Where are all the white allies at?!
I am getting a track record of writing blogs out of frustration… so here is another one.
Today I joined a room on Clubhouse talking about the term BAME and whether we should be using it in the sense that we are.
I spent an hour in this discussion room with some real industry powerhouses including Kelechi Okafor, Maia Kamara and others. There were constantly c. 320 people in the room at one time. Caveat? Mainly BLACK people! 300 black people talking about ‘black people problems’. And I do not mean this in a derogative or patronising manner. What I mean is that more white people need to hear these stories, feel the pain and start sorting these problems out!
Where are you white leaders and allies at when these conversations take place?!**
These are the conversations YOU need to hear and get engaged in! Otherwise, you get exactly where we are now and have been all this time – black people talking about AND coming together to solve ‘black people problems’. But HOW, when the white folk still systematically own and control the system?
An interesting point raised during the discussion was that white people are afraid of the term ‘black’ in the workplaces and therefore use BAME instead. Let’s unpack this ‘fear’ a little…
This fear stems from the fact that people who we often look up to and call leaders, do not have basic knowledge and understanding of fundamental terms that are being thrown around as buzzwords everywhere now. For instance, the meaning (and not just the textbook answer, but actual meaning) of ‘diversity’, ‘inclusion’, ‘equity’, ‘marginalised’, ‘underrepresented’, ‘BAME’, ‘POC’, ‘minority’, ‘allyship’ etc. Everyone is afraid to say something wrong, so instead they use such terms as BAME to sound more PC, without thinking that they might be perpetuating the same system that we are trying to get away from.
The leaders are not afraid of the word ‘black’ but of the whole DEI piece. Business case makes sense, morally it is the right thing to do, a consultant is already developing a strategy, HOWEVER what is the value in strategy if no one has basic knowledge and impact of this work?! Strategy has its value and place, however what we need to be focussing on first and foremost is education. Leaders need to be educated on these topics and given a safe and non-judgemental space to learn. However, a think to keep in mind is that this is not a ‘diet’ but a ‘lifestyle’. This is a relentless lifelong work that all of us have to do every day.
Dear leaders and allies – I am coming for you next year! I am working hard on developing a leadership development programme for all of you in this work.
Ignorance does not free you from accountability.
See you all in 2021!
** At the same time there was a parallel room on running on Clubhouse on the topic of ‘Increasing your social media following’ with 320 (mainly) white people in it. Coincidence?...
Here is some festive reading material for you.