Articles Tagged with: DEIB

Make It Happen: LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workspaces—A Recap

Sacred Fire Creative hosted an online forum on creating workspaces inclusive to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Titled “Make It Happen: LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workspaces,” guest speaker Catherine V. Hyde led the conversation.

About Catherine V. Hyde

Catherine V. Hyde, pronouns “she” and “her” (not to be confused with author Catherine Ryan Hyde), has worked in social justice for 25 years. Her personal LGBTQ+ story started when her child, then aged four, told her that something had gone wrong in her belly and that he should have been born a she. Catherine didn’t listen and didn’t understand what it meant until PFLAG educated her on gender identity.

Afterward, Catherine became a strong ally of the LGBTQ+ community. A leadership coach and a trained public speaker, she speaks and trains on transgender understanding and sensitivity. Moreover, she is focused on sharing resources that will help expand support for the community. Catherine serves on the PFLAG national board of directors. She has also testified before the US Senate LGBT caucus on safety issues facing trans youth.

Catherine stated that the single, most defining aspect of her life has been the parenting of a transgender child. Her daughter is now a 28-year-old woman, but she transitioned at 15 years old, long before transgender issues became part of the zeitgeist. Additionally, her daughter was the first child in the Howard County school system to transition openly. Catherine said this experience exposed her to her cisgender white woman privilege.

According to Catherine, society was built to make white women like her comfortable and happy. Because privilege means you don’t know it when you have it, and you only know it when you don’t, she didn’t realize that she had privilege until she came to know better. She gained that knowledge through her social justice work with Enterprise Community Partners and with the LGBTQ+ community.

To expand our understanding of the LGBTQ community and how we can build inclusive environments, Catherine set the following goals for the forum:

  • To review some basic terminology to make sure everyone is comfortable
  • To explore our own gender journeys
  • To have a quick insight into being LGBTQ+ at work
  • To identify some concrete steps that we can take to make a more inclusive environment
  • To brainstorm action steps that we can implement immediately at the office.

Basic terminologies

Catherine defined the following terms:

LGBTQ+ means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and beyond.

Sexual orientation doesn’t mean the same as sexual preferences. Nobody got to vote as to how their bodies were made for sexual orientation.

Lesbians are women who find themselves primarily sexually attracted to other women.

Gay is a universal term for the community and a term defining those who identify as men who find themselves sexually attracted to other men.

Bisexuals are people who are attracted to both men and women.

Asexuals are people who have no sexual drive.

Pansexual is sometimes used interchangeably with bisexual. However, the word “pansexual” gives more of a nod to the fact that gender is a spectrum, as opposed to a binary. Thus, pansexual are people who are romantically and sexually attracted to people regardless of their gender.

Gender identity is where the term “transgender” comes in. Compared to our gender assignment at birth, gender identity is how we identify ourselves on the gender spectrum. A transwoman is someone who was assigned male at birth but identified as female on the gender spectrum, like Catherine’s daughter. A transman is someone who was assigned female at birth but identified as male. The prefix “trans” simply honors their identities. And then there are folks whose gender identity agrees with the gender assigned to them at birth. A quick little caveat: The word “transgender” is not a noun. It’s an adjective.

Gender expression is a phrase not everyone is familiar with. It’s essentially how we wear our gender—our hair, makeup, clothing, anything that may trigger gender associations. Catherine pointed out that the accepted or expected gender expression changes over time and across cultures. One example she gave was when she was young, very few women had tattoos, and men don’t wear earrings. Today, many women wear tattoos, and many men wear earrings.

Non-binary are people who don’t necessarily feel like they’re all male or all female. They may be a little bit of both, or they feel like they are neither. Some feel like they’re tri-gendered, according to a study by The Trevor Project. Around 25% of LGBTQ+ youth today identify as non-binary. They’re just not happy with those clear-cut square little boxes that we’ve tried to put in place for them.

Two-spirit is used by some indigenous or Native communities in American to express their relationship with the non-binary gender system.

Catherine invited the participants to take a look at the glossary at The Trevor Project. She added that she finds the glossary fascinating. The glossary also changes very quickly these days because young people are constantly bringing in new ways of looking at the issues.

Gender-clear vs. gender-fluid

Catherine shared her own story about gender journey. She described herself as a huge baseball fan. When Catherine was six years old, she desperately wanted to be a boy. There were three very clear reasons in her mind why she wanted to be a boy. The first was her father had more power in the house than her mother did. Second, her brothers had fewer chores than she and her sisters did. Third, she knew she could have been a ball boy at Memorial Stadium for the Baltimore Orioles, which was the height of her six-year-old ambition. To do all of those things, she knew she had to be a boy, so she wanted to be a boy.

She later realized that what she really wanted were the privileges associated with being a boy—the access to power, the privilege of fewer chores, and access to be a ball boy. It wasn’t a gender identity issue; instead, it was more of a gender expression issue.

Catherine said this makes her a little bit gender-fluid. She’s not way over, girly-girl, gender-clear. She would have been perfectly happy if you mistook her for a boy.

On the other hand, Catherine’s husband was recreating Civil War battlefields in his driveway at the age of six. He was all Boy—girls had cooties, they’re disgusting and nasty, and you shouldn’t go anywhere near them. He was gender-clear.

Catherine said she took the time to tell this story because, in the transgender community, there are trans folks who are a little bit more gender-fluid, while there are those who are more gender-clear. According to her favorite quote about diversity and communities, there’s more diversity within any community than between two communities.

So, in the cisgender community, we have people who are butch females or effeminate males. We’re going to have those same-gender expressions in the trans community. Thus, we may have a trans woman who is kind of butch.

According to Catherine, 20 years ago, when sexual realignment surgery was beginning to be more available, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore did a lot of work on it. However, they would turn down for that surgery anyone who wasn’t identifying as a typical female. Thus, a trans woman assigned at birth as male but understood herself to be female and wanted to have this surgery to align her body with her identity wasn’t allowed to have that surgery if she happened to be attracted to women. She wasn’t considered straight enough or normal enough woman to get that surgery. There was no acceptance of diversity within the trans community.

Catherine said that was why she took some time to dwell on the issue of gender-fluidity. This is to make sure that we don’t paint the people we meet in the trans community with a broad brush, put them in a box, and then move on. That’s just not how you make an inclusive workplace.

The gender spectrum game

Catherine made the forum participants play a game she called the gender spectrum game. It involved plotting your own gender using the four separate facets of the gender spectrum:

Sex
Female Intersex Male
 
Gender Identity
Hear Me Roar Woman Man Macho
Gender Expression
Female Androgynous Male
Romantic Attraction
Masculine Sensitive Men Sporty Women Feminine

Catherine plotted herself as assigned female at birth and “hear me roar” as her gender identity (in reference to a Helen Reddy song) because she’s a feminist and an activist. Additionally, her gender expression is around female or androgynous, though she expressed herself between androgynous and male for years. As for her romantic attraction, she tends to cluster at the left-hand side of the scale.

Catherine also plotted her husband: assigned male at birth, gender identity between man and macho, gender expression male. She joked that she hopes his romantic attraction is sporty women because if it’s feminine women, he missed the mark and didn’t get the right girl.

As for her daughter, Catherine plotted: assigned male at birth, gender identity woman, gender expression is feminine, romantic attraction sensitive men.

Catherine observed that her husband tends to cluster to the right-hand side of the spectrum while her daughter bounces a little. She pointed out that many of us do cluster on one of the poles, though many don’t.

Catherine said she likes to tell people who are about to have children pretend there’s a slot machine arm at the edge of this spectrum. When you have a baby, you’re going to pull it, and that kid is going to fall somewhere on these four scales. You don’t get to choose where.

She encouraged the participants to try out the game with other people. That’s because the game can make for great conversation starters.

Again, she emphasized that gender expressions change over time. As an example, she shared that she grew out her hair after her husband asked her to. She had been sporting a pixie cut for 20 years and found that she liked having longer hair. In addition, gender expression may change depending on our environment. There will be times when we may feel freer to be creative with our expressions, and there will be times when we feel we have to conform.

We all have a gender identity. Very few of us actually have to unpack it or think about it. This is an opportunity to do so. Catherine invited the participants to think more about their gender journey and encourage other people to do so. It’s amazing how restrictive those boxes are to so many people, and it feels like it’s only been in recent decades that we’ve been even allowed to think about it or question and ask about it. It’s becoming more and more important to the kids. And they’re becoming more and more part of our workforce.

Understanding DEI

Catherine noted that the difference between diversity and inclusion is this: Diversity means “I see you, and I acknowledge you.” Inclusion means “I’m with you.” Inclusion is a far more proactive stance, and it’s far more intimate. It’s far more humane when we can be fully inclusive.

inclusive workspaces

Equality vs equity. Image by Angus Maguire | Interaction Institute for Social Change

There’s also a difference between equality and equity. Catherine used the above image to illustrate this difference. The left side shows equality, where everyone got a box for watching the game. One didn’t need their box because they’re tall enough to watch the game without it. For one, however, one box wasn’t enough for them.

On the right side, the same number of boxes were there. But they were distributed according to need, so everyone could fully participate as a spectator to the game. This illustrates equity.

LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workforce

Catherine noted that the youth, as they always do, are leading the way in making the workplace more inclusive. Straight Gen Z and Millennial employees deeply care about inclusion, and the work that companies do around inclusion will benefit the growing LGBTQ+ community. According to a Gallup poll of Americans, some 5.6% of Americans identify as LGBTQ+, and 16.6% of them are among Generation Z. Thus, the young people are taking permission to erase those boxes and just say who they are.

The poll also shows that six out of 10 employers say that diversity and inclusion are a priority. But only one in three have initiatives or policies created to reflect it. The rest are only paying lip service to try to be with the in folks these days. However, it’s not real, and it shows up in the workplace.

Some 40% of LGBTQ+ employees are still closeted. Some of that is by preference, but some of that is out of fear. They wish they could be out, but they don’t feel comfortable being out in the environment at work. Some closeted employees report less engagement and less productivity than those who are not closeted.

Additionally, 75% experienced at least one negative interaction related to their LGBTQ+ identity at work within one year. Some 41% experienced 10 incidents—that’s almost once a month. If you’ve ever been the recipient of someone questioning or denigrating your very identity, that blows the wind out of your sails so quickly, and it takes a long period to refill the sails. So, once a month is taking an awful lot out of our employees.

Exercising influence

Catherine names the areas where we can exercise our influence to make our workplaces more inclusive.

Pronouns

We certainly have influence over what we do and what we say. What we can do personally is to use our pronouns—by introducing ourselves with our pronouns and by adding them to our name on Zoom. It opens up the conversation and tells people we want to use the correct pronouns for them, and we’re inviting them to share those pronouns.

Gender-inclusive language

We can also use gender-inclusive language. Catherine shared that she gets tired of seeing forms that ask for the husband’s signature or the wife’s signature. Instead of identifying as husband or wife, what about as a spouse? For son and daughter, child will do. We have siblings for brothers and sisters. The gender-neutral term for nieces and nephews is “niblings.”

Identify your own bias

We also need to identify our own biases. Catherine suggests taking the implicit bias tests at Harvard’s Project Implicit, which will help us learn about ourselves. We can’t check our assumptions if we don’t know what our assumptions are. We need to take the time to dig them out and learn about them so we can check them culturally and expand that reach beyond ourselves.

Start a resource group

Catherine said if we don’t already have an LGBTQ+ and allies resource group at work, we need to start one. She learned recently that the first employee resource group created was by the LGBTQ community, and she found that fascinating.

She also recommends getting training, giving training, and getting more training. If we get trained, we take away something we’ve learned, bring it back to work, and share it. We can also bring trainers in and have people come and talk to our teams if that’s our area of influence at work.

Bringing in speakers gets us to hear different stories. The human brain is wired to learn from stories. Moreover, the more stories we share, the more stories we hear, the more we can learn.

Implement non-discrimination policies

Catherine said we could exercise influence by structuring non-discrimination policies for sexual orientation and gender identity. She noted, however, that if it’s written doesn’t mean it will be followed. But if it’s not written, you know it won’t be followed. Nonetheless, we need to make sure we have those policies in writing, and they are communicated clearly.

Catherine gave trans-inclusive health benefits as an example of policies that need to be in writing. Companies should have trans-inclusive health benefits, as they give trans-identified employees the ability to transform their bodies to more appropriately reflect their understanding of themselves. These benefits should also cover employees’ children who identify as trans.

Trans-inclusive health benefits can include cross hormone therapy or hormone blockers. They can also make room for top or bottom surgery. And because of the way we are so gendered in our medicine, sometimes a health insurance company might deny a mammogram for someone identified as male or refuse a trans-woman a prostate exam. We have to take care of the parts we have, and that’s not always done through health care.

Public commitment to the LGBTQ+ community

Catherine said that making a public commitment to the LGBTQ+ community speaks volumes. She gave Marc Benioff as a specific example. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce and a pioneer of cloud computing, famously made a stand against Indiana when they passed a religious freedom act that codified the ability to discriminate against LGBTQ+ if it was based on your religious beliefs. He said Salesforce won’t be coming to Indiana, and he has canceled all travel there because his workforce needs to only work and go and travel in places where they are protected.

Questions asked and stories shared during the forum

Is there a third gender?

Catherine said she wouldn’t limit it to a third. There are as many gender identities out there as there are people. She said it’s great that this question comes up because it shows that people are thinking way outside the box, especially with the community’s younger members.

Identifying female

One of the participants shared that she wished she was a girl when she was growing up. She felt really embarrassed talking about it because she was never really open about it. She also hid it from her family because she grew up Catholic, and she was afraid they would judge or disown her.

But she always played with girls’ stuff like Barbies and makeup, which she said is why she’s so good at makeup now. She also realized that she was depressed a lot, and the reason for that is she was identifying as somebody else. Then she moved out, became a little more comfortable with her surroundings, and began identifying as female. She’s so happy about it, and she feels blessed that she has a family who accepted it.

Didn’t like to be called “tomboy”

One of the participants shared that she always thought she was a girl and identified as a girl. However, because she specifically liked sports, her family and peers always told her she was a tomboy. She didn’t like it and found it frustrating to be called one.

A father’s challenge

A participant shared that he’s the father of two daughters and is trying to be conscious about possibilities. He said he’s working hard to bring the work to his parenting. Additionally, he acknowledged that while it was tricky, he doesn’t really have a choice when it comes to his daughters’ gender identities.

Catherine replied that he, as a parent, indeed doesn’t have a choice, and neither do his girls. She said she likes to remind parents that the only option they have is whether or not they’re going to accept and celebrate their child. She shared that in her work with trans-people and trans-kids, she has never met a trans-child who said upfront that they are trans. It’s more like they get uncomfortable, afraid, and depressed until they can acknowledge and be who they are. A gift that a parent can give their children is absolutely unconditional acceptance and love, which can help with the acknowledgment.

Uncomfortable with attention

An audience member shared that around the age of eight, she became more interested in sports. She grew up with a father who was very focused on sports, and she played soccer instead of her brother. The more sports she played, the more competitive she got. However, she noticed early on that whenever she came out to play, she got more attention because she’s female and has always identified as so. The attention made her very uncomfortable.

A girl who loves playing with boys’ toys

Another audience member shared that one of the things she noticed as a kid was that she was always gifted with girly toys and dolls. However, she thinks dolls are terrifying and still do to this day. All she wanted were matchbox cars and comic books, but of course, they weren’t considered proper for a little girl to play with. So she would steal her brother’s toys because they were more fun.

Made him a feminist

A participant related that he grew up in a small town in the 1960s. It was a gendered time, and as a boy, it constantly reinforced his discomfort with it. He saw how his younger sisters and other girls were not treated the same. They were booted from sports and other activities and often segregated from the rest. This experience, he said, made him a feminist.

A non-inclusive workplace experience

Another participant shared that at her former workplace, she worked with four other people. Two of these co-workers asked her not to share her LGBTQ+ status with another co-worker, who was a religious, black-and-white thinker—a white Christian male. He didn’t understand anything beyond his whiteness. He didn’t even acknowledge Black Lives Matter.

He would bully everyone whose behavior was unacceptable to him. So he won’t give everyone else a hard time, the other co-workers asked her to keep quiet about her status. The participant felt it was unfair because the others could bring their wives to work, while she couldn’t bring her female partner. Eventually, the white Christian male co-worker found out anyway and became hostile with her about it. She thought, if the company would keep that co-worker despite his behavior, then she could not stay. And so she left.

Catherine said this is a poignant example of what we had been talking about in this forum. By not being inclusive, you will lose a good portion of your workforce. It’s not just people who identify as LGBTQ+, but also those who want to be in a place where everyone is welcomed. Bullying is bullying, whether you’re bullying someone in the schoolyard because they have the wrong haircut or you’re bullying someone because of their different abilities or their identity. It’s insufferable, and it should not be tolerated. And that is why DEI work is so important.

Sacred Fire Creative continues the conversation on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity. Check out these scheduled events and join the conversation: https://bit.ly/3bC6fV7.

 


LGBTQ Awareness: The Importance of Pronouns – A Recap

Sacred Fire Creative hosted a dialogue on LGBTQ issues entitled “LGBTQ Awareness: The Importance of Pronouns” and facilitated by Addison Smith of Addison’s Agenda.

About Addison Smith

Addison J. Smith, also known as Addi, describes their day job as a librarian. More importantly, they are a consulting educator. They use their teaching experience, personal experience, and research skills to help others understand issues surrounding the LGBTQ community, especially transgender people.

Addison holds two master’s degrees: one in music composition and the other in digital storytelling. They were pursuing a doctorate in music and aiming to become a music professor. However, they decided to change fields after realizing how poorly professors are treated in this country.

Addi came to accept being transgender while working on their digital storytelling degree. To understand themself, they did research on modern gender theory. They came up with an eight-part video series on gender theory called “The Gender Project” for their final project. They got to know themself better through their project. Afterward, they decided to get into public speaking and help people understand gender from a more scientific viewpoint.

As someone in their 50s, Addison shared that what we know about gender now is different from what we knew about gender back when they were growing up. Discussions on gender issues didn’t even come up unless it was on a TV program like The Jerry Springer Show. They felt that we have moved beyond that since then. Additionally, they felt like helping people understand gender issues was something they can do to give back to the community.

Defining pronouns in today’s society

Addison defined pronouns using Merriam-Webster: “Any of a small set of words in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in context. We have:

  • The first-person singular “I” and the first-person plural “we.”
  • The second-person “you.” It works both as a singular and a plural noun. Addi noted that “you” used to be exclusively plural, but it gained usage as a singular pronoun over the years.
  • The third-person singular pronouns he/she/it and the third-person plural pronoun “they.”

Why are pronouns important in today’s society? It’s because we are starting to understand that transgender and non-binary people may not use pronouns as we traditionally used them or wished that they’d be used for them. For instance, for trans-men, it’s proper to call them he/him/his. At the same time, trans-women should be referred to as she/her/hers. For non-binary people, they/them/theirs are the most common, but there are also many others.

According to Addison, the technical term for this is neologisms or using new words for non-binary pronouns. These are not as popular as what we’re used to hearing, though. For example, the pronouns “they,” “them,” and “theirs” are considered plural but are used as a singular term by non-binary people.

For some reason, Addison shared, pronouns have become a political issue, and they really wish people would honestly stop doing that. The importance of using someone’s proper pronouns is simply this: It conveys respect to that person.

If we’re going to keep this simple, Addison said, we could basically end the conversation at this point. However, more information and context are needed as to what this is all about.

The traditional view of gender

From the traditional viewpoint, when you ask what gender is, most people will tell you that if you’re a man, you use he/him/his pronouns. If you’re a woman, you use she/her pronouns.

The thing is, they’re talking about biological sex there, and sex is not gender. We have to break this down even further. So, what is gender? Traditionally, gender is actually a set of roles, rules, and expectations assigned to people based on sex. Many people also hear the term “assigned at birth,” and they’re not sure what that means.

Let’s take a look at what that actually means. So you have a baby, and inside that diaper, you find a penis. You automatically assume this is a boy, and this boy will grow into a man. So we’re going to paint everything blue, and we’re going to buy that child all the boys’ toys—the trucks, the play guns, and the various things that are coded for masculinity in our culture.

Of course, boys will be boys, and they will play in the mud, and they will get into fights. And you’re going to have to channel that aggression because all boys are aggressive, and maybe put it into, like, an instrument like the drums or, better yet, football.

And when they get older, they’ll take care of you when they’re nice and rich. Of course, he will marry a woman, and then he will wear a tuxedo because that’s the only thing men are allowed to wear to formal events. And, of course, boys don’t cry. Addi joked that they’re dating themselves by using a Cure reference.

That’s what we talked about men assigned at birth. These are all culturally based. So when we say “assigned,” we’re referring to people’s genders based on their sex, and we’re assigning these roles and ideas to two people. In our culture, this is what we call the gender binary.

The gender binary is learned behavior.

We have actually divided up a large portion of our society, even our assumed psychology, based on the gender binary. For instance, men are supposed to be independent, while women are dependent. Men are stoic, and women are emotional. Men are aggressive, and women are passive. We have all these diametrically opposed ideas of what it is to be a man or what it is to be a woman. And the thing is, none of this is intrinsic—the gender binary is learned behavior.

We teach children from a very young age to be masculine or feminine in the ways we talk to them. Thus, the gender binary is conveyed through communication—not just verbal communication but also the way we act toward each other.

But in language, we have things like phrases for praising—“who the man,” “you the man,” “atta boy,” “atta girl.” We praise people based on their biological sex and what we think a man or a boy or a girl should act.

This is one way to convey what it is to be a boy or a girl and how we should act in general. We also have behavioral tips when people see somebody acting the way they think they shouldn’t act. Again, boys don’t cry; girls don’t play with that. You can go to any toy store, and you’ll see a little girl pick up something. You’re sure to hear parents say something like, “No, no, let’s put that down. Girls don’t play with that; only boys play with that.” Or vice versa.

Addison shared a story where they once leaned against a low wall with one foot propped behind the other. A man came up to them and told them, “Don’t stand that way. You’re a man. Women stand that way. Stand right.” The man was furious. Addison recalled surprising this person 20 years later.

Gender-based social sanctions

Addison said we also have social sanctions, which are phrases or words mean to punish. For example, suppose a man shows many feminine personality traits, such as calmness, non-aggression, docility, or being emotional. In that case, people tell him, “Don’t be a pussy.” At the same time, if a woman acts like having masculine personality traits, like if she is aggressive or ambitious, she’s being a “complete bitch.” Any strong woman will have been called that at some point in her life.

Look at the dynamics there. Men who are not acting like men are told they’re acting like a woman using a crude vernacular for the female genitalia. Women, on the other hand, are told they’re less than human. That’s why people hate these words so much.

For clarity’s sake, Addison defined the slang “pussy” as coming from the word “pusillanimous,” which means to act timidly or cowardly. It’s just been shorted over the years to the point that nobody even knows the word “pusillanimous” anymore. However, they do know the phrase “don’t be a pussy.”

There are even more social sanctions against the LGBTQ community. One of the most powerful is simply stigma. People who are against LGBTQ rights claim that members of this community are mentally ill, socially deviant, choose to live the way they do, sexually predatory, or child abusers.

The community is often used as scapegoats for politicians and preachers. We see this very often when someone is trying to deflect from something else. They will bring up the “gay agenda.” Addison said that if there is a gay agenda, it’s this: Just leave us alone. Let us live. Of course, there is harassment. People in the LGBTQ community are attacked in public, at work, in school, and even by their own families.

There are ways of communicating that if you do not fall into the gender binary, the way we believe you should, you’re going to be punished. You’re going to have those social sanctions against you until you start acting the way we think you should. That’s what stigma is.

The psychological effects of misgendering

Addison said that part of stigmatizing the LGBTQ community is misgendering. Misgendering is intentionally calling somebody by the wrong pronoun, honorific, or name. Addi gives themselves as an example—they hate it when people refer to them as he/him/his, as “sir,” or with their given name or dead name instead of their chosen name.

This is also done to cisgender LGBTQ people—gay men being called “missy” or gay women “sir.” When we do this, it’s like trying to tell them you’re not what you’re supposed to be. Misgendering isn’t exclusively for trans people like Addi. It’s also something used to attack people who are in other parts of the LGBTQ community. However, intentionality is the key.

Accidentally using the wrong word or term for someone isn’t considered a malicious act unless you don’t correct yourself. If you’re doing it on purpose and keep doing it, and you’re not trying to change it, it becomes a problem. The LGBTQ community sees this as you trying to attack them. What misgendering says to a trans person or a non-binary person, or even a cisgender person who is from the LGB part of the community, is this:

  1. “I know you better than you know yourself. I know what you’re supposed to be. You don’t get to determine who or what you’re supposed to be.”
  2. “I would rather hurt you repeatedly than change the way I speak about you. I just don’t care.”
  3. “Your sense of safety is not important to me.”
  4. “Your identity is not real and should not be acknowledged.”
  5. “I want to teach everyone around me to disrespect you.”
  6. “Offending you is fine as long as it makes me feel more comfortable.”
  7. “I can hear you talking, but I’m not really listening.”
  8. “Being who you truly are is an inconvenience to me.”
  9. “I would prefer it if you stop being honest with me.”
  10. “I am not an ally, friend, or someone you can trust.”

If someone goes after a member of the LGBTQ community, misgendering them all the time, that someone is a person to stay away from. In a workplace situation, that can be very detrimental.

Mis-gendering is basically just bullying. It’s something people in the LGBTQ community have to deal with all the time. The effects of bullying are actually quite severe.

Almost all youth who attempt suicide experienced some kind of mistreatment, including insults or criticisms made for them to feel guilt and humiliation. LGBTQ kids are 8.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide when their family rejects them. Young people who have lost friends after coming out are 20 times more likely to report having attempted suicide.

Each episode of LGBT victimization, be it physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. We’re not just talking about suicide when it comes to self-harming behavior. We’re talking about cutting, unsafe sex practices, or drug use. And every time a kid—a gay kid or a trans-kid—is bullied for being gay or trans, it increases the likelihood that they will do something to harm themselves.

Breaking down the gender binary

Addison notes that the good thing about the gender binary these days is that it’s breaking down. They said it’s always good for people like them, whose roles are changing. It’s good that it’s now acceptable for a man to stay home and take care of the kids. In the years past, that was unthinkable. It’s still unthinkable to a lot of people. Still, in general, it’s more and more accepted that roles are being broken and expectations are being shattered. They cited as examples Captain Kristen Griest, one of the first two female Army Rangers, and James Charles, the first male CoverGirl ambassador. Additionally, they showed a picture of David Bowie dressed as Tilda Swinton, posing with Tilda Swinton dressed as David Bowie.

Addi posed the question, “What is gender today?” Instead of the cultural construct of the gender binary, where culture tells you who you have to be, the new way of looking at gender is a psychological construct. You figure out who you are and project it to the world.

There are five components to this psychological construct:

  • biological sex – because the way you relate to your body and the way others relate to you because of your body is part of gender, though it’s not all of gender
  • gender identity – the way your brain is hardwired to understand yourself in terms of your gender
  • sexual orientation
  • romantic orientation
  • gender presentation

In general, what modern gender theory says is this: Gender is between your ears and not between your legs.

What is biological sex?

Most people say biological sex is either male or female. XY chromosomes belong to males, and XX chromosomes belong to females. But there are also intersex people—people who show traits from both of the typical sexes.

And then, we have research showing that there are people who have chromosomes that are XYY, XXX, XX/XY, XX/XXX, XY/XYY, XX/X0, and so forth. Any genotype can produce any phenotype, which means any combination of six chromosomes. Based on many different factors, they can produce either males, females, or intersex people.

Because of this type of research, many biologists who study human development don’t see human biological sex as either/or anymore. Typical males and typical females do make up the majority. You also have subtle variations where, if you look closely, you will see that people have some tertiary or secondary traits that belong to the other sex. In some people, these variations are even more pronounced. You can see pretty easily that they are showing two different types of presentation in their body.

So, the question becomes: “How do you tell if someone is male, female, or somewhere in between?” According to Dr. Eric Vilain, the Director of the Center of Gender-Based Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles: “My feeling is that since there is not one biological parameter that takes over every other parameter, at the end of the day, gender identity seems to be the most reasonable parameter.”

In other words, just ask if you’re not sure what somebody’s biological sex is and what they know themselves to be. Ask them, and they will tell you.

Another question that Addi posed is this: “Why are we talking about biological sex in a pronouns discussion?” It’s because we need to understand that biological sex is related to gender identity.

What is gender identity?

Addison said that the way that people commonly define gender identity is that someone has a male brain or a female brain. There’s no such thing. The idea of male brain versus female brain is an old belief and not that great science. Yes, there are a few areas of the brain that are different between men, women, and people in between. They usually refer to hormone regulation, social behavior, sexual behavior, sensory perception, and motor monitoring. Motor monitoring means that whether your hands are up or down, your brain knows it without having to look.

But there’s evidence that your brain has a map of what you’re supposed to look like. Your brain uses this map to make those determinations. Sometimes, the map doesn’t match what’s in the mirror. This brings us to transgender people. People will have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex. This is actually an umbrella term, and underneath that, you have binary people and non-binary people. So, trans-men and trans-women, and a whole lot of different ways of saying what somebody is.

People have different ways of looking at themselves, and surgery is not required. For some reason, a lot of people think that you’re not trans until you’ve had surgery. Trans is about your brain, not about the way you have altered your body.

We have DSM-5, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. It’s basically a big list of everything that can go wrong in the brain. Being transgender can’t be found in DSM-5, although it was in DSM-1 through 4. Back then, experts said that if you think you’re of the wrong sex, then there must be something wrong with you. However, they did the research and finally determined that being trans is not a mental illness or psychological condition. Thus, they took it out of DSM.

So, it’s not about having a male brain or a female brain. It’s about having a transgender brain, which is slightly structurally different. Structures that make the differences between male brain and female brain can also be found in a transgender brain. Structures you’d find in women can also be found in trans-women. The same is true with men and trans-men.

There’s also the matter of functionality—for instance, the sensory perception. Women have a stronger sense of smell than men. Trans-women also have a stronger sense of smell than men because their brains are wired that way.

Being a transgender person is most likely about your neurology and endocrinology. More and more evidence also says it’s about genetics. Being trans is not a delusion or any other form of psychiatric condition. That’s why it’s not in DSM-5.

Some hypotheses state that the same factors that go into biological sex also shapes the brain. Thus, there’s probably a continuum of gender identity. So, we have cisgender. The only thing that “cis” means is that it’s a Latin prefix for “on the same side.” Someone who is a ciswoman has their biological sex and gender identity on the same side of the continuum.

“Trans,” on the other hand, is Latin for “on the other side.” A transgender woman will have her biological sex on one side and her gender identity on the other. And then, you have non-binary people. They can come from any part of the biological spectrum, but their gender identity will be somewhere in the middle.

Let them be who they are.

Addison said if you’re wondering what someone’s gender identity is, let them tell you. However, it’s not always great to ask, especially in a business situation. So just let them be who they are. If they want to share how they identify, they will find a way to communicate it.

When you’re talking about the LGBTQ community and people who look at modern gender theory, there’s often a lot of self-mockery involved. The way some members of the community identify themselves can be pedantic or esoteric.

But most importantly, they want to be referred to as a person, just another person. And this includes using the pronouns that are appropriate for them. Basically, letting everybody be themselves and respecting a person’s pronouns and presentation is part of that. Knowing what somebody’s pronouns are and using them consistently shows respect and allows them to be them.

What are the effects? If you look at youth trends, when you use a transgender youth’s chosen name at work, at school, with friends, and at home:

  • It reduces depression symptoms by 75%.
  • It reduces thoughts of suicide by 34%.
  • It reduces suicide attempts by 65%.

Moreover, students who attend schools with gay/straight alliances, compared to students who don’t are:

  • 36% less likely to be fearful for their personal safety.
  • 52% less likely to hear homophobic slurs.
  • 30% less likely to experience or observe homophobic victimization.

That’s, in a nutshell, why it is important to respect someone’s pronouns, their proper pronouns. A lot of people will say preferred pronouns, but it’s not. It’s not a choice.

Questions asked during the forum.

How do you explain to folks that pronoun isn’t a preference?

When people refuse to use someone’s proper pronouns, they’re communicating disrespect, harm, lack of trust, and other messages that misgendering conveys. When someone asks to use their proper pronouns, they’re asking to respect and not harm them.

There will always be people who will refuse to believe that being trans is a biological process rather than a psychological one. It doesn’t matter what evidence you show them. However, this is a problem in a business setting. To explain to people that pronouns are not a preference, you might tell them that not respecting pronouns is detrimental to their own goals and to the company’s goals.

What’s the appropriate way to ask someone’s pronouns if you sense that someone’s gender identity could be along the middle of the spectrum?

It’s always respectful to say, “Hey, I’m not sure if these are the right pronouns for you. Could you tell me what are the right pronouns for you so that I don’t screw it up?” However, the person you asked may not know what you mean, especially if they see themselves as masculine or feminine. But for someone in the LGBTQ community, it’s a sign of respect.

You can also introduce yourself with your own pronouns. They’ll come back at you with their own pronouns. But this depends on your audience and location. If you’re in a safe space, introducing yourself with your pronouns encourages them to do the same.

Is it right to assume “them” as a default?

It’s always much better to ask than to assume. If you refer to a person who is cis-hetero or transgender as they/them, you’re misgendering them. You may be trying not to be offensive, but you’re misgendering them nonetheless.

When you’re working with other people’s kids, introducing pronouns and properly using them can be a tricky issue within a school system. Any thoughts you have around creating brave spaces for students, even if that classroom is the only space where they may properly gender?

The best thing you can do is to get with an organization like PFLAG or GLSEN. They actually have teacher packets that you can use to help people set this up. Many different groups out there have ways of introducing gender or building gender-safe spaces in class and classrooms.

You can start with normalizing using pronouns, especially with young kids, as they don’t really talk about gender that much. But if a kid does come out as transgender, using their appropriate pronouns and making sure that other children are using them is an excellent way of doing it.

However, if you think a student is trans or non-binary, it’s not recommended that you ask them to come out. They might be afraid to come out because of their situation at home or in the community. It may not be safe for them to come out, and you can really end up doing some harm to the kid. Coming out is always a very personal journey, and it’s best to let the kid come out when they’re ready.

If someone was to misgender someone accidentally, what is the best way to correct ourselves or steps to take to avoid further harm?

It’s really simple: Apologize and do better. If you keep stumbling over the same thing over and over, you will be seen as not making an effort, and you don’t really mean that apology. An apology without a behavior change is basically meaningless.

In a book called “Love Lives Here,” the author claims we should try and avoid the word “transgender.” What are your thoughts on this?

In Addi’s personal opinion, if we don’t use the word “transgender,” how will we talk about transgender issues? We can’t talk about gender issues without the words “transgender” and “cisgender” for comparison. Addi is pretty sure that the author is coming from a good place. But it’s almost the same as white people saying they don’t see race because they do.

Addi doesn’t see the value in trying to erase the word. They can see value in not making a big deal about it. There are so many people out there who are like, “the trans agenda is to turn everybody trans and to take over the world.” If there’s a trans agenda, it’s actually to get people to stop bothering them and to see them as a person.

Sacred Fire Creative continues the conversation on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging with these events. Please join us in these conversations.


Diversity and Inclusion in Business: A Look at the Wedding Industry—A Recap

On March 8, 2021, Sacred Fire Creative explored another avenue in the conversation on diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging with the forum “Diversity and Inclusion in Business: A Look at the Wedding Industry.” Writer-turned-wedding planner Elisabeth Kramer led this particular discussion.

About Elisabeth Kramer

Elisabeth Kramer is an award-winning journalist and former magazine editor. She stumbled into a career in wedding planning after helping a friend with her own. But beyond coordinating these dream events for couples, she has made it her mission to, in her own words, “tear down the wedding industrial complex.”

Elisabeth came up with this mission after talking to clients about their weddings and her own interactions with other wedding vendors. As a feminist, she often hears issues that to her seem like total red flags. These red flags often indicate that something is going on and is usually part of a larger issue—that couples are being actively harmed or attacked by the wedding industry.

Thus, she has made it her goal to change the wedding industry, and she does it in two ways with her business. One is through her work with couples as she plans their weddings. The other is by actively collaborating with other vendors.

Elisabeth has a podcast called “The Teardown,” where she interviews couples and vendors about their experiences within the wedding industry. In this podcast, she tackles how diversity, inclusion, Black Lives Matter, and other similar issues affect the industry.

Moreover, she is the co-founder of Altared, a Portland-based event for wedding vendors. Altared holds classes where wedding vendors can learn and share ideas on making the wedding industry a more inclusive, sustainable, and mindful place to work in.

Questions Raised during the Forum

What does “changing the wedding industry” actually mean?

Elisabeth explained that the term “wedding industrial complex” is a shorthand she uses. Still, it’s not a term that she invented. The phrase has been around for a while now. It refers to the many nasty “isms” we encounter in our lives as human beings, but specific to the wedding industry. These “isms” include racism and ageism, as well as non-isms like homophobia and fat-phobia. In other words, it pertains to the toxic things we deal with in society.

She feels that these isms manifest strongly in the wedding industry. However, in some ways, they are all wrapped up in tulle. That’s because weddings are supposed to be happy spaces—about the joy of the couple to be married and about making people feel good.

Elisabeth used race conversations as an example. The word “race” is loaded right now because it’s political. She said she really tries in her work to talk about it. That’s because she thinks the issue manifests a lot of stress, anger, and pain, not just for couples getting married but also vendors in the wedding industry.

She points out two resources that help address this issue. One is Vendors of Color, a Pacific Northwest-based community of exclusively BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color) wedding vendors. The other is Rad Wedding, a Slack group born out of Altared. The group has 150 members; they share leads and support fellow members who are part of the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities or attend classes on inclusivity.

Can the wedding industry change without the service industry changing first?

During the forum, a participant pointed out that the service industry, which covers hotels and restaurants, is not a very inclusive one. Given that the wedding industry is interdependent with the service industry, can the wedding industry change without the service industry change first?

Elisabeth thinks the wedding and service industries have to change together. She believes that changes in the wedding industry can affect the service industry. However, she stated that this is part of a much broader discussion. It’s part of a deeper systemic issue that needs to be addressed, not just in the service industry or the wedding industry but also in other elements of our society.

What steps has Elisabeth herself taken to make her business more inclusive?

Maricella Ehmann, a Vermont-based wedding planner, as well as Elisabeth’s friend and collaborator, shared that Elisabeth has done quite a bit to help small businesses over the years. She asked her to enumerate some of these steps.

Elisabeth replied that, because of capitalism, the first place to start helping others is with money. Thus, she:

  • Donates 5% of every booking to one of six non-profits, a model that she borrowed with permission from Portland-based photographer Marissa Solini.
  • During the pandemic crisis, put up a donation form on her website for wedding vendors in need. This project, however, was short-lived, and Elisabeth shifted back to donating part of her proceeds to non-profits.

Additionally, she put up an anti-racism action plan on her website that she constantly updates. She also takes classes outside of Altared and recommends the LGBTQ+ inclusivity course developed by Kirsten and Maria Palladino of Equally Wed.

What steps can wedding vendors take to make their businesses inclusive right now?

One of the forum participants asked Elisabeth for examples of steps wedding vendors can take to make their businesses more inclusive that they can do right after the forum. Elisabeth responded by demonstrating representation, which can be done by:

  • Being sensitive about language and pronouns. Not every couple who is getting married is a bride and a groom.
  • Making the vendor’s website less bride-centric. Many wedding vendor websites feature couples where one person is white, cis-hetero, and a woman.
  • Including more photos of POC and LGBTQ+ couples on the website.
  • Including the vendor’s own pronouns in their email signature.

Elisabeth reiterated taking classes on inclusivity, as well as mentioned making friends with other wedding vendors. She stated that businesses in the wedding industry run a lot on referrals—vendors referring other vendors, couples referring vendors. Having a referral list is common in the industry.

She shared that she has her own referral list on her website. But she actively makes sure that her list isn’t just a bunch of white people referring white people, with a few Asian-Americans she found off Google thrown into the mix. Instead, she tries to have conversations with them to find out their goals and how she can support these goals with her own business.

Elisabeth remarked that venues are potentially powerful when it comes to referring vendors. That’s because couples often have venues as their first touchpoint in the wedding industry. She thinks that there is a lot of power in venues being really thoughtful about directing people to places like vendors of color.

Elisabeth added that couples themselves have a lot of buying power. Thus, they should think about who they’re employing for their wedding. On average, couples spend $34,000 on their wedding, which is a huge amount of buying power.

What are things in the wedding industry that are considered or accepted as traditional but are actually discriminating?

Elisabeth mentioned walking a bride down the aisle is one that comes up a lot as traditional. However, rather than cherry-pick examples, she said she encourages couples and vendors to talk about prioritization. Prioritization answers the “why” of the wedding—why have a wedding, what parts of the wedding are meaningful to the couple. Those things have meaning, and they come from a place of inclusivity to begin with.

Elisabeth said she could have a whole list of all the “traditions” in a wedding, and all of them are kind of horrible in a way. But that’s because the way we think of weddings and marriages in the US is rooted in a very patriarchal system. She notes that it can seem a little funny when she talks about these topics because they sound so anti-wedding industrial complex.

Can wedding vendors reflect their inclusivity through their pricing?

One of the forum participants shared that, as a new wedding vendor, they’d like to make their decisions about pricing more inclusive. She asked Elisabeth how she would potentially see that happening.

Elisabeth responded that the question about money in the wedding industry is a totally loaded one. She shared that when she started her business, she made less than minimum wage. She does not recommend doing this today. But that’s what she offered because she had a full-time job and was only testing out wedding planning as a career. These days, however, she charges between $1,800 to $2,300 for her services. That’s about $50 an hour, an amount that can be entirely cost-prohibitive for many couples.

What can be done for couples in such a situation? Elisabeth shared the following suggestions:

  • Offering a discounted or free rate for fiscal for, like, every fourth couple booked. Elisabeth said she knows some vendors who do this.
  • Providing free wedding planner resources for couples who want to do it themselves or have a friend who can do it.
  • Making themselves accessible. Elisabeth says she tries not to put her information in an ivory tower that people can only get to if they pay her.
  • Offering straight-up discounts for couples in vulnerable communities.

Sacred Fire Creative continues the conversation on diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging in its series of free online forums. Check out the schedule of these events here: https://bit.ly/3bC6fV7.


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


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