Post 1/6 Allyship [Part 4] (w/ Laura Radley)

Neil opens the mic for Laura Radley, the owner of Cultivate Containers, in this rich episode of The Leadership Range. She speaks from the heart and her lived experience about allyship on the back of the insurrection on January 6th, 2021.

You can connect with Laura (and find out more about Cultivate Containers) on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

You can connect with Neil on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. You can email him by clicking here.


Neil: I am Neil Edwards, and this is The Leadership Range, where we elevate the voices of Black and brown coaches, leaders and allies and have soulful conversations about all things at the intersections of leadership, relationships and teams, well-being and inclusion. Here I offer deep insights and practical tips for work and life. Today is the third of four conversations I had with people after the insurrection in Washington DC on January 6. To be honest, I wondered if this would still be a relevant conversation today. It is, because much of what rose to the surface for people that day was already present for a lifetime and continues to be a part of the emotional and practical field of things today. Unfortunately, what is happening in Washington DC right now is a move back to trading in partisan propaganda that distracts real people from the deep inner work we the people need to do if these United–divided–States will ever be able to replace the divide with compassion and connection rather than hate and division. In the conversations I’ve had, I continue to hear about a sense of powerlessness among all voices. These are people who are actively in anti-racism work, yet there is a deep longing for change that seems out of reach in their voices. I wonder if our elected officials and large corporate executives really understand how much suffering is happening. I find that my longing for equity and justice is not different from any of the voices who feel powerless. In my work, I often feel powerless at the door of requests for practicality. My question is, “What is practical, and according to whom?” Given the facts in the diversity reports, either all practical interventions have failed, the definition of practical is incorrect or practical, or it has an alternative meaning to corporate America that I don’t understand, because I have not seen practical results. And companies seem to be okay with the incessant failure when it comes to racial equity. Not only that, but the nation also seems okay with it. On the bright side, there are people, millions, who are still doing work to put pressure on the primary reality of racial inequity. The people and the pressure give me hope that we are living in an emerging dream. I suspect that it is hope, and the various commitments of the many to continue pushing through the dissonance, that will help us to reach a new place of resonance. You are going to hear from one of those people today. Laura Radley was raised in a diverse community by a mother and grandmother from the Jim Crow South, and had diverse experiences growing as a child, as a young woman in college and as a young professional that shaped her worldview in unexpected ways. Laura’s commitment to anti-racist work and an anti-racist world comes through in the heartfelt descriptions of her relationships, stories from her life, and actions in the spaces where she has influenced. Black business owners, professionals, friends and neighbors need to know people like Laura are real. White business owners, professionals, friends and neighbors, allow yourselves to be moved by all that Laura brings to this conversation. It took courage, and she’s asking you to step forward. So Laura, I’m so delighted for you to be here in this conversation, and this is–[?] a lot of conversations for this episode, and so we won’t have as much time as I know we can take to talk today, and I know we can talk a lot because because we know each other. And I know the topics we’re going to talk about mean a lot to you and you have a lot that you could say. So we’re just going to navigate, and we’re gonna relax, and I’ll be with you and you’ll be with me and we’ll guide this conversation together. So welcome.

Laura: Thank you for having me.

Neil: Of course.

Laura: I love this project of yours. I appreciate you.

Neil: Oh, thank you. It feels like a forever project. It’s always something new, and I know my listeners are gnona appreciate hearing your voice. So this week in the United States there was an insurrection, some attempt at something insane, and I don’t–it doesn’t matter what perspective you’re coming from, you know, agree with it, don’t agree with it, it was a big deal, and it had an impact on everybody in some way, and so we’ve all experienced it through our own identities and our own experiences. But this, you know, set of things happened, and, you know, I invited you here as an allied voice or an aspiring allied voice, and so that’s sort of the stake, the central theme for our conversation today. Where I want to start is – from this week, what impacted you the most? What hit you the hardest this week as things unfolded? What was your experience of it?

Laura: Well, my experience of it and what hit me the hardest–I watched it live on TV, which I very, very, very rarely watch TV, I’m usually outside with my planting business. I happened to be inside this week doing projects and had the TV on, so I was watching it live, and just the moment I’ll never forget–well, first watching the speeches, and then just seeing these people in their tactical gear up on the Capitol steps where they knew they should not be, and still seeing the speakers inside and saying, “Chris, they’re on the steps. That’s not right. That’s not right.” And, like, feeling like, “This isn’t really happening,” and then, “This is happening.” And just–I mean, I was scared for the people inside, I was disgusted by what I was seeing. I also felt like, “Maybe everyone else will see what I’ve seen for this long,” because since this President has been–like, even before he was elected, like, 100% I could see he was dangerous and that he riled up a dangerous element, and I often felt crazy that everyone else couldn’t see it. And so part of me was like, “Well, yep, this is what’s happening.”

Neil: Mm-hmm. You know, I try to feel what people are saying when they’re saying it, and I want you to react to this, because it sounded to me like your eyes saw what they saw, yet you were questioning what you saw, like, “Is this real? I know this is real, yet… Is this real?” It felt like a real-life paradox.

Laura: Right. Well, it’s not something my eyes have seen before.

Neil: And you said Chris, which I happen to know is your husband. Right?

Laura: Yeah. So I was working from home as well, and I just–I mean, usually we’re doing our own thing, but it was just that moment of “Am I the only one seeing this?” Because the way the news feeds were–I’m sure they were also trying to figure out what the heck was going on. And it was split screen. There were still people, lawmakers, giving speeches at the same time. So they weren’t mentioning it, but I could see it.

Neil: Yeah. Seeing what you’re seeing, but not knowing you saw what you saw. “Am I seeing what I’m seeing? Are my eyes believable?” As this realization was emerging in you, as you were going, “Here it is again. I am seeing what I’m seeing, and this is true, and I hope other people are seeing this.” What was your hope? What were you hoping for?

Laura: My hope was that people can be real with themselves and see the dangerous lies that they’ve been living with, that they could see the stark visual difference between the summer’s Black Lives Matters protests and this one of people just walking in the Capitol. It felt like a visual representation of what has been going on at a government, systems, community level for a long time. This just… violence based on lies.

Neil: Violence based on lies and manipulation. So you wanted people to see this. What is something you felt compelled to do in that moment or not?

Laura: Watch. I felt compelled to witness it, to not distract myself and to bear witness.

Neil: Mm-hmm. I smiled because you used this word, witness, and in the work I do as a coach, we often use that language. You know, we witness for our clients, we witness our clients, you know, they come into conversations with us, and they’re confidential conversations, and they reveal all these things about themselves and their processing and their thinking, their emotions and everything, and I never–well, for a long time, I tried to figure out what witness meant in that context. And we come to know our clients and their truth really well as coaches, and they live out in the world. And you might have a client for a long time, a year or two years, and then they’re having some struggle down the road, and they’re not showing up as their best self, and they start telling the stories that they make up–you know, the bullshit stories we make up to try to get out of something, you know? The self-limiting beliefs. But it turns out that the coach has been their witness all along, and they have authority. “I’ve seen you, I’ve seen other versions of you, and this person in front of me right now is the bullshit version of you. It’s the lie. So I have the authority to tell you that, and you know it, because I’ve been with you all this time.” So when I hear you say, “I wanted to watch, wanted to witness,” that’s what strikes me. You wanted to have the authority, you know, the facts of the situation, to be the keeper of the truth, and to somehow perhaps use that in the future. So I just wanted to share that with you, being a witness through life – whether it’s of a person or of an entire system – is a crucial part of being in relationship, and so that means you’re in a relationship with this place that you call home, this nation. So it’s a powerful role to hold. That takes me to the notion of “ally,” because, you know, coaches and clients design an alliance and they become allies in that relationship. So what does allyship mean to you? Give it some meaning.

Laura: It means supporting, witnessing, helping, getting out of the way, believing, taking feedback, elevating people who could benefit from my position in society or any corporation in the world, and using it to everyone’s advantage by amplifying and elevating voices that don’t have that platform, particularly Black people, Black women, people of color, LGBT, immigrant, any, you know, people who don’t have what I just was lucky enough to be born into.

Neil: Yeah, there’s a lot in allyship, and you instinctively know what all of those things are. I have a friend, a white woman who said to me, “You know, I just happened to be part of the lucky sperm donor pool.” I think it’s kind of funny, but it’s sort of true, you know? You didn’t choose it. So in your life, in your work, in your way in the world, what have you done? How have you showing up? Tell us a story about how you believe you’ve been an ally. And this isn’t intended for you to, you know, promote yourself, because you might have some reluctance around sharing, but this is really just in service of people understanding how allyship might show up through one person’s life. Yours.

Laura: Well, I think I’ve been very fortunate in that. As I came up I often–either my bosses or my coaches or my authority figures just happened to mostly all be women of color or people of color, Black women, Latina women, and they were my bosses. They were like, you know–even my internship boss in college and when I worked at a restaurant. Both of those were Black women that were my bosses, and I was trying to impress or perform for them. My volleyball coach in college was a Black woman and my first job out of college my boss was a Black woman. My second job out of college, my boss was a Latina woman, and I worked on campaigns that had–I worked at an advertising agency, and I worked on campaigns that always had different teams that were targeted to different parts, different audiences, and often targeting, trying to reach African-American women and Latina women in particular, because we were in California. So there were always people of color and women in authority positions. I’ve since come to understand that’s not the norm. So I felt like that was just normal. That’s just background to say that I was very lucky, because a lot of people don’t get that. But also, I think it left blind spots for me because I thought that was normal, and I thought authority figures could just be women of color, or they could–like, I didn’t investigate enough or understand enough. The power dynamic was different because I was the underling, if that makes sense. And anyhow, so I think it took me–that’s been a big reckoning, I think, in more recent years of understanding, that I can lift up or that I can use my privilege in ways that I didn’t probably realize before because I–I just came up in a way that I didn’t–just… it was a blind spot. So I think that’s very unusual. Those were my authority figures.

Neil: Yeah. So I want to ask you more about your experience, because, like you said, it’s not the norm, you know, your circumstances–you just happened to be on a path where you navigated through, and that’s what you ran into, and you had all these women of color in positions of power that were supporting you, mentoring you, leading you, you know, being the boss of you, and you were learning from them, growing with them, supporting them, working alongside them. I’m curious, and this is just a little bit of, you know, a tangent around allyship… if in your reflection, you know, retrospective you, if you recognize where you had privilege in your past and didn’t know.

Laura: Absolutely. And I’m trying to think if I didn’t know. I think I always knew. I think I always knew I was very lucky that I was white, that I was born–I mean, these were not things that I earned in any way. I mean, even as a child, I can remember thinking–’cause I don’t know, I could be a moody child and feel like everything is terrible and poor me sometimes, and I can remember thinking, “Okay, what are the things I have going for me? I live in a free country. I live in California, and California is the best. I was born white, and that makes things easier for me.”

Neil: How old were you? If you could sort of place that, like, when you knew that, how old were you?

Laura: I can’t remember not knowing that. I also grew up with a mother who grew up in the Jim Crow South, and my favorite thing was to hear stories of her childhood, and a big theme of that was seeing injustice, and that was just part of the stories. I always said, “Mom, tell me about when you would go downtown, or at the beach, and always it was only the white people could go to the beach and the Black people had to go the other beach, or–I mean, more serious stories than that too, but it was always–and it wasn’t just a separate beach. It was the white people could go to the good beach. So I always just knew, like, even–and [?], and we don’t have those laws anymore, and we live in California, but make no mistake, it is still happening. No, I just knew that. So we could see when we drove through, like, the worst parts of town, there were more brown faces.

Neil: I want to acknowledge you for even naming that out loud. I’ve been in a lot of conversations with white people who act like they didn’t know they were white and that had meaning and that was good in this system, so to be able to say that out loud is a big deal, and for you to say that out loud on a recording is just massive, and I think the folks listening to this who are white are gonna feel that, and it’s probably going to move some people. Thank you for sharing that.

Laura: And I think that was somewhat of a realization for myself, when I started hearing people push back on ideas, like–we didn’t have the term white privilege, but, I mean, I just–I felt–also I did grow up in a very diverse, both ethnically and socio-economiclly, town, and I always was in public schools, and so you could tell. You could tell who came in nicer cars, you could tell who had a free lunch or reduced lunch, you could tell. You could tell. I mean, even little things. Like, I remember my dad would always watch football, and he told us it was a really big deal when you started seeing Black quarterbacks because he said before that they would not let them do that. They were not considered smart enough to be a quarterback, and white people wouldn’t let them do that. And now this isn’t a big deal to see. I mean, even little things like that.

Neil: Well, and you basically carry that knowledge, that information, that knowing in your body, from childhood to now. That’s heavy. That’s heavy. So, Laura, you beautifully articulated what allyship means to you, and you’ve obviously evolved over time, and I’ve come to see not only what it means, but the impact that it has on your life and the lives of the people around you more and more with time. So I want you to share maybe one example, or two, up to you, of you taking specific action or showing up in specific ways, using your white privilege to be an ally, to really try to whatever, whether the notion is to create equity, to create diversity, whatever it is. I want you to tell us a story about what you’ve done up to now.

Laura: Okay. I’ll think of one example because I just don’t want it to be about me. So my degree is in communications, and I worked for an advertising agency for seven or eight years on the [account?] side, but also we did a lot of creative work. So I’ve always been very interested in the creative industries, and particularly design, and that’s including–currently, my business right now is dealing with plants and landscape design, but I’m also very interested in interior design art, many things in design, and creators, and at some point with social media, as I evolved in my curation of my social media, particularly Instagram and design, I made a conscious effort to seek out creators of color. And not just to have, like, the top names you’d see on Architectural Digest or Home and Garden or HGTV, like, to broaden it, because with our communications we have, it pulls certain people to the top, but there’s so many more people out there. So I tried to diversify by particularly finding designers of color, particularly black women. And also many of them I could see starting to organize and have a movement to try to represent themselves because they were not getting the opportunities in shelter magazines, which is, like, the home magazines and the best ways to get elevated. So it was pretty passive for a long time, just looking at pretty pictures and designs, but at the same time as I go through my feed to self-soothe during tough times and just have fun, much of the content was created by Black women. And also–so in the podcast world, I listen to an interior design podcast that’s put on by a major furniture company, and they had a really nice, well-produced podcast, good personalities on it, and they did really nice, really good interviews with real top designers that, I mean, do things I can’t imagine with people’s vacation homes in the Caribbean and the Hamptons and, you know, skyscrapers. It was amazing. But as time went on I was getting frustrated because they were almost only white designers, and I was also at the same time seeing on my Instagram feed so many amazing designs coming from women of color. And so I tried to think of something I could do to to elevate Black designers and use my privilege of being a white woman who likes design and also, like, financially can purchase items and advertising and whatnot, like, try, you know–I’m their target audience basically. Like, that’s who they want to reach from their podcast, and so I sent a message to them saying, “Hey, I love your podcast, but I am disappointed that I’m not hearing more about a diverse spectrum of designers, and particularly Black women, because I’ve been following them for a while and I see the great work they’re doing, and we should all be able to see that.”

Neil: How’d they respond to that?

Laura: They said–oh, and I should say they’re based in Atlanta. So I certainly know there are many Black professionals, and there is–

Neil: There is no shortage of Black professionals in Atlanta. Very skilled.

Laura: They said–hey, I mean, to their credit, I got a response, A, and B, it was “Hey, good feedback. You’re right.” Like, “We should work on that. If you have suggestions, send them to us.” And then, you know, life got crazy last year, and I had recently moved–it was the pandemic. I hadn’t thought about it so much. So that was probably January. There are other little, you know, things like that. I just tried to think about, like, you know, I shot that off, hadn’t thought much more about it, then in June, we had–I don’t even know. Was it May or June we started having Black Lives Matter–

Neil: Yeah, May and June was when things really–

Laura: Yeah. I don’t want to–it was traumatic, you know, but [it was] also a time when brands started getting on board with black squares and seeming to try to further highlight people of color. So anyhow, I noticed that this podcast I listened to and this brand, [they] put out an episode and they addressed the fact that they realize they need to be highlighting more Black designers, and they did a profile on a Black designer, a great profile, someone I was super happy to hear from. And so I sent them a follow up note, like, just saying, “Hey, I appreciate that you were featuring this designer and that you’re going to make a better effort,” because I wanted to send feedback that their listeners appreciate them doing that.

Neil: What did they say? If they said anything?

Laura: What did they say? Oh, I also sent them a note, like, a list of more ideas of designers I particularly liked–

Neil: So you curated a list of designers and sent it to them?

Laura: Yes, that I have followed, that I liked. Because, again, if I have–if for some reason they’re listening to me, if I can use any privilege whatsoever, like, I could, you know, send them ideas of more people that might not be on their radar, and they said, “Thanks for this, and we’re gonna have more coming up. Send us more if you think of more. Let us know.”

Neil: Did you send more? And have you seen more profiles from them?

Laura: I have. Well, I mean, I sent, like, probably 12, 15. Like I said, a long list, and then they started running more interviews. I mean, not because of me. Like, they–the world–but definitely, and ones I’d never heard of either. So I’ve learned much, like, they did some work to–you find them or whatever, and it was great. It’s been great to hear more of those voices.

Neil: So here’s what I’m hearing is, like, you noticed something, that you are part of the audience, like, women with privilege and money, who they were targeting, and you could buy these products, so things that they may be trying to promote, and so you took that and spent it and some privilege to get more of what you wanted, and also to support those people who, you know, you basically, you know, held in high esteem, great designers, you know, people who are good at their craft. Even went further, you sent a message and you went further, and in some ways you curated it and you gave them a list. You made it easy for them. Right? You actually did that work for them? Free?

Laura: Yes. Right? But also I am a white woman. I don’t want them to reach out to a Black designer and say, “Here’s a profile. Send us a list of other people.” I mean, not that they shouldn’t get a list, like she shouldn’t promote them, but I’m a white woman that consumes the work of Black female designers. There’s no reason I can’t put together a list.

Neil: Yeah, yeah. There isn’t. I guess what I’m acknowledging is that you were conscious enough to be aware of that, and you did the work and put that energy forward to create a change that mattered, and it mattered to us, and it mattered in a way that some African-American female designers got profiled on a high profile podcast that probably helped them to make some money and to create more equity, a little bit more equity in that space.

Laura: You know, I hope to be just even a tiny part of that. And then I did reach out to the first woman, the one in June, the woman, the designer that they profiled, and I just sent her a message saying, “I appreciate it.” I appreciated her work. I’ve been following her a long time.

Neil: I’m so glad to hear that.

Laura: And she’s on more platforms now, like this podcast who had been ignoring Black women up until then, and that I had reached out to them and said I would like to hear more profiles from Black female designers or other designers of color. And so I felt that I was very nervous about sending that message because it was, you know, June, and it was a crazy time, and I tried to strike a balance between saying–my intention was to say “I see you, I appreciate you. I know you have not been getting the platforms you deserve,” and I’m trying to also tell people that we need to hear from people like you and not, you know–like, this is my sensitivity because it is very, like, cringy to think that I’m saying it. Like, “Good for you being on the podcast. It’s because of me.” You know?

Neil: You’re trying not to be a white savior, which–

Laura: Right, but also sometimes I say [I?] don’t talk to people, but then then we’re not hearing the blessings they bring to the world, like, all the world and how much we appreciate them. So it was–and thankfully she seemed to appreciate it. She wanted to share that information on her social media about what I had done. So I felt like, overall, that was a positive. Hopefully, it was a positive loop between the people that had the platform and the podcast, and the talent, the creative talent, who was a woman of color, and me the consumer, and trying to use that privilege in a positive way.

Neil: The word that just came up for me was solidarity. I try to–you know, in the spaces of time that I have been consumed beyond sort of just corporate work, which I’m a part of, and also to pay attention to justice over a broad spectrum of injustices, social injustice, I pay attention to some women out there in social media that talk a lot about how white women either support or don’t support Black women or women, and a word that is used often in that space is solidarity. And so even though we’re here talking about allyship, this piece, there’s solidarity showing up for me, and here’s why I want to hear your reaction to it. Because I think there’s an edge to cross here, what you just described and all of your doing and taking action, investing your time and energy and acknowledging and supporting in the context of allyship feels a step removed. And this isn’t negative from what I make up around solidarity. So this is framing in my mind in the moment.

Laura: Okay. I’m watching the wheels work. Yeah.

Neil: What would be different for you with Black women whom you want to [?] if you were in solidarity with them?

Laura: When I think of solidarity–I think it’s tricky, because I think that there is a power imbalance, and I think as a white woman I would naturally have a tendency to take more than I give because of this world that I grew up in and that we live in, or I should say I worry about that. I think it’s very sensitive. I’m just sitting in solidarity. Like, I can’t even describe what I’m talking about.

Neil: Can I try?

Laura: I want to be able to support and uplift without highlighting myself. I don’t–

Neil: Yeah. So here, like I said, this is forming for me in the moment, because I do hear this word a lot in the space of women’s conversations and “How do we support each other?” And so I just want to lead with it. So in this tricky place that you’re trying to describe, does it lead you to avoid deepening relationships with Black women because you’re afraid you will take up too much [space]?

Laura: No, I think it does not need me to avoid that. I think that there is a lot of complexity, and I think that Black women are dealing with a lot. I think they are–I mean, you can’t generalize everyone. But the Black women I know are dealing with a lot, and doing great work and doing great things, and they have to deal with a trauma, and they have to have the heaviness, but then they also have their own subculture, I would say, that it doesn’t benefit them to have me come into it. It benefits me. Like, I would benefit. I feel like it’s selfish of me to take up that space.

Neil: Mm-hmm. How would you benefit? And what evidence do you have that you would? And this isn’t right or wrong. I’m just curious.

Laura: I mean, it’s so embarrassing, but–

Neil: Just say it.

Laura: I mean, I just think Black people are cooler than white people. [both laugh] I just think–I never want to have it be… I mean, I don’t even know if “fetish” is the right word, but I don’t want it to be, like, the cool kids. Like, I want to–the way Black women that I’ve experienced talk to each other, support each other, are there for each other, cook food, style, I mean, you name it. I don’t know what I bring to the table. [laughs] But I do have–I mean, right now is pandemic times, but one of the first, like, other moms that I did connect with here–because it was my daughter’s first close friend–was a Black woman, and we spent time together, and then a lot of stuff happened that has to do with our society, and I know that wouldn’t happen to me because of my color.

Neil: Mm-hmm. Well, here’s what I hear about that. You formed a relationship. You were in relationship, perhaps in allyship, in friendship, in solidarity, all the complexities of what it means to come together with someone else, and society happened, right? In your face.

Laura: White supremacy.

Neil: Yeah, and so how does that have an impact on who you might be going into the future as an ally?

Laura: That’s a good question, Neil.

Neil: Given your personal experience and that relationship, the time where you were going through a lot of stuff yourself, moving into a new community, all of these sorts of things.

Laura: And she helped me. Like, literally, there was a day I was locked out of my house. I had to chaperone a field trip. I locked myself out of the house without my keys to the car, and she came and got me and she, like, took me, drove me over to my landlord’s house to get a key, and [then] we went to the field trip, I mean, things were–I had no one, and there was this woman. And she also shared many things with me. And um… yeah, I’m just saying, you know, it was someone that–I feel she probably did more for me, and now, like… yeah.

Neil: Yeah. So this past week, seeing what you saw, knowing what you know, living your life from childhood to now, having that particular relationship with that woman, and you know, recently, what does it mean for you? Like, what are you willing to do? Who are you willing to be in a relationship as an ally? What’s different? And when I say different I mean, really, what would be different starting now or next week for Laura and how she shows up as an ally to Black women or in solidarity with Black women or in friendships with Black women given this context?

Laura: That’s a good question. I think right now I’m in just a place of feeling failure and not seeing how to make it better. Because I feel that in allyship that part of that is my role as a white woman is to get other white people to be better, and I don’t know how to do that. I feel like we have such a different reality and they don’t listen. I just feel, like, powerless. I mean, or not even–I don’t know if powerless… like, a failing, like, I’ve tried and tried. So there are people who don’t deserve what they’re getting, and there are people like me that are causing it, and I don’t know how to reach them.

Neil: Here’s what I got from that. Try to get people to be better.

Laura: And I feel like for the last four years, I have been trying and trying and trying. And I just–I guess seeing the Capitol, seeing that and seeing the level of disinformation and that people will believe that, it made me feel like there’s nothing I can say and, like, feeling, like, all the relating and explaining–I mean, I’m just in a place where I’m really contemplating and meditating on that to see what I need to be doing differently, because it’s not working.

Neil: Yeah. Well, you said a lot today. You know, you shared a lot about your life, from a tiny child, the way you grew up, the women who supported you, led you, mentored you, been your boss, this friendship that you formed with a Black woman in the community that you live in now. And I’m going to suggest that there might be somebody that hears that on this podcast and it actually creates a little bit of a change that you would appreciate. So is there one or two things that you would want to say? And I know you said you’ve been trying and trying and trying, but is there one or two things that you want to say to, I guess, white people that maybe would help to move the needle?

Laura: I would say that everything is better when you have diversity. So whether that is your workplace. And I mean, in specific, if you have Black women, Black men, in particular, especially–just top of mind–your everything will be better. Whatever your business or organization or friendship group, I can see that many white people think or believe that it would be worse, apparently, but the one thing I would want to have them understand at their core is that their life will be better. Everyone’s life will be better.

Neil: Your life will be better. Everyone’s life will be better.

Laura: Yes. Like, the fear is toxic. And raw. And fake. False.

Neil: Yes, toxic and fake fear. Thank you, Laura. I appreciate your time today.

Laura: Thank you.

Neil: Laura’s hope is that people will be real with themselves and the lies that they have been living with. Laura is a witness. It is such an authoritative statement for the mind and body, especially during times when rhetoric would have us believe we did not see what we saw. Thank you for that nugget of wisdom, Laura. In Laura’s description of efforts to create change, she said she wanted to create a positive loop. I’ve never heard that notion used in this space up until now. There are a lot of actions that are positive actions, but they are not a positive loop. They are merely transactions – performative actions. So I think that is an invitation and a stroke of brilliance from Laura as a model for how to take action that creates lasting change in the lives of those who need your support. So much, so much Laura said, and I quote, “I would have a natural tendency to take more than I give,” unquote. Wow. I’m going to say, that is not a definitive statement by Laura, but a live, deeply reflective and highly mature statement to explore if you are a white woman. How true is that? And where does that come from? Those are two good questions to ask if you want to ponder on that statement. And even with that, Laura drops a bottom line. No matter what you think, no matter what fears you have, everything is better when there’s diversity. Thank you again for listening. I am infinitely grateful that you are here and for your feed forward. This is world work for me. So join us again next Monday for a new episode of The Leadership Range. If you haven’t done so yet, you can find me on LinkedIn at forward slash N forward slash N Edwards 07 or Instagram at Neil underscore Edwards underscore coaching. If you have ideas for future topics or know a coach or leader whose voice you think ought to be here, send an email to Until next week, this is The Leadership Range.

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