Anti-Racism. Black Lives Matter. Allyship and Solidarity between equity-seeking groups.
We’ve touched a bit on these with Changing Lenses podcast guests over the last year, but haven’t dived as deeply into these topics as my friend and fellow podcaster Nura Yunus has. She created the Know Nonsense Podcast to educate listeners about the experiences and systems of racism that exist in Canada and across the world, and the ways in which they show up for people of colour every single day.
Nura is a Black Muslim woman, born and raised in Canada to parents who immigrated from Eritrea. The Know Nonsense Podcast is Nura’s passion project which she does on 100% volunteer basis, while she’s working full time in international development.
So today, I’m excited to share (with Nura’s permission) a slightly shorter version of our episode called “Talking Allyship and Solidarity”, which originally aired on the Know Nonsense podcast on October 29, 2021.
In this episode, you’ll learn about:
Contact Rosie and find JEDI resources at: https://www.changinglenses.ca/
Full transcript available here.
About Nura Yunus:
Nura Yunus (she/her) is a Black Muslim woman born and raised in Toronto, the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Nura currently works in international development and before this worked with various grassroots and non-profit organizations in program design and delivery, community development and workshop facilitation. Her passion for anti-Black racism has recently led to the creation of the Know Nonsense Anti-Racism podcast, a resource for learning about racial injustice from a Canadian perspective. When she isn’t working on the podcast you can find her reading works by authors of colour, watching documentaries, or hiking one of Toronto’s many beautiful parks.
References and resources in this episode:
Original Know Nonsense episode release: on Spotify.
Please note: the transcripts attempt to stay true to the essence of each conversation, while maintaining clarity and readability. As a result, certain "filler" words, and nuances of tone, emotion and emphasis will be missing.
If you're able, you're strongly encouraged to listen to the audio podcast. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human editors, and may contain errors.
Rosie: Anti-Racism. Black Lives Matter. Allyship and Solidarity between equity-seeking groups.
We’ve touched a bit on these with Changing Lenses podcast guests over the last year, but haven’t dived as deeply into these topics as my friend and fellow podcaster Nura Yunus has. She created the Know Nonsense Podcast to educate listeners about the experiences and systems of racism that exist in Canada and across the world, and the ways in which they show up for people of colour every single day.
Nura is a Black Muslim woman, born and raised in Canada to parents who immigrated from Eritrea. She lives in what we now know as Toronto, which is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Know Nonsense Podcast is Nura’s passion project which she does on 100% volunteer basis, while she’s working full time in international development.
So today, I’m excited to share (with Nura’s permission) a slightly shorter version of our episode called “Talking Allyship and Solidarity”, which originally aired on the Know Nonsense podcast on October 29, 2021. We talk about the self-sacrifices required in allyship, racism we’ve witnessed within our own families, and the oh-so-touchy subject of white supremacy culture.
I encourage you to check out the other episodes on Know Nonsense, which taught me a LOT I didn’t know about the REAL history of racism in Canada. Nura gives all the contact details in her intro.
OK JEDI friends, without further ado, enjoy this special bonus episode – and may the force of social change be strong with you!
[intro music plays]
Nura: Hello friends. Welcome back to the Know Nonsense Anti-Racism Podcast. This is our last episode of this season, and we will be focusing today on what it means to take all of the knowledge of anti-racism that we've covered over the last 23 episodes. And over this intense and momentous, last two years of anti-racism activism. Let's put this knowledge into practice by talking about what it means to be an ally.
You may be surprised to hear about suggestions on how to be an ally. It may feel obvious, but unfortunately when allyship doesn't happen thoughtfully, it can be harmful. It's also really important to understand allyship so that we can avoid what's called performative allyship.
Performative allyship is when someone from a non-marginalized group professes their support and solidarity with a marginalized group in a way that either isn't helpful or that actively harms that group. Performative allyship often involves a reward or self-gratification for example, a social media persona and being seen as a good person.
The issue is not social media itself, but in their performance and the performing of being an ally. There is no concrete sacrifice or challenge to the system by those who are privileged, there is no personal sacrifice to address systemic racism. An example of performative allyship on a wide scale was the trend on social media that we saw putting a black square to indicate your support against anti-black racism and for something called hashtag blackout Tuesday.
What started as a way to reflect on anti-black racism in the music industry became an international trend. Feminista Jones, an author speaker and longtime organizer said in quotes, "This performative ally staff is not helping. And this really catered to the people who want to show that they care. They thought this little black box was going to be solidarity. I'm like, this is not how movements work. This is not how we're supposed to be using social media. And people fell for it because it takes minimal work and minimal effort."
Now performative allyship isn't always harmful in and of itself. The harm comes from the distraction and the full sense of satisfaction that you've done enough for a movement. When you likely haven't actually done anything at all.
This is the last episode of the season, but we encourage you to stay connected to the Know Nonsense Anti-Racism Podcast. We are on Instagram and Twitter. You can also email us for collaborations, sharing out opportunities, or just to say hello.
You can reach us on Instagram, handle is @racism.is.nonsense.
On Twitter handle is @nonsense_know, K-N-O-W.
And then of course, by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, K-N-O-W.
To talk more about this subject, I invited Rosie Yeung to share her perspective on allyship and solidarity building. Rosie Yeung, she/her pronouns, is a coach, trainer, speaker, and strategist for justice, equity, decolonization, and inclusion with the very cool acronym JEDI, helping leaders grow more inclusive and organizations grow more human.
She is a certified HR leader and chartered professional accountant and has held multiple executive positions in HR, finance, and as board director. Rosie brings a holistic approach to JEDI that integrates economic equity, behavioral change, and HR strategy. Rosie created and hosts the Changing Lenses Podcast, shifting our worldview on business by looking through a JEDI lens.
She is based in Toronto, Canada, and usually enjoys traveling except during a global pandemic of course, and has served communities in Guatemala, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. So take a listen to our conversation.
I am so happy to have a friend and future collaborator as well. Her name is Rosie Yeung and she is on our episode today. Hi, Rosie.
Rosie: Hi Nura!
Nura: So Rosie, I've just read your bio, which is technically like your professional background and what your business is as an entrepreneur, but it would be great if you could tell our listeners a little bit more about your.
Rosie: Thanks Nura. Yeah, happy to introduce myself. So hello again, everybody. My name is Rosie. I am a cisgendered woman born in Hong Kong, to loving parents, and we moved to what we now know as Canada when I was just a baby. So where I live now is Toronto or what we know as Toronto, but it's actually the original territory of many nations indigenous to this area.
And that includes the Anishinaabe, the Huron-Wendat, and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. And being born in Hong Kong, uh, Hong Kong itself was also a colony, a colony of the British. They were a colony up until 1997 and there's a whole bunch of stuff there that we might end up wanting to talk about later.
But in the meantime, we moved to Canada, my parents and I moved here when I was just a baby. So I feel like I grew up in Canada, although technically I was an immigrant. And my parents, my mom is the youngest of three kids. My dad is the youngest of five and my aunts and uncles and cousins are kind of scattered all over the world.
So some of us are here in Canada, some are in still Hong Kong and some are in Australia. And I'm an only child. So I have some nieces and nephews through my cousins, but a lot of them also living around the world so hard for us to see each other. I miss them on, I love them a lot, but I don't get to see them all that often.
Um, so yeah, that's a little bit more of the personal stuff about me and I appreciate you giving me the chance to share that Nura because yeah, I'm, I'm proud of all my professional stuff that stuff matters. I'm a thinker. I care a lot about justice equity decolonization and inclusion. So that's what I'm doing now.
But something actually I learned from an Indigenous professor, he's Cree and he's based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. He's been teaching a course. And when he first introduced himself, he also shared a lot about his personal family background. And something he said was that the reason why he did that, "I tell you whom I'm related to, because one of the basic differences between modern Canadian society and Indigenous people is that Western folks tend to introduce themselves by what they do. For much of dominant society draws its significance from what you do. Indigenous folks tend to draw their significance from their relatedness."
And that kind of really hit me right in the heart. Because again, as much as my professional stuff matters and I need it for, you know, making money is not who I am. Who I am is like who I am with you right now. And I know we're going to have a really authentic discussion and that's also what gets me excited because you can leave all that, the surface-y stuff aside and talk about who we really are.
Nura: So well said, Rosie. So let's and I think this is also related to the work that you're doing, especially with like DEI, diversity, equity inclusion, and the business that you're running as an entrepreneur.
And so Rosie is a fellow podcaster, uh, really talking about anti-racism, but from a DEI perspective, maybe you can give us a little bit more information on that, Rosie.
Rosie: Sure. Yeah. So my journey to do this DEI work and I tend to use the acronym, JEDI, it sounds a little bit, um, kitschy, but it actually really symbolizes what I care about.
So justice equity, diversity, and decolonization, as well as inclusion. I have only been doing this as a, you know, an entrepreneur and a self-employed person for the last year or two, but I feel like I've been moving towards this all my life.
So professionally, as you noted in my bio I'm a professional chartered accountant. I'm a professional HR leader. But in everything that I've been doing as an accountant, as an HR person has been trying to lift up communities that have been oppressed that have been marginalized that are experiencing vulnerability. And didn't know, cause when I started working 20 years ago that there would be actual careers in this or that you could study this or there be something you could do, especially as an immigrant because my, stereotypical immigrant story was find financial security look for stability. You know, we came here, right? We, I I've never wanted for anything, but I didn't have a lot either growing up. So it was one of those, like, just do whatever you need to do to, build security for yourself and be able to care for yourself and your family.
And so going into this work, now, I'm trying to see what I can do around the bigger picture, social justice, economic equity. With my background as a business and finance professional. And so I'm working specifically with corporations. So for-profit and not-for-profit organizations around the world, but probably focusing in North America.
Trying to build some bridges. So building some bridges between the ideas of Black Lives Matter. decolonization and truth and reconciliation. Anti-oppression, anti-racism, those are not just social issues that are over here and businesses over here. And the two are not related, right? Like businesses and corporations can absolutely do something.
And we're all part of the fabric of our society. And so. Trying to take away that idea of just the business case or just business reasons for DEI, but really looking at how the J that justice piece, the social justice economic justice comes in as well, and how that actually really underlies the way that we can have sustainable and highly impactful workplaces that are equitable, that are diverse and are inclusive.
Nura: So well said. Thank you. Um, I think that economic justice piece is so important because. Especially with anti-racism at the moment. I mean, the focus really, it is like essentially the basic necessities of life in terms of like, well, we need to be safe. We need to have housing. We need to have, um, food.
Like there are certain necessities, but when we talk about employment and then like generational wealth you're right. That like the economic justice piece is so important when we talk about anti-racism and I think there are some kind of. Siloed conversations happening, happening about that. But, um, I think there's still, yeah, quite a lot of work to do. So glad that that is something that you're talking about and focused on for sure.
I did have a past episode about DEI work. That it's something that every workplace is really eager to cover since the social movements that have really sprung up last year. But I'd love to hear about your experience working with different corporations and, and for non-for-profit all the different kinds of organizations that you've been working with and what your experience has been like.
And it is a bit broad, but DEI is, is we don't want it to just be like a sexy topic for the moment. We really do want like sustainable change to be, to be happening. And some people are seeing that change. Some people are saying it's a little bit slow to happen. What's your experience been like working with some of your corporate and nonprofit clients?
Rosie: I actually kinda want to go back to something you said earlier about that, like the economic equity piece, because to me that is actually a huge foundation for how we are going to make DEI more sustainable and whatever organizations are doing because of the very fact that it isn't just for business reasons or I don't think it can be just for business reasons if we want it to actually be real and long lasting. Like by that, I mean, some organizations are actually still asking what's the business case or needing to tie it to business metrics.
Even the very fact that they are asking about how do we measure this? How do we move the needle? All this language that actually comes from a worldview of, we haven't done anything if we can't show some kind of a percentage change or increase in whatever the measure is, increase in, retention, increase in their bottom line. That's one way of knowing that's not the only way of knowing. And I've been actually learning a lot from Indigenous folks as I've been making new friends and just learning more about a different worldview about different ways that you could see that. So like how do you capture humanity in a metric? How do you measure what, how included Nura feels or, you know, the, the level of frustration or oppression you might feel today?
That's a lot harder. Not to say that we shouldn't be trying to measure. And establish if DEI work is actually improving the way people are feeling included and have equitable workplaces. Of course we should be doing that. But I really try to get organizations to look beyond just the profit reasons or the business reasons as we know it, because, and this will sound a bit extreme, if you really pushed that to the, you know, to the one end of the spectrum, I would say there's a much bigger business case for not being equitable.
For, you know, not paying minimum wage, let alone living wages because of course it's going to cost an organization more. And we see that in debates nowadays, too. Right. We see that, especially in the States with how low their minimum wages are. And we see that in how certain sectors in our economic recovery, during COVID are complaining about people not being able to, or not wanting to work because they're getting handouts from the government, et cetera, et cetera. So yeah, like slavery is the cheapest form of labor. There's a stronger business case for slavery, I hate to say it, than there is for diversity and for inclusion in the workplace.
And so. Yes, there are really great business benefits, but if that's our only reason, then all that needs to change is something in the economy or some kind of factors where suddenly it's not so profitable anymore to be paying more in health benefits and giving people mental health breaks and all that stuff.
And then these things will go away. So unless the underlying reason is a more human reason about making humanity and society better. Um, then it won't be, it won't be as impactful. Won't be as long lasting.
Nura: Mm-hmm. I never thought about that. Technically the business case easier, cheaper, faster to, to not embrace anti-racism or to embrace anti-oppression I never even thought about that.
Rosie: Yeah. Well, it's also underlying a lot of, um. This is what I noticed most people and most organizations, all of them, in fact, I think will not disagree. If you were to say we should not be racist. Yeah. Most people would agree with that. Uh, we support Black Lives Matters.
Most people would agree with that. But then when you get to the decisions, the nitty gritty day to day, like, uh, Eid. Let's say Eid is coming up. And people who are in the workplace who are Muslim want to take Eid off. Well, that's not a stat holiday. And are we going to give them the day off? Is it a paid day off? Is it not a paid day off? Who has to approve that?
I've experienced before where I have wanted to ask for Chinese New Year's off. And there was an HR policy that seemed to allow it because they had personal days that are paid and they seem to cover this sort of stuff. But even then my boss, who was a white male, had trouble saying yes. He said yes this year, but next year you have to use a vacation day.
And the policy itself was ambiguous. Like it, it wasn't a religious holiday technically. So, you know, what do cultural holidays matter? I think the question organizations and people need to ask themselves is what's holding you back? Like, what is it that's making you hesitate from just saying yes? Because if the idea is, yes, we want people to feel included and yes, it matters that you celebrate Eid, and that's not a stat holiday, but we want to be able to give that to you off. Why does it have to be a trade-off? Why do you have to give up a vacation day for that? Or why do you have to say, give up another stat holiday? Because Christians get Christmas off. And so therefore, well, if you give up your Christmas, then you can have Eid, like, this is the conversation that's happening versus just a blanket. Yes, we honor you, we honor this, like as a country, we don't recognize Eid as a paid day, but that doesn't mean that we as businesses can't give that to you. Right. But there's still, I think there's still something that people are not getting over. It probably has to do with cost as well as maybe their own sense of what's fair.
So I think there's a lot of these nitty-gritty and self reflection, internal questioning we need to do of ourselves as to what are the values that we're upholding? Who are we centering when we say no, or yes, to these kinds of questions?
Nura: Mm-hmm, absolutely. And I mean, that human centered approach definitely makes sense. And I can see how that would be the approach that you take with clients, but what has been the feedback that you get when, when that's the kind of proposal you make versus maybe a business case, which they're probably more used to, or kind of expect from a DEI professional to who comes in or a JEDI who comes in?
Rosie: Mm, yeah, another really good question. A little bit loaded because even within the practitioner, community of DEI consultants and coaches there's, there's a lot of healthy discussion, I would say, about that. Because I've heard, I've heard people share that, you know? Yes. There are reasons beyond business case that are good reasons for organizations to engage in DEI, but we have to meet people where they're at which I also a hundred percent support and a little bit of the ends justify the means. Where if somebody is willing to engage and the only reason they'd be willing to engage is for a business reason, isn't it better that they just engage? Like isn't it still that people will benefit because ultimately the workplace should become more inclusive and more equitable even though their motives might be different from your motives.
Right. So fair enough. Um, and I think it's also a bit of there's behavioral science behind or behavioral psychology behind it. Where when I think about recycling as an example, I wasn't particularly climate conscious or environmentally conscious before. I'm definitely on the slow end of the adapt adoption.
But as soon as you start forcing people to do it, if it has to be forced, and you just get used to it, it's kind of like anything else. Once people start becoming acclimatized and it becomes habitual, the barriers go down. And I think there's a, you know, a genuine case of, as you start to know people, as you start to hear more of this information, If you hadn't, wouldn't have chosen to do it at first, but you become kind of indoctrinated to it.
It's going to make an impact one way or the other, so I can buy into the, whatever the reason if people are willing to engage, let's work with them regardless of motivation. But I still believe that from a, bigger picture, a systems picture or a global picture, the motivations absolutely do matter. And you're only going to get so far if your only motivation is to make more money.
Nura: And it does get me thinking about like performative allyship and this not everyone's motivations are the same, but especially when there is like a global call for action. Unfortunately, there is a lot of like whitewashing greenwashing.
It doesn't matter like what movement it is. There are people who are going to hop on the bandwagon because the business case is this is what people are doing. Like we should all do it. Same thing when it comes to anti racism, for sure.
Rosie: Yeah, well, I think part of what contributes to performativeness is being rules-based versus principles-based and that also ties to motivation, right? So if a person is, um, maybe they're not solely money motivated, but they just don't want to make a mistake. I hear a lot of that as well. The underlying fear. And I, I'm scared to say something like, what if that's not the right term to call someone? I had somebody ask me if they should put their pronouns. Um, and he is a heterosexual man, cisgendered heterosexual, man, if he should put his pronouns in his email or is that just going to be considered tokenism was his word.
And so I explained that I think that, yes, having your pronouns in there is helpful because people shouldn't be making assumptions about either what your gender is or what somebody else's. So it helps make it become a bit of a norm to put your pronouns in there. Like his motivation was a genuine, is this actually being inclusive or is this just being performative?
If we're just trying to do the right thing. Then it becomes memorizing a whole bunch of rules. Like tell me what the rules are for pronouns. Tell me what the rules are for not sexually harassing a woman. And then it's just memorization versus actually coming from the heart where you're probably still gonna make mistakes.
Even when it is about memorization, you're going to make mistakes, but at least when it's coming from the heart and you're making mistakes then how you make it up afterwards or why you're learning and how you're going to get better versus just being like, oh crap, I failed at this. Therefore I'm not going to try or it's too scary. That's going to shut things down versus move things forward.
Nura: Rules versus principles. Yeah. I hadn't actually heard that, that perspective about performative allyship and how it could just be that someone doesn't understand yet. And they're on this journey of learning and unlearning. And we did have an episode about cancel culture and there is this fear that like, if you say the wrong thing, you're going to be cut.
Someone's going to come after you, you're going to lose your job, whatever else it is.
So I also wanted to talk to you a little bit about solidarity building, because this is definitely something that you and I have chatted about in the past. But so for like the last two years, we've seen lots of anti-racism movements emerging from different communities.
Black Lives Matter, Racism is a Virus. And then definitely like our reckoning in the past year with Indigenous past and current legacies of discrimination against Indigenous peoples. What have you been seeing around solidarity building? Because especially like in the work that you're doing, and I know some of the networks that you're a part of, you do have friends and, folks in different parts of this work. So just curious to hear what you've been seeing around solidarity building.
Rosie: Yeah, it's, it's definitely improving. I would say just like the overall acceptability and activism around anti-racism has been improving. It's also, I think, opened up some cracks that might've been less visible before where not every Black person for example is against Trump.
There would be people who are Asian or other racialized people of color who would say they haven't experienced racism. They don't see any problems happening. Someone just told me a story recently where I had done a online truth and reconciliation webinar for Orange Shirt Day in Canada. And, one of my participants was speaking with two other women afterwards who are Asian women and they still, they didn't attend the webinar, but they held all the stereotypes like, well, why is there still an issue?
It was so long ago don't they have their own reserves. Uh, why, why do we have to talk about this? And so it absolutely, the divisions, which are I would say inherited or legacies of colonization and, white supremacy culture. Those things absolutely exist. And so solidarity while it's improving is needed more than ever.
And I think that it's helpful, the more we can understand and not compare, I don't even want to say compete, but not compare between, well, what level of racism have you experienced or, you know, These, these people were enslaved. These people were not well, your colonization ended before our colonization.
Like those are not helpful discussions and they just serve to further divide. Not saying that that happens a lot, but I think it does happen. And myself as well, like I had to come to terms with my own anti-black racism and my own lack of solidarity. Which I can analyze where I think it all came from and why, but I don't want to make excuses or justify.
I think it's important to understand where we got our thinking from. A lot of that, again comes from colonization and white supremacy culture because if we're all less than if all non white people are made less than. Then we're all just scrambling ourselves to try to be better than somebody else, right. So I can see some of the psychology behind it. But either way it's important to unlearn stuff we have learned. It's not just intellectual.
My pillars, when I think about changing and helping people deal with this and helping people stand in solidarity is about education and then personal change and then systems change. It's not linear. It's definitely circular. I don't think that you can have, you can't have one without the other and expect to change the whole. And it's as much about your personal change as it is about changing policies and processes.
Nura: Definitely been in conversation with folks and doing my own reflection of learning and unlearning because that internalized racism is so powerful.
And until you unlearn and like go through this journey, To be able to recognize what it is, where it's coming from, where you're even feeling it physically in your body. It's really, really interesting. Like, for example we were both in Toronto parts of different communities, and Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
So we have that to be proud of for sure. But there is still a lot of racism between groups, between different communities. My parents bless their heart, but as, as immigrants, I was born and raised in Toronto, but my parents immigrated from Eritrea. And of course, like, yeah, it'll take us a long time to unpack, but colonization and years of also internalized racism about what it means to be Black, white, Asian, Indian, whatever else was an interesting, it's interesting to hear now, some of the reflection of processing that my parents have been doing about their perception of, of what it meant to, to even be black in a place that was no longer, they're no longer a part of a homogenous community. Like the stereotypes that were then put on them. So yeah, just really interesting to hear, and that need for solidarity building, because unfortunately too, with anti-racism work, what I hear a lot of is like, people are like, great, go educate white people because they need to know what's going on.
And it's like, No, like we all need to understand what's going on. Like all of us need an education in anti-racism.
Rosie: Yeah, totally. I've heard my own family members also bless their hearts. I heard family members saying things that were sometimes mildly racist, sometimes hugely racist and me not feeling able to correct or change that, but also just like, wow, am I like that?
Like, no wonder people end up learning this stuff. It's not just from, you know, the KKK or things that we can obviously point out. It can be from our loved ones. It can be from certainly from our schools and our education. I was researching something yesterday and I saw online stuff about pioneers. Like the word pioneer in the States is generally something positive. Like, oh, look at these pioneering people there they're paving the way. And they were so brave. They had to settle this wild west. But one of the websites I was on was providing resources for kids education.
And it talked about, you know, how they would be attacked by Indians and these Native Americans that, you know, didn't like people of encroaching on their territory. I was like, wow. These, these narratives still exist. I thought it was just in the Little House on the Prairie books that I read as a kid, but it's still out there today. Right? So it's yeah, absolutely. There's a lot that needs to be dismantled
Nura: Out of these movements we've seen a lot of performative allyship happening. What ways do you see allyship being used well? And have you seen it done harmfully in the work that you're doing as a JEDI in organizations?
Rosie: Yeah. You know what, so I was just listening to an online conference where Mary Francis Winters was speaking and she's an author, Black Fatigue is one of her books.
One of the things she talks about is about going beyond solidarity and allyship to being a power broker. And she explained that a power broker is an insider who has the capability to influence outcomes and also influence others. And so I've thought a lot about this, even for, for me as a Chinese person, having held various executive leadership roles in the organizations.
There's definitely been over the past several years where I look around and I notice how fortunate I am. As not a white person, still a racialized person, but I'm light-skinned, I'm part of the model minority that's acceptable to, you know, the white, primarily executive world. And so I can get into places that I don't see a lot of Black people, for example. And I don't remember any Indigenous person that I noticed being in the workplaces that I was at.
And so the question I had for myself and other racialized people who are able to get access to places that, um, other frankly darker skinned races can't get into is how can we be power brokers? So going beyond just solidarity, like again, wherever we're at.
But for me now it's about, if I can get inside places, if I can build those bridges. That's my goal is to, to build bridges, to extend those bridges the longer distances, longer and longer out to the places and to the people who have been pushed further and further away from the center.
It's not handouts, it's not giving anything. I think that's also one of the myths or the stereotypes I get put about like affirmative action. It feels like to people who are currently in positions of power and it's like, oh, am I going to lose this? Because I'm the wrong color of skin now. It's not about that. It's about recognizing that certain groups through various societal and economic issues have not been able to even have a chance to be considered for a certain places, right. And certain positions.
And so how can we ask the questions? How can we ask some of the uncomfortable questions and then also help people process through the very legitimate fears that come up. Like I get why someone in a position of power would be like, oh no, am I going to lose my job? That's scary. But they are still in the position of power to protect themselves and then ends up harming the same groups that we're trying to help, right?
So I think that's also where it's not about performative allyship of, okay I care about this, but when it comes to something that's actually going to require some sacrifice some giving up something that means something to me. And it's a question for myself as well. You know, I'm wondering that. Am I going to be ready to sacrifice that? Am I going to be ready to actually give up something that matters to me for the benefit of somebody else? And to me, that is going beyond just the words.
Nura: I do really like this idea of being a power broker cause it feels really tangible. And sometimes with anti-racism at all feels kind of like fluff and theoretical, but I, I, that's why I really, I think.
I am drawn to this point about being a power broker. And to your point, there are some spaces that some folks are going to be able to have access to. So how do we ensure that all spaces that we go into are as diverse and representative as possible? Yeah. I really liked this idea for Power Broker. Thanks. I think that's a really tangible, tangible way that listeners especially can be like, oh, okay.
Like to reframe how they think about it is like, okay, ally is great, but let's take it a step further.
Rosie: Yeah. And actually as you're saying this right now. It's making me think of something else because when it comes to moving from inequity to equity. Really what we're talking about is a redistribution of power.
And so as a power broker, you have the ability to do that redistribution, right? Really, what you're doing is you can take power away, move it away from, you know, one person in one area and shift it around the table. Maybe even expand the table. So yeah, being a power broker is beyond just okay I'm standing beside you.
It's, okay, I need to take from over here where there's plenty and move to over here, where there isn't. And you can broker that transaction in a way. It's not a transaction, but you know what I mean.
Nura: Yeah. I really liked that idea. But so Rosie, I do want to, so white supremacist culture is definitely something you and I have talked about.
Um, but it's not something I is not necessarily language that I think we hear in the wider, um, discussions about anti-racism. how would you define white supremacist culture as opposed to white supremacy?
Rosie: So, okay, interesting. So I would, in both cases, I'd use the word supremacy, so white supremacy culture, as opposed to white supremacist culture, it's the idea that white culture is considered supreme or elite or elevated.
And I had an interesting comment come up in one of my workshops recently where a white man asked about white supremacy culture and felt that the way I had explained it, because I was purposely trying to separate it from individuals. So not calling anybody white supremacists or saying it's, it's not a KKK thing. It's not a Nazi thing. It is the culture of the fact that white people, and white culture is considered supreme. So it's interesting. Cause he took it kind of too far down the spectrum where he said, oh, so really it's about the supremacy of white culture, not white culture supremacy. And if I say it that way, my white bosses will be able to accept that better.
And I was like, Ooh, okay. So there's, there's a lot there. So I was like, well, it is, it's both. It is the fact that there's a dominant culture and that, in that sense, yes. It's the supremacy of the white culture. But it is also white culture being considered supreme, which has a lot behind it and a much better person to explain what white supremacy culture is than I am is a woman named Tema Okun, who has a whole website, whitesupremacyculture.info, that is a curation of really great information that's about that. So maybe if Nura, if you can link that in your show notes that is a great resource for people to read more about the characteristics, about what white supremacy culture is, and actually that idea about needing evidence and metrics and measurements is a part of that culture as well.
But I think that before we even talk about what it is, it's important for that understanding because of that visceral reaction that that man had. And I think a lot of people have. It makes the work really difficult because, I understand that just even being able to say it is really hard to do, but until we can have the conversation, we can't tackle it and then we can't therefore dismantle it, right.
So that's part of my coaching work is trying to help people find a way to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. So often that's what's kind of put out there in, in common articles about DEI too, is it's going to be uncomfortable. It's going to be, you know, sometimes, maybe even painful, but you have to start getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, but we're not taught how to do that.
Forget about whether you're white or Black, like no one especially in Western culture is taught how to have these conversations, how to listen and how to get comfortable when we're uncomfortable. We're taught to hide it away, especially in business and just put a veneer on ourselves and pretend like we're fine with everything.
And so it's totally okay to feel uncomfortable, but it's not okay to just sit there and say, I'm uncomfortable. Therefore I'm not going to move forward. And so yes, white supremacy culture, white supremacy culture. It's an uncomfortable thing to hear. But let's understand what it is. It's not about your skin color. It's not about you as a white person being racist. It is about the legacy of colonialism and white people being able to set themselves up as higher than, better than, and therefore everybody else, all the other races are oppressed and discriminated against. And that's what we need to dismantle, not white people, the culture of white supremacy.
Nura: So working in this space in anti-racism is really difficult. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. What keeps you going? What makes you hopeful?
Rosie: Honestly, Nura, having conversations like this with you is one of the big things that keep me going. There's lots of talk about community these days, especially during COVID when we're all kind of separated from each other, but I've been so feeling just so honored and blessed to be meeting new people online during COVID like, in that way COVID has been good for me because it's opened up online communities.
And so meeting people around the world that I really don't think I would've had the chance to who are also passionate about the same things and knowing that I'm not alone in, in fighting the good fight. There's a lot of people out there trying to do it. But absolutely it is draining in all sorts of ways.
You probably heard it as well. Like just even talking about this can be draining for the people who are living and, and experiencing racism or other forms of discrimination on a daily basis. So what keeps me going aside from the community and having people like you to support is something I learned from some medical doctors and some therapists.
It's all, it is all tied to emotional resilience and emotional intelligence and detaching myself from the outcome. So. Yeah, a bit of that. Like you alluded to save your mentality before, and I definitely have that feeling also, maybe from the right professional background where I always have to be the fixer and in business, always about finding the solution and actually executing, like seeing the end result.
But in this work, I don't know that any of us are going to see the end result. If there is an end result, I think it is going to be a lifetime, the lifetime of humanity journey to keep moving towards a more equitable, not the most equitable place. And so my job isn't to try to convert anybody. I can't even if, even if I wanted to do that.
But to be consistent in standing by what I believe, putting the message out there, helping people who are looking for that help there's people who genuinely are wanting to do the change, but they're not quite sure how to do that. And that's, that's the people I really want to serve. And the people who aren't in that place, no judgment.
All compassion, we're all human. I make tons of mistakes. There's a lot of things that probably people want me to change and I don't want to change. And so it's not about that. It's about just being consistent, one step in front of the other and letting, what will happen will happen.
Nura: That sounds like a very enlightened. Enlightened is the word that comes to mind. It sounds like a really enlightened way to think about this work, because it can be so taxing and especially. I think results is, is definitely what I'm. I mean, I can't say that that's what I've hoped to see in this work, but is definitely kind of the motivating piece to keep me going.
It's like, oh, okay. Like there's an impact being made. And you're absolutely right. Like this work takes a long time. It's been hundreds, if not thousands of years of, of this kind of thinking of white supremacist culture thinking. And so to reverse that will take time. And that's been a bit harder for me to, to wrap my mind around and, and to accept, but I can imagine that it is a much more sustainable way to think about this work. Like you will make impact in the communities that you do and in the bubbles that you have, and that in turn may also have impact even further, like those ripples go out. So yeah, such a, such a lovely way to think about this work and glad to hear that that's what keeps you going.
Rosie: Yeah, it totally is. And I think to the extent that like someone listening to you right now, Nura, who's being impacted. I hope they'll reach out. And even to send you a quick DM to say, Hey, this is great. Thank you for doing this. Like just something short for you to know that you've been heard.
Cause I also, I can empathize with how it is when it sometimes feels like you're sending stuff into the voids. And especially now in our social media crazy world, like it's this weird unidirectional pretty much, um, not even a conversation, it's just uni directional message sending you don't know what impact is being had.
And so I think that's, it's more about saving your sanity and setting some boundaries for yourself to be like, Trusting in the universe that the people who are meant to hear your message will hear it and to let go of everything else. And it, which is also why I want us to focus less on metrics because how do I know who heard it? What's happening inside of them that may not show up for years later on, but it all goes back to that podcast they heard or whatever. It's not supposed to be about me, but that's, that's how I keep thinking of it. I just don't know what's happening out there in people that it could, if it's just one person, I kind of trust that, that one person, that's the person who needed to hear today. The people who are meant to hear it will hear it. That's what I believe.
Nura: So lovely. Yeah. Thank you so much for a thank you for sharing that and for sharing all your wisdom on this podcast, it's been really insightful to hear you speak and to hear about the work that you're doing and the ways that you're tackling anti-racism in the work that you're doing.
So thank you so much for joining today.
Rosie: Thanks for making the space Nura. Like the work you're doing is so important, so I'm so happy to be here and be able to have this real conversation with you.