(If you’re a leader looking to grow your Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity skills, we have a Masterclass just for you)
Let’s start from the beginning, I’m an immigrant to Canada. As such been introduced to North American culture in my late teen years when we moved to Canada. I’ve had to take a civics class in high school and that when I first learned about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), it’s founding and subsequent history. My eyes were opened, I realized that Canada has a racial problem, just like my country (Latvia, former USSR space). When I went to university for my legal studies degree, I started seeing even more of those “the different other” attitudes. I’ve heard people complain about fellow students’ food smells in the cafeteria, I’ve seen on the bus how there were white groups and there was Black and darker skinned students in different areas of the bus. I’ve also noticed how some professors would only choose the white male students to answer a question or to praise papers. I’ve learned that as a white women with an accent, I have to wade through a lot of discrimination and professors who would give me bad grades, seemingly randomly.
When I started working, I started noticing how being a woman meant I need to always be ready to stand up and speak up for myself and my right to not only use my voice but have it be heard and respected. And then I started noticing that other women, especially women of colour have similar experiences. I started talking with them and bonding, learning along the way that not only racism is alive and well in Canada but to my dismay, that I have racist notions myself that would creep out once in a while to my mortification.
I realized something else, I don’t want to be racist.
I want to respect people for who they are and stay away from people who are not open-minded enough to want to be and do better. I defined for myself what this ‘better’ is, and it included weeding out intentionally, racism from my being. I’m still learning, actively. I want to be an ally to other women, and I bond well with women of colour due to a lot of similar trauma in our workplaces. I’m an immigrant but I’m also a woman of immense privilege and I’m committed to use this privilege to do better. And yes, fellow white people, we are the problem. Yes, it was our ancestors who committed the most heinous of crimes against the humanity of Black people. And no, that does not absolve us from responsibility, because our society is still structured in a way that it is accepted to think of people different than us need to be policed and their voice checked, lest we get hurt by the rhetoric.
Guess what, we don’t have the right to be uppity and be hurt. We are not the ones marginalized, brutalized (just read about the 9 year old Black girl assaulted by police officers ) and silenced. White privilege is resistant to real inclusivity in our society. It rather all the noise about race went away so they can continue with their lives with the comfort of thinking they’re good people overall. But are we? Are we tuning a blind eye?
Who else have noticed how Black women are treated in your workplace? Being called “too loud and angry”, having their hair become a reason for gross discrimination as if hair can offend or be cause for punitive action? How often have you seen Black women being promoted and recognized for their contribution? Do you know that these are aggressive acts done in an (often unchecked white privilege manner) attempt to silence and isolate them?
You do now. You are now part of the club that knows about mysogynoir and the devastation it rains on women of colour. And we have the whole month of February 2021 to talk about anti-racism, mysogynoir, inclusivity and progressive leadership.
Stay tuned for more talk about the many facets of white privilege in our day and age and how it props up white supremacy in our culture, how it looks like in our workplaces and how we can address racism and prejudiced ideologies to create safe and inclusive workplace eco-systems.
How do you support the BIPOC in your workplace? You colleagues? Your employees? Tell me your stories of allyship and set up a discovery call with us!
If you want to start reading and learning about misogynoir now, here are a few articles I think are a good place to start:
- Out newsletter link full of knowledge and information about addressing and combating racism in your workplace!
- Misogynoir: where racism and sexism meet
- Why liberal white women pay a lot of money to learn over dinner how they’re racist
- Black History Month 2020: Discussing mental health in the Black community for World Mental Health Day
- The Many Lives of Hazel Bryan
- 14 Black Disabled Women Who Made a Powerful Impact In Life & Self Love
Yours, Anna Robson.