Zach sits down with Dr. Tammy Hodo to take a deep dive into critical race theory. Dr. Hodo also talks a bit about All Things Diverse LLC, her educational consulting company that works with organizations to optimize employee productivity through recognizing the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Click the links below to check out her website and more!
Check out her website, AllThingsDiverse.com
Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate. Now, look, what are we doing? What are we doing here? If you’re with somebody who hasn’t listened to the podcast before, you go ahead and lean over and tell ’em. If you’re by yourself, in your car, at a bus stop, on a train, on a plane, whatever, I can tell you myself – Living Corporate seeks to amplify and center underrepresented marginalized, underappreciated, underestimated voices in the workplace. We do that through having authentic, available, and candid conversations with black and brown thought leaders of all types of varieties on this platform, right? I talked to y’all about this before. I came up, and I didn’t have a lot of family members who could teach me the game and teach me how to navigate thesee spaces, and so as I kind of put myself out there and would get dismissed or dissed or ignored by people that looked like me and people who didn’t look like me, every now and then there’d be somebody who would kind of whisper some real talk to me. The goal of this platform is to democratize wisdom and to democratize information and insights that we don’t often have out loud. We’re trying to have all of that information available and present here, so that’s what we’re doing. We’re having real talk in a corporate world, and that real talk continues today with our guest Dr. Tammy L. Hodo. Dr. Tammy Hodo is the president of All Things Diverse, and it’s an educational consulting company working with organizations to optimize employee productivity through recognizing the value of diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Hodo earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in urban studies, with a minor in sociology and specializations in race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Dr. Hodo has provided training to local and national organizations all under the umbrella of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has written course content on implicit biases and micro aggressions for a national educational vendor that is being used at hundreds of colleges and universities. So she’s certified. Some of y’all, you know, quietly will kind of question our space and, you know, the authenticity of our space because we don’t have these Eurocentric, Westernized academic accreditations, so don’t hate on us, okay? You know what I’m saying? We out here, you know? She has worked in academia for over 10 years in a variety of positions, including faculty and university administrator roles. Her most recent administrative role was the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for a law school where she was responsible for policy development and overall institutional compliance for students, faculty, and staff related to discrimination and harassment. Dr. Hodo recently completed a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology position at the University of North Florida. Now, look, y’all gonna ask me again, why did I take that whole time to read this incredible bio? First of all because it’s fire, [and] two because she deserves it, okay? So with that being said, Dr. Hodo, welcome to the podcast. [air horns SFX] How are you doing?
Dr. Hodo: I’m doing well, Zach. Thank you so much for that phenomenal introduction, and like you said, I’m legit, so I appreciate that. And you are right, people like to–tend to marginalize us or question our credentials. Well, mine are legitimate. Academic, straight public university research grounded, so we’re good to go.
Zach: So now let’s talk a little bit about your academic focuses and how they inform your work. So you talk–you know, you have this PhD in urban studies. Like, this combination of urban studies with sociology and then specializations with race, class, gender and ethnicity, like, how does that inform the work that you do?
Dr. Hodo: So what I found out early on–and full disclosure. Let me just prefix it with this. So I’m originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I’m the product of an interracial marriage. So I am biracial, and my parents married in ’62. I’m not that old. [laughs] But anyway, so we grew up realizing, you know, that race was an issue, but we grew up very much cloaked in my mother’s white privilege. So I went into the military, which is where I had my first real experience with institutional as well as interpersonal racism, which drew me to attend an HBCU, which for those who don’t know [is a] Historically Black College University, for undergrad, because I needed to surround myself with people who looked like me in a positive space after what I had just experienced in our U.S. military, and I just continued on my academic journey after that, but I realized quickly as I got my master’s at a predominantly white institute as well as my PhD that there were not a lot of people who looked like me in positions of power, let alone teaching me, you know? When you come from an HBCU, that’s what you see, people who look like you, who are teaching you, who are rather hard on you because they know how society is going to treat you, and so they’re not–you know, you have to know what you know before they’ll allow you to graduate. So that kind of piqued my interest when I got to the university at the doctoral level, and again I began to see not a lot of people who looked like me. Now, I can kind of maneuver between Hispanic and African-American communities because sometimes people aren’t really sure what I am, which works to my advantage, and what I did was I began to look around and, again, saw that lack of diversity in faculty, and I decided, you know, “I’m really interested in what their experiences are,” because I always thought you have a PhD, which is the highest academic degree you can possibly obtain–and this was rather naive of me–that you’ve shown basically that, you know, “I’m American. I’ve bought into the ideal of education and, you know, I’m qualified and I’m here.” So at the university I did this study at, there were about 1,000 tenured faculty members. There were only 65 that were Hispanic, African, African-American or Caribbean, so I set out to basically interview them about their experiences, you know, and how the culture was at this predominantly white institute, and it was rather amazing and disheartening in many ways. I had some faculty members I found out really that representation matters. If they were in a department where they were not the sole person of color, they seemed to fare better and they felt a sense of camaraderie, and then in other departments where they were the sole person of color often times they felt like they were being alienated and isolated and really used more as a token, you know, for when we need to have these conversations about diversity or if there’s a racial incident on campus, then all of a sudden you want to speak to me, but other than that you really don’t want to interact with me.
Zach: It’s interesting–and kind of going back to the top of what you said, you talked about the fact that you first experienced, you know, individual and institutional racism in the military, and I find that curious because there are plenty of folks who would say that the military is a space where–I don’t want to say colorblind, but they will say that, you know, that actually reinforces meritocracy, that the military is a true meritocracy. So can you talk a little bit more about your experiences in the military and kind of what that meant? Because it does seem to fly in the face of a lot of claims when people kind of characterize the military as a race-neutral place.
Dr. Hodo: So I went in right after high school, because I knew I was not prepared for college, like, maturity-wise. I would’ve partied right on out, but you have to know yourself, and I did know that about myself. And both of my parents had served in the military, and so I went in, and again, you know, growing up in a predominantly white space in Milwaukee, which is the third most-segregated metropolitan city in America, but we did grow up on the east side of town, the white side of town. I was just really surprised at how overt the racism that I did see was. I just had never experienced it like that, and they tell you in boot camp, you know, in the military–well, in the Navy–“Everyone’s blue.” Everyone’s blue. That’s how we see you, because at that time we wore dungarees, which were the bellbottoms, but that wasn’t how I was treated, and that’s when I realized [that] in America, when you’re biracial, you’re black. I mean, we saw that with Obama. What did they say? “We had our first African-American president,” but that man is biracial. I’ve never met a biracial person who identifies one way or the other, because that takes away half of who we are. But yeah, so I had just some experiences in the military that I know had a lot to do with race and sex. You know, it wasn’t just even race, it was sex as well, and I was in, you know, during Tailhook, this Tailhook scandal, and so we saw a lot of issues surrounding sex, but it was very racialized, and it was not based on meritocracy, in my view, at all, and so I did my four years, and that really drove me to the HBCU because of the experiences that I had.
Zach: Wow. You know, and you talk about some of the work and the conversations that you have with folks in academia and some of the tokenism there, right? Like you said, folks basically don’t really want to interact with you unless there’s something transactional they can get from you from a perspective of one part of your identity. Can we talk a little bit more about that?
Dr. Hodo: Yes. I ended up marrying a gentleman–who I’m still married to, we’ve been married 23 years–
Zach: Come on, now.
Dr. Hodo: Okay, yes. So black love is real. And we have a 17-year-old son, who I worry about constantly, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic. So I ended up getting married to a gentleman who was in ROTC when we were in undergrad, so I followed him around after I graduated, you know, with my bachelor’s and he got commissioned, and I followed him around for 20 years, and it was just always amazing to me to see, you know, everywhere we went, upon me receiving my PhD, I would teach, you know, [at] the nearest university. So I’ve taught at the University of Texas-San Antonio. I’ve taught at Virginia Commonwealth University, you know? Some universities in Milwaukee and San Diego and all of these other places, and often times I would be the only person of color–and that’s fine in one aspect, but when I feel like I’m being used as a token, that’s when the problem comes in. And in some departments I felt like I was totally a part of the team, you know, because I would end up in the criminal justice or sociology space, and you study inequality, and you deal with the variables of race and ethnicity and sex and social economic status, but I’ve also been in some other departments where, again, I’ve been the only person, and I’ve been totally made to feel like a token. I’ve actually had one incident, one school I was at, where I had a colleague who didn’t even speak to me, and I was the only person of color in the department, and I find that interesting because I wondered–I always wondered, and I still wonder, how that person treats students who look like me.
Zach: It’s concerning. You also talk about in your research and your larger profile–I read a very quick bio, but you talk about the role that critical race theory plays in the work that you do. Can we talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Hodo: Sure. So my dissertation, the paradigm I used was critical race theory, which actually comes from legal scholars, and what it was–critical race theory recognizes that racism is not gone in America, and it puts race at the center of your inquiry for your research. So some of the legal scholars that are well-known and who have coined the term are Kimberly Crenshaw–Derek Bell wrote a phenomenal book called “Faces at the Bottom of the Well” that gives all of these short stories that are very much based on critical race theory, and then Richard Delgado, and they were instrumental in the development of critical race theory, and like I said, it just recognizes that race is a social construct, but it has real life effects on our life chances in America because it’s so ingrained into our institutions and our society as well as our culture.
Zach: And so then can we talk a little bit about, like, the role that hierarchy and power plays when it comes to race and matters of diversity, equity and inclusion? And I ask because I feel as if when we have these conversations and when we talk about, like, the concepts of inclusion and belonging and all these different terms that we–it’s almost in those discussions everybody is flat. Like, there’s no other dynamics other than identity, but I do believe that there’s a variable there we’re not accounting for when we don’t talk about power and roles.
Dr. Hodo: Right, and we must discuss the power dynamics, right, in America. I think we see a lot of white fragility now, because the reality is the power dynamics are still very much held in the hands of predominantly straight white males, but we see the demographics of America are changing, you know? So my point is diversity is having a diverse group of employees, right? So at the universities that I’ve taught at, I’ll see diversity in the workforce, and I’ll see people who look like me, but they tend to be the secretaries, the janitorial crew, the food service workers and the landscapers, right? And, I mean, that’s the reality that I see. Inclusion is not only about being in the organization, but you actually have to have a seat at the table of leadership where you’re providing your input and your voice is being heard and your ideals and concerns are actually considered as they write policy or they make decisions about hiring, because often times I see diversity but I don’t see inclusivity. Like the example I gave at the one university where I had the colleague who didn’t speak to me. Well, they could say they had diversity, even though I was the only person of color, but they did have white women, which are considered diverse as well. And then the person who was the one not speaking to me was actually a white woman, you know? And that’s problematic in itself, and we’ve seen that in the women’s movements, you know, how people of color have been kind of an afterthought, right? And that’s an issue, but then equity–you know, equality, people talk about that, and that’s just the idea that everyone’s given the same thing, but equity recognizes that some people have less privilege than others, and therefore they need a bit more help to reach the same place, right? So we know systemically that racism has been ingrained in American society. I mean, reality is yes, slavery was real, you know, and that’s who helped build our nation, and when we look at the hierarchy and the people in positions of power, they continuously do not look like the vast majority of the population, and that’s something that has to be addressed, and we have to create spaces and workplaces where we have the courageous conversations. Again, like I said, white fragility is real, which I kind of struggle with, because if you tell me society is based on meritocracy and everybody can be successful if they pull themselves up by their bootstraps, I struggle to understand why people are so concerned about the demographics changing. That doesn’t make any sense. You get what I’m saying?
Zach: Right, ’cause if we shuffle the pieces around the board, if all things are all equal, they’re all gonna rise to the top anyway, right?
Dr. Hodo: Correct, and I hear that a lot, right? I mean, one of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear people say, “Well, people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” but then let’s talk about the institutional racism, like housing covenants and redlining and all of these other things that were put into place to ensure that a certain group was able to rise to the top.
Zach: You know, and you talked just now about courageous conversations, and so that’s–so we love alliteration in all, you know, corporatized–either formally corporate and corporate-like environments, so I think that includes academia as well, as things become just more corporate in there and the administrative functions, but I think my challenge when it comes to courageous conversations is, like, how courageous are black and brown people really allowed to be? If I’m not in a position to really change company policy or standard operating procedures, then what incentive do I have as, like, a non-executive or non-leader, even–let’s just say I’m not even a manager, like, I’m just an individual contributor, what is my incentive to raise my voice and share my concerns about how I’m being mistreated, right? And so my question is what does it look like for organizations and leaders to understand that dynamic, in that even if you’re talking to someone who’s black and brown and they’re giving you feedback, they’re only typically going to go so far.
Dr. Hodo: Yeah, and that’s problematic in itself. And you’re right though, if I’m just–not even a line supervisor, I’m an employee and I’m working and I’m having issues maybe with another employee and it’s surrounding issues of race or my sexuality or my religion or things like that, how far up can I go, and will my voice be heard? And that really depends on the organization and their–you know, what I often see is a lot of organizations have a lot of good talk, but they’re not actually walking the walk. It’s not very transparent. And people are fearful to give feedback because “I can’t afford to lose my job,” you know? “But I’m being treated as less than by a colleague or maybe my first-level supervisor, so what do I do?” You know? And that part is very hard to navigate, but it depends on the organization. And I will say, when I was a diversity officer at the law school, I had a phenomenal dean, and I had direct access to him, and when I wanted to have these courageous conversations it was a non-issue. So I taught them about microaggressions. I actually had a student during Black History Month, of course one of my African-American students wore a shirt about black history, and I had a Caucasian student say, “Well, how would you feel if I wore a shirt and said that we should have White History Month?” I was like, “Wow, he really couldn’t even process that we have that 365–” Well, this year 366 days of the year, right? We’re in a leap year.
Zach: And here’s the thing that folks don’t really want to–you know, everybody, I want everybody to stop. So if you’re driving your car, pause. You know, White History Month is every month, even–and I know this is gonna blow y’all’s mind–even during Black History Month. [Flex bomb SFX] Like, it’s every month. [both laughing] It’s every single month. And I hear you. I want to double-click on my question though, because I think what I’m getting at is what does it look like to help leaders create safer spaces? Because I think we can look at, like, the history of America, and I just look at my own personal history, any time a black or brown person seeks to advocate for themselves or speak up for the humanity or dignity of other black and brown people, they’re met with some type of backlash or retribution. And so what does it look like, in your experience, to teach or coach leaders to not harbor frustrations or let that fragility impact that person to where they don’t feel unsafe at work?
Dr. Hodo: Well, the leaders have to have the appropriate training. Emotional intelligence is one thing I like, and it’s, like, that vulnerability-based trust, and they actually–I mean, the reality is the leaders set the tone for the whole organization, and if they’re not culturally competent and they’re not transparent and they’re not actually walking the walk that they’re talking, the employees know, and they’re going to be afraid to say anything, and they’re going to be afraid of retribution or retaliation, and that’s problematic, you know? That you have to get it where it rises to the level of, like, a Title VII complaint, right, which is based on race, ethnicity, and things of that nature. So if a leader wants to be successful, they have to be culturally competent, and they have to have systems, a process, in play where employees–I mean, even if it’s anonymous–where they can report incidents, you know, that have been taking place within the workplace with other employees or maybe their manager. What happens if your manager says something that is really inappropriate? Who are you supposed to go to? You know, they need to know how the hierarchy works, and I do like an anonymous-type system because people are more prone to share their reality if they know that there’s not going to be any retaliatory behavior.
Zach: You know, it’s 2020, and we’re seeing and we’ll continue to see an influx of Gen Z workers enter the workplace. In what ways do you anticipate organizations will need to continue to create equitable and inclusive workplaces for this new generation of folks coming in?
Dr. Hodo: Well, I’ll tell you what, Gen Z gives me a lot of hope, because–like, when I think about sexuality, they recognize the fluidity of it. They’re not as concerned with the labels, you know, as past generations have been, but I think that corporations are going to have to–right now we have up to five generations in the workplace, so they’re gonna have to learn how to create inclusive work environments where everyone feels like their voice is being heard. So some of the recommendations would be maybe a two-way mentoring program, you know? Multi-generational project teams, you know? Opportunities to shadow some of the older employees and learn how they’ve done things, but you have to have people with open minds, because the Gen Zs are gonna say, “Well, the way I would do it is this way,” you know? And that may be a better way, you know? It may be an opportunity to change some processes and allow those who are older to learn from Generation Z. I’m really excited about them though, because I think that they, you know, want to kind of be left alone, they want to be able to be creative in what they do, and they don’t necessarily want all those labels that are attached to certain bodies that we’ve seen in the past. So I’m pretty excited about that, but again, they’re going to have to create a space where Gen Zs feel like their voices are being heard, because I think they have no issue with moving around.
Zach: No, I think that’s true, and I think because–like, there’s an idea that folks are just gonna kind of stay and put up with abuse, major or minor–and who am I to say what abuse is major or minor because that’s relative to your own perspective and experience, but I know for a fact that Gen Z, out of everybody else, they quick to be like [Hold on a minute there, playa SFX]. Hold on a minute now, playa. You ain’t gonna just–[both laughing] They’ll leave if you don’t let them work from home, so they’ll definitely leave if they’re feeling like, you know, they’re not being treated equitably. And then on top of that they’ll get on their social media, and I think that people are still now feeling, and they know, because we see Bloomberg buying up all these meme accounts and stuff, but I think we’re just now really getting to understand the impact of negative organic press via these social channels, and so I’m really curious. They give me a lot of hope too. They give me hope in that I think this next generation will communally hold massive institutions accountable in ways that millennials do not and that, certainly, older generations have not, because they haven’t had the exposure or experience to do so. So look, this has been a really cool conversation, Dr. Hodo. I really want to give you space though to talk about All Things Diverse and, you know, the story behind the firm that you started, the work that you’re doing, what you’re excited about, and where people can learn more about it.
Dr. Hodo: So I’m really excited. I recently started my business about 15 months ago, but I have always done, even when I was in academia, kind of sole proprietary stuff surrounding diversity. I figure who better to teach you than a biracial person from Wisconsin, right? Because I’ve seen too many African-Americans, when they do go and try to teach, you know, we have certain labels. “Well, she’s the angry black woman,” or all these derogatory–
Zach: Yeah, “very emotional.”
Dr. Hodo: Yeah, “very emotional,” so when I began to teach and do training, one of the first things I put out there is my history, because then it’s just kind of like, “So now that we can not attach that label to me, let’s go ahead and go in the process of actually learning about diversity.” So my site is AllThingsDiverse.com, and I actually did a TED Talk about the social implications of race, and I did that in Jacksonville, so you can find that on my website as well as if you just type in “the social implications of race,” but the services that I offer, I do consulting where I work with individual companies to help them address any issues of inclusivity. I do assessments. I really like to do climate surveys, because that gives me an idea of where there is a deficit, where there is some deficiency within the organizations, and I do that anonymously when I do the assessments because, again, that way the employees are honest, you know? And using that assessment, then I’m able to provide that company with the training that they need, you know? Whether it be about understanding the preferred pronouns, you know, the correct language in the LGBTQI community, whether it’s racial, ethnic, or xenophobic issues, homophobic, Islamophobic, and then we also offer speaking engagements. So I offer a lot of services, and I just want people to be culturally competent, you know? Because I’ve lived in Europe, and it was so refreshing. We lived in Europe almost six years, and it was amazing. Over there I was just American, you know? And to be a person of color and just be that and not have to deal with, like, the intersectionality. So over here I’m a woman and I’m of color, so I already have, like, two things that typically don’t work in my favor unless they want a token, you know? So just kind of exposing people to that, but I will share that one of the reasons I started this consulting company was first of all I see that there’s a need, second of all is that in academia some of the experiences I’ve had has shown me that education doesn’t mean necessarily enlightenment regarding cultural competencies. I don’t if you recall, I’m sure you do, Barbecue Becky. Well, she has a PhD from Stanford.
Zach: So hold on, just for context for our listeners… the white lady who called the police on those black people for having a barbecue in the middle of a sunny day has a PhD from Stanford?
Dr. Hodo: Yes, she does, and so that’s kind of my point too. And the lady I explained to you that didn’t even speak to me at my job is also a PhD, right? So that showed me–and I mean, through my dissertation working with other faculty and interviewing them about their experiences, that education doesn’t necessarily mean culturally competent, you know? And I’ve seen that, you know? So that’s one of the reasons I started this company too, because education may mean enlightenment, but it depends on what topics.
Zach: You’re absolutely right, and I think it’s just intellectually dishonest, or maybe it’s lazy, or maybe it’s both, to presume that, like, just because someone has a high degree from a white institution that then makes them fluent in the matters of historically marginalized people, right? So, like, slave labor was used in building a lot of those colleges. A lot of those colleges still pay homage to and honor and have buildings and statues–and they’re being taken down slowly, but–to white supremacists and white nationalists and civil war veterans. So I think it’s a weird gap or leap in logic–it’s illogical, really, to say, “Oh, this person has a degree from Harvard, or this person has a degree from XYZ, so how could they be racist?” And I think it’s also, like, a drive to kind of absolve or distance white folks from the reality that racism crosses a bunch of different sub-demographics. It’s not just something that is some type of pandemic in the South or in, like, some country town in Arkansas. Like, it’s far-reaching, right? You can be anybody. You can be anti-black and have any type of background or education.
Dr. Hodo: Yeah, you can, and you can be married to an African-American and be Caucasian and still have racist tendencies, so don’t get it twisted. [both laugh] So we moved to the location we’re at now from Richmond, Virginia. So I’m driving to Virginia Commonwealth University, which I enjoyed working there, but I’m driving down Jefferson Davis Parkway going to teach about the social context of African-American families in urban sociology, where we deal with the variables of race, class, gender and ethnicity. It’s symbolic terrorism, right? Because I’m driving by all these monuments, which I knew were not elected until after slavery and the failure of reconstruction. So what were they put up for? It’s symbolic terrorism. The city I live in now, we have a Robert E. Lee High School – 99% black. I lived in Europe for six years. Guess what? In Germany, there is no Adolf Hitler or Third Reich monuments, let alone schools, so–
Zach: Right, you’re not gonna have no Third Reich Academy in Germany, and I think that is, like, the biggest–and we talk about it from time to time, but, like, Baldwin and other folks talked about it too. Like, America is so–it’s just so curious and just so insidious in how deep down we don’t believe we were wrong, right? Now, we’re seeing an ever-growing phenomena in Germany that there is an increase in white nationalist Nazism or neo-Nazi behavior, and so that’s something that I think is starting to be reported on more, but it’s still under-reported, but the reality is they don’t center their identity or have some–you know, there’s not a formal recognition or idea that, you know, these ideas were just “different.” No, they classify them and have called them deplorable, because that’s what they are, but I don’t know–I’m curious as to when or if that will ever happen on a formal federal scale in America.
Dr. Hodo: I don’t know if it will ever happen. I’m always amazed though how, when we talk about reparations, how everyone else who has been marginalized in America got something. Now, not to say they got good stuff, right? Because we know the natives, all the land was taken from them [and we] put them on reservations that, like, you can’t even grow anything on, you know? But, you know, they got something, not to say it was grand. The Japanese who were in internment camps, each family got $10,000, you know? We’ve seen others get some type of reparations, but when it comes to African-Americans, any time you bring that up it’s problematic for a lot of people, you know? But I’m thinking, “Gosh, who do you think built this nation,” you know? That’s just like the conversation of pull yourself up by your boot straps or, you know, when we talk about affirmative action, statistically white women have been the primary benefactors #1. #2, when we look at the universities, we don’t talk about legacies when we talk about affirmative action.
Zach: We don’t, but those are the biggest recipients.
Dr. Hodo: Exactly. And guess what? Most of our ancestors couldn’t even go to those schools until the ’60s, right? When we talk about creating generational wealth, we don’t talk about the Federal Housing Administration implementing housing covenants and redlining. So you had these veterans come back from World War II and the Korean War who could not utilize their benefit to use their VA home loan because they were locked into low-income black areas, even though they had served right beside their white peers who were able now, with the help of urban renewal grants, you know, to go out into the suburb, in this utopia of shopping centers and, you know, A1 schools, but their peers who had also served with them could not do the same. I mean, so we’re not even starting out on the same footing, you know, and that’s the reality I think a lot of people fail to understand. They say, “Well, slavery ended, you know, at this time.” Well, yeah. Jim Crow didn’t end until the Civil Rights movement, and all that’s happened is now we have James Crow, and he’s in a suit and a tie, and he’s still writing these policies that are very impactful, negatively, to our community. I mean, you look at the criminal justice system and the rate of mass incarceration and the disparity between crack and cocaine and the sentencing, right? You look at–now we have all these medicinal and recreational marijuana facilities. What about all the people who are locked up for that?
Zach: I agree. I think the challenge that we still have though is–so we’re seeing it, like, in the presidential campaign as we look at the Democratic nominee, and we have folks who are being held account to their own behaviors, but we’re now just getting to the point where we can acknowledge systemic racism, but I still think that there’s a huge disconnect between folks in power saying, “We have systemic problems,” and those very folks not being able to acknowledge their current role, today, in perpetuating those same systems, right? So, like, when you talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, and when we really want to talk about equity, it’s like, “You saying we have more work to do,” or getting up on stage where a bunch of people can see you–’cause a lot of these companies, right, like, they’ll get up on these stages and these platforms and talk about all of these things that need to change, but rarely ever, if ever, have I seen someone in an executive position of authority at a major company say, “Hey, this is what I did wrong,” or “These are policies and processes that we need to change, and this was the impact because I did not do those things,” right? So it’s like they want to be absolved, they want to acknowledge but also be absolved at the same time, and I think that the reality is accountability has to come with some of these conversations. If we continue to talk around them or talk about these things even historically without also talking about the practical implications of how they’re maintained and they still thrive today under the very nose, or by the very hands, of the people who are just now acknowledging them. I think that’s the–for me, when I think about this work, I anticipate there being, like, a bit of a split eventually between, like, who’s real and who isn’t, because I don’t see this next generation of workers being able to put up with or just tolerating the cognitive dissonance of that, you know what I mean?
Dr. Hodo: I totally agree with you. Gen Z is not going to put up with that, and cognitive dissonance is alive and well in America. I mean, I don’t understand how people don’t see it, but I will have people say, “Well, racism isn’t–that’s not an issue. You know, it’s all based on meritocracy,” but didn’t we just see, like, this big college scandal with Hollywood stars and how they were–so tell me again about meritocracy, because if I had that money and my child needed tutoring or whatever, then that’s what I would pay for my child to get instead of paying someone else to take the test or change the test for them. So again, tell me about meritocracy, right? But again, I think part of it is guilt and the idea–like, I’ve had people say to me, “Well, I don’t believe in white privilege,” and I tell them, “That’s funny, ’cause I do. I grew up cloaked in it, and as soon as I left my parents’ household I learned really quick that my mother’s white privilege, that didn’t transfer to me.” So they’d say, “So how can white people be poor if there’s white privilege?” Anybody can be poor. That has nothing to do with white privilege, but the negative connotations that are associated with black and brown bodies as soon as we walk into the room, white people don’t have to address that. That’s part of white privilege, you know? You may recall a couple years ago I think Oprah was somewhere overseas, it may have been Switzerland, and she wanted to get in that store and look at the handbag, and the woman told her, ’cause she did not know who she was, that she wouldn’t take the bag down because she knew that she really could not afford it. See, those are the connotations–that’s what’s attached to our bodies, and that’s problematic in itself, you know? Even though if you’re a low-income white person, that assumption is not made when they see them, you know? And that’s part of white privilege, and that’s what I try to get when I teach to get my students to understand, because they’ll say, “Well, no, I was poor,” but it’s like, “Yeah, but you still had privilege, and you still do have privilege, and how about you use that privilege to be an ally? Why don’t you, when you see something, pull that person aside who’s done something wrong to someone in a marginalized community and have a conversation with them? Ask them how they think they would feel if that had happened to them. Explain to them what microaggressions are. Explain to them what you observed and how it would make you feel,” and that’s what we need. We absolutely need allies.
Zach: You know, and I think–we gotta have you back on to talk about the role of allies, and that conversation happens a lot in these circles, but I think that we don’t do the conversation justice when we don’t talk about the role that power plays, like, in practical ways, right? And I’d love to have you back on to talk about, like, real allyship, advocacy, and just kind of the tenants of being an effective ally. Like I said, we’ve talked about it before on the platform, but we need to talk about it more, especially as we come up on November and a lot of the feelings of isolation and exclusion that were heightened and peaked in 2016, they’re gonna happen again in 2020, and so it’s gonna be important for folks who claim to care, who have the courage to extend their social capital, their financial capital, their political capital, their capital that they are in a position to do so. Before we let you go, and we definitely appreciate you being here and consider you a friend of the show, any parting words?
Dr. Hodo: Well, I just want to leave with one of my favorite quotes, by James Baldwin, that is “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced.” In America, we really need to have a conversation about the continued marginalizations of certain groups.
Zach: Thank you so much, Dr. Hodo. Thank you so much for being on the platform. Really enjoyed this. Y’all, this has been Zach. You’ve been listening to Living Corporate. Now, look, you can check us out everywhere. We’re all over Al Gore’s internet, you know? You just type in Living Corporate and we’re gonna pop up, but if you’re a URL type person it’s livingcorporate.co, .us, .org, .net, .web, shoot, all the dots except for LivingCorporate.com. Dr. Hodo, Australia owns LivingCorporate.com for some reason, but the rest of ’em–but we also have living-corporate, please say the dash, dot com. Make sure you check us out on Instagram @LivingCorporate, Twitter @LivingCorp_Pod, and shoot, until next time, this has been Zach. Again, you’ve been listening to Dr. Hodo, professor, educator, speaker, entrepreneur, CEO, mover and shaker, you know? Snatcher of edges, mine and yours. [both laugh] Catch y’all next time. Peace.