Having Racy Conversations at Work (w/ Karen Fleshman)

Zach sits down with Karen Fleshman, the founder of Racy Conversations, to discuss the concept of anti-racism and what organizations should be doing to create inclusive and diverse workplaces. Check the links in the show notes to connect with Karen and find out more about Racy Conversations!

You can connect with Karen on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to check out the Racy Conversations website. 

Learn more about Karen’s upcoming book “White Women, We Need to Talk: Doing Our Part to End Racism” on Amazon.


SPEAKER 1 0:00

Hey, what’s up, y’all this is Zack live in corporate. And you know how you got 12 Days of Christmas, right? We’re doing this thing, 12 days a podcast. So that’s 12 days a podcast, leading up to Christmas Day and a little bit after, because it’s 12 days, really excited about this one to make sure that y’all hear some of the great content that we have in our vault from earlier this year, that we didn’t release because of timing or scheduling and coordination. But we’re still really excited about it. So the next thing you’re going to hear is a conversation that we had earlier this year. I really hope that you check it out, and you enjoy it. And before we get there, we’re going to tap in with Tristan.

SPEAKER 2 0:53

What’s poppin y’all, it’s just in LA filled resume consulting, and I’ve teamed up with living corporate to bring you all a weekly career tip. Today we’re going to talk about why it’s essential to narrow down your job search. Have you ever decided you were going to search for a new job, so you take your laptop out, you look at your resume, and you think that’s fine. And then you head over to your favourite job search site like indeed or monster to start searching, then 10 to 15 minutes in, you’re completely overwhelmed? Well, that’s because you didn’t go into it with a plan. We often set ourselves up for failure by setting our sights too wide. We say we want to work in HR, but HR is an expansive industry. You can be a generalist, a recruiter, a trainer, a manager, a director, a VP, the list goes on. The name of the game in the job search realm right now is tailoring. Yes, you could adapt your resume to all the various roles you would apply to on a whim. But you’d be spending an endless amount of time tweaking resumes and cover letters. And that’s precisely why you feel exhausted before you’ve even really gotten started. While many roles inside of an industry require similar skill sets, they each have their own unique requirements. By thinking too large, you tend to miss what skills you can highlight and what skills you need to brush up on to make you the best candidate in the applicant pool. So take a step back and try to figure out one or two areas or jobs that you’re interested in, then develop a targeted strategy for each of those areas. This strategy includes signing up on specific job search sites, highlighting different achievements in your documents, attending certain networking events, using certain social media platforms or even reaching out to particular employment agencies. While this process varies widely, depending on the industry you’re trying to break into, by being aware of what you want, you can better prepare yourself to attain it. Remember, it’s a process. This tip was brought to you by Tristan of lay field. Resume consulting, check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at lay field. Resume or connect with me. Tristan lay field. On LinkedIn.

SPEAKER 1 2:55

We have Karen fleshman. Karen fleshman is the founder of racy conversations. Her mission is to inspire the first anti-generation in the United States. If y’all didn’t know 43% of millennials are people of color 47% are Generation Z 47% of Generation Z are people of color. When we flipped 10% of the white folks in those generations to anti-racism, we will have a majority anti-racist generation that will be transformative. This is what she believes as I’m reading this, okay, but I feel this too. So that’s why I’m reading it with her you see on me. All right. Her co facilitates workshops on racing nationwide and online. Ken is the co-founder of San Franciscans for police accountability and serves on the work group overseeing the US Department of Justice recommendations on ending police bias at San Francisco Police Department, Karen fleshman. Welcome to the show. How are you doing?

SPEAKER 3 3:43

I’m well how are you doing that Zack?

SPEAKER 1 3:46

I’m doing great. I’m doing great. And I look, I will say we’ve had some white women on the podcast, you know, but your profile has to be one of the boldest if not the boldest as far in fact, one of our guests and podcasters and writing contributors, Amy C. Weinberger called you a straight up badass. You said it’s Mike. Okay. So in the spirit of our organization and the spirit of yours, let’s make this conversation a racing one. Okay.

SPEAKER 3 4:10

That sounds great. Let’s do racy level 11.

SPEAKER 1 4:15

Crank it up. Now. Look, here we go. Your professional headline is that you’re focused on raising the first anti-race generation in America. How in the world you’re going to do that we think about this current generation even like we have some we have some Generation Z folks who are also, you know, if we look at social media, pretty racist themselves, what does it What does it look like to practically create that?

SPEAKER 3 4:37

There has never been a generation of white Americans who stand as much to gain from dismantling systemic racism. As millennials and Generation Z. The price of systemic racism has just grown too high and they are penalized by us. Systemic racism, not obviously, to the extent that their peers of color are, the harm is much worse to communities of color. But it is a fundamental reason why millennials and Gen Z are having so many challenges has to do with the racist campaign promises that Boomer, white male politicians and white female politicians made in order to get elected. And what I mean by that is, for example, mass incarceration is costing $182 billion a year. That is money that is coming from the public university system right here in California. We have built 22 prisons and one university since 1980. Our state budget for prisons has gone up as the state budget for UC and Cal State has gone down. And that is what has led to the millennials having this exorbitant student debt. And it’s also impacted on millennials. Housing costs and inability to purchase housing is related to the subprime mortgage lending policies of President George W. Bush. You know, so back in President Bush’s administration, there was an initiative to address past housing discrimination racist housing policy, by encouraging first time homebuyers of color to buy homes. But when they went into the bank, they weren’t offered a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, they were offered these subprime mortgages. And when their payments suddenly mushroomed, they wound up defaulting losing their homes in foreclosure to those banks. And it sold them the bad mortgages that had been bundled and traded by hedge funders and cause the entire global economy to grind to a halt. And that by that took off the 2008 economic downturn that impacted all millennials, their job prospects, their ability to enter the job market, and now their ability to buy homes. Because once all those foreclosed homes came on the market, BlackRock and Jared Kushner, and all them swooped in and bought them up. And that’s why it’s really challenging now, for millennials to purchase homes because they don’t have homes out on the market. So I know that’s kind of a lengthy description. I’m totally opposed to racism, and systemic racism on morality, you know, it’s immoral, it’s toxic, it’s killing people. It’s harmful. But I’m very influenced by Dr. Ian Kennedy, who believes that racism is born out of self-interest, and it only dies out of self-interest. So big part, I’m writing a book now. It’s called white women, we need to talk doing our part to end racism, and when talking about in the book is, is why in addition to racism being wrong, it is also in our self-interest to end racism.

SPEAKER 1 8:25

And you know, it’s interesting, when you talk about like the interest or like how racism is sustained. I, you know, I continue to talk to folks who are fairly, I would say, fairly conscious, right, black, brown people. And when I ask them, do you really think things are going to change on a systemic level? And many of them will say, No, they don’t. Right. And I think to your point around where those interests are, you’re the first person who really can really articulated how those, you know how those ideologies can die over time. You know, I read enough of your articles and tweets and Facebook posts under the chair, you really about this life, like you’d be out here. And so what does it look like? What does it look like for you to, you know, take that same energy and have frank conversations about accountability with white folks in workplace settings and when they have these efforts around inclusion and equity and diversity?

SPEAKER 3 9:22

Oh, before I answer that question, I want to speak a little bit to what you just mentioned, why are black and brown people so pessimistic and negative Nicole Hannah Brown, the fantastic journalist MacArthur Genius Award, and the woman who led the 16-19 project for the New York Times, recently spoke at University of Virginia with the president of the university, and she said, If I am hopeful, then that is absolving the people who benefit from the system from their responsibility to dismantle it. So I completely understand why black and brown people are not hopeful, not optimistic, especially in this context where President Trump, you know, endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan is elected by 62% of white men and 53% of white women. I mean, where is the reason for hope there? I do feel that ending systemic racism is 100%, white people created it, we have to end it, it is our responsibility to get in there and clean the mess that we did. And, and so that is the point that I try and make of the level of accountability, the way our parents educated us about racism absolves us of any accountability. And what I mean by that, you know, my parents were very liberal, open minded people. They taught me racism is terrible. Dr. Martin Luther King is wonderful. And the way to not be racist is to be colour-blind and treat everybody equally. But because I grew up in a in a virtually all white community, because my community was a sundown town and actually is hotbed of the Ku Klux Klan and leader of the john birch society.

SPEAKER 1 11:24

Can we talk about Orson downtown is really quick, though?

SPEAKER 3 11:27

Yeah, Orson downtown. The way the Western and Midwestern part of the United States was settled was through this program called the Homestead Act that allowed white people to acquire parcels of land for virtually nothing. This was after the government genocided and removed the Native Americans who lived on that land. So then, for example, my great grandfather gets off the boat from France makes his way to western Nebraska. And in 1888, he acquires 360 acres of the land for like 50 bucks after he proves that he can, he built a home on it, and he was able to farm it successfully for five years. But this is the exact time period, the reconstruction time period, when plenty of recently emancipated enslaved people could have benefited from the same program. But if they tried, they were met with intense discrimination. And even though legally they could have participated, very few of them benefited from it. So that was like in the, in the 1880s, that time period. And around that time, city leaders in many of these communities, and we’re talking all throughout the United States, enacted sundown town policies. So what that meant, it was a combination of local ordinances and customs that said, black people, Mexicans, Chinese, even in some places, Jews and Catholics can be in our town during the day, but they have to be out by sundown, meaning we’ll use your labour but you can’t live here. And so what this meant, you know, you couldn’t stay in a hotel, you couldn’t rent, you could not buy a home in one of these communities. And it really foreshadowed what was to come leader with redlining, you know. So then in the, in the post-World War Two era, there was this initiative to increase homeownership, but those opportunities were only extended to white people again, so you have like, over the period of, you know, 100 years, this intense housing discrimination, and to where today, you know, white people are much more likely to own our own homes than people of color and that is the foundation of the racial wealth gap, and the intergenerational privilege. So my status as a middle class homeowner with a college education is because my mother, you know, because her great grandfather got this piece of land in Nebraska was that she grew up on still in our family was the foundation of her being a college graduate and a middle class home owner. And this is what I mean, by accumulated white privilege that we’re not even you know, like, if I, if I hadn’t done my research, I would still think that everything my family has is because of our hard work because in addition to so I grew up in this all white community, so my parents are telling me racism is terrible. You know, treat everybody the same, but I never see them actually do it, because we just don’t know any people of color. Right? So When I grow older, and I’m like, watching all these movies they show at school to discourage us from doing drugs that are essentially black people overdosing on heroin, you know, and things of this nature. I’m like, well, why is there so much racial inequality in our society? The story I get back is, we used to have terrible racism. But then there was a civil rights movement led by Dr. King. And now opportunities are distributed equally. And some families like ours work really hard. And that’s why we have what we have, and other families choose not to. And that’s why they’re in the situation that they’re in. And again, had I not done all that research, I would think, oh, of course, my great grandfather worked hard. I mean, being a homesteader in western Nebraska was not easy, but it was only like and as I’ve been writing this book that I came to understand, oh my god, like Everything I have is because my great grandfather was white.

SPEAKER 1 16:00

And so like so it’s interesting, though, because in your story, in terms of how you’ve come to understand and realize systemic inequality and privilege and how and how privilege accumulates right because a lot of times we do really look at racism as like you know, individual acts like that are typically like grievous like you know, completely ridiculous like I you know, if someone’s you know, someone has to like spit in your face or a call while calling you the N word while sliding across you know, lighting a burning cross on your desk for it to be racist, right. But like, the concept of, you know, there being like, adding the variable of time to racism, I think is rare, but like your understanding like your journey to understand and discover the reality of your privilege is not an uncommon one for people who have the courage to like, do the research. I still think though, that you still had to come to a certain level of accountability and peace to come to peace with the fact that whiteness was a mobilizer. Even in your grandfather’s history, right? Because I’ve talked to folks who will, who I will walk through the door and say, well, what did your great grandfather do? And they’ll be like, well, my great grandfather was a dentist. And I’m like, Okay, what did your great grandfather do? Like my great grandmother was a sharecropper. Yeah, right? And then, but like, and even at that point in time, it’s like, so why do you think those differences were? And then, you know, typically, to my face, they won’t say, well, because one worked harder than the other, because that’s not true. Anyone who knows about like sharecropping and all that, that is backbreaking labour, but there still had to be some type of, I don’t know, just awareness that you had to come to, to then like, connect the dots and say, You know what, no, this is because of whiteness. And so I just want to, you know, you’re humbly kind of acting like, it’s, you know, those are just facts in front of you. But people are presenting facts all the time. And they don’t necessarily accept them. So I just want to, you know, give you a hand clap for that.

SPEAKER 3 17:59

Well, thank you, for the ally cookie, but I don’t need it. But yes, I mean, this is, so what I’m trying to help people understand is how this is from the very beginning of US history. And I’m talking 1619 to 2020. This is a very intentionally created, interracial intergenerational system of accumulating wealth and power and concentrating is in the hands of the few by getting everybody else to like each other and, and, and hate ourselves and harm each other, including white women who, who both are farmers and harmed by the system, but we don’t really understand it, because we never sit back and, and, and sort of examine it.

SPEAKER 1 18:59

You know, and it’s interesting, because you’re talking about, like the history of systemic racism, and I do believe the history and the reality of systemic racism today. But I also believe that like, we talk about, like, you know, the big Talking Heads within the diversity, equity, inclusion space, more and more people are using some of that language and recognizing that we even see that in the like the presidential campaign trail, we see people using certain buzz word to, to talk about some of these things, but I still think there’s a bit of a dissonance in how people connect, like systemic racism, the reality of it with the actual behaviours that they have. Right that that uphold it every day and like in 2018, you wrote an article for the Huffington post titled dear white women, let’s make 2018 the year we finally unlearn our racism. And you said in the piece you said in addition to the terrible harm we inflict on people of color, our racism also harms us something women of color, have tried to show us for decades to no avail. What did you mean by this?

SPEAKER 3 20:03

Well, white women so that the same year 1619, when, when white English, colonizers, kidnapped Africans, and brought them in chains to Jamestown, Virginia, and sold them into bondage for the first time, about a couple months after that, they imported a boatload of white women from England, because they knew that they had to have white women to keep these plantations going, that they had to have children and heirs to keep this whole thing going. And, you know, back then, when white women got married, we ceased to be people, we became our husbands. So anything that we owned, became our husbands. We couldn’t enter into contract, we couldn’t obtain an education, we couldn’t really do anything. And this became very tied to slavery. So the slave owning families would leave the enslaved people to their daughters and the land to their sons. And then the more enslaved people a daughter owned, because she could own property prior to being married, the higher her value you in the in the marriage market. And so basically, from the beginning, they designed the system of control where white women would find it in their own self-interest, to view enslaved people as subhuman and to be very harmful to them. And meanwhile, we were stuck it, obviously we weren’t exploited nearly to the extent of the enslaved people, but we were stuck on these plantations. And in this thing, where we couldn’t do anything, you know, we were part of our husband. And I think from that point, you know, white women have always identified as white and not as women. And we have chosen to uphold white supremacy, when if we would just identify as women, we could have power to actually transform our society. But all of this is done very intentionally. And I’m not trying to say white women don’t have power. And we could have chosen we could have seen this whole thing as immoral. And not participated in it, because there were some white women who did see that right. But the vast majority were like that I you know, you read these plantation, women diaries, and on one page, they’ll be like, Oh, this system is so vile, it’s so disgusting. It’s so wrong. And then on the next page, they’re talking about the lavish parties that they went to, and what they ate and what they wore, and all this thing, and it’s like, you can’t have one without the other, you know, right. They didn’t ever rebel and, and white women have never really rebelled, the only time white women really rose up was with the white feminist suffragette movement. But they did, they erased women of color in the movement, they, you know, they treated women of color, like second class citizens, they sold out women of color. And in 1920, when they got the 19th amendment passed, you know, women of color still did not get the right to vote until 1965. But everything else that white women have gotten, white men gave it to them, because it white men found it in their own self-interest. And what I mean by that, is that, you know, that when, when this kind of legal system where white women became their husbands ended was in the 1850s. But it wasn’t because white men were like, oh, this is wrong, or because white women demanded a change in the law. It was because white men, the whole slavery system was very speculative. And a lot of them were going bankrupt and things like that. And so they change the laws so that married women could own property, so they could transfer the property to their wives and their creditors. We all have it. I mean, you think about it. So from 1619 until the so when, when we have the first constitution, you know is adopted in 1789. The US Constitution is about there from 1789 to 1850s the only people who could vote were land owning white men. And then in the 1850s, they gave landless white men the right to vote. And then after the Civil War, they gave black men the right to vote. Only when they went in to vote, they instituted this 100 year system of violence known as Jim Crow to prevent them from voting. Then the next group that was supposed to get the right to vote were Native Americans only same thing. They got birth right citizenship in 1924. But when they went into vote, they turn them away. And so it’s not until 1965 when everybody else gets the right to vote.

SPEAKER 1 25:43

And it’s, you know, and it’s nothing because what we don’t talk about a lot, right is like, and honestly, no one even just said it plainly to me until I got to college. Was that look, the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, was to really get rights back for black and brown folks that we already had. That’s right, right. We all had these we already we should have already had these things. But like, we’re not we’re having we’re having the same fight twice.

SPEAKER 3 26:10

Yes, you should have had it under the 13th 14th and 15th amendment, but because the white power structure so then there’s different phases of organized white supremacy, which is a whole other history that people don’t know. So, you know, the Ku Klux Klan was started in Tennessee, by former Confederate soldiers during Reconstruction, to suppress black people, you know, and do this, this systemic violence and use the same kind of violence that they had used during slavery to dominate any white people who, who were like, Oh, you know what, this system isn’t so great. Maybe we should rebel against it, then they would come in and harm them too. So for so that, but then the Ku Klux Klan kind of fades out right? Before that movie, birth. Yes. Then after Birth of a Nation, all of a sudden, the clan springs up like wildfire. And they have chapters in 39 different states. And it becomes like the thing to do among dentists and, and doctors and lawyers and these kind of small town, businessman and it gets a lot of traction in small cities like Denver and Dallas and Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine, interesting places where there’s not even hardly any black people. So they expand the hate to include Mexicans and a visions and, and etc, etc. But I don’t even know what you were asking me that got me going.

SPEAKER 1 27:59

But you going in, though.

SPEAKER 3 28:02

You were making earlier where you’re your friend is saying, Well, my great grandfather was a dentist, and your great grandfather was a sharecropper. Well, in, you know, maybe the great grandfather, in addition to being a dentist was a Klan member, because the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in that period was a retired dentist.

SPEAKER 1 28:26

So we talk a lot and people are coming in more and more groups with the historicity of white supremacy and systemic racism, right, like, like we can, we’re, I’m saying like when I say we, I mean, like, the white folks in charge people who sit in the executives positions, maybe who go to Davos or go to these, like big conventions or panels. And they and they talk like that profile, those individuals are more and more, they’re speaking more and more to the reality of the historicity of STEM races, but there still seems to be a gap. In terms of, okay, systemic racism is real. But there still seems to be a gap when it comes to connecting the dots between that reality and the actions that folks do every day that upholds those very same systems. And so I’m curious for you, what does it look like when you’re having conversations? Or what do you when you think about examples of how people uphold systems of white supremacy uphold systemic racism at their jobs like, for, for, for folks in the majority, what is that? What are some of some basic example actions that you believe sustain systemic oppression today?

SPEAKER 3 29:38

Well, one of the things I like to ask at the beginning of my workshops is, you know, when I arrived in this building today, what were the assumptions that were made about me from the moment I arrived you know, and I and I asked them to literally name you know, That people assumed I belonged there, assumed I was harmless, assumed that they needed to treat me with respect, assumed that if they didn’t treat me with respect, I might get angry at them, and it would come back to harm them assumed that I was not the cleaning person, not the food delivery person, that I that I was a professional, just all these different things I assumed when they got in the elevator with me that I wasn’t going to get pickpocket them, or, or sexually molest them or whatever, all the foods that accrue to me. But that because we grow up in geographical isolation, and we participate in largely segregate segregated social circles today, white people don’t, don’t hear these experiences of people of color. Like I had never realized all these things, until I became a mentor to young adults. And they would tell me other things that would happen to them. And I’m like, Wait, what? Like, what are you talking about? That has never happened to me, I didn’t know that happened. And then I’m like, wait, oh, my God, I’m doing this do. I’m doing this too, because it’s operating on such a deep, kind of subconscious level. And I still do things, I still make mistakes, you know, people are like, Oh, you’re such that its super ally, I’m like, I’m still screwing up left and right, this is inside of me too. And, um, I have to be super vigilant. And I have to be super open to people’s feedback. And when they point out, hey, Karen, what you just did was harmful. I’m like, thank you, thank you for pointing that out. So that I cannot do that again. But when we have learned, you know, we’re all carrying around trauma. From this, you’re carrying around the trauma that your ancestors experienced from doing this, I’m carrying around the vicarious secondary trauma of my ancestors and what they did to your ancestors, because there’s no way you can inflict this harm on people. Without it. It’s residue living inside of you. And this story, you had to tell yourself about people about the people you were harming in order to be able to do that, to them, is still inside our DNA. You know, and then when you grow up hearing, well, you know, some families work hard. And that’s why we have what we have, and other families choose not to. And racism is terrible. You don’t want to obviously being called a racist is like absolutely horrible. You would never want to be associated with racism, yet, you inherently believe that white people are superior. And that’s why we have what we have. And that if people of color would just work harder, everything would be fine. That is fundamental racism that is textbook racism. But we don’t even understand what racism means. Like, we know that racism is bad. And we don’t want to be associated with it. But we don’t even know what racism is.

SPEAKER 1 33:31

So, you know, we’ve talked a little bit about like, the work that you do and like, like, the workshops and things that you facilitate, I think your insights and your own experiences allow you to sniff out like the bull pretty easily. Right? So have you ever had situations where you, you give real talk in these workshops with these organizations that you work with? And the organizations, they think that they’re more mature in creating an equitable culture than they actually are?

SPEAKER 3 33:59

Oh, yeah, that’s like my every day. Unfortunately, you know, and, and, and it’s also just really hard. My whole thing is, you know, there’s people I’m never going to be able to persuade, and I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to the people who are persuadable and who are open to learning new things and who want to get better. Like I can’t. You know what I’m saying? Like, it’s just a little waste of my time and energy to try to persuade someone who is just dead set against this. This is again, why I am hopeful, you know, it’s interesting, like millennials, political beliefs, even Republican, millennials, white millennials believe in racial equality. So I you know, I am hopeful but to your point, the freaking white soup emesis are online, they are targeting our voice. They are you know, there was an article where a white woman journalist who writes a lot about masculinity and gets trolled all these horrible things. And then her, her teenage son started using the same language as her troll. She’s like, Wait, where are you learning that. So she goes on there to gram. And she sees that they are being targeted by these ads, where like, first, it’s just like kind of a meme. But if you click on it, then it takes you down a tunnel, where the next thing you’re doing, you’re watching a Richard Spencer, right, like they are very strategic. And this is what just last night, I facilitated a workshop on how to talk with your kids about race, because this is where the damage is done. You know, as a parent, I know, I had from the time my kids were zero until they were about eight years old to frame their understanding of the world. And after that, my ability to impact them is extremely limited. You know, certainly they’re influenced by me, but I had to really be very cognizant of their not only what they were hearing from me, but what they observed in me, the kinds of social setting, I was placing them into the kind of media I was exposing them to, and just all those different experiences that they had to, so that they really understood that racial inequality is not a natural thing, but is a totally strategically intentionally created human made thing.

SPEAKER 1 36:47

Let’s say you only had three things you could say to any executive who says that they want to do something, so they don’t get sued at their job. Or they don’t know where to start, like, what would those three things be?

SPEAKER 3 36:58

I would say, Listen to your employees. You know, so many times, organizations focus on hiring, and getting people in there. And then when the employees, the underrepresented employees start to point out things that need to change, they make those employees the problem until the employee leaves. And then and this cycle just continues. It’s interesting. Like, I met the EEOC attorneys here in San Francisco, and I was like, You must be so busy, like these tech companies, you know, it’s just such a disaster, the culture, and they’re like, no one comes forward, no one Sue’s I’m like, what, why? And they said, they just go find another job. Um, so I think the fundamental thing for leadership is to listen to your employees, you know, and the other thing I would say is, the frontline managers are the ones who have the most impact on the day to day quality of work life on the team. So if you were to focus on one group, within your company, to develop their skill sets, I would focus on managers, and what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done. So there has to be some kind of accountability to where their performance, their compensation is tied to how inclusive they become, and, and that the leaders within the organization have to be humble and transparent to I mean, no one is perfect. We are all just learners, we’re all striving to get better. But the more transparent and humble they can be and the greater amount of accountability they can exert onto the frontline managers, and where they’re really listening to the employees, and making sure that their lived experience is driving the change is that they’re making, then I think we can we can improve, but unfortunately, there’s very few companies I see that are really interested in doing any of the above. Because no one’s holding them accountable. Right, their, their shareholders aren’t holding them accountable, the government isn’t holding them accountable. So really, the greatest level of accountability are the employees themselves. And that’s why I’ve been so happy to see you know, the tech workers walk out and to use blogging and social media to express what’s going on inside of these companies. And, and holding up a mirror to these companies because no one else is driving accountability.

SPEAKER 1 39:55

You know, and it’s interesting, you point around the EEOC. I think again, just the concept of safety and the role that power plays when it comes to raising your voice, like black and brown people don’t have a strong track record of evidence to, to prove that formally, filing a governmental complaint will get you anything, especially because of the political context that we’re in today. Like, why in the world would the government look out for me, you know, in improving discrimination, racial discrimination, like, like, and I think I think it’s interesting that, you know, we still don’t, I don’t know if we’ve considered the role of power, when it comes to conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion. Because if people feel bullied or afraid to speak, that tends to the entire the entire exercise, if I don’t feel like I can speak honestly and openly and really call out people who I believe are doing harmful things, then what are we actually doing?

SPEAKER 3 41:00

That is so important, because they be tapped. Palliation is real, you know. So I help women of color all the time access, my friend is a very, very, very good plaintiff side employment discrimination attorney, I highly recommend her. Her name is Felicia Medina, she’s in Oakland, but she does cases nationwide. She’s a queer woman of color, and she really gets it. So I have helped. So I can’t even tell you, so many of my friends, to access her services and to file complaints. And it’s been really hard because, you know, then after that complaint process is over, then, you know, you have to go find another job or whatnot. And sometimes it takes a long time, because even though there’s supposed to be non-disclosure, I don’t think it really happens. You know, I think the companies do share information with each other. And it can be really hard for people to find that next job plus, just when you go against this system, the system comes after you hard-core. That said, I do think it’s so important for people to at least consider and to speak to a strong plaintiff side employment discrimination attorney, because that is how change happen. Raising our voices, you know, people gave their lives to get employment discrimination banned. And the more we exert our rights, and even in today’s climate, those laws are still on the books. What’s really scary, is now Trump has appointed a quarter of federal judges, two Supreme Court justices. I mean, I was one of those women arrested multiple times disrupting the Cavanaugh confirmation, because it is just, I don’t know, I just I cannot tell you like, I just feel so responsible, you know, because the people who gave their lives to get those laws changed. And, and, and now, the whole federal legal system is, is the as they did with in 2013, you know, oh, well, we have now a black president, so therefore, we don’t need voting protection anymore. And then they just start putting in the requirements for the IDs and closing polling places and purging people from the rolls. It’s just so disgusting, what our federal government is doing, and to maintain this power system. It’s like a game, you know, that, that that vote to acquit Trump, which is like such a fear driven game of like, we have to hold on to our power, even though white people are this diminishing part of the population and oh, my God, we had a black president. Now we got to make sure nothing like that ever happens again, you know. Anyway, sorry, I’m getting laid off over here.

SPEAKER 1 44:31

But this is what we got you once a racy conversation. That’s the whole thing. Look, you know, we can keep on talking all day. We want to make sure we give you some time back. So before we let you go, any parting words or shout outs?

SPEAKER 3 44:47

You know, I just whenever I get discouraged or am seeking guidance, I love to read Audrey Lord, you know and she said your silence will not protect you and you know, I just encouraged people to be their boldest, fullest self. And I encourage as many white people as possible to like, really, you know, I get so overwhelmed by like climate change, and I wish that there was something I could do. And I feel like so powerless in a way, because I feel like even if I do make lifestyle choices, how much of an impact will it make, but with racism, it’s literally in our heads, white people, if we wanted it to end, and we shifted our conscience and changed her policies, changed our workplaces, we could do it. And millennials have power. You know, they’re the biggest generation in the electorate. They’re the biggest generation in the work force. And I just really hope millennials that you will, will seize your power and use it in a positive way. And tune in to racy conversations, get me to come to your workplace. We’ll talk about it Oh, we’ll talk about sexual harassment, ally ship, we’ll talk about how to recognize and intervene in a microaggression. Well, I’ll also teach you how not to cause microaggressions. Like what specific behaviours white people can do so that we are not harmful and toxic. Thank you so much for having me on. It’s a great pleasure to be on here.

SPEAKER 1 46:27

Let’s go, let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go. We’re going to make sure we have your book pre order information, as well as the website to book you and look at more about what you and your team are doing, to continue to dismantle racism in the workplace, and create equitable and inclusive workforces. Until next time, you’ve been listening to Karen fleshman. Shoot, I must say corporate activist, educator, author, speaker and all around dope person Till next time, y’all peace. Listen, I want to thank y’all. I hope that this holiday season is treating you safe that you’re staying warm, and take care of yourself. We’ll catch you soon. You know what it is we’re creating content and there’s an empathise black and brown folks at work. We do this every single week. Make sure you give us five stars if you’re not you a hater, but I love you anyway. Alright, peace.

SPEAKER 4 47:33

Living corporate is a podcast on living corporate LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Burns. Additional music production by Anton Franklin from musical elevation. Post production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion. Email us at living corporate podcast@gmail.com. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and living dash corporate.com. Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.

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