to work, do our job, we strive to bring people along, we do the best we can the most authentic way we can, and we return home at the end of the day. No gifts. Nothing special. We just do what we do.
In these times, where injustice and inaction can lead to life or death outcomes, a brand of inclusive leadership is needed that calls us to be allies. Indeed, great power does come with great responsibility, but as boldly inclusive leaders, it should not require a cape or a mask to do this work well.