On March 6th, before the world came to a screeching halt, I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural event hosted by the Diversity Gap, called A New Kind of Leader and it shook me.
The Diversity Gap was created by Bethaney Wilkinson to empower people to create the cultures they say they want—cultures where all people are seen, celebrated, and given the space to thrive. Bethaney, and Plywood People, started this to find out what it will take to close the gap between our good intentions and the outcomes we hope for. We all talk about diversity and inclusion because it’s the “hot thing to talk about”. We have it written into mission statements and on the front pages of websites, but what does it mean to move past the buzzwords and really do something?
During the event, we heard from 9 incredible people who are working hard to fight injustice. But one session stuck out to me in particular. Xavier Ramey, founder of Justice Informed, spoke with conviction and a tone that was impossible to ignore. He said during his session:
I appreciate the business case for diversity. I challenge it. You see there was a business case for feeding your slaves twice a day too. ‘They work harder’, ‘you get more out of them’, ‘more innovations on the plantation’. It’s chattled diversity, it doesn’t actually mean you think they’re human. It doesn’t mean you know how to respect them. It doesn’t mean you understand dignity. It means you have once again subjected a human to be valued on the basis of their productive capacity for you. That’s the time we’re living in. This lack of urgency, lack of definition, this beating around the bush, this non-centering approach, this all boats must rise for the specified harm that only some people and some identities experience must be reclaimed and restored through a general application.
Was that hard to hear? I hope so. As a white woman, this was jarring for me to hear. It was heartbreaking and I felt uncomfortable in moments that highlighted my privilege. But I’m learning quickly that change doesn’t come from comfortability. Change comes with hard conversations, tons of work, unlearning what has been ingrained in our subconscious, and relearning what is right and fair for our brothers and sisters of color.
This event, and all the other work that the Diversity Gap is doing, is going to create change. It is a catalyst and a place to start. You can watch all of the Diversity Gap: A New Kind of Leader sessions on their Youtube channel today. You will be glad you did. For a deeper dive follow them on Instagram, subscribe to the Diversity Gap podcast & get on their email list today.
Check out our other recent blogs on 5 Immediate Ways to Support Atlanta’s Black Tech Founders & Support Black Entrepreneurs, highlighting the Black founders changing the world through tech.
Want to continue learning? Of course you do, or you would have stopped reading a few minutes ago. Here are some of the resources that I have found helpful during my own unlearning and relearning process:
- Television & Documentaries:
- Organizations to follow:
- Things to read:
- So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
- Chokehold: Policing Black Men – Paul Butler
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- How to Be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
- White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide – Carol Anderson
- The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson
- Action Items:
- Check in on your black friends, family, partners & colleagues
- Educate yourself and read up on what it means to be anti-racist
- Don’t center the narrative around you. Identify privilege and condemn it
- Be an ally and advocate after the outrage ends
- Donate if you have the means