Category: Forums
Developing Allies and Advocates for DEI with Latonya Latamore, Ph.D.: A Recap

Sacred Fire Creative continued its virtual forums on diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging on February 8, 2021. For this specific forum, guest speaker Latonya Latamore, Ph.D., led a conversation on developing allies and advocates for DEI.

About Dr. Latonya Latamore

Dr. Latamore is a Fairfax, Virginia-based educator and founder of Harmony Strategic Solutions, LLC. While her organization is still in its infancy, Dr. Latamore said she has personally encountered racism professionally and in her day-to-day life.

The insights she imparted to the group included the way holidays are celebrated in the US. She said holidays in the country are primarily based on Christianity. Christian Americans don’t have to use their paid time off to enjoy a Christian holiday. On the other hand, Americans of different cultures or religions will have to use their earned vacation days just so they could celebrate what they believe in.

Dr. Latamore also shared her daughter’s experience as a figure skater. Her daughter has been criticized and overly judged because she’s Black. Moreover, she doesn’t look like a traditional figure skater who is white and of a certain height and build.

Points to understand about conversations on race

Dr. Latamore raised the following points about open conversations on race:

  • It may not always be the most comfortable or pleasurable conversation to be in. That’s because the journey for allyship and advocacy isn’t the same for everyone. Everyone is in a different and unique area of the learning curve.
  • Conversations on racism are forever evolving. Once we believe we have found the solution, some other element or variable will surface.
  • It’s important to continuously analyze and monitor goals and projected outcomes. This will ensure that we are diligently helping to eliminate the inequities that racism causes.
  • We can achieve these goals by continuing to self-educate through attending webinars and talks and reading published materials on the topic.

Defining allyship and advocacy

Dr. Latamore defined the terms “allyship” and “advocacy” using the book Allies and Advocates: Creating an Inclusive and Equitable Culture by Amber Cabral.

Allyship

Allyship is when someone with privilege and power seeks to learn about the experiences of a marginalized group of people, develops empathy for them, and identifies ways to extend their own privilege to the marginalized group. Allies are identified by their ability to apply what they have learned about a group of people and find ways to transfer the benefits of their privilege to those who lack it.

Allyship requires taking the time to become invested in and have an emotional connection to marginalized people who are different from you. The part to zoom in on is the labor part of allyship. An ally seeks to learn and do the labor of understanding so they can connect and build empathy. To be an ally, you have to do the work, and most of the work is on yourself. “Ally” is not a title; it is a verb.

Advocacy

Advocacy is defined as the process where someone with privilege and power is willing to take steps to protect, publicly support, and dismantle systems against a marginalized group of people. To be an advocate, you have to be willing to do additional work beyond getting familiar with the nuances of marginalized groups and developing empathy for them. It is about taking action to change how others experience the world. Similar to allyship, advocacy is not a title. It is a verb.

Points to understand about the allyship and advocacy process

When it comes to starting the process of allyship and advocacy, Dr. Latamore raised the following points:

  • We need to understand where we are right now. Racial situations are occurring and in public, and even racial scarring from past government administrations.
  • We need to be honest with ourselves about what happened historically. We need to understand the different types of legislation that have been developed to protect certain classes of people, and why different legislative initiatives have been developed for marginalized people.
  • We need to start conversations about allyship and advocacy, not only in our individual groups but also within an organizational structure. All of this should begin at the executive level or with the people who actually make the decisions within the organization. These decisions can include providing additional training for line-level staff and mid-level managers.
  • It’s important that the right people are doing the work of allyship in the organization because it’s not easy work.
  • Change management, continuous auditing, open lines of communication, and transparency are necessary.

Questions to discuss

The forum participants were then divided into breakout groups to discuss the following questions:

  1. Where are you positioned with power and access to make change?
  2. Where do you have influence?
  3. Where do you have privilege, and who developed the standard that you are using?
  4. Is that standard necessary? Why does that standard exist? Is the standard preventing other cultures to participate?
  5. Have you considered how you’re limiting yourself and missing out on resources, opportunities, talent, and relationships because of unreasonable standards?

Sacred Fire Creative continues the dialogue with its lineup of DEIB virtual forums. Check the schedule of these events and join the conversation today: http://bit.ly/3bC6fV7.


Introspective Dialogue on Racism and Equity-Based Interventions with Nathan Baptiste: A Recap

On January 11, 2021, Sacred Fire Creative hosted a virtual forum entitled “Introspective Dialogue on Racism and Equity-Based Interventions.” The purpose of this forum is to provide a safe space for professionals and business owners to have a relevant discussion on diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging, collectively known as DEIB. The forum also recognizes a strong need for employers to create meaningful change in the workplace through DEIA-based interventions.

For this online event, Sacred Fire Creative invited Nathan Baptiste, the founder and principal of EDI Mindfulness Consulting.

Nathan’s story

Through EDI Mindfulness Consulting, Nathan helps various organizations in developing inclusive and equitable work environments. Before he got into consultancy, he served as Oregon Metro’s diversity program manager. His work there included launching an equity, diversity, and inclusion professional development training plan. He also has experience in the academe, leading the diversity programming at the Lewis & Clark College.

Nathan shared a personal encounter with racism during the forum. He grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and attended a mostly white high school in Oregon. As one of the few Black students in the school, he experienced bullying, especially during his sophomore year. His schoolmates made a game of throwing rice at the back of his head to see if the grains would stick to his afro. Some of them even called him the n-word.

To address the issue, Nathan went to see his school’s assistant principal, to whom he suggested including Black history and literature in the curriculum. However, the assistant principal’s response was colorblind—that if the school started offering classes on Black history and literature, it would have to do the same for the Asian and Latino students. This caused Nathan to feel withdrawn. He knew that the bullying he experienced because of his race was wrong. But at the time, he didn’t have the language to process it. So he internalized it instead.

This changed during his junior year. In that year, Nathan’s classes included a political action seminar. One of his projects there was organizing a dialogue on racism and the prison system. It turned out successfully, as did his later projects for the class. He found it encouraging because it sowed open-mindedness about race discussions in a less diverse environment.

The need for explicit dialogue on racism

Nathan raised the following points during the forum:

  • The event is timely, as it came at the heels of the rioting that occurred at the US Capitol on January 6.
  • There’s a need to define what white supremacy is, as well as its effect on individuals.
  • Racism is both internal and interpersonal, and it has become systemic in society. It’s so laced into our institutions and our culture that even people of color have internalized it.
  • Racism is not a competition; instead, it is intersectional, as we don’t live one-cause lives.
  • We need to have explicit conversations about racism. We need to raise awareness of how racism manifests systemically and allow ourselves the space to reflect on it.
  • Any conversation on diversity will fail if racial equity is left out of it.
  • The more diverse a workplace is, the more innovative it becomes and the better it would be for the organization’s bottom line.

Questions to discuss

The forum participants were then divided into breakout groups to discuss the following questions:

  1. How do you define white supremacy?
  2. How may you define anti-racism, and what principles help you to define it?
  3. Going beyond simple statements of condemnation or support, in what ways does white supremacy and anti-racism show up or not as influences in your life?

The participants agreed that this conversation about racism isn’t going away anytime soon and must be continuous. Many suggested gaining others’ perspectives on the issue, calling out racism instances on the spot, and watching who you vote for.

Sacred Fire Creative continues the dialogue with its lineup of DEIB virtual forums. Check the schedule of these events and join the conversation today: http://bit.ly/3bC6fV7