Nonprofit Boards Need to Reform for Staff Sake

Mixed race group of adults meet with computers around a rectangular table. Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Over the past few months, several friends have confided in me about how bad their nonprofit CEOs are behaving. The nonprofits are in different parts of the US and with friends who don’t know each other. In each of these very different situations, the employees didn’t feel like they had a way to have their complaints heard without losing their jobs. It is time for the nonprofit sector to reform board structures to represent employees’ needs more openly and fully.

I’ve worked for or volunteered for nonprofit organizations for most of my professional life. I’ve been part of large nonprofits to small organizations, including one where I was the sole staff for about six months. All of these organizations had a board of directors. Many of the boards governing the nonprofits I worked for were well run and took their roles as board members thoughtfully and seriously. I also serve on nonprofit boards and understand my role there.

One of the problems I now see is boards are not there to represent staff. Boards are currently designed to have one person to manage – the executive. This is a fail-safe to make sure staff do not have multiple people giving them instructions. Boards are also there to ensure the mission of the organization stays on track overall, not to be in the day-to-day activities of an organization.

Yet, listening to my friends talk about how demoralized they felt by having to work under mismanagement. My friends had very few conduits to report the mismanagement that were ‘safe.’ They didn’t feel like they could talk to board members without the risk of being ‘ratted out’ to the Executive Director who had a reputation for firing people for lesser offenses. It made me realize we need to reform nonprofit board governance to ensure we’re holding nonprofit executives accountable to the mission, inclusive of staff feedback.

Many of the board practices we use today were inherited from institutional practices designed to protect whiteness. We need to adapt nonprofit practices to embrace changing workforce needs. As the US shifts its demographics more POCs will enter nonprofit workforces, a good thing. And we need to recognize a lot of nonprofit leaders come from dominant trait backgrounds. I’m being purposeful in saying dominant trait backgrounds, since many POC leaders may fall into these categories – college educated, English literate, able to navigate bureaucracies and power structures, access to powerful networks of people – which helps leaders gain success. The danger comes when leaders are not accountable back to the staff and clients of an organization.

Many people will say staff and boards shouldn’t interact with each other. I believe there is a fallacy in there. Good relationships based on trust and professionalism can be healthy. Care needs to be taken to ensure both sides understand their roles and how to process conflicts and disagreements in productive ways. There will be a few cases where a disgruntled employee may have choice words to share, but I also believe reasonable people can figure out which feedback is valid and which is bogus. Such as if there is a pattern to the complaints is there something to pay attention to? Is the complaint personal or pointing out systemic failures within the organization? Have the staff tried to resolve the problem at lower levels and escalate it to the board because their problems have been ignored?

I also want to note there will be times when POC staff will bring up concerns that are racialized. It is extra important that these complaints are not ignored. They need to be handled promptly. If your board receives these complaints and is unsure how to handle them, ask for help from professionals (while maintaining the confidentiality of the staff member who brought you the complaint).

Boards also need to be ready to actively listen, investigate fairly, and manage an executive when negative feedback arises. Too often boards are loyal to an executive and explain away bad behavior rather than coach, manage, or if needed terminate an executive. I’ve seen a lot of nonprofits lose a lot of momentum and clients suffer because boards did not act quickly enough to manage executives who were poor managers. The staff, clients, and cause suffered unduly.

Instituting practices such as 360-Reviews, creating and promoting confidential ways for staff to provide feedback or report misconduct and have it acted upon, and other practices can help to ensure there is accountability of executives.

In order for nonprofits to evolve boards need to evolve with them.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

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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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Lunar New Years Dos and Don’ts

Hi All, I had a pretty important error in the original post. Lunar New Year for 2023 is Sunday, 22 JANUARY –two days away. Thus, I’m republishing the post so it lands in your inboxes with the correct date.

Lion dance on a street with fire crackersPhoto by Elina Sazonova on Pexels.com

It is Lunar New Year (LNY) – Sunday, 22 January. Lunar New Year is one of my favorite not-holiday holidays. It is one of the few times a year Asians get to publicly celebrate our Asian-ness and be full-out Asian.

Several Asian friends (Chinese and Vietnamese) let me eavesdrop on their LNY conversation. I’m Japanese-American, and most Japanese don’t celebrate LNY as heartily as other Asian ethnicities; Japan follows the Gregorian calendar of new years beginning 1 January. I like to celebrate LNY in solidarity with my other Asians.

Here are some LNY things to do and not do:

First Lunar New Year – It has nothing to do with white men walking on the moon or feeling like they conquered it (h/t Carrie). It is an ancient/old practice rooted in many communities, especially Asian communities – do not colonize the moon or lunar new year.

Do:Don’t:
Celebrate Lunar New YearDon’t schedule meetings on this day and treat it like a normal business day
Call it Lunar New Year or if referring to a specific ethnic group’s celebration their name for the day: Chūn Jié in China, Tết in Viet Nam, Losar in Tibet, Seollal 설날 in KoreaDon’t assume everyone refers to the day in the same way. In the US saying Lunar New Years is a good way to encompass many Asian LNY traditions. Pay attention to regional differences too. In Hawai’i we referred to it as Chinese New Year because of the heavy influence of Chinese in Hawai’i, Seattle it is more commonly referred to as Lunar New Year.
Do learn some LNY greetings. Here is a helpful link for Chinese greetings Vietnamese greeting Korean greetingDon’t ignore the day or just grunt. When in doubt say Happy Lunar New Year and mean it.
Do give red envelopes filled with crisp moneyDon’t give crumpled or dirty money. Don’t give white death envelopes.
Do give money in red envelopes in even numbersDon’t give in denominations of four — $4, $40, $400. Four is associated with death.
Do give out red envelopesDon’t ask for red envelopes, very bad form
Do celebrate with live flowers (potted flowers) or in Vietnam peach (Hoa Dao) or apricot (Hoa Mai) blossoms.Don’t put out dead flowers, duh. Chinese do not believe in giving cut flowers since they are traditionally used in funerals.
Do clean your house before LNYDon’t sweep or take out the garbage on New Years day, superstition you’ll sweep or dump your luck away
Do eat lucky foods on LNYDon’t eat porridge for breakfast, you don’t want to start the year eating ‘poor people’s food.’ Along with this don’t eat meat for breakfast out of respect to Buddha
Do get a haircut and wash your hair BEFORE LNYDon’t use scissors, knives, or wash your hair during LNY. It is considered bad luck.
Do give giftsBut not these gifts (Chinese) – shoes, dolls, knives, and pears, see the link for the full list.
Do visit friends and relativesBut do it respectfully. A friend said her family practice in Hong Kong was to not visit on the third day, that was a day to rest so you didn’t argue with family. A very wise and practical practice.
Do remember many will celebrate with firecrackers to ward off evil spirits (or go watch other people’s firecrackers)Do not call the police reporting the noise or saying it is gunfire, put that Karen-ism away for LNY

Please remember there are many ways to celebrate LNY and different ethnic groups practice it differently. Some of the practices listed above skew more Chinese, so please don’t assume they are universal for all Asians celebrating LNY.

Happy Lunar New Year! Happy Year of the Rabbit (Chinese) and Year of the Cat (Vietnamese).

h/t to the side eye dog owners for prompting this post — KY, PCW, and BN.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Andy, Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Aya, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Dana, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Leslie, Lily, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Mike Q, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Fakequity 2023 List of Culturally Significant Dates

Square graphic, white paper with text Fakequity 2023 Culturally Important Dates on a wood plate

I learned last year this annual list of dates is a valued part of the Fakequity blog. Last year I didn’t publish it in early January and multiple people reached out to ask if it would return. I heard you and this year I made sure to make it the second post of the new year. If you value this post (and other blog posts), please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber and financially supporting the blog, and hit the subscribe button on the right sidebar (desktop/laptop computers) to have the blog delivered to your inbox — they help to keep the blog going.

Since it is a new year it is time to pull out your calendars and mark these significant dates. This is a list of culturally important dates for different racial, ethnic, religious, or other groups that often don’t show up on Western dominant calendars. I purposefully do not include common dates that show up on Western calendars (i.e. Valentine’s Day, Christian Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas). Those dates are easy to find and this list was designed to purposefully center POCs and in some cases other groups who are often overlooked.

This list was compiled with the help of friends, my social media feeds, and basic internet research. It is biased towards US West Coast populations (where I live and have relationships with people and groups). Please check the dates with your local communities to see which ones are important to them and WHEN and how they celebrate, there are often local nuances to these dates. If you have corrections or see omissions please email fakequity@gmail.com.

2023 Dates

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – 1/16/23
  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day — 1/27/23  – annual date 1/27
  • Lunar New Year (Chinese) – Year of the Rabbit/ Tet (Vietnamese) / Seollal (Korean) – 1/22/23
  • Setsuban, end of winter start of spring (Japanese) – 2/3/23
  • Maha Shivaratri (Hindu) – 2/18/23
  • Mardi Gras – 2/21/23
  • Hinamatsuri – Girl’s Day (Japanese) – 3/3/23 – annual date 3/3
  • Holi – 3/6/23 sundown, ends 3/7/23 sundown
  • Ramadan – 3/22 (sundown) – 4/21/23 (tentative dates, dependent on the sighting of the moon. Follows the lunar calendar.)
  • Eretria Easter, Coptic Easter – 4/16/23
  • Baisakhi / Vaisakhi (Sikh New Year) – 4/14/23 – generally celebrated on 13 or 14 of April every year
  • Orthodox Easter – 4/16/23
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Easter – 4/16/23
  • Pesach / Passover (Jewish) – 4/5 (sundown) – 4/13/23 (nightfall)
  • Eid ul-Fitr – 4/22/23, the date may vary due to local practices, 4/22, 4/23, 4/24. US date is 4/22/23.
  • Children’s / Boy’s Day (Japanese) – 5/5/23 –annual date 5 May
  • Vesak / Vesākha / Vaiśākha / Wesak/ Buddha Jayanti / Buddha Purnima / Buddha Day (Buddhist) – 4/8/23, 5/4/23, 5/5/23, 5/6/23, 5/19/23, 6/2/23, or 6/4/23 (follows the lunar calendar)
  • Kamehameha Day (Hawai’i) – 6/11/23 – annual date 6/11
  • Juneteenth – 6/19/23 – annual date 6/19
  • Shavuot (Jewish) – 5/25-5/27/23 [corrected 1/26/23]
  • Summer Solstice (northern hemisphere) – 6/21/23 @ 7.57 a.m. PDT, 14.57 UTC
  • Hajj (Islam) – 6/26/23 (starts evening) – 7/1/23
  • Eid al-Adha – 6/28/23 (sundown), or 6/26-7/4, 7/10, or 7/29/23
  • Tish’a B’Av (Jewish) – 7/26-7/27/23 [corrected 1/26/23]
  • Liberation Day (Guam) – 7/21/23 – annual date 7/21
  • Enkutatash – Ethiopian New Year – 9/11/23, annual date 9/11
  • Mid-Autumn Festival / Mooncake Festival – 9/29/23
  • Rosh Hashanah (Jewish) – 9/15- 9/17/23 (starts sundown)
  • Yom Kippur (Jewish) – 9/24 -9/25/23 (starts sundown)
  • Sukkot (Jewish) – 9/29-10/1/23, 10/2-10/6/23
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – 9/13 – annually recognized
  • Prophet Muhammed’s birthday (Palestine) – 9/27/23
  • Lotu Tamaiti – White Sunday (Samoa) – 10/8/23 – Second Sunday of October, public holiday
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day – 10/9/23 – observed the second Monday of October
  • All Saints Day – 11/1/23 (annual date 1 Nov)
  • Día de los Muertos – 11/1/23 (annual date 1 Nov)
  • All Souls Day – 11/2/23  (annual date 2 Nov)
  • Diwali / Deepavali / Dipavali / Bandi Chhor Divas (Sikh) – 11/12/23
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance – 11/20/23 – annual date 11/20
  • Bodhi Day (Buddhist) – 12/8/23- annual date 8 Dec, or 1/18/24 for lunar Bodhi Day
  • Human Rights Day – 12/10/23 – annual date 10 Dec
  • Las Posadas and Noche Buena (Christian Latin American) – 12/16-24/23 – annual dates 16-24 Dec
  • Simbang Gabi (Filipino) – 12/16 – 12/24/23
  • Winter Equinox (northern hemisphere) 12/21/23, 7.27 p.m. PST
  • Hanukkah / Chanukah – 12/7-12/15/23 (starts and ends at nightfall)
  • St. Nicholas Feast Day (Orthodox) — 12/6/23, some observe the date as 12/5/23
  • Kwanzaa – 12/26-1/1/24 – annual dates 12/26-1/1
  • Orthodox / Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas / Eritrean Orthodox Christmas (Note: Not all Orthodox celebrate Christmas on this day, many celebrate Christmas on 12/25, the 1/7/24 date follows the ‘old calendar’) – 1/7/24
  • Korean American Day — 1/13/24, annual date 1/13

For a complete list of Jewish holiday dates, please consult this list.

New Years Dates

  • Orthodox New Year – 1/14/23
  • Lunar New Year (Chinese) / Tet (Vietnamese) / Seollal (Korean) – 1/22/23
  • Losar / Tibetan New Year – 2/21/23
  • Tsagaan Sar/ White Moon (Mongolian) – 2/21/23
  • Persian Nowruz / Iranian New Year – 3/20 – 3/21/23
  • Naw-Rúz / first day of the Baháʼí calendar – 3/20-21/23
  • Nyepi Bali Hindu New Year – 3/22/23
  • Ugaadhi / Telegu and Kannada New Year – 3/22/23
  • Baisakhi / Vaisakhi (Sikh) – 4/13/23
  • Thingyan (water festival) / Burmese New Year Festival – 4/17/23
  • Aluth Avurudda (Sinhalese New Year, Sri Lanka) – 4/13-4/14/23
  • Songkran (Thailand) – 4/13-4/15/23
  • Khmer New Year – 4/14-16/23
  • Bun Pi Mai (Lao) – 4/13 – 4/15/23
  • Bengali New Year, Pohela Boishakh – 4/14/23
  • Matariki, Maori New Year (New Zealand) – 6/14/23
  • Al-Hijra / Muharram (Islamic/Muslim), Islamic New Year (Palestine) – 7/19/23
  • Enkutatash / Ethiopian New Year – 9/12/23
  • Rosh Hashanah (Jewish) – 9/15- 9/17/23 (starts sundown)
  • Diwali / Deepavali / Dipavali / Bandi Chhor Divas (Sikh) – 11/12/23
  • Guru Nanak Jayanti (Sikh) – 11/30/23

Monthly Recognitions

  • January – none
  • February –African American History Month, Black History Month
  • March – Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Deaf History Month (March 13-April 15)
  • April – Arab American Heritage Month
  • May – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month
  • June – LGBT Pride Month
  • July – Disability Pride Month
  • August – Black Business Month
  • September – Hispanic Heritage Month (15 Sept – 15 Oct)
  • October – Disability Employment Awareness Month, Filipino American History Month, LGBT History Month
  • November – Native American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month
  • December – Universal Human Rights Month


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Aya, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Dana, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Lily, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Mike Q, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

2023 Fakequity Pledge

Picture: White background, Scrabble titles spelling Happy New Year, mandarain oranges with stems and leaves (many Asian new year practices call for leaving the stems and leaves on new year oranges) Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Happy 2023! It is a new year and for many people, a time to reflect on the past year, shake off some mental or physical cobwebs and embrace the new year. To prep for writing this year’s Fakequity pledge I pulled up the 2022 Fakequity pledge and was reminded this time last year we had just witnessed the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and were in the middle of the Omicron COVID waves. I mention this to remind us of the past and to think about the future.

The theme for the 2023 Fakequity Pledge is Connections. How can we use the new year to connect differently, more deeply, or to find new connections. Perhaps in a few weeks I’ll dive more into why this topic came up and how we can build upon the theme. For now, I hope you enjoy the pledge.

In 2023 I will connect:

  1. Connect more deeply with the land in different ways, especially in ways that are more justice based with the land itself and Native and Indigenous people from the lands you are on.
  2. Connect differently with food and understand food sovereignty and food justice efforts led by POCs.
  3. Connect with POCs across racial groups to build solidarities and justice based relationships
  4. Connect with people around something that is fun, joyful, or brings you happiness or pleasure.
  5. Renew a connection from the past.

Build Connections

  1. I will seek out a new partnership or connection to support an effort or cause that benefits others (think about this from a racial justice lens).
  2. Build a connection in my own learning – what pieces of information do you have that need to connect to think about problems in new ways.
  3. Build a connection between people who don’t know each other. Who can you bring together that can mutually support each other? Can you use your network to help people connect more?
  4. Seek out an elder to build a connection. Even something as small as nodding to an elder counts, but hopefully you’ll take it a step farther to really connect with an elder.
  5. Build connections with local nonprofits, schools, and organizations that are POC led and embedded. Find ways to support them on their terms and ways that builds them up.

Deepen Connections

  1. Intentionally connect spending habits to values – shop at POC businesses, support POC arts, etc.
  2. Deepen connections by NOT spending/consuming more than we need – what can you skip in order to deepen a connection? Sometimes not doing something or not buying something opens new ways of thinking or connecting. Think about this in ways that support climate justice and POC movements around climate. 2.2 Deepen connections to the things we already have to better utilize it and not consume more.
  3. Deepen ways of learning more about racism. Diversify your media input, listen to more and diverse POC voices. Find new ways of understanding race and racism – I’m leaving this purposefully vague – deepening learning is different for everyone.
  4. Deepen your work around accessibility and disability justice. (If you’re just starting out read some past Fakequity posts to learn more. Here are a few: How to make your interviews more inclusive and less painful, Disability Rights So White, When Non-Disabled People Get Accommodations Who Benefits: Things to think about when working remotely, and Abelism BINGO)
  5. Deepen your own connections to things that are meaningful to you and support your efforts around being your best self.  

I hope you build and renew connections as you welcome 2023. May the new year be bright and connected for you.


Why I wrote this: To think about new ways of thinking and acting.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Aya, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Dana, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Lily, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Mike Q, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Lift Up those Ponies so they can Become Unicorns

No blog post next week. It is the end of the year and I’m taking a speed bump (slow down) to enjoy the week with the fam. My kids are growing fast (as all kids do) so I need to annoy them  be with them while I can.

Photo of a Black girl with long curly hair laying on grass, with a unicorn headband looking at a daisy on a sunny day with a blue sky. Photo by Bhargava Marripati on Pexels.com

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to listen to two amazing women of color, Justices Mary Yu and Raquel Montoya-Lewis. Justice Yu was Washington’s first Latina and Asian justice, and the first member of the LGBTQ community to serve on the court. Justice Montoya-Lewis is only the second Native American in the nation to serve on a supreme court. She is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta and descendant of the Pueblo of Laguna Indian tribe, and of Jewish descent. The event was hosted by Womxn of Color in Education, which seeks to recruit, endorse, and support women of color running for school boards in Washington state.

If it isn’t going to be you, who is it going to be? – Justice Montoya-Lewis

Reflecting on the close of 2022 I thought about Justice Montoya-Lewis’ question back to the group, “If it isn’t going to be you, who is it going to be?” This was both a challenge to step up, but also a call to all of us to recognize, support, and sponsor emerging leaders and each other.

Sponsorship of each other and supporting fellow POCs is an important part of being in a mutually reciprocal community. There have been many times when people have opened professional doors, offered support, or as Justice Montoya-Lewis called it been curbs on the side of the journey to bump people back onto the road.

As we close out 2022, the questions are:

Who are the people of color who need a little nudge, that we can pull forward?

And, who do you owe a thank you to for sponsoring you along the way?

These two questions need to go together, we didn’t just end up where we are on our own and as the justices reminded our group, we must believe we belong in the rooms where decisions are made. Justice Yu said she recognized if it wasn’t her in that Supreme Court seat, who would it be, she didn’t want to leave it to chance. She also reminded the group to put fear and doubt aside.

“Take fear and insecurity out it.” – Justice Mary Yu

The two Justice were amazing to listen to. They are fearless and grounded by and in their lived experiences. I was struck by how their humility and connections to each other and communities of color.

It takes a lot of courage to step forward and say “yes, I am the right person,” and to know your lived experiences and perhaps less traditional and less pedigreed path will yield dividend for others. That is insecurity talking. Justice Yu talked about how some of the decisions made by the court are better and heavily influenced by the diversity and experiences on the court – they are better decisions rooted in the experiences of communities of color.

I wish I could hear her Speak Again – 13 year old

A few years ago Justice Yu participated in Constitution Day. It is a day where judges across the state visit schools. My teacher friend signed up and was thrilled, wildly thrilled, to have Justice Yu assigned to her school. She arranged for most of the school to cycle through so they could spend some time with Justice Yu. My older kid was fortunate to be one of the students.

He’s older and reflected on the experience. Somewhere in his brain he remembered Justice Yu visiting and speaking even if he can’t recall what she talked about. He also wished she would visit his school now since he’s older. I share this because this is where the next unicorns are born (unicorns, meaning rarifed, unique, one of a kind). Everyone has the potential to be a unicorn in some way. Not all of us will be on the Supreme Court, end up on TV or in movie, or do heroic actions but we are all important and a unicorn to someone. Use your influence to help someone else learn and grow in their understanding of what is just. That pony is the next unicorn.

As a side note, when the justices were asked about being unicorns, if I remember correctly, they brushed that notion aside. They don’t want to be unicorns, they want rooms to be like them, reflective of the full diversity of Washington. There is no need for unicorns when we have justice.  


Why I wrote this: Reflect on how we can grow more and better leaders by investing in POCs. And because Justices Yu and Monotya-Lewis are amazing and more people need to know about how incredible they are.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Aya, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Dana, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Lily, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Mike Q, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Holiday Fakequity Scams

Picture of a dog with a Santa hat laying down looking sad. Photo by Lucas Andrade on Pexels.com

Since it is the holidays my inbox had a few emails with titles like ‘Don’t Get Scammed This Holiday Season,’ ‘Beware, don’t give away your info,’ and other subject lines of the like. Fakequity watchers should have a similar scam list to watch out for.

Here are a few subject lines you should right away be suspicious of:

  • “I’m not racist. I love everyone, especially during the holidays. I just gave a turkey to the homeless shelter” – SCAM alert high. If you have to declare this out loud maybe you should re-examine why you feel the need to say this you turkey.
  • Diversity/Equity is costly – SCAM, it isn’t more costly, it is a realignment and a re-balancing of priorities and investing in what should have been invested in all along.
  • POCs and Black and Brown people things are cheap – Pay your Black and Brown people what they deserve, and stop OVERPAYING white people. Tangent – I was listening to the radio about why WNBA players such as Britney Griner play abroad. I had the thought maybe we should stop paying men sports players so much and strive for more equality (equity too, but let’s try for equal first) in what we value. On a smaller scale, look at how much we pay POCs overall as compared to white people. Watch this hilarious TikTok of asking a nonprofit boss for a raise, it is cringy because it is so true – been there lived this. (h/t Angela)
  • All Lives Matter – Just don’t, Black Lives Matter and you using All Lives Matters is centering yourself
  • Reverse Racism is Real or claims reverse racism – Nah, it’s fake no such thing as reverse racism. Don’t understand? Here’s a hint it has to do with power and who holds power.
  • “They should be grateful…” – If someone tells you this, roll your eyes and decide if it is worth the lecture on historical inequalities and how it isn’t cool to blame people who are trying to survive. Another hilarious TikTok about a POC asking a white boss for time off during the holidays – “They should be grateful to have a job where they can serve the community.” Eyeroll.
  • “I don’t have biases…” – If someone told me this my response would be “My bias against people who say they don’t have biases just quadrupled. Everyone has biases.” Another eye roll and I would wander off to find the snack table.

Be on high alert for scams this holiday season. Don’t let the feel-good times or if you’re in the northern latitudes the lack of sunlight drag you down into a nap.


Why I wrote this: For some holiday levity and to break down some common racial misnomers.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Dana, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Lily, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Mike Q, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Winter Vibes BINGO

Graphic: Winter night background with snow falling, white snow on the ground, trees and houses with lights on. Red boxes in a five-by-four grid, with white text in them listing activities to do.

It is time for another 2022 BINGO card. Darkness, my old friend, comes earlier so it is a good time to snuggle up and enjoy a different set of activities. This is a choose your own adventure BINGO card, do some, do one or two, go for a line, strive for blackout (full card) BINGO, do as you please.

Since the graphic isn’t screen reader friendly, I’ve listed all the text below with expanded explanations and ideas.

Read or watch a folk tale from an Indigenous culture. If you need suggestions check out How the Oceans Came to be by Arvis Boughman, Lumbee Nation, I read it tonight for the first time. Or another fun one is The Legend of Auntie Po, an Asian re-telling of an American Tall Tales, or for Native Hawaiian tales check out Maui or Pele.

Watch the USGS live stream of Mauna Loa in Hawai’i erupting, it is mesmerizing. Learn more about Hawaiian goodness and legend Pele and why you should respect her power. As a kid growing up in Hawai’i we learned a lot about Hawaiian history and how to respect the interconnectedness of gods and nature.  

Get your flu shot and COVID booster. Please do this to protect yourself and others.

Learn about winter holidays – Kwanza, Solstice, Orthodox Christmas, Hanukah, etc.

Start the New Year clean out early – if you need inspiration check out Marie Kondo’s YouTube channel

Give a Land Acknowledgement, go outdoors and give thanks to the land – Giving Native land acknowledgments at events is something many people do, myself included. To embed this practice more deeply, this winter connect with the land and acknowledge its connection to the First Peoples. Learn about the Native ways in your area and deepen your commitment to being a just relationship with the land and its Indigenous people.

Learn about ableism and how it shows up

Listen to someone talk – like really listen, put down your phone, and tune into them

Reflect on the language you use, is it infused with gender assumptions, ableism, racism?

Share a skill or talent with a neighbor

Do something positive for the environment – skip a trip in the car if you can take a more eco friendly way of traveling, pick up trash, plant a tree, cook a meatless meal, etc.

Reflect on what solidarity through sadness means to you – 2022 we saw the overturn of Roe v Wade, war in Ukraine, smoke storms and hurricanes, and so on. How are you embracing Han?

Read/Watch Latino/Latine, Middle Eastern, POC Creators

Learn about Black Culture

Tell someone thank you

Give a random gift – I listened to the Hidden Brain podcast on gifting. The researcher interviewed spoke about how when gifts are given on a random day (not a holiday or birthday) they are more meaningful to the recipient. While it is the gifting season, give a gift (doesn’t have to be a thing) to someone just because you’re thinking of them.

What are you hopeful for in 2023?

Your Choice – Do Something Fun

Chill and Relax – Resting is important, need some inspiration check out this past blog post or this book (I haven’t read it yet, but I follow the author’s social media and it is on point).

Give thanks to POC Elders and Young People – Thank your elders and honor your young people. Both work hard and we need both to create more justice in 2023.


Why I wrote this: BINGO is fun and to break out of the normal ruts of everyday life. Apologies if you were hoping for a deeper answer.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Dana, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Lily, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Mike Q, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Fakequity 2022 Holiday Guide

Photo of two wrapped gifts, green paper with a Black person with dreds and a Santa suit. Words POC Gift Guide photo by Erin Okuno

Time for the Fakequity 2022 Holiday Guide. This isn’t a shopping guide – it is a guide to being more thoughtful in gifting to people you like or feel obliged to gift too (let’s be honest sometimes that happens). Not everything has to be bought, if COVID slowing down and the current economics, and environmental/climate change crisis has shown us we can honor people in ways that doesn’t have to be bought or at a detriment to other values.

If you are buying gifts this guide can help you be more thoughtful about where you are spending money and investing it into communities of color or people with disabilities.

Buy Local and Donate Locally

With COVID restrictions easing in many places, craft fairs or other gatherings where you can find local POC artists are resuming. I follow a few local crafter gatherings on Instagram and Facebook to make sure I know when their artist sells happen.

Last week I visited one hosted by Beacon Arts (as in Beacon Hill Seattle, sorry Boston not your Beacon Hill). My colleague was selling her fab earrings; I don’t have pierced ears anymore but every time I see her stuff it makes me wonder if I should re-pierce my ears. Other vendors of color, including Blackout Accessories, were at the event too and I ordered a bunch of gifts from their websites. Please be respectful and wear masks if the hosts ask you to, if you don’t want to wear a mask many of the vendors have online portals for ordering. Other fairs are coming up such as the Ayame Kai featuring a lot of Asian artist – I’ve found some very fab Christmas ornaments at this fair.

Other ways to buy local are to find great experiences for your friends and families. Signing up for classes is a great way to support local POCs. Find studios or sports camps owned by POCs and offer to pay for classes for your gift recipient.

In Seattle, Northwest Tap Connection is Black owned and I hear has fabulous dance classes. Kim’s Taekwon Do is Asian owned in South Seattle. If you’re stuck, The POC business map started by our friends at Equity Matters is a good place to start (please also add POC businesses to the map), or the Intentionlist website is a great help too.

Along with experiences, find a locally owned movie theatre and buy tickets to Wakanda Forever and other movies featuring POC stories. While you’re at the theatre, buy some concessions (aka popcorn, candy, and drinks) this is where the movie theatres pay themselves not from screening the movies.

Donating to your favorite local POC-run and embedded organizations is so appreciated too. If you need suggestions let me know. I have my list of faves in Seattle. When in doubt you can also drop off grocery store gift cards to your local public schools and in my experience, the staff will make sure they find their way into the hands of families who need them.

Food

Gifting a food basket of locally grown food from POC farmers is a very worthwhile gift. I’ve learned a lot more about local food and POC farming this year from my friend Friendly of Friendly Hmong Farms. There are a lot of winter farmers markets still happening, so stop by and pickup some fresh seasonal produce and flowers from them to gift to neighbors or friends.

Restaurant gift certificates for businesses owned by POCs is another great way to invest locally and in POC businesses. Some of my Seattle faves include:

  • Communion – Black owned and soooo delicious
  • Buddha Bruddah – Asian owned, their pies are heavenly
  • Lil Red – Black owned, this is on my wish list to try, but everyone who I respect that eats meat says it is the place to go.
  • Salvadoran Bakery in Burien is the place to go for papusas. Whenever I bring these home my kid devours them. I also love tamales from Cafetal Quilimbo – perfect for holiday gatherings or dropping off as a gift to show your love.
  • The new ʔálʔal Café — a Native-owned and operated café/eatery inside the Chief Seattle Club in the Pioneer Square just opened up. They also have gifts and items for sale by Native artists and creators.
  • Flour Box in Seattle and King Donuts are two worthy donuts to bring to a Hanukkah gathering or to take to someone as a holiday treat. Both are Asian owned.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. Except to say if you’re in Hawaii, go check out Nisshodo Candy for mochi and other ono-licious sweets.

Again, not everything has to be purchased. If you’re looking for a gift idea, collect recipes that connect you to your culture and compile them into a recipe book or guide for the special people in your life. I keep a copy of my great-aunt’s andagi recipe in an online folder and pull it out several times a year to make a gigantic-party-pack worthy batch of andagi (fried Okinawan donuts). The original recipe was passed to my mom from her cousins as a thank you gift. Another friend treasures her sister’s guide to making pie crust and freaked out when the webpage temporarily went down – that is how much she loves that pie crust recipe. Sharing your culture is a way to support POCs because you’re learning and deepening your own understanding of yourself, which helps you connect to others in new ways (just don’t be weird about it).

Gifts

Eighth Generations has gorgeous Native made gifts. They also have various price points, so you can find something for everyone. You can shop online, or if you’re in the Seattle region visit their store in Pike Market. Today I was wearing a pair of socks a friend gave me from here several years ago. I hope I get more gift socks from Eighth Generations.

Emily Landau has an awesome holiday guide around shopping from people with disabilities. So many great gifts and a few discount codes if you shop soon. Emily’s list includes a few POCs so make sure to pay attention there for a double impact – people of color with disabilities.

Books

A few of my favorite books for gifting right now.

Modern Asian Baking at Home is my new fave. Their milk bread recipe is on point.

Not yet released, but I’m excited to see it in April 2023 – so order it now and tell the recipient it will be delayed gratification – Project 562: Changing the Way we See Native Americans will be worth the wait based on what I’ve seen on this project.

Meet Claudie is a new book joining the American Girls line of books and dolls. Author Brit Bennett (author of the Vanishing Half) wrote this and it is so good. Claudie lives in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance and she has to figure out her special talent to help her community. This is perfect for beginning chapter book readers.

Grounded doesn’t come out until spring 2023 but mentioning it now because it is worthy of a pre-order. A group of kids, all Muslim, meet at an airport after the conference they are at lets out. The kids bond over searching for a missing cat at the airport and in the end learn about each other and their own diverse Muslim families.

For the nonfiction readers in your life Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science is so fascinating. I’m listening to the audio version and learning a lot about the Indigenous and Latin American Indigenous experiences and wisdom.

Enjoy your gifting experiences for all of the various holidays this dark-but-lighted winter season. Stay warm and cozy too.


Why I wrote this: Being intentional with gifting is an important way of investing in POC, disabled, and local communities.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Dana, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

How to Make Your Interviews More Inclusive and Less Painful

Graphic: Little Miss Character, yellow head with legs and hands over her smile, pigtail braids with red bows. Words: My Five Year Plan is 4.5 Years Without Other Job Interviews.

Welcome back to guest blogger Carrie. This week Carrie is writing about how to make your job interviews more accessible and inclusive. This is a topic we’ve both batted around for several years, so I’m glad to have a post on the topic maybe you’ll love your interviewers and be beloved by the interviewers.

No blog post next week, since it is a holiday break. As a quick note, if you’re looking for a book to read from the Native American perspective about Thanksgiving, consider reading Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story, by Danielle Greendeer , Anthony Perry, Alexis Bunten, and Garry Meeches (Illustrator).


By Carrie Basas

Confession here: I searched for a new leadership role for about nine months until I received a couple offers and accepted my current position. I withdrew from some searches because I didn’t appreciate what the interview process was signaling. I probably bombed some other interviews because I wasn’t the right fit or the interview didn’t fit my strengths. Let’s also toss in that I was a disabled woman over 40 interviewing with panels who didn’t look like me.

In the slog of career transition, I met a lot of recruiters. One recruiter asked me how she could have made the interview process more accessible. Giving that information while still job-hunting scared me. I didn’t want to be the difficult candidate. Many of us tolerate interview nonsense– including erratic scheduling (organization that wanted to keep ‘’holiday weeks open’’ for Part Z of their fifth round), insistence on in-person interviews during the height of COVID, all-day interviews (best when you’ve traveled across time zones and haven’t slept well), and ‘’helpful unsolicited feedback’’ (me not keeping them entertained at 4:45pm on Zoom).

I can’t give you every strategy for being a better recruiter or interviewer, but here are a few tips:

  1. Tell people who they are meeting with in advance: names, pronouns, titles, etc. If you have links to bios to share with them, please do. Make sure those materials are accessible to disabled folks. Advance notice is not ten minutes before the interview. 
  2. Make sure you disclose the salary range and are prepared to offer information about benefits. We could all use a little health insurance, for example. 
  3. Provide the interview questions in advance, unless you’re running a trivia show. What are you measuring in a gotcha-style interview? You end up recruiting people who are smooth, process quickly, and are not prone to anxiety. I’d prefer a thoughtful colleague. Similarly, make sure your questions match the job requirements. Ban the box about criminal history, whenever possible. 
  4. During the interview, provide those names, pronouns, and titles again, along with a brief visual description of panelists. (Visual descriptions are fun and they provide built-in access for people who are Blind or have vision disabilities. If we ever meet, remind me to tell you the story about a colleague’s visual description of his offscreen ‘’pot plant.’’ The potted plant was not cannabis, but we provided our own context about what was actually a cute succulent.)
  5. Drop those questions in the chat if you’re online or have a printed copy in person. If you’re online, turn on the captions. If your interviewee is new to your platform, provide a quick orientation to the features before they unmute their yowling cat or turn on the avatar feature.
  6. Create a rubric for your questions and the scoring guidelines for answers. Please don’t score a question about what dish they’d bring to a potluck, unless you are hiring a personal chef. Similarly, please don’t include dealbreaker requirements in your initial job descriptions that are not essential to the job or could be accommodated. Common ones are driver’s licenses and the ability to lift 20 pounds
  7. Boss-folks, involve your colleagues, especially those working closely with this future team member. You are welcoming others into a process that could affect them a lot more than you and you are giving the candidate a chance to see how they like the people. Don’t be like one prospective employer who organized interview panels by pay grade.
  8. If you’re going to involve community partners, clients, or other stakeholders in the interviews, make sure it’s not performative. Their input should shape hiring decisions. They should write questions. They should feel free to share the good and the bad about their relationships with your organization. (In one interview, I should have charged a facilitation fee for repairing fractured communication.) Now is not the time to suddenly adopt land acknowledgments if you’d never do it without a tribal member there.
  9. Have someone on the panel check biases in a debrief. (Better yet, have these conversations before you meet candidates.) We hire people who are like us. When an interviewer questions if the person really wants the job, could keep up with the pace, or would fit with the culture, challenge those assumptions. An interviewer asked me as I was leaving a Zoom room if I was an introvert or extrovert. He might as well have asked me for my sign. (It’s Pisces, and yes, I am that emo introvert.)
  10. Measure skills in multiple ways. Is it an intake position? Consider a role play. Are you interviewing someone to be your marketing person? Ask them for their portfolio. Is it a communications person? Maybe you’d like them to review a page of your website and discuss it with them. I like to give people hypos that we face in our work and elicit deeper conversation. Don’t give people impromptu tasks. A dyslexic lawyer friend still shares the story of having to write a timed legal memo on the spot at his interview for a civil rights job.
  11. Allow candidates to ask questions along the way. Maybe they have questions before you begin the interview. Maybe your question prompts a follow-up inquiry from them. Don’t prioritize just your questions, and above all, please don’t combine this approach with any nods to “shared power’’ and “conversation.” There is a huge power imbalance. 
  12. Know your interview process and communicate it. You might detour from a timeline or get stuck between choosing two candidates, but let people know what you think the process will be. Consider interviews to be opportunities for informed consent.
  13. Don’t make your process a gauntlet, unless you are hiring in the 17th century and people should bring their own armor. You should have an exceptional reason for all-day interviews. Give breaks. Don’t put the most difficult tasks (e.g., Board interviews, presentations, and hands-on tasks) at the end of the day. Endless interviews only measure the candidate’s stamina for being trapped in a room and their ability to pretend they were a 7th grade debate champion. 
  14. Consider paying candidates for their time. I haven’t done this, yet, but I’m intrigued. That said, some people might not want to receive taxable income during the process.
  15. Feed your candidates if you’re making them stay. Provide them with some quiet space. There are no ‘’casual meals’ when your future employer is watching you tackle that pile of slippery pasta. 
  16. Ask people for feedback about the process. I struggle with this piece because everything about interviewing, even as the employer, feels like a rollercoaster of wooing and rejection. However, if someone exits the process or even accepts your offer, you might want to know why. 
  17. Welcome and provide accommodations. Ask something as simple as how you might be able to support them with this interview process. Now, that you’ve provided the questions and structure in advance, interviewees will know better what their needs could be. Be mindful of phrasing about disability. One interviewer told me her “access need” was to join the call from her car. Meanwhile, that organization lacked disability awareness. 

But, wait, Carrie, where are the disability tips here? What happens if a disabled person shows up and I have no idea what to do? Congrats, you haven’t scared away anyone. If you make the interview process less focused on being a superhuman, you tackle ableism and communicate that you value the relationship.

I’d love to hear about others’ tips and needs for more inclusive interviews. 

PS: I am hiring!

PPS: I am still working on implementing all my advice consistently.


Why I published this: Job interviews are fraught with odd-power dynamics that often do not favor people of color, people with disabilities, or other marginalized identities. Understanding how hiring managers and teams can adjust processes and behaviors to level these power dynamics is important to have diverse workforces to produce more equitable outcomes.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Battered but love — education a love story

Artwork from Amplifer art: We The Future -“Paul S. John” Drawing of a Black man with a beard smiling wearing a hoodie (part of the Million Hoodies Movement), in front of a building with an American flag flying, words We the Future End Gun Violence.

Seattle had its first school shooting (WA Post database has recorded none in Seattle proper). While it feels like we just read about a school shooting a few months ago in Uvalde, it is maddening and heartbreaking. The loss we carry now knowing there are empty desks in cities with names known because of their connection to gun violence ties people together in a sad legacy. Even with this broken and battered-ness, there is still beauty.

This is a love letter to the educators, and I mean that broadly, thank you for teaching, connecting, and supporting the birthright of education.

Dear Educators,

You work in an impossible system. A system that is antiquated but functional. A system that is forever unfinished and sometimes strives to be better and sometimes wound as tightly as the tetherball on the playground. Through it all you find the students and the families who need you; you find the hurt and see the lightbulb moments.

Like sacred religious buildings, schools are a place, but also a collection of people independent of buildings. As educators, you are with students for six hours a day, 180 days a year. You see them in ways other people will never see students, and vice versa, students see you in ways only they are privileged to see as students in your classes. I hope this honor is a shared one that allows differences to be closed and a shared future to be weaved together.

It takes many of you to each day to take in students and literally feed them. To the food service workers, I see the love you put into ensuring food reaches our babies. Some of you may never see a student because you are in the central kitchens or delivering the food before the school day starts, but your love and care is felt. You keep kids connected to learning and growing and repair hungry bodies with the medicine we know as food. The same for the custodial staff, crossing guards, and maintenance staff who are behind in the buildings quietly cleaning, your presence is power. Your presence brings comfort and safety. Many of you are the uncles and aunties to the students, maybe by birth or by culture. Your generational status, young and old, roots the school in ways that allow students to lift their gazes. We see your struggles too – the fight for better pay, professional pathways, and dreams for yourself and the next generation.  

On Tuesday, midterm election day, I felt the irony of voting as power and the feeling of sadness and loss knowing a school shooting happened miles away. Voting itself couldn’t undo, nor will voting by itself protect the next school from a shooting – democracy is not that simple or quick. Yet even through this grief, it is one of the few things we can do. Enacting gun laws is one of many important steps to keep kids safe. We still need to find ways to connect with them. We need to find the broken hallelujahs and extend ourselves to see the humanity in our students and families. As educators in front of kids everyday you do this, and for support staff who work in schools, you do yeomen’s work of supporting healthy relationships.

What does all of this have to do with race and why does it belong on a blog that talks about race? I am asking myself that question, I believe the answer is complex and simple. Several months ago, I was in a policy meeting listening to a presentation about keeping students in schools. There was no love. The presenter tried to make it about how wonderful the outcome was, the kid stayed in school as he should. The exceptionalism that was oozing out was patronizing. The presenter made it about giving the kid shoes, paying for their sports fees, and other transactional items (it was a kid of color). The POCs at that meeting were having none of it. We knew the kid, even though it wasn’t a kid we knew personally, was one of ours, and we weren’t going to let a system take them down without fighting for their educational inheritance. It takes a myriad of voices to pull the education system forward, sometimes it is one-kid at a time and sometimes it is through other cataclysmic shifts – we all have a role to play.

As we honor loss, including our Veterans (since it is Veteran’s Day), I thank you for what you put into our emerald city and reflect back to you the love you put into your craft and the students touched by it.


Why I wrote this: To honor our educators after a hard week in Seattle and to remind us that gun violence impacts all of us.

Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end costs, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Gene, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, Julia S., Juliet, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, MaryBeth, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, tash, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Wendy, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

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. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.