Things that are Effed Up

Heidi is biking and this means we won’t nag her about equity and analyzing power, community engagement, and all of the stuff that makes this blog fun. CiKeithia and I are left to our own analysis of race, equity, and power. So this week you get a little less social work niceness and more calling b.s. as b.s.

This post isn’t for you if you want deep understanding about race or a power analysis. This week’s blog post is full of things that are effed up. If you don’t like crabby-cranky and blunt blog posts, click out and peace out until next week when Heidi is back to help give us some balance and perspective. Heidi, I have a beer waiting for you — a really big one, so come back, the blog needs you.

A List of Things that are Effed Up:

the_panda_scream_by_ringtailmaki-d4n960r1

Picture credit: deviant art, the panda scream by ringtailmaki

A ‘brain trust’ formed around serving English language learners and everyone speaks English as a first language? That’s Effed Up. Really? We’re going to talk about learning English with other English speakers?

Staff at an organization wrote ‘diversity’ into their values, yet a white senior manager changed the word to ‘respect’ because ‘diversity’ is too ‘loaded.’ That’s Effed Up. Yo, Senior Manager: Your uncomfortableness with the word diversity is your problem; we’re not here to make you comfortable, you’ve been more-or-less comfortable your entire life. What do you want some chardonnay to make your ‘diversity’ statement sound better? Quit with the tone policing.

Having a training around race, diversity, and equity and having a white person argue the statistics presented are not valid in this scenario. In other words, he didn’t want to acknowledge race is a problem. That’s effed up. Dude, stick out the training, you might learn something. Show what you’re learning, not what you already know– we don’t need know-it-alls.

Being invited to review a grant process and analyze it for ‘equity’ from an organization that has a racial equity theory of change, but has never shared a dollar with community groups closest to communities of color. That’s effed up. Really, you’re going to ask for more, but not bother to build relationships or share – no thanks.

Listening to a friend who tells me her son being called a terrorist because he’s an immigrant. He’s in elementary school and now has to defend himself, his culture, his heritage, and his faith. Effed up.

The marketing department emailed a staff person of color asking about the languages spoken in the Somali community. The poc staff person isn’t Somali and only speaks English – was she supposed to know any more than a white person is expected to know? That’s effed up. Do your own work, instead of emailing use the same computer to ask Google what languages Somali’s speak, or better yet get out of the building and meet some people in the community.

An intermediary organization keeps inviting poc organizers to meetings as “thought partners,” without offering compensation. This same organization spent thousands of dollars hiring outside racial equity consultants, several of the consultants were white people. They don’t know how to think their own thoughts around race, or they don’t listen to their consultants and community partners.  Stop spending money on large consultants and pass that through to smaller poc organizations. That’s effed up!

Listening to an excuse from a white person. Her organization couldn’t focus on racial equity until now because they are just now stable enough to tackle race. That’s effed up. Couldn’t it be focusing only on one narrow segment of society (whites) contributed to the almost near death of the org in the first place.

What to Do About it?

Normally in the Fakequity blog posts we try to offer some solutions or some tips. This week I’m not going to do that, my heart isn’t into it. This week I’m sitting with the effed up feeling and letting it linger for a moment. This week, I’m tired. I’m tired of having to think critically about race and ‘helping’ white people, and some pocs, validate their thinking or ‘gently’ tell them they are wrong. When things are effed up, I don’t bring my best self. I get annoyed and I don’t want to be annoyed, so instead of being annoyed I’m going to just sit with the effed up-ness and say ‘its effed up.’ I can’t fix it all and it’s not my job to validate, fix, or think for others.

Tomorrow, after some sleep, I’ll put on my game face and go back out and do what I’m ‘supposed to do.’ I’m supposed to listen, politely wait for a break in the conversation, then ask a probing question to redirect others to understand race a little more thoroughly and thoughtfully. I’m supposed to sit in meetings about regulations, grants, and policies and say “tell me about your community engagement plan… do you have one? Let’s figure it out…” I’m supposed to spend time with white allies in evening meetings to plan or watch board meetings, even though I long to be home with my own kids. I’ll keep doing it because I can’t figure out how to undo the effed up-ness without doing what I’m supposed to do. Maybe the week after and the week after will be a little less messed up and I can stop doing what ‘I’m supposed to’ and start doing something that nourishes and feeds my relations more.

Tonight, I’m going to let this sit in my brain and in my heart a little longer and be sad for a moment – there is so much to be sad about. Tomorrow it will be better – cause it always is, cause we always have hope, and we have each other.

Posted by Erin Okuno, with help from CiKeithia Pugh

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