This is a recording of our live webinar with our host Nubianna and speakers Tema Okun, Dr. Oni Blackstock, and Bärí A. Williams. They delve into the subject of white supremacy culture on this episode of The Group Chat. Want to catch the next Group Chat? Click here to check our schedule and sign up!

Read the Show Below

SPEAKER 1 0:10

My name is Neubiana from Houston, Texas. I’m your moderator for today’s discussion. And really all the discussions here on the group chat. For those that are joining us for another episode is great to see you here with us today. Let’s go over a quick couple of housekeeping things for you to be aware of. So our webinars are recorded. If you do not consent to being recorded, please watch this replay. On living dash corporate Comm. Also make sure you update your default name. We are like very engaging and interactive in this group. And so we want to be able to address you by your name appropriately. So no user 743 threes, update those with whatever name you would like to be called. Get in the chat. So we want to know your reactions, your questions, your thoughts, whatever that may be. My teammate Aaron is in the chat. He’ll make sure that we get to address anything that comes up. All right, we have some more people joining us, Daniel, hey, from Michigan, Lauren. Let’s see. So if you’re unaware, living corporate is a platform that has candid conversations to amplify historically underrepresented voices, and work through engaging a spectrum of thought leaders with the group chat this show were simply designating a time and space for us to continue to build our culture of candor. Through dialogue with you. We have the intention that through these conversations, we will become a gathering place and equips people with actionable insights to fully represent themselves and others as allies. With each conversation that we have, we have an opportunity to listen deeply and learn from each other. Today is no different. And we will be discussing white supremacy, work culture in the workplace. Let’s go into our introduction. So our first panellist for today has spent over 30 years dismantling racism and oppression of various forms as an educator and facilitator that offers practical approaches for those interested in effectively addressing racism and other oppressive constructs. She believes that the cost of racism to all of humanity is our ability to fully be in community with one another. Over the years she has created and co-created a number of anti-racism, anti-oppression work, including the article that establishes the foundation for our discussion today. Joining us from learn from Riley, Dr. Tim Oaken. Welcome to the group chat. Our next panellist is an intersectional equity advocate and recognized thought leader in the areas of HIV in health equity. She is the primary care and HIV doctor and the founder and executive director of health adjust is a consulting practice that provides racial and intersectional equity, expertise to health and other and other related organizations. She recently served as Assistant Commissioner for the New York City health department’s barella HIV, where she led the city’s response to the HIV epidemic. Through her years of experience. She recognizes how white supremacy culture is also seen as sexist, homophobic transphobic and it was she continues her family’s legacy of using medicine to address racialized and intersectional health inequities. Dr. O’Neill Blackstone, glad to have you with us today. Our final panellist will be joining us shortly. And she is an attorney, tech executive diversity activist and Arthur. She is she was the first black woman in Facebook’s legal department. And in 2016, she successfully took on creating and implementing their Supplier Diversity Program. She currently advises in the legal capacity for bandwagon. And her recent book she explores what it means to be a minority in today’s labour force through real experiences to help leaders have conversations about identity privilege and bias by way of Oakland by a woman And she’s actually here so we’re going to bring her on stage really quickly. Okay. If you’re joining us for the first time, I guess you put a number one in the chat just a little know how many new people. I shot I get to see you ypl Hi, Anna. Hi. Okay, so we’re getting some number ones coming in Anna. Hi, Tamra. All right. How are you?

SPEAKER 2 5:53

Good. Never account for Sick Children. So

SPEAKER 1 6:00

That is for sure. Yes, you can be here is your loved one. Okay. Yeah, she’s fine. Okay. Okay, perfect.

SPEAKER 2 6:07

She just thinks everything is a balanced being. And it’s not. And she learned that the hard way. Not this time. She’s had him twice already. She’s five. We’ve done this twice. Like, I was like, I’m not doing this a third time. So but only and her sister. They’re twins. They went to college with my husband. And so when I told him I was doing this, he was like, oh, wait, I know, we’re

SPEAKER 1 6:42

Glad that you could join us. Let us go into our rapid fire very quickly. And I’m also glad your little one is okay. Because, you know, they can be quite adventurous and cause all types of things. So we switched up our cadence a little bit. So those of you who were with us last year, you know that we have something called the rapid fire. We’ve renamed it to the chat and we moved it to the beginning of our conversation, same concept will take 90 seconds on the clock. This is for not only our panellists, but also you in the audience to play along with us. I will ask a series of questions, you should respond with your first write the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you how to solve world hunger or any of those things. Just some essential conversational topics. Okay. All right. Let me get my 90 seconds on the clock.

SPEAKER 2 7:45

Because in the past, we’ve struggled with that.

SPEAKER 1 7:55

All right. We’re good to go. And first question is fill in the blank 2021 started off. And for the panellists, whoever answers first and just doesn’t matter, you just shoot off whatever. The clock is ticking.

SPEAKER 3 8:26

But interesting. Chat and a challenge. It’s continues to be challenging, I guess life continues to be challenging in certain ways. So I would just say what sort of themes of 2020 you continued on into 2021?

SPEAKER 1 8:40


SPEAKER 3 8:42

I see. Traumatic.

SPEAKER 1 8:44

Yes. Yes. Okay.

SPEAKER 3 8:52

I like the normal one because like, it looks like Life, right. Ups and downs. That’s, in some ways. Accurate.

SPEAKER 1 9:02

Absolutely true. What’s one accomplishment you like to acknowledge or celebrate right now?

SPEAKER 3 9:12

When in Georgia, for sure.

SPEAKER 1 9:14

The [Inaudible] Georgia. Okay. You guys got personal accomplishments?

SPEAKER 3 9:20

Yeah. First thing that comes to mind. I’m just being consistent with my meditative and contemplative practice and yoga practice over the past year.

SPEAKER 1 9:33

Okay. Okay, so staying sane Bari, anything. You want to say? You’re on mute. You’re on mute. By the audience is staying committed to change that they survived 2020 I hear you Tracy Arthur, his new leadership in DC. We understand that shot of being alive and present. Are you still on mute? Let me unmute you. I can do that here. No, I can’t I lie. It’s not letting me.

SPEAKER 3 10:11

Or if you click on your picture you on click on the square. The menu should open and you should be able to click the microphone. Oh, she’s uh, she can. Oh, she disappeared. Oh, no.

SPEAKER 1 10:24

Hopefully she joins us. Okay. Yes. Raphael is keeping us sanity. Natalie relationship with people who matter the most. To her. Shettima actually finishing a book as you purchase. Have a whole bunch of bullshitting on that. I definitely understand that. And Danielle ordering a new book. Okay. Yeah, this 90 seconds has passed. So we will try this again. JOHN is again in the middle of that in the middle of the show, just so that we know that we have some practice. This is our practice round. Okay. Bar is still here, and I got to re invite her back on stage. Let’s get this. We’re going to get it together. That’s what happens when you’re live. Right? All the things that just kind of happen. All right. I like how cateura says she’s honouring her boundaries as an accomplished I like that a lot.

SPEAKER 2 11:29

Okay, now, can you hear me? No, I would. One thing I would say, um, I was really, really bad about this in 2014. I’m horrible. Like, honestly horrible. Because having two kids that are home, and there’s no camp, there’s no anything, you just have to do it for 10 months straight. And I was raised by a teacher. And she was a teacher for 14 years. And my grandmother was also a teacher. And I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher. By the time I was in second grade, so having to figure that out was very hard. And you know, just like, why are you doing this?

SPEAKER 3 12:34

We don’t know what’s going on. So

SPEAKER 1 12:40

Let’s see if you can change your headphone audio to be the same thing as your microphone. I mean, it says you sound magical, which is true.

SPEAKER 2 13:00

All right. Am I less magical now?

SPEAKER 1 13:02


SPEAKER 2 13:06

But the goal is just like, get through every day, however you need to get through it. That’s what I learned. And I have a very hands on husband, which is great. I know a lot of parts partners don’t have someone that is necessarily as hands on. But it’s like, if I don’t do it, he’ll do it. Like I taught him how to come here knows how to come here. And so like getting those things done. That’s key. So that’s the only thing that has really, like kept me saying, is my mom helping in my husband?

SPEAKER 1 13:43

Oh, I’m glad that you have that community around you that can help you with that. We will pick back up our chat later on if we have time because this was a problem that we kind of failed at. But that’s okay. That’s okay. We’ll dig into the conversation, we’ll get the conversation started. So I want to first set the context for the conversation, right, because I think that most people associate white supremacy with the Klan or neo nazis and just these extreme groups and have a hard time identifying white supremacy as anything other than that. So it’s important that we level set to even begin to have this conversation. So the first question is, how would you define white supremacy? And what does white supremacy culture mean? And tema let’s start with you.

SPEAKER 3 14:44

Well, I define white supremacy as a, an ideology of toxic ideology. That’s the water that we swim in. It’s the air that we breathe. And I think that its function, what it means what’s what it’s meant to do. Is to the Disconnect us from each other across lines of race and gender and class. I like these definition. But it’s way more than just about race, to disconnect us within our racialized groups or within our groups of belonging, to disconnect us from ourselves, and to disconnect us from spirit in the service of power and profit. So that’s my sort of shorthand about it, and we’re all navigating it in one way or another. We all have to figure out how it’s trying to include us or target us or do some of the books, some of both. And so it’s a, it’s a, what it means is it’s a personal project of figuring out how it’s impacting us personally, it’s a collective project, in terms of how it’s affecting us personally within our groups. And it’s an institutional project in terms of how it’s being reproduced by our institutions.

SPEAKER 1 15:53

Okay, I can definitely see that. And I like your concept of this project, because essentially, it is like this. Mass experimentation of sorts, right. Ani and Bari, anything else you want to add to that? What white supremacy is?

SPEAKER 3 16:14

I think people tend to think that it is just, as she said before, like they think, Oh, it’s white hood, you have to be actively involved in these certain types of organizations in order to uphold white supremacy. And that isn’t true. You can uphold white supremacy just day to day, like living life and doing your job. So it’s making people aware of what are those things? What does that mean? And in my instance, at least what I see, particularly working in tech, it’s you choose to use old datasets when you’re building a product. So you’re using something from 1965. Okay, well, that’s redlining data. And you’re choosing to use something from this particular Police Department from 1965 to 1980. Okay, well, you already know they were profiled, right? Like it’s thinking about thinking about it, even just in those ways to show that you’re, you may not necessarily understand that you are exacerbating like the premacy. But you are enabling it, in helping it proliferate. So how do we help you not do those things?

SPEAKER 4 17:32

Yeah, just echoing my colleagues, remarks, also, just thinking about, you know, how white supremacy culture, you know, it’s obviously socially and politically constructed. And intentionally not only just to advantage, folks who identify as white, but also to intentionally disadvantage and dis privilege, black people and other people of color. And I think speaking to what Dr. Koon was saying, just in terms of and what the impact meant is that there’s also actually Dr. Mary Jones talks a lot about this sort of the waste of sort of human resources that happens as a result, because we have so many groups are unable to sort of, you know, reach their fullest potential, because they are being marginalized. And I think, like supremacy, you know, marginalizes people of color. And in so doing against Dr. Koon saying, really disconnects us from one another.

SPEAKER 2 18:28

Yeah, I agree with that. And I definitely like how we’ve started the conversation of saying, like, look, it’s a collective indoctrination, right? It’s in the air that we breathe, it’s we’re all upholding it, we can’t point to like a specific group of people or individuals to say like, you are upholding white supremacy, because of the world and space that we live in. All of us play a part of that. So absolutely. Absolutely. Like how we set the foundation for this. So we’ve been talking about, you know, what it is and how it’s, it’s around us. And there are environments that are containing to, for your example, Barbie, like us information that is technically exclusive. What are some of the ways that? Well, what are some of the most common ways that my dominant culture tends to show up in the workplace? Right, and so I’ll start with you.

SPEAKER 4 19:31

Sure. I mean, I’m just thinking of like an example from when I was faculty at an academic medical center and faculty and a residency program, so training doctors. And I remember that there were several residents who were black, who, you know, were struggling, there were other folks who weren’t black who were also struggling. But sort of the there was a magnifying glass on these individually. Schools who were struggling and they ended up one of them actually was asked to leave the program, the other one was held back. Meanwhile, white and also Asian residents who also were similarly struggling, were not able were able to advance it. So just maybe think about this think factor of who what are the white supremacy characteristics thinking about. So this idea, that perfectionism, and also how a lot of that, you know, if someone is making mistakes, or someone is struggling, it’s seen as an individual flaw of that person. And so these folks were very much marginalized and stigmatized, whereas the right residents and Asian residents who were struggling, were sort of were given a pass, I think they also were able to, you know, interact and socialize with their peers in a way that in some ways, was a cover for some of their struggles. Whereas the black residents, were not able to do that. But so I just thought sort of this idea of this, the perfectionism, and this being an individual flaw of the black residents, and, you know, lack of willingness to, to support them. I think, also, I have seen in my most recent job working in government, the ways in which urgency comes up, there’s a sense of urgency, again, which is another one of our white supremacy characteristics that’s broken and her colleagues conceptualized and yeah, just seeing this, for instance, when there are decisions that are made that affect all staff that affect the well-being and safety of staff that are predominantly people of color, and staff is not engaged about it, staff has not talked to about it, their input isn’t sought, or anything like that. And decisions are just made for the sake of quote unquote expediency versus, you know, engaging and really understanding and getting feedback from staff, which are often from disproportionately marginalized groups.

SPEAKER 2 21:58

And yeah, it’s interesting, I actually just wrote an article for fast company about this in terms of like, how do you talk about, you know, the insurgents? How do you talk about everything that happened last summer, because there is a huge portion of your workforce that is dealing with this emotionally? And you, you can choose to act like it didn’t happen, that will not be to your benefit. But you can do that. And, like, how do you just who gets the right to be in that? That’s the whole crux of the articles, like who gets the right to be professional, right? Like, what’s the professional response to this? And, you know, you don’t we don’t live in a world where you just discuss things over the watercooler anymore. And so I could go to my co-workers Twitter feed, and I see everything he thinks about and if he’s a cute person, or he thinks that this was great, or, like, now, how am I supposed to have digested that and work with you? And figure out like, okay, you don’t even think I should, like, literally be alive. So, but I have to figure out how to work with you. So it’s navigating that and like, what is the role of companies in this? What’s the role that they should not play? Because, you know, everybody still deserves to be themselves. But that that’s the whole issue around the cultural, bring your whole self to work, right? Like, I don’t want your wholesales. Your mama doesn’t want your whole self. So I definitely don’t like my mom probably wants, like 85% of me, the other 15% she doesn’t want. So it’s like how do you handle that in a workplace? And then actually enforce it? And what does that look like, especially in a remote culture, where you cannot really chastise people or figure something out? So that’s me is what I’m interested in solving for is because I also think, after all of this, people don’t have an excuse to not have remote workforces. We all learned now that this works, and you can do it. So but how do you make sure that your company culture is enforced? The values that you have are enforced? Like how do you handle all of that? So I’m sorry to throw like more monkey wrenches in the in the question that you that you wanted answered, but to me, it just it raises more questions.

SPEAKER 1 24:39

Right. Which I think is absolutely true, right. And so I’m listening to what you’re saying. And, and it’s interesting to me because I wrote a post on LinkedIn and I was basically talking about my experience as I’m a first generation professional, despite my family being in this country for hundreds of years and How I really dislike the term of showing up as your authentic self to work, because my authentic self is not professional, right, like my authentic self when in spite of my ability to deliver the work that I that I do, right. So I think I think it’s very interesting that we have these conversations around like professionalism is one of the things I like, who gets to determine what that is, and how should we really be evaluating the impact that people have on work versus like how they show up to work, right, or how they present rather. And then, you know, I’m reading these conversations in the chat. And I know Natalie is and, you know, she feels that it not only feels that it shows up and just dress code and the type of socials that we have and the language that’s used when we’re in conversations and who gets heard. Right. And so, I think I think there are a lot of questions that just come from this, because as you start to peel back the different layers, it’s like, well, what are we really, truly evaluating? Right? And so, Dr. Cohn, I would like to get your input on this too, as to what you see are some of the most common dominant cultures and white dominant cultures that show up?

SPEAKER 3 26:24

I find it really hard to answer just one or what I’ll say, though, is that I think what I want to speak to is the white cultural norm of assuming, particularly in predominately white workplaces, that the white way is the right way, and that there’s no real questioning. So this whole idea, first of all, this idea of inclusion. So we’re, whenever a diversity, equity and inclusion committee comes to me and said, I’ll work with the equity part of the committee. I’m not interested in the inclusion part because who, who, who’s defining what, who? And about who is included? Who’s including who, into what? And there’s no, I don’t actually, I’m not somebody who believes it’s important to include people into professionalism, because I think the whole point of professionalism is to strip us from our authentic selves, and to act as if there’s this form that we should operate in, when we don’t actually get to be human. And that, that the professional form is all about profit and power. It’s not about human connection. So I’m not a big fan of professionalism at all. And I’m, and I don’t, and I’m not a big fan of inclusion, because it makes the question about who’s being included into what and so I think the biggest barrier is, is that those of us who are white in leadership positions were not completely absolutely clear what our direct personal stake in racial equity is, and are not clear about the stake that our, our sphere of influence has in racial equity, and that we consider ourselves qualified without that clarity. And just the incredible double standard about who’s qualified for what and incredible numbers of us who are white, who are in positions without any understanding of what it means to have a racial equity commitment, and we think we’re qualified to do our jobs. And we are not, you know, so it’s just, it’s that whole interaction of how the whole thing gets defined, who’s defining it, who defines what qualified is who the who defines things, and how it gets defined in ways that are actually toxic to everybody. It’s not for white men, this is good for white people really, the right of this illusion that it’s good for us because we get more power. But it’s not the kind of power that I’m interested in. So I’m very passionate about this, I could go on for hours,

SPEAKER 4 28:46

With Dr. Koon, saying just one thing. And then just in terms of qualification, like who’s qualified, like, the reality is like, often as black people, particularly black women, we have to be like overqualified for our positions, like, you know, I, you know, the job that I was with most recently, and I, you know, I look back and think, you know, it was like oh my goodness, when they offered it to me, but I was like, Oh my goodness, I was like way more qualified than my predecessors for that job, but I doubted myself. And I just also want to say I really appreciate the distinction that you’re making between diversity and inclusion, and equity and justice. And I’ll try to put this in the chat. Dr. dafina Lazarus, Stewart has an excellent article about the language of appeasement, and she really talks about, you know, for instance, how diversity as you know who’s in the room, whereas equity response who was trying to get in the room, but can’t whose presence in the room is under constant threat of E ratio and just ask, for instance, including everyone at the table that heard whereas justice asked whose ideas won’t be taken as seriously because they aren’t in the majority. So there’s just a lot of this like performative, very superficial, window dressing, diversity, inclusion stuff going on, but without any like, transform Change or meaningful change, really, and these and the culture and the systems that perpetuate these inequities?

SPEAKER 2 30:07

Yeah, I think that that has been completely true. And I remember the day that I decided that it was time for me to leave Facebook. So please don’t throw things at me. You can’t throw them in the chat. I mean, you’ll throw them at your wall. But don’t throw them at me. I worked at Facebook. So my boss there he had taken, we had three other teammates, and he had taken them to the Warriors game. He didn’t even tell me they were going, he didn’t ask me he didn’t invite me. And actually had been a warrior’s intern, my senior year in college at Cal. So he knew that I liked basketball. And he knew that I liked the warriors. He just didn’t ask. And we had a one on one. And I basically got in his face about it and was like, so how did this happen? And he was like, well, outside counsel, paid for it and you don’t know them. It’s like, Okay, well, that’s your job to make sure that I’ve meet them and know them right, in that in that part of your job. And he’s like, yes, but why are you mad about it? And I was like, okay, so I see where this is going. So now you’re going to turn me into the angry black woman. Got it? Okay. Not going to play into that. So keep going. And he’s like, yeah, we’re going to hire a junior attorney to handle these five things. Now. I was managing, doing legal work for 11 departments, five of them, he was then going to take and give to a junior attorney. He’s like, okay, so am I going to manage this person? And this was the thing that literally, I will never forget this and it sent a shiver up my spine. Why do you think you deserve that? Okay, where is the exit? Cuz this is not going to end well for either of us at this point. But he’s like, what do you feel like you deserve that? And I said, well, who else would you give it to? And he mentioned a colleague, and I said, Okay, well, it looks like well, he managed a person before I was like, yeah, and the person who managed was me and I got from under his management, because we’re the same age, and I actually had more experience in him. And so he didn’t know what he was doing. So what do you mean? And he was like, well, tell me why you think you deserve it more than him. And I was kind of like a deer in headlights. I was like, is this a real question? Because first off, if you’re, if you’re a manager, like this is not a question that you asked to put one colleague against another, like, you don’t do that. And he’s like, No, I want to hear it. And I was like, Are you sure? Is this a real question? And he was like, yes. And I said, Okay, well, then let me just run it down for you. So I was like, I graduated from college in three years. And I had a 3.1 grade point average, this guy took six years to graduate from college and handle grades. And I have a privacy certificate. I also have an MBA, and also have a master’s degree. He has none of those things. I did all that stuff while he was still an undergrad with no grades. So I don’t really understand why you’re asking me this. And then he looked me dead in my face and said, Well, sometimes life isn’t fair. And I was like, nope, done. Done with this. Went home, told my husband, I was like, I’m leaving. On the first train smoking. Cuz this is a white man who literally, and he had a whole thing. Oh, you’ll appreciate this. Like, he had a whole thing where he could not understand how he’s like, what your husband was Harvard? How didn’t play basketball? No, use an engineer. And he’s like, well, how did he get in? And I was like, Oh, well also dabbled Harvard, his grandfather went to Harvard. So you know, black people in Oklahoma, you know, can read and do things. I know that that doesn’t fit your worldview. But yeah, he that this was the same, like he was wild. So yeah, when he’s like, oh, well, you know, sometimes life isn’t fair. And I’m like, this year, you’re paying me back for that. Because you feel a way about your life trajectory. Which has nothing to do with me.

SPEAKER 1 35:04

So far your story is like making me think of the characteristic of power hoarding, right? Like, and this is my own interpretation of what I’ve been learning. But it really much seems like she had an eye wine, he made a decision that he felt was best for the collective interest right now, and not really taking into account that he was really qualified and available for the job. I want I also find us very interesting is that, although there’s a characteristic of individualism, when it comes to succession planning, right, they it’s, it isn’t so individualistic, right? It’s more of a, these are the people that I am comfortable with, and that are very much like me. So we talk about biases come into play, right? And these are the people that I’m likely to come up. So like that conversation that you’re having, which is very unfortunate, and very disrespectful in so many ways, right? Like, that is reminding me of that characteristic that just keeps getting played within different organizations. And when you were asking the question, why they wanted to know why you wanted to become a manager, like that triggered something personally for me, because that was the question that I received before. Like, what do you mean? Like, like, Here I am performing at this level, here, I am managing these teams here, I have this set of credentials, like, what is that? Like? What are you really asking me? Right? And so I think we can talk about these things like for forever and ever, I would like to know, does the audience have any questions? Like, are there any questions they want for us to address right now?

SPEAKER 2 37:02

When I put an Asterix next to that, because when I was having a conversation with my manager, I had just like I had just come back maybe two months before from maternity leave. And I was in Facebook, legal, so I was doing legal work. But I also spent my nights and weekends and my maternity leave, building their Supplier Diversity Program, which now they want to do a billion dollars with diverse suppliers, which is great. So my work wasn’t in vain. But to then have someone get in, like, asked me that, after all of this was just like, you’re negating everything I just did. You don’t see the value.

SPEAKER 4 37:51

Changes also, just maybe, just in terms of white supremacy culture in the workplace, just wanted to add, this idea of like intent versus impact comes up a lot, like, you know, where folks who are in leadership, typically who are white, they will say that, you know, they had good intentions behind whatever it is that they did, you know, when there’s something that maybe negatively impacts their, their team or their staff, particularly their people black or people of color. And, you know, often focusing on intent versus impact really ends up centering like the white person and really decentering and dismissing the impact on the person who is marginalized. So this happens a lot, you know, when people you know, they’ll make a comment, some throwaway comment, quote, unquote, in a meeting that is, you know, offensive to someone in the room, you know, they have, you know, racist assumption, maybe around like, the comment about Baris husband being a basketball is you play basketball or whatever. Oh, but oh, no, I didn’t. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean it that way. But the reality is, is that, you know, being someone who’s in an empowered position, you can, you know, you’re you can you basically set the standard, and you’re just sort of decentering the impact that it’s having on other people. So I just wanted to like this comes, I just have seen this come up a lot and wanted to just to speak to that. And then also just to speak to what I felt in my last job, this idea of like professionalism, like crazy comments would be made, things would happen. And I think because I was in a leadership position. I was like, so tightly wrapped, like I just felt like I couldn’t be my being like my authentic self and have like an inauthentic reaction. So when I had wait staff, for instance, say things in front of me, for instance, I had my racial equity director, she spent months developing an anonymous feedback survey, because many of the staff of color felt unsafe giving, giving feedback on their supervisors. She spent months developing this survey with a number of people. And when she presented it to our executive team, one of the white directors kind of went off and was like, I don’t like this and now have a feedback system, this is going to be a way for people to gossip about their, their, their supervisor. So this is a term gossip, you know, like some dog whistling stuff going on. And all this was happening. And you know, I had approved the feedback system and everything, and I was sitting there, and I almost like didn’t even know how to respond because I was in a leadership position, I have to hold it together. And I can’t tell you, I left the position in July, how I didn’t realize how exhausted I was from trying to, like, be professional to just kind of be like, okay, but inside, I was like, this is crazy, what I just feel like, you know, there’s just so much pressure to, to behave a certain way and it just eats us up inside. And I and I left that. And I am now starting my own business specifically, because I don’t want to be part of any other organizational culture that is going to dictate the way that I need to behave. And that’s going to muzzle me I was completely muzzled. Working in government, I couldn’t speak out on various issues. So just wanted to put those out there.

SPEAKER 2 41:07

That actually, that resonates a lot. Well, I had this conversation with your sister. But the exact same thing, like, you know, at least from in, that’s part of what how I structured, the article that I wrote, is the idea of what’s professionalism. And who defines that, and what does that mean, and it kind of changed for not black people, it changed for everybody else. So it’s like, you went from professionalism, like you have a suit, women can only wear skirts, and then it changed to business casual. And that change in the things that you could talk about around the water cooler, which then became like, you know, the lunch or coffee area, because you have tech, and so you have all this free food, those things changed. But the crux of my issue around it is like, we still don’t have the leverage and the power to react in the way that we may want to act. So the whole notion of bring your whole self to work, that doesn’t apply to us. That applies to other people. That applies to everybody that got taken to that warrior’s gang up on my team except me. And so you’re wearing jeans and a T shirt, and you come in at 10 o’clock. Well, that was a whole other thing. Like you come in two o’clock in the morning, and you smell like bourbon. And I show up at eight o’clock in the morning. And I have two kids, and I’m getting my work done. And I’m doing it and then I go home, and I don’t spend my work. But so it’s you know the well, he’s fun. So it’s a culture fit. That’s a whole other topic we could get into on another day, the idea of culture fit. But it’s the notion that when you say bring your whole self to work, that doesn’t apply to all of us don’t want just like I said, my mom only wants 85% of what the other 15%. So I definitely know that my co-workers don’t want even the 85% they might want 75 or 70. But the issue around like who gets to talk about social justice, who gets to talk about how do you handle all these things? I distinctly remember when Mike Brown was killed, I and we had a rule, it was unspoken rule. But in Facebook legal. You had to sit out on the floor, and it was an open office. And for that week, I just was like, I just locked myself in a conference room and didn’t want to come out didn’t want to talk didn’t. And two, only two of my co-workers came and knocked on that door and just said, Are you okay? And there’s something about that, too. That is like, you can act like and I think that employers need to be aware of this as well is like you can act like this stuff isn’t happening. But that’s to your detriment. Because your employees are suffering from it. I had to explain multiple times over the course of the summer why people are writing why there is a protest, someone else got killed, like explaining that to a 10 year old, three times is tiring. And it’s emotionally tiring. And then it’s emotionally taxing thinking about that I had to explain it to a 10 year old. So if you want to act like that didn’t happen. Sure you do that. But also understand I’m probably not going to be as productive this week as I was last week. And they’re not acknowledging that. And so the one thing that I always tell these two co-workers I still stay in touch with them, how much I love them, and like the fact that they even were aware of it and knew that that was the issue. And no one else addressed it. And I will say one of them was my general counsel. And he has since left Facebook has retired and is probably like sitting on a, you know, stash of money like Scrooge McDuck. But, um, he, he checked in and was like, are you? Are you good? Like, no?

SPEAKER 1 45:27


SPEAKER 2 45:29

I think definitely, there’s a weird.

SPEAKER 1 45:32

Yes. Give me one second we do. We are about to wrap up, there are a couple of questions in the chat that we want to get into. And they’re talking about how do we address this? And how do we really reach justice? Honestly, because we talk a lot about equity and inclusion, and never enough about justice. And we’ll want to know what that is about. I know. So, me and Tina, you both had statements that you wanted to say. So

SPEAKER 3 46:02

I just wanted to say real quickly about, I really appreciate what you were saying about intention impact. And what I like to say, in addition, or what I also like to say is that it’s racial equity requires like are those of us who are white, our conditioning into our whiteness, and the ways in which we, one of the challenges of the ways that we enact racism is that it, it doesn’t need to be unintentional. So much of it is like what we’re not even aware of, or how we’re not even aware of the ways that we’re perpetuating or enacting it’s like a lack a lack of being able to see it. So what I’ll say is that, you know, I’ll emphasize intention is not the same as impact. And everybody knows this, because all of us have this had a personal experience of somebody having good intentions, and still making us feel bad, regardless of whether race is part of that or not, or that we’re we have good intentions, and we make somebody feel bad. But what does require deep intention is racial equity, practice and racial justice practice. So those of us who are white, we have to be incredibly intentional on a daily basis, about the ways that we show up into a racial equity commitment. And then in terms of the person, I think asked about, one of the things that there’s so much to say, but one of the things that we learn to lean into the columns I’ve worked with over the years are these 10 racial equity principles that are on the website, in reference, I’ll put in the chat. And one of them is acting and thinking collectively and the others organizing mine. So just trying to encourage us because professionalism loves us to act individually. And to feel like we have to figure this out ourselves, is to really push ourselves to go, there’s always, almost always a couple of other people who are seeing the world the same way as you. And so to collaborate and to start to say, here’s the issue, what are we in a position to do something about one of the cost benefits, so that we are at least harnessing whatever little talent that we might have it even if it’s only the power at the end of the day to talk to each other so that we can make it through another day? And I’m not saying that that’s enough. I’m not saying that that’s enough. But it’s just I’m starting to really push ourselves to think collectively, like, what’s the collective response to this kind of stuff, because in the end, I mean, I don’t know, the challenges that Facebook doesn’t understand. And it should all have the genius that it’s missing out on with this kind of crap, all behaviour, you know, it’s like the allowing white management, or even sometimes when people of color participate in this, allowing people in managerial positions to not be clear about their own behaviour and the way that’s getting in the way of, of genius. And, you know, its Facebook is already monolith. I’m not sure how much more power I want to have. And there’s all kinds of things that could be learning to be more open, and not so not so involved in road races. Well, that was

SPEAKER 2 49:06

Something that was interesting to me. When I, when I had that conversation. I knew at that moment, I went home and talked to my husband and I was like, I’m like, I’m not doing this anymore. Like this man questioned my credentials and why I deserve to even be here. And we hired him. Like we our manager had left and gone to another place, and we hired you and you’re asking me why I’m here. Why the fuck are you here? Sorry. But why are you here? What are you doing? Who told you could be here? And that was the whole back and forth about what he was like Well, did your husband play basketball because I you know, I got a letter and surfing I was like, we don’t do that in Oakland with surfing isn’t like not a sport in Oakland. So I don’t even know what you’re talking about. So that’s nice or whatever. But it was having to navigate that. And it looks like you’re saying that I couldn’t get into school you asked me if I got into school on affirmative action. I was like, no. And then you’re like, well, how did your husband go to Harvard? And he was on a basketball scholarship? No. And so, after that had happened before, like, that was a month before we had the conversation later, where he’s like, well, why do you think you should get this role? Or do this, and then I ran down my resume for him again, I was like, I have three other degrees that this person doesn’t have a privacy certification that this person doesn’t have. And we did it all in the same timeframe. And it just took him six years to graduate from college, it took me three. So I don’t understand why this is even an issue. And that’s when he was like, Well, sometimes, like, just isn’t there.

SPEAKER 1 50:55

Agree with Natalie, that he was a whole nightmare? I do want to be mindful that we have eight minutes

SPEAKER 2 51:01

Oh, yeah, I want

SPEAKER 4 51:05

To be honest, I just say something. No, just I want you to speak to me, racial affinity groups and just spaces is particularly for white folk, to really just work through, metabolize and process all the feelings that come up for them, particularly when they recognize their complicity in, in whiteness, and white supremacy culture. So you know, we always say like, you know, when white people, you know, feel shame and guilt and anger, often that that means that black people and people of color are unsafe, like we are sort of at the whim at their whim, they can lash out at us spire do all these different things to us. And in the Bureau of HIV, where I used to work at the City Health Department, we did the Institute for survival. And beyond undoing racism workshop, which folks in the audience have probably heard of people’s Institute, it is in New Orleans, and they’ve been doing this work for decades. And, you know, after we did that, the two day training, you know, I had white staff saying, we actually want a space to like talk about this, but we don’t, and we want a space where we feel safe, like they don’t, you know, like not having black people or people of color around them listening. And so we did create a space for our white staff to really, to really just be candid and honest about what’s what feelings are coming up for them. But just to say that, like, white people need to have happened, this doesn’t have to be in at someone’s job, it could be with friends, family, whatever, but really need to process and work through the feelings that come up for them, when issues of racism are being discussed, because otherwise, like, we’re not going to be able to change these cultures. I think there’s systems level stuff that needs to happen to like use of racial equity tools, or various things like that. But there’s individual level work that that white folk need to engage in.

SPEAKER 1 53:04

I agree with that. So in addition to that individual work, what are some of the things that we can do? And here’s a question specifically that I really liked that Kate asked us, she says, Why do you say to a co-worker, when you bring up these culture norms, and they don’t believe that is attributable to white dominant culture? So like, how do we even begin to have these, these conversations, when people just don’t see how they are related to white supremacy? Can we can start with you?

SPEAKER 3 53:39

Um, I mean, this goes back to organizing mind. And I think for me, the first step is, this is not a direct answer, to the first step is to find the people and there hopefully, there are some white people in your environment, who do begin to get it. And, and so enlisting, collectively the help of those people to take on the people. So it’s like, I don’t I sort of advocate each one reach one, teach one. And if, if someone just I, I just think it’s so educating somebody one on one who’s resistant, it’s like the, if somebody said this in the chat, what they’re afraid of is that you’re telling me that they’re essentially that person. Right? And so do you have the emotional and psychic energy to deal with that? Probably not. So can you find if you’re a person who can you find a white colleague who might? Can you say, well, just think about it, trust me, you know, it’s like, you have to decide how willing you are to engage. That’s why affinity groups are such a great idea. And it’s why it’s so important for organizations to take on a racial equity commitment. So that individuals within the organization don’t feel like it’s their personal responsibility to have to deal with this crap all the time. But the key thing for me is, can you find the people who are thinking like you? Are there any white people who are thinking like you are adjacent to you in some kind of way? And can you all strategize together about what to do about it? And then on the on the one on one, you just I think everybody has to decide for themselves, including me, you know, as another white person takes I take my responsibility to educate other white people and myself very seriously. But there’s some days where she’s like, you know what, I’m going to come back to you tomorrow, because today will, I just, I can’t, I just can’t. And I try and take when people ask me a question, I try to take it seriously. Even if I ask it sarcastically. You know, what, why, why is this about white supremacy? Why is this about being white? That’s a really good question. Why is it about being like, sometimes I’ll turn it back on them? You told me? Yes, I, there’s all kinds of I mean, it’s a longer conversation. But the main thing I want to say is protect yourself. You know, gently arm yourself with, with friends and collaborators so that you’re not taking this on and even you’re thinking it through. If you’re isolated at work, you’re thinking it through which I know you’re doing but with friends at home and just do what you can to take care of yourself as you’re strategizing with others about what you’re going to do.

SPEAKER 1 56:29

Anything else that Dr. Black stock or Bari would like to add to this? We have three minutes on the clock. And we’ll start to wrap up. And Brahma yes to your question that he had in the chat.

SPEAKER 4 56:51

So I’m going to just speak to just an experience, I had in my last position using racial equity tools, I think there are some pros and cons. But I think with this sense of urgency, that’s one of the whites and that’s the culture characteristics. That makes it difficult to be inclusive and encourage sort of a democratic process. I think, the use of racial equity tools, I’m not sure if folks have heard of I can put in the in the chat. The government Alliance on racial equity has a tool and the racial justice prime tool. And basically what they do is just slowly slow things down, help you think through, if you’re going to be if you’re at a decision point or a choice point. And it could be something minor, it could be something big in your organization. But where you’re like asking yourself, like, again, who’s at the table, who can be impacted? Have we incorporated, the concerns and feedback from our staff of color, in particular, for working in the community are black and other people of color, like consumers or whatever, or whatever it is, I just think whatever can be sort of stops that can be put in organizations to just like slow stuff down, because I think just our culture in general is just on autopilot. And we know what things are on autopilot. People tend to react sort of reflexively with their inherent biases, and whatever. So I just want to put a shout out there about racial equity tool, that’s something potentially look into. I don’t know if there’s a lot of like data on them in terms of how effective they are. But I think they do help to address some of this, some of the white supremacy characteristics around sense of urgency, power hoarding, and things of that nature.

SPEAKER 1 58:32

And we can, I can include that in the resources that I’ll send you. So to make it habit, one of the things one of the questions that I like so I’m sure Ron, I hope that we begin to address your question on how do we address this over one on one conversations with affinity groups coaching, and just really just having space to be honourable and have those conversations. There are a couple of questions we won’t get to but one of the things that I liked. Okay, he had a question. And he wanted to know, how do we map that emotional intelligence into this conversation? And that is not a discussion for today, but definitely something for us to like, ponder upon, because that that is very important. I want to begin to close this out by asking just a couple of questions that we didn’t get a chance to get in the chat. But this is for everyone that’s on this call. So whether you’re panellists, whether you’re in the chat, let us know what is one thing you’d like for us to support you with right now?

SPEAKER 2 59:48

I think for me, just like, you know, Keep me in your nightly prayers, because we’re still home-schooling. And it’s one the home-school have a fifth grader who’s 10 who can manage his own schedule. And it’s a completely different thing to home-school a kindergartner who is like, Oh, I’m so bored. And so that’s where you know my dreams come in with her like using the fact that the couch is balanced because she’s very into gymnastics and thinks that she can be Simone Biles, however, I’m five foot 10, my husband is six, six, you probably will not be. But in her mind, you can’t tell her that she thought. And so I just want to make sure she doesn’t backflip off of the couch and into something else. So pray for that. Also, I would say pray that this is a movement and not a moment. A lot of people were super into doing anything and everything for black brown people starting from June on and then heard less about it as the election got picked up. And then you heard about election fraud, which was a hoax. And then you heard about what happened after that. And my thing is, like, I don’t want that to get lost in the SOS. Like, it’s still an issue and we still need to care about it. Work on it, do it. So you know, criminal justice reform will not happen if we don’t ask for it. And that’s one of your classmates. Like,

SPEAKER 4 1:01:35

Oh, okay. Okay, well, it was just two things, like one was just a comment, just to say that, um, you know, these systems like white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, all of it, they’re constantly acting on us 24 seven. And so it’s so important that we have like our toolkit of ways to counteract the effects of it. And so just making sure that folks are just investing in, I know, we hear this term, like self-care a lot, but just investing in themselves and taking care of themselves. So I just want to just put that out there. And then just to say that I was like, complete completely traumatized by my experience working, I lost position and have decided, like, I don’t want to be, you know, under, you know, the, the influence or control or whatever it is of an organization that attacks, violence against people of color. So I had actually starting my own equity consulting practice, I’ll put the website in the chat. The website hasn’t officially launched, it’s like opening soon, but I hope you all come back and be in about a month, and hopefully it will be up. So those are my comments. And thanks so much for having this conversation, I just have to say it’s incredibly triggered, it’s probably referred Bari and I in particular, it’s probably very trigger, it’s triggering, like I am sweating, I can feel tightness in my chest. So it’s incredibly, I think, helpful to have this to be in community with other people, but also just recognizing the impact that just talking about this has on us.

SPEAKER 2 1:03:08

And someone asks a question about self-care. I don’t I don’t I’m literally like not at all good at that. But I think if anybody does have some suggestions, we should probably put that somewhere so that you find out.

SPEAKER 3 1:03:22

I would get this. Okay, I’m going to put stuff in the chat for Dr. Oakley. I mean, I just think, particularly during COVID, I’ll just speak for myself, I feel like it’s so easy to start listening to the voices in my head, that are not on my side. And so I think just wanting to say to everyone, that what I need and want us all to do is remember how amazing we are and how when the voices start to create self-doubt, too, to just, you know that those are that’s white supremacy conditioning coming after us. And we should just find the people who love you and remember to love yourself, because you are, we are completely amazing. And that’s what I would like us all to know that as we build a movement together.

SPEAKER 1 1:04:21

I very much appreciate everyone taking the time to be in community with us today. Like I know that these conversations are, are triggering and they’re hard to have sometimes it may take a lot of energy compounded on what we already have going on personally and in the wall. So thanks, everyone for your energy into Dr. Koon, Dr. Black stock, Mrs. Williams, thank you so much for being here with us and sharing your perspective. I hope that you all enjoy like the rest of your afternoon and that you all continue levering corporate and the group chat. And Happy Saturday. See you next time.

SPEAKER 2 1:05:09

Thank you so much.

Support Our Mission of Amplifying Underrepresented Voices...

Living Corporate’s mission is singular in purpose, but diversified in approach. From our podcasting, to live events around the US, to our giveaways. 

Through Our Podcasts

Our podcast garners over 10K downloads a week and reaches black and brown executives, millennials, college students, creatives and influencers. 

Through Our Visual Media

We host a variety live, interactive web series for Black and brown early, mid, and late careerists that have a global reach. 

Through Our Resources

We connect our audience with valuable resources from resume services, certification prep materials, conference,  attendance sponsorship, and Living Corporate merchandise. Join our newsletter to learn more.


Select Payment Method
Personal Info


Donation Total: $10.00 One Time


Join Our Community

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Living Corporate will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.