Oppression BINGO

oppression bingo

By Erin Okuno

Oppression BINGO is here. As with our other BINGO boards, these are meant to be taken in jest and as a way to spark conversation, think about how phrases and behaviors show up in meetings, classrooms, or other places.

Some of the phrases in the BINGO boxes are behaviors that cause oppression, others are how oppression manifests itself, and some are beliefs that lead to BIPOCs (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) feeling oppressed. If you are confused by some of the terms or how/why they ended up on the board have a conversation with some trusted woke friends/allies and talk through it — the key here is to talk to trusted friends whom you have a relationship with, not some poc who you want to extract knowledge from.

Above is a jpeg picture of the BINGO card. Since jpegs aren’t screen reader friendly, the terms in the boxes are listed below:

  • When pointed out they are wrong feels the need to justify their stance
  • Says “but I’m [xxx] and faced hardships too.”
  • Believes intersectionality is about inclusion of them
  • Becomes bitter when they feel oppressed
  • Talks over people when they feel oppressed
  • Whitesplains or Mansplains when uncomfortable
  • Becomes defensive when race is brought up
  • Whines or cries to deflect their uncomfortableness
  • “Show me the data” a.k.a. I don’t believe you (oppressive behavior)
  • Feel personally attacked when BIPOC* point out racism
  • I don’t have privilege because… or I’m oppressed because… I face racism too…
  • Claims “reverse racism”
  • Calls themselves Caucasian, because the term white feels oppressive
  • Refuses to acknowledge their white, or other, privileges
  • Wants control, when they don’t have it they claim they are oppressed
  • Refuses to acknowledge others are treated differently because of race
  • Says they don’t see color, they treat everyone the same
  • “My story matters too.” (Form of Oppression Olympics)
  • Believes acting nice towards BIPOC is enough to undo racism
  • Believes power isn’t real or we all have equal power in situations
  • Thinks bias is a sewing term
  • Says they aren’t racist because they have a Black Lives Matter yard sign
  • Watched Black Panther and read about white privilege, so now they are woke
  • Believes they earned their privileges therefore they can’t be oppressing others

*BIPOC — Black, Indigenous, POC (people/person of color)

PDF download of the BINGO card oppression bingo.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, eve, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Heidi S., Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Laurie, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Michelle, Mikaela, Milo, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Norrie, Paola, Priya, Rebecca, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, Tana, Tara, and Terri. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

2019 Culturally Significant Dates & New Years (x15)

By Erin Okuno, with much thanks and appreciation to friends who contributed to the list

We’re ten days into 2019, which means we still have over 300 days to go in this new year. For those who checked the box: “Mark important religious holidays on your calendar,” on last week’s Fakequity pledge here is a handy list of culturally significant dates.

I’ve crowd-sourced a list of dates that are culturally significant to many cultures, religions, and people. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, no list could capture everything. I purposefully left off dates well-known in Western culture and easily identified on mainstream calendars (e.g. Christmas, Catholic/Christian Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.), no need to perpetuate whiteness here. This is meant to be a starting point in thinking about how richly diverse we are as communities. In assembling the list I enjoyed learning about the traditions, importance, and cultures of my friends and colleagues who contributed to the list. I was also keenly aware of how much I don’t know and humbled and grateful that people shared important dates and traditions with me.

A few notes and naming a few biases: This list was put together with the help of many of my friends via social media. My network is deeply diverse and I am thankful for their generosity. My friends and colleagues come from many different backgrounds, religions, places, cultures, etc. Yet there are blindspots, such as it is a very US West Coast and Pacific-centric network, very connected to the education sector, heavily college educated, and majority English speaking. This affects the way the list was put together because people shared what they know, and we don’t know what we don’t know. It doesn’t make it a bad list, but it is incomplete and will always be incomplete in some way.

The list was assembled by me, and I relied on basic internet research to compile the dates. English based mainstream internet sites are not always completely accurate, especially for non-dominant culture traditions. As an example, in an early draft, many of the dates for Jewish holidays were inaccurate. A friend corrected the dates and explained that many US calendars are slightly off because of the timing of Jewish holidays which often start at sundown and different religious practices sometimes vary within the religion. I am grateful to Hannah for correcting my oversights. This is a cultural nuance she understands well and I have to learn about.

As you do your own work please consult with people in your networks to ensure the dates match their local practices and celebrations. Local nuances are equally important – such as if you find me on Japanese Girl’s Day you’ll find me with sticky fingers from making and eating mochi – oishi! The spellings I used are a best attempt to be accurate, but spellings can vary greatly. Such as Sarawati, a friend, noted Diwali and Deepavali are spelled differently depending on regions. Through further research we found additional spellings.

Below is a graphic to share. In an attempt to practice #13, accessibility, from the Fakequity Pledge, I’ve listed the text below for people who want to use a text-to-speech reader or to copy-and-paste (graphics don’t allow for these options).

2019 dates (4)

2019 Culturally Significant Dates

  • Lunar New Year (Chinese) / Tet (Vietnamese) / Seollal (Korean) – 2/5/2019
  • Hinamatsuri – Girl’s Day (Japanese) – 3/3/19
  • Holi – 3/21/19
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Easter – 4/8/19
  • Passover (Jewish) – 4/20-27/19
  • Eretria Easter – 4/21/19
  • Orthodox Easter – 4/28/19
  • Children’s / Boy’s Day (Japanese) – 5/5/19
  • Ramadan – 5/7-6/4/19 (tentative dates, dependent on the sighting of the moon)
  • Eid ul-Fitr – 6/5/19
  • Juneteenth – 6/19/19
  • Summer Solstice (northern hemisphere) – 6/21/2019
  • Ethiopian New Year – 9/11/19
  • Mid-Autumn Festival – 9/13/19
  • Rosh Hashanah – 9/29-10/1/19
  • Yom Kippur – 10/8-9/19
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – 9/13 – annually recognized
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day – 10/14/19
  • Diwali / Deepavali / Dipavali / Bandi Chhor Divas (Sikh) – 10/27/2019
  • All Saints Day – 11/1/19
  • Día de los Muertos – 11/2/19
  • Human Rights Day – 12/10 – annually recognized
  • Las Posadas (Christian Latin American) – 12/16-24/19
  • Winter Equinox (northern hemisphere) 12/22/19
  • Hanukkah / Chanukah – 12/22-30/19
  • Kwanzaa – 12/26-1/1/ annually celebrated
  • Orthodox / Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas / Eritrean Orthodox Christmas – 1/7/20

*Correction to Eid ul-Fitr date. Thank you to Jeanne for catching it.

New Years Dates

If you already messed up on your new year’s resolutions — such as KonMari’ing your house (I’ve already gone down the Netflix rabbit KonMari rabbit hole), don’t worry there are several more new years to restart.

In researching this piece I really enjoyed stretching my brain to think about how non-linear and non-binary we can be with time and dates. A new year doesn’t have to be January and traditions of reflection and celebration are around us year round. Take a moment and learn about some of these new year traditions.

2019 new year dates (2)

  • Orthodox New Year 1/14/19
  • Losar / Tibetan New Year – 2/5-7/19
  • Lunar New Year (Chinese) / Tet (Vietnamese) / Seollal (Korean) – 2/5/19
  • Nyepi Bali Hindu New Year – 3/7/19
  • Persian Nowruz / Iranian New Year – 3/21/19
  • Ugaadhi / Telegu and Kannada New Year – 4/6/19
  • Aluth Avurudda (Sinhalese New Year, Sri Lanka) 4/13-14/19
  • Khmer New Year – 4/14-16/19
  • Songkran (Thai) – 4/13-16/19
  • Bengali New Year, Pohela Boishakh – 4/15/19
  • Matariki, Maori New Year (New Zealand) – 6/10/19
  • Al-Hijra / Muharram (Islamic / Muslim) – 8/31/19
  • Ethiopian New Year – 9/11/19
  • Rosh Hashanah (Jewish) – 9/29/19
  • Diwali / Deepavali / Dipavali / Bandi Chhor Divas (Sikh) – 10/27/2019


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, eve, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Heidi S., Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Laurie, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Michelle, Mikaela, Milo, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Norrie, Paola, Priya, Rebecca, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, Tana, and Tara. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

Take the 2019 Fakequity Pledge

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Square image words saying in red on white background: Fakequity Pledge 2019 with fakequity.com

By Erin Okuno

A new year is a great time to start new habits. This year for our first January post I’ve put together a list of different things to pledge to try to do in 2019. I’m asking you to take the Fakequity pledge and commit to doing at least five things differently in 2019. If you think you’re already doing one of them but want to recommit to it or pledge to do it with more intentionality go for it. You don’t have to do all of the pledged items right away, you can spread them out throughout the year or practice them as they come up in life. Practicing and being more aware of race and its impact on our lives allows us to be more sensitive to injustice and when equity and justice are found and achieved.

In 2019, I pledge to do five or more of the following: Please fill out this form with your pledges.

  1. Disrupt racism by speaking out or asking questions when things don’t feel or sound right.
  2. Read two or more books by authors of color, at least one of the two should be an author of a different race than you. Children’s books and audiobooks count. Some suggested titles are here and here.
  3. Name your biases and have a conversation with someone about biases and how they show up for you. Here is a starter guide for your conversation.
  4. Switch one (or more) shopping purchases from a mainstream store or vendor to a poc owned business. Check out Equity Matter’s POC map for suggestions. Other suggestions can be in the POC shopping guide.
  5. Vote if you can. If you aren’t legally allowed to vote find someone who is legally allowed and encourage them to vote. Also use your voice to work towards instating voting rights for those who don’t have the right – immigrant residents, felons, etc.
  6. Learn who’s land you’re on. Here is a handy map that can tell you who’s land you are on. Once you’ve done that go deeper and learn about the Native American history of the place and learn the Indigenous place name for where you are.
  7. Play Fakequity BINGO, Social Justice Fakequity BINGO, Abelism BINGO, or Power Hoarding BINGO. Have a conversation with others, such as with your work team or a group to talk about how these things show up in your environments.
  8. If you are still using the word minority, pledge to stop doing so. Minority is an outdated term. People of color are quickly becoming the majority and in some places already the majority of the population.
  9. Pledge to learn more about colonialism and its impact on Native American/Indigenous people.
  10. Resist the urge to talk and listen to someone who is different then you tell their story. This could be someone from a different race, someone with a different life experience than you, someone of a different generational group, etc. Listening is how we learn.
  11. If you follow the news, supplement it with reading ethnic media or community media from people of color outlets.
  12. Learn about abelism and be aware of how it shows up in your life. Bonus points for learning about disabilities justice and race. (Thanks to Carrie for this suggestion.)
  13. Consider the accessibility at events, meetings, spaces you are in – are the doors wide enough for a wheelchair to fit through, are the lights dimmable for sensory needs, do the bathroom stalls have grab bars, is there a quiet area for people to take a break and recalibrate, is it near transit? Make meetings more welcoming for everyone by practicing welcoming behaviors – nametags, being upfront about asking people what their accessibility needs are on pre-event information and at the event, greeting people, providing maps, etc. (Thanks Carrie for providing this one too.)
  14. Learn about white privilege and white supremacy and how it shows up in every day lives.
  15. If you give monetarily or volunteer time to causes and non-profits, shift or supplement your giving to people of color led and embedded organizations. For every cause (e.g. homelessness, immigrant rights, breast cancer, education, environment, etc.) there is a poc led or centered cause working on the same topic and probably approaching the work differently than a historically white-led organization.
  16. Learn about climate change and its impact on people of color and the environment as it relates to people of color, especially Indigenous people. If you need a jump start, pick-up the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (hat-tip to Jondou for the suggestion).
  17. Mark important religious holidays on your calendar – Ramadan, Yom Kippur, Lunar New Year, etc. Learn the cultural expectations of these times and be aware of how your work and daily life can impact our relations, such as during Ramadan not scheduling meetings around food and drink during daylight hours. If you use an online calendar many of them have plugins that can automatically add these dates to your calendar. [Edit: here is a list of dates.]
  18. Practice humility and apologize when you say or do something wrong.
  19. Realize the limits of the equity box graphic and have a conversation with someone to deepen their understanding of it.
  20. Read Equity Matter’s Color Brave Space and pledge to start embedding some of the concepts into meetings you run or are a part of.
  21. Ask someone their pronouns and use the pronouns.
  22. Examine without defense. I first heard this phrase by Terrell McCraney, playwright of the movie Moonlight. I enjoy his simple phrasing of thinking about things and resisting the urge to automatically defend the status quo and to examine a problem situation, etc. in ways that gets us to new meanings. Some people might call this “honest intention.”

Take the pledge by filling out this simple form and checking off the items you plan on taking on this year.

The pledge is for you, feel free to share what you pledge to do with others so you have an accountability system. We may (depends on how this goes) share some of what you pledge to do online so we can collectively learn what resonates and other things shared through the form.

Have a great 2019!


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Heidi S., Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, Kari, Katheryn, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Laurie, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Mikaela, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Norrie, Paola, Priya, Rebecca, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, and Tara. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

Diversity Isn’t Equity

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A mocking photo of an all-male group with spray paint saying “No Women?” and a Hoffs thumbs up. Lack of gender diversity and very little racial diversity. From http://allmalepanels.tumblr.com/By

By Erin Okuno

Editor’s Note: No blog post next week. We’re taking a break to play, eat, and sleep in that order.


In the 1990-2000s there was a drive towards diversity. Businesses and colleges had diversity offices. There were, and still are, diversity and recruitment managers on college campuses and within big businesses. But let’s be clear diversity doesn’t bring about racial equity. Diversity is important and helps to bring change and new perspectives, but it isn’t racial equity because the power dynamics stay the same and it isn’t attacking root-causes.

What is Diversity?

Before we get too deep into the topic, let’s define diversity. Diversity means having a group of people from many different backgrounds which may include: racially, ethnically, language, citizenship status, educational background, disability, socio-economic status, gender, geography, etc. The photo above mocks a lack of gender diversity.

Even within a racial community, it is important to look for diversity. If you are gathering people and you feel you’ve achieved racial diversity that is great, and you should go deeper. Do you have gender and inclusion of transgender and gender-fluid people? Are immigrants and refugees represented? Is it inclusive of people with disabilities, and remember there are a lot of different types of disabilities (i.e. mental health, physical, developmental, etc.). Diversity can also be found within race groups. As an Asian, I know my own experience as a Japanese American who grew up in Hawaii, but I don’t know the experiences of other Japanese Americans or other Asian ethnicities. One person from each race group can’t be used to justify representation.

What do you mean diversity isn’t enough?

A few years ago, I was at a business conference. I was out of my normal crowd since these were suit-and-tie business people. At dinner, I found my people of color peeps and we ordered a few drinks and talked the evening away. We were the minority in the room and we brought the diversity to business prom as we dubbed the event. Our presence at the conference didn’t change anything, it made the event look more attractive to progressive people since they could say “We had a diverse audience,” and I think our comments during the sessions added new thoughts. But our presence didn’t disrupt any of the dynamics of systemic racism – if we weren’t there, business prom would have continued on as normal.

The same could be said of almost any place where we do our best to diversify spaces. Adding a few students of color to a prep school doesn’t change the school. Hiring one or two faculty members of color doesn’t shift discourse greatly. I know when I enter a room, I quickly scan the participants and start doing the ‘silent count.’ Dr. john a. powell (doesn’t capitalize his name) talks about this concept of how pocs start counting all the pocs in the room to figure out if there is a sense of safety and comfort in the room, is there critical mass to speak up and be heard, are we in the majority or minority? The more people of color in the room the more likely we can feel safe and possibly heard. Diversity is nice but it doesn’t change much on its own.

Access vs. Equity

Having people of color included in a meeting, task force, enrolled in an otherwise exclusive space (college, prep school, etc.) is giving access to pocs. Access is important, but as Heidi has already blogged about access isn’t equity. Bringing in people of color brings diversity, but it doesn’t structurally change anything. Equity work requires deeper intention and attacking structural inequities.

Diversity also plays into the dynamics of who has the right to choose and determine who gets access to the field. As Heidi previously wrote: “We are often tokenized, individually incentivized, and/or have internalized the superiority of the current system.” Being asked to join boards for the sake of diversity, getting admitted to prep schools and colleges in the name of diversity, and being granted access makes both those doing the inviting and those accepting the invites as complicit in the systems we need to disrupt. I admit I participate in this behavior all of the time, my job depends on access and me stepping into these spaces. I do my best to use my access to disrupt from the inside and to remind the group that diversity isn’t the goal; access is one of the tools to undo racism at the systemic level. In this way, I’m still part of the system I’m working to undo. I’m being rewarded by the system, and I’m gatekeeping for white patriarchy as well (read this blog post by Mamademics).

Where Diversity is Helpful

Having diverse people of color in the room is important. Please don’t read this post and think “well diversity isn’t important so we’ll just do what we always do and bring in our best friends and people we like.” Defaulting to the usual list of 20 people and the same way of selecting people isn’t helpful, and having a room full of white people really isn’t helpful in solving problems. Having people from diverse problems in the room to help problem solve is necessary to solve complex problems.

We all have our own thoughts and experiences, biases and prejudices built into our thought processes which are important to shaping solutions. As an example, if the group is trying to understand a problem or work in general. As an example, a few years ago I was invited to join a group of Asian elders at Starbucks. They were hanging out and catching up. One of the guys in the group told a story about how he had worked on a transportation project and when it came to naming the streetcar lines the transit agency named the line going through Chinatown the ‘gold-line.’ That is problematic for many reasons in the Asian community. Gold could be a pseudonym for yellow, which is linked to the slur yellow-peril. As an Asian, he understood this cultural reference and mentioned it. The transit agency went ahead with the proposed name and got a lot of pushback and anger from the Asian community when it went public. Had they listened to him they could have saved themselves a lot of negative publicity and some overt racism.

Diversity is important, but we also must do the harder work of disrupting power dynamics and disrupting systemic racism.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Heidi S., Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, Kari, Katheryn, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Mikaela, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Norrie, Paola, Priya, Rebecca, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, and Tara. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

 

POC Shopping Guide

By Erin O.

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Wrapped gifts with wrapping paper featuring African American/Black children, everything featured in the picture was purchased from Black-owned businesses online and locally. photo by Erin O.

It is the season where we do some holiday shopping. Spending our money in poc owned businesses is one tangible way of investing in people and communities of color.

Give the Gift of Experiences

I’m a big fan of giving experiences, less trash-and-waste, and sometimes you learn a new skill or build a new relationship. If you want to go this route here are a few suggestions:

  • Gift certificates for poc owned restaurants and cafes. You can extend it a bit further by inviting out a friend to join you for a meal or coffee. Check out the Equity Matter’s POC map for suggestions of places to visit; it is an open-source map so please add/edit to keep it as useful as possible.
  • POC art and language experiences – Find a poc artist and see if they offer workshops, such as dance or music workshops, other types of art such as ikebana, language classes, writing classes, cooking classes, etc. Make sure you are choosing experiences taught and owned by people of color and they are culturally appropriate to share with outsiders. Don’t practice cultural appropriation.
  • Cultural centers and museums – Memberships and guest passes to African American/Black, Asian and Pacific Islander, Native American, and Latinx cultural centers and museums are an investment in the community and an educational experience for your family or friends. I’ll be buying a few memberships to the NW African American Museum in Seattle for a few people.
  • If you are in the Seattle region here are a few places to check out:
    • Cooking classes at El Centro de la Raza – learn how to make tamales and other delicious Mexican food. Bonus: If you haven’t picked up a Christmas tree yet, you can buy one at El Centro. The proceeds support their programs.
    • Emerald City Fired Arts— It is a great family activity where you can choose a piece of pottery to paint and have fired. The prices are reasonable and some of the pieces are giftable – plates, mugs, ornaments. My kid saved her allowance to paint a sizable Pegasus which now sits in her room.
    • Olympus Spa is a Korean owned women’s spa. Buy someone you like the gift of baby smooth skin with a Korean scrub.
    • Check out a theatre show written by an artist of color. One to check out in 2019 is Susan Lieu’s 140 lbs How Beauty Killed My Mother. I saw her earlier show and still think about it. The show explores family, concepts of beauty, and the immigrant experience. Here are seven Black playwrights to follow.
    • Columbia City Fitness offers punchcards, a great gift for someone or yourself, just make sure to pace how often you go so you don’t have to cram all of the gym visits into a one week period (#ItHappened).

Gifts

Eighth Generation is a Native-owned gift store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

For the coffee drinkers in your life, Mount Tahoma Coffee is a Black-owned roastery. Their coffee beans can be ordered online.

If you are in Honolulu, Hawaii, stop by Nisshodo candy to pickup some delicious mochi. You can also get your New Year’s mochi here too.

Make sure to invest in #BuyDisabled. @Imani_Barbarin started a thread on Twitter where disabled people could mention their businesses. Check it out and do some shopping here (year-round). With a little hunting, you can find business owners of color on the thread.

Gift of Time

Give the gift of time to another: Volunteer with a poc led and embedded organization. When I say volunteer I mean really volunteer – do what they ask and need, stay for the long-haul, build relationships, and go in humbly. Volunteering isn’t about you, it is about being of service to others. If you are interested in support kids of color find a public school and work to support their achievement gap closing efforts. If the school is in a predominantly white neighborhood then ask specifically to work with students of color at the school, or find a school in another neighborhood with more students of color and volunteer there.

Give the gift of time to yourself by watching a movie, TV show, podcast, or better live theatre by an artist of color.

Books and Magazines

Mahogany Books in Washington DC is a Black-owned bookstore. I ordered holiday gifts through their website, it was just as easy as ordering from that other large retailer named after a river in South America — I’d rather give my money to Mahogany Books.

Birchbark Books is a Native-owned bookstore.

Out Magazine appointed Black transgender activist and journalist Raquel Willis as their executive editor.

Book Recommendations by members of the Fakequity Team:

  • Erin: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
  • Jondou: The Color of After by Emily Pan

Here is a crowdsourced list of books by authors of color read in 2018, in random order. I haven’t read most of these, but sharing since diverse interest deserve a diverse list.

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (Mahogany Books, is a great place to order this from if you want to own a copy – support a Black-owned company)
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Like a Mother by Angela Garbes
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.: Essays by Samantha Irby – a friend said she read this on a plane and laughed so hard it sounded like she was choking worrying her seatmates
  • Awakening Together by Larry Yang
  • The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui – After I published last week’s Fakequity post about Asian American womxn a colleague-friend walked into the office and said: “Great post, but you forgot Thi Bui!” All I could say is “you’re right, remind me next year when we do a follow-up list,” in the meantime go read her book — it is that good.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward – This book was recommended by multiple people. One friend said to read this and her other book Men We Reaped together.
  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Heart Berries by Therese Mailhot
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality In The Workplace by Ruchika Tulshyan
  • Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef’s Isan Thai & Lao Roots by James Syhabout
  • Unicorns Unite: How nonprofits and foundations can build EPIC Partnerships by Jessamyn Shams-Lau and Jane Leu and fellow late-night blogger at Nonprofitaf.com Vu Le

For the Younger Readers in Your life or for you:

  • Birchbark Series by Louise Erdrichs, make sure to read the Next Generation Makoons and Chickadee too.
  • Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi
  • My Heart Fills With Happiness / Ni Sâkaskineh Mîyawâten Niteh Ohcih (bilingual Cree and English) by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Fett
  • Imagine by poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera
  • Baro Af-Soomaali (Somali Edition) – This is a Somali alphabet book locally produced in Seattle. Order a copy and donate it to a school or classroom.
  • Red Knit Cap Girl series by Naoko Stoop
  • Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
  • Santa’s Husband by Daniel Kibblesmith and A P Quach (not poc authored, but it bust-Santa biases — a Black Gay Santa is featured in the book *writer’s privilege sneaks this onto the list)
  • Edit, I forgot a book I loved this year: Ordinary Ohana by Lee Cataluna. I requested this be added to the Seattle Public Library collection then borrowed it about five times, including to read aloud when I was a guest reader at WA-BLOC’s summer Freedom School. Go borrow it from the library or buy a copy for yourself.

Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, Kari, Katheryn, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Lisa, Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Mikaela, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Paola, Rebecca, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, and Tara. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

Asian and Pacific Islander American Womxn Paving the Way

believe-survivors-01-1_credit.jpg

Artwork from Amplifer Art by Shepard Fairey

A while ago I read Chelsea Clinton’s book She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. I borrowed it from the library to read with my kid and for the older one to expose him to why feminism matter (he thinks he’s beyond picture books but exposure still works). We settled in at bedtime and we read through the pages together. At the end of the book I flipped back to the beginning and looked through it again, I couldn’t find any Asian Americans included. I was very disappointed by the lack of inclusion of Asian American womxn. I cringed but tried to hide it from the kids at the moment.

The oversight makes Asian American contributions to America invisible and for kid’s like mine, it subtly teaches them to hide their Asianness or at least it isn’t something to celebrate. When I pointed this out someone politely challenged me to write a book featuring Asian American womxn who are badasses and changing the world. While this isn’t a book this is one attempt to put a stake in the internet-ground and say Asian American womxn are here, we are changing the world, and we will celebrate our Asianness.

I also want to prove when we look, we can find what we are looking for — of course, there are amazing Asian American womxn changing the world. This list is a combination of historical and national leaders, and local to Seattle and Hawaii (writer’s bias and privilege) leaders. Thank you to friends who contributed names to the list. This list focused on Asian American and Pacific Islander womxn, where known I listed their ethnicities to also show Asian Americans ethnicities are diverse and that should be recognized as an asset. I focused on Asian Americans (not Asians) with two known exceptions.

The Activist and Systems Shakers

Judge Mary Yu

Judge Yu is a total badass. She was the first Latina and Asian American justice on the Washington’s state Supreme Court. She’s also the first openly gay Justice in Washington. Just being the first makes her a badass because we know you have to overcome a ton of barriers to reach that pinnacle of success, but what sets her apart from others is her continued commitment to social justice and the community.

When Washington legalized same-sex marriage Justice Mary Yu (get it—marry you) presided over the first gay-wedding. Justice Yu has also made a point of staying engaged in the community. During Constitution Day she visited an elementary school and leading conversations with 300 2nd to 5th graders about what judiciary system is and how it upholds democracy. Taking time to do this showed the students, especially the girls of color that they should aspire to make a difference.

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs was a Chinese American womxn who demonstrated how we can and should be supporting the African American community unconditionally. She fought for racial justice alongside the Black Panther. She was also a philosopher and gardener having taken over vacant lots to plant gardens. She modeled how to navigate cross-racial spaces and to use Asian privilege to support and advance cross-racial work for all.

Maizie Hirono and Patsy Mink

US Senator Maizie Hirono and former Congressmember Patsy Mink are both from Hawaii. I remember hearing their names as I was growing up as a young child in Hawaii. Both Japanese American women grew up during a time when women were breaking more and more into politics but faced thick glass and bamboo ceilings. CM Mink was the first women of color to serve in Congress, serving in the US House of Representatives for 12 terms from 1956-2002, and was instrumental in ensuring Title IX was passed guaranteeing more gender parity in higher education. Senator Hirono is the first Asian immigrant to serve in the Senate and the first Buddhist. She was told to step aside for male counterparts, she told them no it was her turn and they could wait. Badasses, both of them.

Many more notables politicians, activist, educators, and a few business leaders:

  • Congressmember Pramila Jayapal, Indian American
  • Senator Tammy Duckworth, Thai White
  • Senator Kamala Harris, Jamaican and Indian
  • Yuri Kochiyama, thanks to Ryan O for sharing this homage
  • Haunani Kay Trask, Native Hawaiian poet, academic, and activist
  • Indra Nooyi, CEO at PepsiCo., Indian American
  • Mia Tuan, Dean UW College of Education, as a friend explained a female college dean of color is like a unicorn and one we should treasure and hopefully create a heard of unicorns
  • Amanda Nguyen (featured in the artwork), CEO of Rise, sexual assault victims advocate — she powered through important legislative changes to fix laws adversely impacting victims. [Editor’s note – thank you to Jenny S. for bringing Amanda’s contributions to my attention.]

Moving to Sports

When I tried to think of Asian American athletes all I came up with was Kristi Yamaguchi, if I broaden to include men I came up with baseball star Ichiro and Yao Ming – pretty sad list. Thankfully friends offered me the following and when I started researching I found many more:

  • Shelma Jun, climber, bringing other women to climbing
  • Chloe Kim, snowboarder, Olympic gold medalist, Korean American
  • Ashima Shiraishi, 17-year old climber who reached the level of v15 (out of 16 levels) – go watch some of her videos, omg my arms burn just watching. Japanese American
  • Naomi Osaka, tennis, Grand Slam champion, Haitian and Japanese. Osaka represented Japan in the Grand Slam but lives in the US.
  • Naomi Mulitauaopele, basketball – played for the WNBA, and was the first Samoan Pacific Islander to graduate from Stanford University
  • Sanoe Lake, surfer – Hawaiian, Japanese, and English

Artist to Inspire

In the arts we see a breadth and depth of the API experience.

  • Stella Abrera, Filipina ballerina, principal dancer, becoming the first appointed Filipina-American woman with American Ballet Theatre. Ballet has been a very white-held space with diversity exclusion. Way to go Stella, #PinayPower!
  • Ruth Asawa, sculptor and wire artist. She learned to draw while at a US internment/concentration camp. Japanese American
  • Celeste Ng, author, Chinese American
  • Amy Tan, author, The Joy Luck Club was one of the first ‘adult’ novels I read as a middle or high schooler. It remains one of the few fiction books I remember reading, as friends know I don’t read a lot of fiction so this is high praise from me. Chinese American
  • Zaha Hadid, architect, Middle Eastern (including because I want to include a Middle Eastern womxn)
  • Sandra Oh, actress, Korean Canadian (including because her work is seen in the US)
  • Maggie Q, actress on Designated Survivor (my current binge watch on Netflix – thus this actress is top of mind), Vietnamese White
  • Daya Vaidya, actress, Nepalese Spanish Italian
  • Luly Yang, fashion designer

There are so many other Asian American womxn to name. I didn’t get to social services, medicine, and other fields. We’ll save those stories for another post.

Note on spelling: I have purposefully chosen to use the spelling of womxn vs. women for this post.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, Kari, Katheryn, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Lisa, Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Mikaela, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Paola, Rebecca, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, and Tara. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

I’m White, But…

By Erin and Carrie

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Carrie Basas comes back this week to joint write on the topic of whiteness. Welcome back Carrie. 

I'm whiteMany of us have heard or uttered the phrase “I’m white but…” as an excuse, rationale, or as a way to justify or explain a thought or an action. Often times the intent is coming from a place of wanting to be understood or rationalize they aren’t a bad person. People of color, often times when we are the ones with privilege, sometimes say these things too, just swap out the word white for other racial groups. 

I’m White But…

  • I’m white but, I grew up poor. You still have white privilege.
  • I’m white but, I now live in a diverse neighborhood. So you’re a gentrifier now.
  • I’m white but, I married an Asian. For real, a white-dude told me (Erin) this and I had to leave the table before I spit my soda on him.
  • I’m white but, I’m disabled. Carrie gets this a lot in the form of “I’m not disabled but…” and it’s awkward.
  • I’m white but, I grew up/taught abroad. You’re still white. Go learn about colonialism too.
  • I’m white but, I speak Spanish and my kids are in bilingual programs. Great, you speak another language; you’re still white.
  • I’m white but, I didn’t vote for Trump. Good for you, but you’re still white and many other white people did vote for and continue to keep him in power.
  • I’m white but, I went to racial equity training. Training isn’t enough, you’re still white and you still have white privilege.
  • I’m white, but my best friend is Black. You’re still white.
  • I’m white but, I am not like those other white people. You’re still white. Yes you are an individual but you’re still white. Also, go collect your other white people and help them learn about racism.
  • I’m white but, I’m not racist. Racism isn’t personal actions alone. Hello, you’re white and you’ve been born into and benefit from racism and white supremacy.
  • I’m white but, I love Ethiopian food. You’re still white. We also hope your Ethiopian food is coming from an Ethiopian owned restaurant and you pay full price and tip them well.
  • I’m white but, Oprah and Pres. Obama are my personal heroes. Great, let’s reduce race to famous people.
  • I’m white but, my Ancestry.com results say I’m also 1% Cherokee/Syrian/Brazilian/Nigerian. Why are you supporting an industry that perpetuates race as biological, and therefore, trades in a eugenics mindset for your money?
  • I’m white, but my children are multiracial or I adopted kids of color. You’re still white. You kids need to learn from you, so do your work around learning about race and how to disrupt racism.
  • I’m white but, I donated to Black Lives Matters and am wearing the t-shirt right now. Support POC activism but don’t equate charity for some personal transcendence of racist systems.
  • I’m white and believe discrimination does exist but needs to see data. White people love quantitative data. Qualitative data and personal stories are important too. As our friend Heidi says “Create space for multiple truths and norms,” accept that data is one form of truth and stories and experiences are another.
  • I’m white but, did you see my yard sign proclaiming all are welcome here and Black Lives Matter? If a tall Black man you don’t know shows up at your house or is driving around your house will you call the cops? Have real relationships and real people in your home and life, not as a slogan on display. Learn about bias and do the real work instead of putting out yard signs.
  • I’m white but, I’m not that white. You’re still white.

What people mean to say or want people of color to understand in these statements are:

  • I want you to like me.
  • I’m not like other white people; please see me as an individual.
  • I feel really uncomfortable right now because I’m white and you’re not. I’m trying to reconcile my (unearned) white privilege.
  • I’m working on being a better white person. Please acknowledge that and give me a cookie.
  • Please don’t blame me for our racist past. I get that racism is wrong but I’m stuck and don’t know how to undo it all by myself.
  • I know other white people have hurt you and I don’t want to be them. Please trust me. Carrie says: I really struggle with this one as a white person but I also know trust from anyone has to be earned. As a white person, there are many reasons I might not deserve it. And I can’t expect it just because I’m white.
  • This is so hard right now. I keep saying the wrong things. My very white foot cannot reach my very white mouth. Hold on. (There’s no reasonable accommodation for this one, sorry.)

One of the many privileges of whiteness is white people are accustomed to being accepted and comfortable. White people often don’t have to face their whiteness and when they do it can become uncomfortable especially when around people of color who don’t want to soothe away their discomfort with race. When white people don’t get comfort and acceptance from POCs, they become hurt, offended, angry— or as Carrie has sometimes joked painfully— “self-conscious, self-hating white people.”

Whiteness means the world is your safe place. Denying whiteness or trying to distance yourself from it is demanding that POCs overlook systemic racism. The “but,” by itself, is racist. The “but” distances you from other white people and says “see I’m not like them,” rather than owning you are white and have a responsibility to disrupt racism.

How can white people do better?

White people need to accept their whiteness and learn to be ok with discomfort. Being ok with discomfort means different things. Sometimes it means being quiet and listening to learn from people of color. Other times it means being uncomfortable and asking questions to learn more. This needs to be done in a way that doesn’t draw you into the center or unfairly takeaway focus from people of color. White privilege also means you need to use that privilege to disrupt other white people who are perpetuating racism. The next time a white person says “I’m white but,” in front of you, use your white privilege to say, “I’m white too, and that isn’t ok.”

Congratulations, you’re white. No “buts” about it. 


Bios: Carrie is white but she contributed to this blog post. See, there’s no good way to use that “but.” Erin is Asian, and periodically welcomes Carrie to joint write or blog on Fakequity.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, Kari, Katheryn, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Lisa, Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Mikaela, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Paola, Rebecca, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, and Tara. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

Equity Doesn’t Mean All

By Erin Okuno

I want to share a quick project: A colleague is collecting books written by Asian and Pacific Islanders to share with the folks at the Stafford Creek Correctional Center. Folks there created a group, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group and even created their own API curriculum. We’ve put together an Amazon wishlist of books written by APIs that will be donated to APICAG, my colleague is collecting books until 30 November 2018. If you would like to make a cash donation or order books from an independent bookseller please email fakequity@gmail.com.

Also, we’re taking next week off from blogging. See you the following week.


AdvancingEquityEvery few weeks or months I’ll hear or read something that says: “Equity for all,” “Equity statement: All students will…,” “All students deserve equity…,” etc. When I read these statements or see them on gigantic protest signs at meetings I sigh and remind myself that ‘equity’ has become a buzzword. White people have co-opted it to justify privilege and opportunity hoarding – they’ve stolen equity from people of color, like they always do.

Equity should never mean all.

There are many definitions of racial equity, but they all have the same sentiment: one’s racial identity no longer predicts how one will fare in life. Currently, we can predict outcomes based on a person’s race. Look at any statistical chart and we can make assumptions of who will be on the top and who will be at the bottom. Racial equity is achieved when this is no longer true. Another definition I like comes from the Aspen Institute“Racial equity refers to what a genuinely non-racist society would look like. In a racially equitable society, the distribution of society’s benefits and burdens would not be skewed by race. …” 

Racial equity work is never about all people receiving benefits. Equitable distribution of privileges and resources is about shifting resources and dismantling racist systems that allow some, mostly white people, to take more than they need. Working towards racial equity means those who are achieving and have privileges and resources do not need more. They may feel or think they deserve more, but that is hoarding of resources and privileges. This is how it sounds like:

“It is an equity argument. Our school has a small percentage of students of color. Our school isn’t a Title 1 school and doesn’t get additional resources to take care of our kids who need help. Our kids deserve [fill in the blank request: advanced placement classes, photography classes, ceramics, athletics, bilingual education, etc.] because this may be the only chance poor kids of color at our school are exposed to these things.” School demographics: 69% white, 9% low income, 3% English Language Learner.

equity for black and brown peopleOn the face of the statement, yes we want to give this school more – who wouldn’t want photography classes, bilingual education and all of the other great stuff. But when we say yes to funding this ask for the mostly white school, we’re saying no to students of color in another place where the need is greater. Someone will argue with me that my zero-sum-game argument is false – it isn’t. In our current society, we are bound by the resources we have. The systems we have in place to work towards distribution means some will receive and others won’t and who we give to determine outcomes.

If we are working towards racial equity, we cannot give resources to all, we need to take a greater look at the entire system. When we look at the whole system we’ll see there is a small percentage of kids in need at that one school and we’ll see if resources are shifted in that school the needs of students who need support could be met. The school already has the resources it needs within the school, but those resources need to be redistributed to meet the needs of their students of color. Such as, do students who are already ahead need more to keep their lead OR can we say you have what you need and realign the resources to meet those needs and it might be saying no to something popular like adding an advanced placement class, but this is equity work – redistributing resources to close racialized gaps and not taking more than needed.

My other favorite line of thought: “My kid needs/deserves this [fill in the blank] because they go to a school with other students of color. It is an equity issue for all of the kids.” Sorry, equitable solutions are not found this way. You don’t get to claim equitable need by proxy of being next to a poc – stop stealing our equity.

Equity isn’t for all.

Equity can never be about all, because with true equity we are laser-focused on the needs of those who are the farthest from justice. This is hard to do in a society that fundamentally believes in equal access, focuses on amassing privileges, and has racist practices and policies that uphold white privileges.

Working towards racial equity is about looking at who is farthest from justice and reallocating resources and undoing barriers standing in the way of this. Removing barriers and reallocating resources isn’t easy. People with privileges aren’t used to giving up what they have grown accustomed to having and now see as an entitlement. They want what is best for others when it benefits them, hence why they evoke the name of equity and other ‘disadvantaged’ kids.

What to do

The first thing to do is stop believing everyone needs and deserves equity. Let the phrase “Equity for All” die a quick and purposeful death. Take all your protest signs and put them in the recycle bin, toss the buttons you have with that phrase into the garbage where they belong. If you can’t bear to throw them away edit them to say “Equity for All Black and Brown People.” Equity isn’t for all. Equity is for those farthest from justice, and if we are working towards true equity those farthest from justice can define for themselves what they need to be whole, healthy, and in just relations with others.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, Kari, Katheryn, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Lisa, Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Mikaela, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Paola, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, and Tara. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

How to Use Racial Equity Toolkits

By Erin

Before we launch into this week’s post we have to take a moment to say congratulations to all of the candidates of color who ran for office. Running for public office takes a lot of work and energy so no matter if you won, lost, or are waiting for your race to be called – congratulations for taking a bold step to bring change. A special shout out to the women of color who are leading the way. From local elections to Congress, women of color won in huge numbers. Their service is important, and they will need continued support from all of us. Thank you. We also pause to note the latest mass murder by gun violence in Thousand Oaks, California. We need to be incensed and appalled by violence, when we numb ourselves and say it is normal we cheat our kids and ourselves of a better future.


panda meeting

Panda meeting

Many of us want to do better at advancing racial equity, I’d like to think that is why you are reading this blog post. There are many ways to do so and sometimes we go towards using tools created by others to help us with our work. The tools are there to help guide processes, but they still require people to have a strong analysis and to use them properly.

In the past, we’ve promoted Racial Equity Toolkits as a way to help guide thinking. There are many of them available, an online search will yield different toolkits. One of the pieces I think missing from the conversation though is HOW to use them. The how they are used will help to dictate the results.

What is a Racial Equity Toolkit?

Many racial equity toolkits are a series of questions and suggestions to help guide thinking about race and the impact of race in a decision making process. The questions range from:

  • What are the demographics of the people involved in your project?
  • What are the data inputs you can learn from?
  • What communities have been engaged?
  • Who will benefit and who will face burdens from the proposal?

All of these are important questions to ask and have answered. Racial equity toolkits can help to unearth important information that needs to be considered before decisions are made. I’m not going to go into greater detail about racial equity toolkits because they are already out there and there is little sense in recreating what others have already done. What I want to delve deeper into is HOW to use them and WHEN to use them.

HOW to Use a Racial Equity Toolkit

Once you’ve decided which racial equity toolkit to use the real work begins. Most of the toolkits don’t specify who should be involved in the analysis. I recommend using a team approach. Assemble a team of people to help answer the questions in the toolkit. A team approach will help you discover new ways of thinking and hopefully deepen the analysis and outcome. We all have biases and blind spots in our thinking and a team approach allows us to overcompensate for this. I know what I don’t know, but I don’t know what I don’t know, so having a team around me when I’m making decisions means I’m more likely to learn what I don’t already know.

As you put together your team to go through the racial equity toolkit, take particular care to ensure your team is diverse in many different measures – racially, experience, age, disability, immigration status, etc. Remember this isn’t a community engagement step, which you will also need to do, but more of an internal check to make sure you’re uncovering questions and making connections for other parts of your work.

My colleague Patty told me when you use a racial equity toolkit well the answers you come up with should lead to many more questions. Patty is a lawyer by training, so she knows how to ask good questions. Having a team asking and answering questions will yield more questions then if you try to do it alone.

As your team works through the toolkit you need to acknowledge whose voices are missing and prioritize those for the outreach phase. You’re more likely to come up with a comprehensive outreach list with a team of people then trying to do this by yourself. The actual outreach will also be easier to do with more people involved.

WHEN to use the toolkit

When to use the toolkit is just as important as figuring out who should be involved. I recently was on the receiving end of a presentation when a toolkit was used too late in the decision making process – it was a horrible presentation to sit through. The person presenting walked the group through the organization’s presentation and their results. When we asked why the list they showed was so skewed away from equitable results the presenter said “We’re doing the racial equity analysis next week. The list will look different after that.” Many of us were lit after hearing that comment. As another attendee said to me privately afterward “Of course I can justify any decision and make it fit the toolkit afterward. That isn’t how a toolkit is supposed to be used.” The person was right, a toolkit used after a decision is made isn’t how they are intended to be used. Many of the toolkits say and are designed to be used as early in a decision making process as possible. Equity work needs to be infused during an entire process, not just added as a frosting or cherry on top. Said another way and borrowing from Dr. Manuel Pastor: equity needs to be baked in, not sprinkled on top as an afterthought.

In a perfect world, the racial equity toolkit process would be a continuous loop. Completing one process would open and allow for the exploration of an unanswered question and community-driven problem to solve next.

I hope you will use these suggestions and racial equity toolkits to deepen your work and build your racial equity analysis. The more questions you ask, the more you listen, and the more you learn the deeper and better you’ll get at an understanding race and its impact on our society. None of us were born with a deep racial equity analysis, these skills are honed, refined, and deepened over time.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Aimie, Ali, Alissa, Amy, Annie, Ben, Brooke, C+C, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Chelsea, Cierra, Clarissa, Clark, Dean, Edith, Elena, emily, Erin, Evan, Greg, Gregory, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Janis, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jillian, Jody, Julia, Julie Anne, Kari, Katheryn, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kumar, Laurel, Lisa, Liz, Lori, Matthew, McKenzie, Megan, Michael, Mikaela, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nathan, Paola, Rise Up for Students, Sarah, Selina, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Stephanie, and Tara. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. If you would like to subscribe there is a sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). 

 

Democracy Everyday

AmplifierIcon_Sarah

Art from Amplifer — Democracy Starts With You, by Raychelle Duazo

A few weeks ago, I was part of an event that explored the theme of democracy for racial justice. I oversaw the logistics of the event so I don’t remember much of the conversations. Yet the theme and overall conversation have stuck with me. At the event table conversations were focused on what does democracy mean to our community (macro level) and how does democracy show up in our lives and in our schools (micro level). It was and continues to be a timely topic because of the 2018 mid-term elections, the recent shooting of 11 people at a Pittsburgh Synagogue and the killing of two Black people at a grocery store, talk about stripping birthright citizenship, and taking away services from people through public charge rule changes. Democracy is felt in the elections, but do we understand it and seek it out in our daily interactions?

Democracy

If I were explaining the concept of democracy to someone else I would probably say it is how we work to get what we need from each other, to allocate and share resources, seek just relationships, and the semblance of normalcy and predictability. At the democracy conversation event, Jondou explained that democracy can be sought through everyday interactions. I am purposeful in not using the words voting, government, or president because too often we default to those terms as explanations for what democracy is, but if we dig deeper democracy is about daily life and we uphold or squash down democratic values by just living.

Democracy in everyday life

I’ve been listening to the book The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. I’m on disk three (out of eight) and in this section, the author describes how to structure events to be more democratic. The principles of democracy are worth protecting and structuring interactions around. She described how one host purposefully sits people by male/female/male/female to disrupt and distribute gender imbalances. She also described how President Obama would purposefully call on female reporters and in a specific order to allow women to have a voice and their questions fielded. As she described these actions Parker narrated how this is creating a more democratic environment at these various gatherings. She sees it as part of an organizer’s duty to protect the gathering, guest, and to create democratic environments that allow people to fully participate as their best selves.

While Parker doesn’t write explicitly about race many of her principles can be translated to race. At gatherings, we should work to create environments that are implicitly and explicitly welcoming for people of color. An example of bringing in democracy into events is to pay attention to whose voices are heard. Such as at meetings I facilitate I sometimes will purposefully ask everyone to pause and write down their thoughts to allow introverts, people who’s native language isn’t English, and those who want to take a quick mental break to process information. This small pause in a gathering allows everyone to reset and shifts energy away from those are used to controlling the conversation to rebalancing power to include voices need protecting and uplifting.

In another example related to the elections, a Facebook friend posted a picture of postcards she wrote to encourage people to vote as part of an online Get Out the Vote effort. I decided to sign up – I figured it was something I believe in, I could spare a few minutes to write five postcards, I like supporting the postal system, and it was good to belong to the civic voting online tribe. I found the organization’s website and signed up. The next step was to write a sample postcard with their key message and send a picture to them for approval. The note I got back was because I didn’t follow their prescriptive message exactly I had to ‘fix’ my postcard before moving forward. I gwaffed and hit delete – it bothered me but whatevs I wasn’t going to waste my time with their righteousness. After thinking about it for a few hours I decided to write back to the organizers telling them I was opting-out (even though I hadn’t really been let in). I wrote about how their dictating the exact messaging didn’t feel right to me. I explained for many generations families like mine were told to assimilate to have the right to vote and I am standing in solidarity with other people of color who are constantly censored and told exactly what to say and how to say it. If democracy is about uplifting a freedom of speech, then we as a collective have to tolerate and embrace diverse messaging and voices. I didn’t say it but I found it ironic an effort that is embedded in democracy wasn’t embracing this aspect of democracy.

Election day is coming up on 6 November. I voted because it is important to me to participate in this form of democracy. I also have to remember and work to keep democracy alive in everyday interactions not just voting to prop people up or voting them out of office. Those are important but daily democracy is just as important and those are actions I can own daily.


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