Excuses to not go to gatherings

Picture of a red panda yawning on a log. Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

Editor’s note — 75% sure no blog post next week. I want to enjoy summer a bit and will probably take the week off from writing.


As we start to emerge from their COVID hibernations we’re going to need some excuses to get out of meetings we don’t want to attend or just to hold onto the joy of not being around others. Here are some prompts to choose from so you don’t have to lie and say “Can’t, I’m getting my third COVID vaccination dose,” that is just ethically wrong so don’t use that as your excuse. Instead, choose one line from each category to string together your excuse.

[Legal and moral stuff: Fakequity does not condone lying. Honesty, truth, and all of those good moral behaviors are better than coming up with fake excuses.]

Intro/First Part

I can’t because

I need to

I am out of

Mandatory…

I need to KonMari

The blogger at Nonprofit AF said (Hi to our blogger friend Vu. Check out his blog archives if you haven’t read it lately.)

Choose an accomplicate or scapegoat

Best friend

Karen

Becky

Brad

Harvard professor

My neighbor with the Black Lives Matter sign

My goat

Choose a Reason

Needs to catch up on listening to the NPR Code Switch podcast.

Needs to start and finish the President Barack Obama’s A Promised Land audiobook, just 30 hrs of listening.

Rewrite a grant to remove passive racist savior language.

Go through all of my books and DVDs to find the Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, and other authors who are no longer relevant because or their views.

Distribute the toilet paper I hoarded during COVID. (In seriousness, if you do have extra toilet paper consider donating it to a food bank, they will get it to people who would appreciate it.)

Get people out to vote, cause the opponent is a racist asshole who believes critical race theory is a hoax.

Empty out my purse or car, cause it has too much stuff – pens, voter stickers, umbrella leftover from a protest, Sharpie from fixing racist signs, seeds to plant in community gardens, extra books by authors of color to leave in Little Free Libraries, sunscreen from canvassing for candidates.

Go to the store/pick up my online order of lemons to give to my [choose from above], their face needs more pucker.

Needs to evolve into my/their better anti-racist self.

Tell my boss to include a salary range on nonprofit job descriptions.

Watch all the Korean dramas before they leave Netflix.

Delete my old-me unwoke Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram posts.

Create an Instagram post of my social justice street art.

Can’t deal with racist people tonight.


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Adrienne, AE, Agent001, Aimie, AlaynaAlessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barrett, Becky, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S., Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christina, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Dan, Daniel, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, Don, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Elizabeth, Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, Francis, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jaime, Jake, JelenaJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie B., Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kimberly, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sarah B., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan U., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Titilayo, Tracy, Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand 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 ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, 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 action to hopefully repair and work to be in more justice based relations.

Relational vs Transactional

Artwork from Amplifer Art by Nicolas Lampert. Text: Our People Have the Solutions. Black and white picture of a man holding forward a square potted green plant.

One of the ways I try to use the Fakequity blog is to demystify or explain racial equity jargon. I remember when I was a newbie sitting in trainings and people would say something that made sense to 95% of the room and would move on. Jargon and insider phrases are a way to keep an inside game, inside – a form of power and to create a club. Hopefully Fakequity is helping to cudgel some of that jargon.

The terms relational and transactional are somewhat self-explanatory based on their definitions, but I still consider them jargony. When we understand terms, we can identify behaviors and change them for the better – which is at the heart of racial equity work.

Transactional

Let’s start with the more detrimental of the two terms. Transactional means to treat people as a transaction – something to do, something to accomplish, a checkbox sort of activity. Transactions are ways of treating people as something that needs to be done versus something connecting to someone. We don’t create a sense of belonging in transactions.

Transactions can have elements of relationship building, but they may still not be relational. As an example, as parents we often receive emails or other communications from programs or schools with instructions. These emails are important, but they aren’t meant to build relationships, they are meant to convey information – a transaction. I know as a parent I look for these since they help to keep programs running smoothly and often have helpful info. On the school end these tools are a great way to share information with large groups in a timely manner. Yet these types of communications are transactional and are not a substitute for building relationship with families on their terms.

If all our interactions with programs and schools are reduced to transactions, we have little incentive to personally invest in the school or program. If we’re not invested it is harder to push programs to do better and to expose blind spots, share information, and ultimately bring about change.

Transactional interactions can also be power-plays. Such as hoarding and holding information and only sharing what they want, not inviting input or considering new information. “I have information you need and I’ll tell you what you need to know.” If we racialize this line of thinking, how often has a privileged group had access to enrollment or other information and shared that information in relational ways (e.g. person to person, through social networks, etc.), yet Black and Brown communities were only given the transactional information – a notice buried in an email and no personal interaction?

Relational and Relationship Building

Relational ways of interacting are how we make change. It humanizes each other and can lead to deeper social change. Relational work means investing more of ourselves into the work and personalizing the work, which can feel taxing at times but in the long haul it leads to deeper and more impactful work.

As humans we need to create connections with each other to build trust, iterate off of each other’s ideas, and to connect. The trust that comes with relationships allows us to probe more deeply and to make changes that improve services and programs. As an example, one of my work partners does amazing work with the Cantonese speaking community. Many of the parents she works with are accustomed to the schools treating their interactions as transactions – read a translated flier, answer pre-selected questions, etc. Yet, when I watch my partner interact with her families in their native language and building on the trust she developed with them I can see the families flourish. They share so much more information and they ask for what they need vs sitting and accepting what they are given. This may sound scary for people who now have to deal with new needs, but if we listen carefully the families are often also offering solutions.

When working in relationship with each other, we create a feeling of belonging — accountability to each other, even if it is through brief interactions. We see each other. Relationships built on listening, trust building, longevity and openness will flourish more than interactions that are one-of or one-sided. Relationships over transactions.


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Adrienne, AE, Agent001, Aimie, AlaynaAlessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barrett, Becky, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S., Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christina, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Dan, Daniel, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, Don, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Elizabeth, Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, Francis, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jaime, Jake, JelenaJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie B., Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kimberly, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sarah B., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan U., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Titilayo, Tracy, Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand 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 ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, 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 action to hopefully repair and work to be in more justice based relations.

Family Engagement – How do you greet people?

As we reemerge into real person life, and our kids return to schools, summer camps, and programs we need to brush up on our family engagement mindset and beliefs in people.

How will we greet families, will you greet them all, will process and procedures be the first glimpse families have of your program and school or a warm welcome? All of this with the backdrop of COVID precautions still going on.

Logistics and Parking

One of my kids is in an in-person summer program. This is our first time using the program and while it is close to our house the program is very outside of my social or professional circle. The program is heavily sought after, organized, and responsive. Yet my first interaction with them in person was less than positive.

During the first day of drop-off I walked my kid to the designated drop off area and was warmly greeted and that went smoothly. Pickup was another story. During pickup cars were queued and waiting in long lines. As I was waiting, I saw the program director had come out to direct traffic. I had walked over and was waiting on the sidewalk. I recognized the program director from the Zoom orientation held a week before. He greeted a white parent by saying hello, then when he saw me, he asked if I belonged in any of the cars—implying if I had left my car I needed to get back to it, kinda being scolded without being scolded. It was an innocent remark, but it got me thinking – this was my first interaction with him, he didn’t bother to greet me or welcome me into their community, and everything with this program so far has been transactional. This program has also gentrified and continues to gentrify the neighborhood. I wanted more and I feel my community deserves more than being treated as a commodity, a piece of land for their program, and we’re only welcomed when we follow parking rules.

Family Engagement

As we return to post-COVID life (or even continuing COVID life) we need to revisit family engagement beliefs and strategies.

During pre-COVID times many schools and programs had worked hard to build practices of welcoming families in to visit their programs and build trusting relationships. Our elementary school teachers would make a point of inviting families in for class writing celebrations, allowing for a small window into the class. Programs welcomed families to join in by volunteering in different ways – bringing snacks, joining field trips, etc. Many of these known ways building relationships are no longer available while we still practice COVID safety precautions. But this doesn’t mean family engagement can stop.

For many of our communities of color trusting institutions (i.e. schools, government, etc.) to do right by our kids doesn’t come easily. Historically there have been many systemic ways schools and governments, and institutions (churches, nonprofits, etc.) have brought harm.* The historical trauma and systemic racism is still there and when not attended to can lead to a lot of mistrust, especially when the messages are – you can’t enter the building (even because of COVID), communicate with us but only in this way, support networks are not allowed into the institution, etc.

In a survey the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition conducted right before COVID lockdowns, they found families of color preferred in-person and telephone communication more than email. When we asked why, the families of color said it allowed them to build relationships with teachers and staff, the communication was more likely in their home language, and they could check for understanding. Email communication didn’t allow for this and they said it was a one-way passing of information.

We need to find new ways to stay connected and engaged with families that is mutually beneficial. Positive communication to families that is personal and warm is important. What if instead of my first interaction with the program director hadn’t been asking if I was mistakenly outside of my car, but a greeting of “Hi, so glad you’re here. What is your student’s name? I hope they had a great first day. Call me if you need anything.” That sort of warm reception would have stuck.

Not Commodities or Transactions

We need to stop treating family engagement as a transaction or commodity, something we can say we did versus a belief system. Programs need to value people and their human interactions, especially building strong relationships with our Black and Brown families. As we return to an abnormal normal, we must prioritize family engagement with our poc communities. Trust is fragile, leaders at all levels need to work to build and maintain trust with families. My friend Amber Banks, PhD, is a brilliant researcher and consultant on trust building. One of her lessons to me is trust needs to be active and practiced.

One of the ways we can practice trust building is seeing people as people, and not as commodities (e.g. tuition, kids in seats, cars waiting for pickup, etc.) or transactions (e.g. I called this many families this week, I said hello to ten families, etc.). Another lesson Amber recent reminded me is Black families (and poc families) want to be listened to. Our job now coming out of COVID is to really listen and to find ways to deeply interact (even with COVID precautions) with our families of color. Early on in COVID many of us realized we don’t want to go back to the old normal, maybe this is one place where we can develop new and better ways of being together post-COVID.

*Out of respect for my POC relations I won’t delve deeply into the examples of how schools and institutions have harmed POCs. If you need some examples research: the school to prison pipeline, Native/Indigenous boarding schools, abuses by churches, and there are many other examples.


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Adrienne, AE, Agent001, Aimie, AlaynaAlessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barrett, Becky, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S., Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christina, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Dan, Daniel, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, Don, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Elizabeth, Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, Francis, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jaime, Jake, JelenaJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie B., Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kimberly, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sarah B., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan U., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Titilayo, Tracy, Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand 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 ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, 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 action to hopefully repair and work to be in more justice based relations.

Too hot — Need for Environmental Justice

Artwork from Amplifer Art, by
Jess X Snow. Face with roots and trees growing from it with words Long Live our 4 Billion old Mother

Welcome to July. Hope our readers in the Pacific Northwest survived the unnatural heat wave earlier this week. For those not in the region it was miserable – three days of record breaking heat, topping out at 108-degrees (42-degrees Celsius) on Monday. The last time Seattle broke 100-degrees was in 2009 and that was for one day – not three consecutive days. Just south of Seattle in Portland, OR it got even hotter.

I don’t study nor track environmental issues closely. The events of the week forced me to think more about environmental racism and the impact of these catastrophic events on our Black and Brown communities.

Why this Matters to People of Color

Climate change and natural disasters impact communities differently. Some can get through crises with less negative impact than others. As a friend reminded me just being Black, Brown, or POC doesn’t mean you’re at a higher risk – racism, lack of financial resources, limited access to networks, etc. makes the risk greater.

Environmental racism and environmental injustice demonstrates the systems, practices, and policies that discriminate against people of color. This shows up in who had access to staying home and staying cool over the last few days, who is exposed to lead in the water (think of Flint, MI), many Indigenous communities were driven from their traditional lands to substandard parcels of land and forced to live, and in very modern terms – who could escape (e.g. drive or fly) to escape heat caused by climate change. While we all feel the impact of climate change some will feel it more acutely more quickly.

We’re All Exhausted

Earlier today while taking a long walk, one of the first I’ve been able to do since the heatwave, I listened to an NPR story interviewing Portland, Oregon’s public health officer. She talked about how Portland, OR dealt with the heatwave, but what stood out to me is when she said the rapid succession of disasters their city has had to deal with – wildfires and unhealthy smoky air, record ice storms, and now record heat in addition to dealing with COVID19 a very present danger.

While as cities and regions we are learning and getting smarter about how to deal with these disasters, it also means government is responding (as it should) but it takes away from investing in other things and moving poc communities forward. I also wonder and hope we don’t reach the point where people are so exhausted, we get complacent and resentful – especially resentful to who needs help with is often our Black and Brown communities.

Doing Better

We need to remember while climate events are inevitable, these are unnatural in their magnitude. We need government to respond AND to implement climate change policies that get us to carbon zero and reverse the harmful impacts of greenhouse gases. Many communities of color need and deserve stronger environmental protection legislation to keep cultures alive and thriving. As a small example in Hawaii, Hanauma Bay’s (a popular snorkeling spot) water cleared up during the COVID shutdowns. The City raised the price for admission for non-residents to $25 per person (Hawaii residents are free). The bay and the sea life in it deserve to heal, restore, and to be protected. Hopefully the COVID break will reset our baseline and remind us our prior normal, wasn’t normal – we can and should do better. These small acts are important and add up, but we also need massive shifts in our energy policies and to push for carbon zero polices rooted in environmental justice.

On the human side, our nonprofits also need to start preparing more. On Sunday, I checked in with a few other Executive Directors of color to see what they were thinking. One friend who works in the housing sector said she declared the workday an adverse weather event (similar to a snowstorm) which allowed most staff to work from home or not work, and for the direct service staff that had to show up were entitled to double their pay. As a nonprofit and education sector we need to innovate and encourage our funders to think about how we engage more with climate change and environmental justice – how we build our buildings, how we transport our clients or students, purchasing decisions, etc. The racial justice needs to intersect with environmental justice (and educational justice for my education folx).

A friend reminded me that even though American society is steeped in democratic values, the land itself doesn’t get a vote. In some places this is starting to change, where people are thinking about environmental impact more, but overall the land and animals do not have a direct say in their future. For Native communities and many communities of color our ties to place are important, and those places deserve environmental justice.  


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Adrienne, AE, Agent001, Aimie, AlaynaAlessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barrett, Becky, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S., Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christina, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Dan, Daniel, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, Don, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Elizabeth, Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, Francis, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jaime, Jake, JelenaJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie B., Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kimberly, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sarah B., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan U., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Titilayo, Tracy, Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand 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 ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, 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 action to hopefully repair and work to be in more justice based relations.

DEI Trainer’s Limited Service Warranty

Five people — Standing white women not smiling, white man w/glasses grinning, seated Black man with hat, Asian women, Black man. Picture found w/ search term “group of unicorns.”
Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

Editor’s note: We welcome a guest post from Carrie Basas about Diversity Equity and Inclusion training. Carrie wrote this while I was on vacation so I could extend my vacation. Send us your completed MadLibs like entries — fakequity@gmail.com.


DEI Trainer (hereinafter “DT”) agrees to perform a complete human ______ (noun implying to fix or destroy completely) service for Client on the express condition that DT’s sole obligation is that the _____ (noun for group of humans) ______ (verb not containing “-spain”) and participate in discussions about _____ (noun for unpleasant topic to some). Client acknowledges that DT’s work will be performed in a professional and courteous manner unless the _________ (noun for activity happening under a big top) is in town and happens to be Client’s ________ (noun for group of people paid for their skills). DT cannot and does not warrant the fitness, suitability, or longevity of its trainings because people are sometimes _________ (adjective that might remind you of slurping) and __________ (title of Ijeoma Oluo’s book that begins with “M”). If Client does not see lasting results from the 90-minute training that they insisted would fix everything everywhere and could not impede more _______ (adjective related to grandiosity) work, DT can remind Client that DT does not sell ________ (plural noun for magical devices) and that Customer could always ________ (verb related to employment) better. Similarly, a cheaper option for training would be ________ (social media platform), _________ (search engine), or ___________ (name of your most boring neighbor).

If there is a specific problem with the quality of the services performed or the effectiveness of the ___________ (noun related to surrealism, hobbits, or spa services), Client shall inform DT in writing and, if feasible, the service will be re-performed through exorcism at no additional charge. In the event that such services are needed, Client shall provide adequate ________ (plural noun for items imbibed) to DT and no co-pay for _________ (DT’s favorite migraine medication). Any additional costs related to the aforementioned supplies are the sole responsibility of Client. DT shall not be liable for any injuries that could result from rendering the stink _______ (body part) or muttering ____________ (adverb expressing frustration) at a rate of ________ (high number) WPM.

If DT cannot offer a solution to Client’s concerns by repeating the exorcism, then Client and DT shall negotiate in good faith to reach an equitable resolution. If the parties cannot resolve the dispute informally, they will seek the assistance of _______________ (favorite game-show host) and split the _____________ (whatever is behind Door 1 or in the jackpot). If said host is not available, the parties will be bound by the laws of ___________ (imaginary land or small city) as they were written in __________ (your birth year). If all else fails, the parties will start a book club and TED Talk videos. 

*Carrie would like to note, in order to keep her Bar membership, that this document does not constitute legal advice and should not be attached to any contracts where you expect to be paid.


Carrie Basas works in education advocacy and formerly in civil rights law, specializing in disabilities rights. She was a law professor impressing upon law students the importance of understanding race and its impact on people. Carrie has a MEd in Education Policy, Organizations and Leadership from the University of Washington. She earned a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and an Honors B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology/Anthropology from Swarthmore College. However, her biggest claim to fame is some of her fashion weekend wear while hanging with her family, tiny dog, and two rabbits.


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Adrienne, AE, Agent001, Aimie, AlaynaAlessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barrett, Becky, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S., Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christina, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Dan, Daniel, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, Don, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Elizabeth, Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, Francis, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jaime, Jake, JelenaJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie B., Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kimberly, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sarah B., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan U., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Titilayo, Tracy, Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand 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 ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, 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 action to hopefully repair and work to be in more justice based relations.

Letter to my kids at the end of this pandemic school year

Fakequity readers… It is 11.45 p.m. and this is the third attempt to write a blog post… I’m going to try again, nothing like a deadline to force creativity and just words on a blank screen. Apologies for the ultra-personal nature.

Note – I have two kids, but the word you is sometimes used to reflect one child in my writing below, this may feel disjointed in the reading.

Dear Kids (I’m not sharing your names here cause you deserve anonymity),

It is the end of the school year. I know both of you are super excited not to have online school, but simultaneously bummed and worried about what devices you’ll use to get your screen fix since we have to return your school laptops.

The school year was definitely different. You didn’t go to a school building. School was in our living room and at the kitchen table. Each of us with our defined seating and cords jumbled all over the place. I got to hear you laugh at jokes, yell out answers to questions, and have one sided conversations since you had headphones on, and vice versa. You heard my work conversations talking about topics you now have fluency in at a young age. You understand words like race, racism, Black Lives Matter, equity, white, and other terminology many adults are still afraid to say out loud. I know, and I think you know, you have a long way to go to learn more about these terms. I have to learn with you too.

I’m so happy your teachers engaged in these conversations with you and took it upon themselves to bring them up. After the January riot and insurrection at the US Capitol, I got to watch your teachers skillfully engage you in conversation. You knew a lot more than I thought, which made me proud and sad – sad knowing you see truths about our country I didn’t have to realize until I was an adult.

I know you’re still hurt, sad, upset about things COVID took away. School camp, the chance to learn an instrument live — online band classes really don’t work well, playing with friends. I’m trying to remember these are huge for you.

Being home together had perks. We got to watch the inauguration and you were with us as we watched the first women and Asian and Black vice president sworn into office. You also got to be a part of my fundraiser side hustle, where we had mugs made with the Sen. Kamala Harris’ phrases “I’m Speaking.” and “I will not be lectured.” The money went to Womxn of Color in Education, supporting women of color who are running for school boards in Washington. I know both of you take secret pride in using that mug, and you love we put the phrase “I’m Speaking.” on the mug since you suggested it.

This school year you both learned how to build community in ways that are new even for adults. When I watched you figure out how to have online playdates, screen share, and manipulate technology with ease it was impressive. Although you still have some basics to learn, like how to unplug your computer and move it off the dining table, k? Your generation will understand and hopefully be more thoughtful and inclusive when it comes to accessibility of people with disabilities, non-dominate language speakers, childcare, and other barriers that come up.

I was impressed with the creativity that came about because of COVID. You got to trick-o-treat in new ways that built community, a fall highlight. Winter brought other fun, like a lot of snow and watching movies on Netflix and Disney+. We talked a lot about how old movies are funny, but also questionable by modern standards. I enjoyed watching Star Trek, Avengers, and other series and movies with you snuggled under blankets — there were cultural lessons in these even if not explicit. We got creative with finding new things to do, including loving on the pandemic dog. You both learned how to cook a little more and we explored making things from our cultural heritage – andagi – Okinawan donuts, Spam musubi, okonomiyaki, ramen, and so on. Just tonight a Latinx neighbor brought us Taiwanese cakes to celebrate her new job.

I also want you to remember through COVID we were lucky and fortunate; we can’t take this for granted. While life was harder, you never were without. It is now our civic and moral duty to share this forward. That is why I ask (you may say order) you to do things that sometimes you would rather not because they aren’t as fun as your normal routines.

You’ll start venturing out again soon, without us – that is a good thing. You need to learn how to be with others, especially your Black and Brown relations. You need to learn the world is not as sheltered as our dining room table and little boxes on a screen. As your grandma said a parent’s job is to raise kids to be independent. As you go back out in the world, you’re going to experience racism, hurt, and even cause some hurt to others, but I hope the year together gave you a more solid foundation to grow from.

I hope you grew more confident and humble over the past year. I hope you understand your Asian identities more, including in relation to other Black and Brown people. I hope you learned how to be more compassionate and thoughtful. Now you can go out and test these learnings as you move back into a 3-dimensitonal world. You can come home when you need a safe refuge, although not forever cause your job is to be independent but rooted as well. Your Oba’s (grandma) other life lesson to me, which I now pass to you – never bring home dirty laundry. I always thought she meant that literally since we lived in an apartment building with coin operated laundry machines, but I now think she meant that metaphorically as well. Go and make a mess if you must, but you clean it up.  

In some ways I hope you never read this. You don’t need a parent who blogs about you. You need to be self-centered kids. If you do read it, just know it was midnight musings about our pandemic year together.

Love,
Mama


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Adrienne, AE, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barrett, Becky, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S., Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christina, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Dan, Daniel, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, Don, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Elizabeth, Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, Francis, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jaime, Jake, JelenaJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie B., Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kimberly, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sarah B., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan U., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Titilayo, Tracy, Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand 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 ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, 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 action to hopefully repair and work to be in more justice based relations.

Paper vs Online – Thinking About the Future, Will it Be Inclusive of POCs?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Like many others much of my life has shifted to online interactions because of COVID. My work life has shifted to online work, which I am fortunate to be able to do. Today I logged several hours of meetings from my dining room table with two kids doing remote learning and sneaking YouTube videos when they thought the adults weren’t watching.

In one of my online meetings, a data learning cohort my organization is piloting, the facilitator asked about data storage. I briefly mentioned how pre-pandemic our data storage, namely surveys we had conducted pre-pandemic were mostly paper based which took us down a tangent of paper vs online data collection. We had offered both paper surveys and online surveys, but majority of the surveys returned were via paper. When we took this data back to the design team who helped collect surveys they said their respondents (majority POC families, immigrants, not English fluent) preferred the paper surveys for a lot of reasons – limited access to the internet, facilitators could walk through the survey more easily with families via paper, the paper surveys could be dropped off at people’s houses, and many other reasons.

I wonder as we return to pre-COVID life will the online ways of working continue, and if so, will it be inclusive of POCs who utilize old-school technology like paper?

Limits of Online Engagement

The technology divide was deeply exposed when COVID forced schools and businesses to shift to remote access, libraries and coffee shops to close where many people accessed cheap or free internet service, and many others who may have been able to afford online access were suddenly out of work. As communications shifted online, many people of color were left behind.

As we move forward with re-opening plans, I hope we design our post-COVID lives to include our families and neighbors who previously used paper and needed support to participate in civic life. If we value our communities of color, immigrants, limited English speaking neighbors, seniors, perhaps living without reliable electricity, and those without computers or internet access we’ll design ways of engaging that don’t rely upon internet-based technology.

As an example, many COVID testing, and vaccine clinics required people to schedule appointments online. Many of us with internet access expected this and knew how to navigate the online systems. Vaccine hunters knew how to access the online portal showing where vaccines were available and could scoop up appointments. Many organizations did impressive outreach – making calls, texting people to make sure they got signed up, door knocking to make sure their clients secured appointments for a COVID vaccine. But what if we didn’t have organizations who saw it as their mission to bridge that divide? The shift to online platforms has left people behind – we need to design the shift to online better, smarter, and more intentionally.

We also have to think about who has decision making control and power/agency as we shift to online platforms. With the shift to online platforms and new ways of working people of color are often not in control and do not have a great deal of say in how platforms are created.

Why Paper

While many of us have embraced online life, there are still pros to paper in some circumstances. Every few months I will hear someone say something along the lines “even XXX [fill in poor, immigrant, non/limited English, seniors, etc.] have smart phone,” therefore we don’t have to print paper copies. The answer is yes and no. While many may have a smart phone, not everyone keeps data plans or can connect their smart phones to the internet which we saw during the early days of the pandemic when libraries and coffeeshops (traditional places where people could access Wi-Fi) closed.

I’ve also seen where paper is superior because it allows people to have a written record which they can share with others, especially if they need help understanding what is on the paper. Seniors and people with limited English proficiency may use paper copies to ask for help understanding what is said.

Paper is also simpler. Having spent the past year helping my kids navigate online platforms, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve lost logins and passwords. My kids are now very digital savvy, but there was a learning curve and they still periodically need help. (Side note paper is not always superior when your kid loses the one piece of paper he wrote the Zoom meeting code on, tech came to the rescue since I had the code saved in a previous text thread). For people who are not digital natives navigating complex online registration, logins, and passwords is much more challenging then filling out a paper based registration form.  

Oldest Technology – People

As we move forward in a digital world, we need to remember that “old” technologies are still embraced. The oldest form of technology – human relationships is the most important and needs to be at the center of everything we do regardless of the platforms of online versus paper.

As I was writing this I thought about my work and how I most likely will continue with many of the online shifts my organization has made. In some ways I can’t see us going back to some of the older practices we were forced to let go of because of COVID. Like do I really need to print everything or commute to places for meetings? Meeting virtually has allowed us to engage in new ways and in many cases with new and more people. But thinking this through, I shouldn’t lose reaching out to people who aren’t online or easily reached through the ‘new’ ways of working. That work is on us and we can own that responsibility.


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Adrienne, AE, Agent001, Aimie, Alessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barrett, Becky, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S., Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christina, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Dan, Daniel, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, Don, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Elizabeth, Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, Francis, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jaime, Jake, JelenaJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie B., Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kimberly, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sarah B., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan U., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Titilayo, Tracy, Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand 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 ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, 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 action to hopefully repair and work to be in more justice based relations.

How to Facilitate Better Ice Breaker Questions

Photo by Nacho Canepa from Pexels Picture of an ship surrounded by ice and a penguin

I’m an introvert and I dislike ice breakers. Whenever I attend a meeting and the facilitator says “Let’s do an ice breaker” or “here is a warm up question,” I have to fight the urge to suddenly slink back or walk to the snack table.

Yet as a facilitator I often throw these questions into meetings or trainings I run because I know they work. I’ve also learned through trial and error and watching very skilled people run meetings there are better ways of asking ice breaker or warm-up questions.

Why have an opening question

Having an opening question for everyone to talk about is a good way to get everyone to participate. It sets the tone for the meeting/gathering and invites active participation from everyone, not just those who traditionally talk. My friend who is a high school teacher once told me students are often lectured to will tune out pretty quickly, the same happens with adults, so inviting people to participate right away helps to keep them engaged.

As a facilitator I try to build in ways for people to meet and connect with someone new at the meeting. When we met in-person (pre-COVID) I allowed people to choose their partner, although I instruct people to meet someone new (no sticking to people they already know). In Zoom life, I often use the breakout room function and allow Zoom to randomly assign people. I warn people they will be randomly assigned, but not to fear the conversation will be brief, about 3-mins. It is just enough time to meet someone else and think about the prompt, but not long enough that people will get squirrely if they don’t like each other.

I’ve learned from educators you should have a clear learning target or purpose. The purpose of an opening question is a) to engage all participants, b) level the power dynamics and demonstrate everyone can and should participate in ways that are comfortable, and c) break up cliques and encourage people to get to know others. All these have underlying racialized power dynamics in different ways. A good opening can help to shift some of the power dynamics and disrupt the societal norms that happen in groups (e.g. who speaks first, people congregating with people they know, etc).

Prompts and Opening Questions

I’ve been working on writing better prompts and questions so we don’t default to the same ones like “What do you plan to do this weekend?” or “What celebrity do most people say you look like?” These are ok questions, but they allow for superficial answers. I now believe a better opening question can help to frame the rest of the meeting and invite people to connect more deeply with the purpose and content.

A colleague told me she was at a meeting where the opening question was about weekend plans and most of the people there mentioned going skiing or taking a trip of some sort. Another person in the meeting mentioned the amount of privilege in the group they hadn’t even noticed until that moment. At another training I ran I used an opening prompt that touched upon relationships and justice. A participant noted she liked that question better than standard opening questions because it was a question everyone in their group could wrestle with and personalize. That story made me think about opening questions differently. A reflective opening question can do more than share out superficially.

A few weeks ago I was facilitating a meeting during the start of the trial in George Floyd’s murder. The group was primarily Asians who work in human services, government, and social justice organizations. The question I posed was something along the lines of “What does it mean to us as an Asian community to work towards justice with the Black community? What are the solidarities and relationships we need to build and nurture?” While the meeting wasn’t focused on building solidarities across communities I wanted to acknowledge the importance of the day and not to let the moment go by. I think it also invited people to reflect more deeply about our place in the POC community and to reflect more deeply.

Not a Single Identity

The stories we share are important to building relationships which is at the heart of racial equity work. A good warm up question invites people to share a piece of their core beliefs. The questions can move us beyond seeing people through a single identity, and with online meetings as a box on a screen. Coming up with a good question is like finding a good seed and facilitating the seed’s growth – giving it context, space – time, to grow a relationship between people.

I’ve tried to shift away from questions about what people are doing, to questions about howpeople are feeling and acting. Questions about what people do, such as “what are you doing this weekend?” or “where was the last place you visited?” don’t invite people to reflect. The answers can also expose class divides (as mentioned earlier) which can go against the overall value of creating relationships.

Some tips to writing better warm up questions:

  • Think about some of the values of your meeting and write a question pointing towards those values.
  • Link it to something happening in the community context. If there is something big happening in the news call that into the meeting – invite people to reflect on how it is impacting their lives.
  • Invite people to share a memory related to something you’re working on, it is a way of asking what motivates people to do the work.
  • Questions don’t always have to be downers or deep, questions about creativity and joy can spark new ways of thinking as a group.
  • Consider offering a buffet of questions. My friend Jondou often offers a series of three related questions to help people get started. Today I watched him facilitate and he said the questions were like a Taiwanese snack tray, you can take a little from each question, you won’t have enough time to get through all of them, but if you take what you need you’ll be full.
  • Remind people to talk about themselves and to share their own stories, not other people’s stories.
  • Be ok with people going way of script with the prompts. The idea is to get people thinking and getting to know someone else.
  • Slow down and give people time to reflect and share. If you have time in the large group invite a few people to share what they shared with their partner(s).

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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’ll appreciate it.

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I am writing from the ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, my Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii, which is a small act of working to be in more just relations.

Design for the Furthest from Opportunity

I talked to a friend and colleague who teaches middle school earlier this week. Liz is a first year teacher and had to adapt quickly and nimbly to teaching online, then going back into the classroom, and teaching students remotely and in-person at the same time. As we chatted, she told me more about her classes, and she mentioned her husband who is a woodworker. She said he loves his work because he designs for harmony and to solve problems. He can look at a space, especially oddly shaped spaces and mathematically and artfully design a built-in shelf, bookcase, or piece of furniture to accomplish the goal. I loved the phrase design for harmony.

Another colleague Trang did amazing volunteer advocacy work to improve COVID19 vaccine access for POC elders, immigrants, and community members who aren’t English proficient. During one of her briefing calls she said you can judge an event or project on how well it was designed for those who are the hardest to serve. (She said it much more eloquently.)

How we plan and design says a lot about our values.

As Trang alluded, how people experience an event or project speaks volumes about what the planners value. If we say we value racial equity, are we designing experiences that center people of color? As an example, with the rollout of COVID19 vaccines the distribution plan and execution of those plans had nods towards people of color, but didn’t always take into account the full-range of needs, barriers, and assets.

As an example, booking an appointment to get a COVID19 vaccine required the use of the internet and understanding English. Many of the appointments were snatched up quickly by people who were English literate and had access to the internet, leaving out many immigrants and seniors. Nonprofits, friends and family members sometimes often had to jump in to make calls and book vaccination appointments. Many did this willingly, but in an equitable system we wouldn’t have to rely upon goodwill of others the system would have been designed with seniors and immigrants in mind.

People with disabilities were also left out of the distribution plans. A friend with vision impairment wanted to access a vaccination in her own neighborhood but couldn’t, she had to find a ride to the mass vaccination site. When I mentioned this on a planning call with officials running the vaccination sites one of them said “the vaccination site is ADA accessible,” I had to remind them access only works if you can get there. Physical access isn’t the only part of disability justice, we need to think about the entire experience.

What we value is what we plan around. I’ve been guilty of planning events fast and valuing expediency and efficiency over centering those furthest from justice – when I did this it showed and I was rightfully called out. My friend Carrie also reminds me “when we design for everyone, we design for no one.” We need to be clear about who we value as we design events and projects. When we are clear about what and who we value in our design people can see themselves in it.

As you design consider the experiences of people of others not just people like yourself and your planning team (we often gather with people of similar backgrounds and experiences). I remember hearing a story about an elderly SE Asian immigrant who refused to use a mass vaccination site at a large cavernous stadium because it reminded her of her war experience and watching others being marched into a stadium knowing they wouldn’t come out. She needed a different vaccination site that was smaller and we should design spaces that make her others feel safe and included.

Design for Harmony

I’m still thinking what it means to design for harmony in racial equity work. Often, we’re designing to agitate, disrupt the status quo (which needs disruption), or to provoke a response – all of which are needed to achieve racial justice. Maybe we also need to periodically design for harmony. Liz described how her woodworker partner designs functional pieces that help them get along better. Maybe we need to design in this way too – I’ll be thinking about this concept especially as I design a few online events. If I come up with anything novel share it, but for now I just have a lot of questions about the concept.


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’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.

Equity vs Race – Be clear with language

I’m 90% sure I’ve blogged about this before, but it warrants an updated post – stop using the word equity as a proxy for the words race, racism, Black, Brown, people of color, etc.

If you do a quick online news search for the word ‘equity’ search results pop up quickly. Such as:

  • Equity Is Fundamental to Implementation Science (SSIR)
  • State starts to see vaccine equity success, announces new plan to expand distribution (Minnesota/KARE11)
  • Washington State’s Equity Relief Fund awards nearly $12 million to 358 nonprofits statewide (WA State Dept of Commerce)

In these and many other headlines and titles, the word equity should be swapped out for a more precise term. Let me re-write the headlines from above:

  • Understanding Race is Fundamental to Implementation Success
  • State starts to see vaccine social-vulnerability gap closing, success. Announces a new plan to expand distribution.
  • Washington State’s Communities of Color Relief Fund

With these more precise terms we can see how the intention of the headline changes. As an example a person from a financial background could have read the Department of Commerce grant headline and thought of financial equity and may have tried to apply for the grant for their for-profit, white-serving or color blind, organization or business.

Equity is sometimes used to code language and avoid talking about what we should be talking about. The word equity is subbed in as a subtle way to nod towards equity, without saying words such as race, racism, white privilege, whiteness, equality, etc. As an example, all of the statement on the left are statements I’ve pulled from news articles:

  • How important is equity to you? vs. How important is racism to you?
  • We must close the equity gap in housing. (Note this could mean financial equity gap.) vs. We must close the racial imbalance in homeownership gap.
  • “Using a random drawing system to keep gifting equitable,” vs. Using a random drawing system to keep gifting fair or without bias.

This sometimes happens in government documents where it isn’t politically feasible or politically advantageous to use precise language such as Black, African American, people of color, racism, etc.

Be Precise – Use the Words

It is important to say what we mean to say. If we are talking about Black people and Black communities we need to use the word Black and not hide behind terms such as people of color, minorities, equity. It is ok to use terms that precisely name what we need them to say.

Color blindness and not talking about race is how we got to where we are today. US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts opined: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Chief Justice Roberts sided with the plurality which stopped the use of race as a tie breaker in student assignment plans. For reference look up Parents Involved with Community Schools v. Seattle School District 1. Had he wanted to be more clear with his language he could have said (but really not mean), “The way we stop discriminating on the basis of race against people of color, is to stop white privilege.”

When we are clear or clearer with our words and language we allow people of color to be seen and understood. Unclear language and hiding behind words such as equity, equal, sometimes even terms like People of Color when we really mean Black and African Americans are tools of racism. To undo racism we have to confront it and with every tool possible, including precise and clear language.


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 helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back end cost, research cost, 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 we’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.